Print, Design for the Ten-Deck House, June 16, 1928
Mimeograph print, brush and blue watercolor on white wove paper.
Museum purchase from Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program Fund. 1991-53-1.
- Architect: R. Buckminster Fuller
What is this?
Multi-leveled tower-like building supported by cables being dropped into bombed craters depicted in a dynamic and vigorous swooping, diagonal orientation from the upper left to lower right. Three binder holes along left edge.
Why is this important?
R. Buckminster Fuller was a designer, inventor, architect, engineer, and philosopher but he called himself simply a "comprehensivist." As an optimistic visionary, in 1927 Fuller decided to learn what one individual could do for humanity, considering global, economic, and environmental problems that were then rarely discussed. He designed for future rather than present needs, which is epitomized in the Ten-Deck House, one of his earliest designs for low-cost, mass-produced housing. To install the house, a small bomb would detonate, creating a crater. Then, a dirigible would deliver and lower the pre-constructed house, made of lightweight materials, into the hole. The entire building was structured around a central mast with tension cables that supported the decks, freeing the ground space. Each deck accommodated four living stories. This hand-colored mimeograph print, created using an early version of a photocopying machine, depicts the house from an angle, giving it the look of a skyscraper. Fuller was uninterested in aesthetics and traditional norms, so this image is likely the result of a functional idea, rather than a predetermined visual effort. Although the Ten-Deck House was never realized, he applied its principles to later designs, like the well-known single-family Dymaxion House, for which he created a prototype.
This object has been included in the following exhibitions: