At Home in the Universe

Dagmara Domagała on Buckminster Fuller


A gigantic, though nearly immaterial, dome of acrylic glass, was a symbol of the technological advancement of the space era in the 1960. Inspired by the Platonic solids, dome homes are not so much a retro-futuristic vision as rather an intricate, finely woven and patented reality which, as it was to turn out, pervades the entire human biosphere – from organic chemistry to metaphysical inquiries into the nature of the world and the universe.

Richard Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983), an anticipator of scientific design, architect, guru, poet and visionary whose holistic interdisciplinary engagements gave him a reputation of a genius celebrity of Leonardo’s stature, laid the foundations for contemporary eco-technology of the future. He put forward a coherent system, in which metaphysical investigations merged with thepragmatic execution of architectonic inventions. Fuller designed both smart houses (Dymaxion House) and ecological cars (Dymaxion Car) – components of an ideal future city which makes no technological renunciations.

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. – R. Buckminster Fuller

Fuller created an entire cosmography, with the structure of the universe based on the Platonic solids and reality inaccessible to people directly. In his Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, Fuller envisioned a world rapidly depleting its natural resources to the point of exhaustion. Yet he did not advocate a return to nature. He believed that the only way to rescue the world was through technological development, which would enable people to explore all the possibilities of spaceship Earth without jeopardising the entire synergic system of the Universe. With this, he gained the ear of both the military chasing weapon innovations and the hippies setting up their communes.

The portfolio of design projects Inventions: Twelve Around One showcases Fuller’s mental maps. It presents a holistic vision of the world explored from both physical and metaphysical perspectives. The world of science extends onto the world of art and the other way round. The fullerene design – spatial structures composed of regular polygons – proved defiant of any disciplinary boundaries. Fuller’s dome structure began to surface in multiple Nobel Prize-winning scientific discoveries, becoming an iconic hallmark of the direction the future was to take – embodied even in the official FIFA football. The 1960s. revelled in Fuller – an eleventh person to understand Einstein’s relativity theory.

Art gone science in its advancement and science gone art in its progress, synergies of the world and foundations of contemporary art&science – this is Fuller’s holism encapsulating the still pertinent issues addressed by a brilliant man who felt at home in the Universe.

— Dagmara Domagała