Buckminster Fuller – father of the geodesic dome

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The inspiration for the Dome of Visions is from the legendary inventor and architect Richard Buckminster Fuller (1895 -1983). His work has attracted considerable attention and is found in many different contexts worldwide.

The American architect Buckminster Fuller, also known as “Bucky” by his friends, was one of the world’s first futurists and global thinkers. Most of his ideas and visions are centred around a sustainable future – long before the concept was defined! His book Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth argued, 100 years ahead of its time, that the earth is not an inexhaustible resource but rather a fragile craft. Fuller was more or less obsessed with the thought of designing a building that is self-sufficient. This has really only become possible in our era, in the form of a passive building, such as the Dome of Visions. The fact is, many of Fuller’s solutions would have been carbon neutral if they had been built.

Black Mountain College – an oasis for innovative thought

Throughout his career, Buckminster Fuller worked to break sectoral thinking, which he saw as restricting. (We have also embraced this idea in the Dome of Visions!) From this perspective, Black Mountain Collage, where he taught in the 1930s, was probably a dream location. He was here offered an opportunity to associate with poets, artists, architects and inventors who challenged conventions and had a common will to create cross-boundary solutions. This legendary school in North Carolina had periods when its leadership included prominent poets and scientists. One of these was called Albert Einstein…

Birth of the geodesic dome

It was perhaps not so strange that Buckminster Fuller hatched one of his most famous ideas, the geodesic dome, at Black Mountain Collage. A geodesic dome is formed using a geometric formula, whereby a sphere is built using triangles. Despite low weight and a large encased volume, the construction is extremely strong. Unlike traditional buildings, a dome building becomes stronger the larger it is. Another advantage, is that energy consumption is more efficient. These were probably a few of the reasons why Buckminster Fuller wanted to build a geodesic dome over Manhattan in New York.

Geodesic domes in the world

You may have seen a geodesic dome in a science fiction movie. Geodesic domes are used extensively in fiction and movies to show the future. But how popular are they in the real world? Geodesic domes have many admirers, but have never really had a major impact in the development of our cities. There are today about 300,000 buildings around the world that are based on the geodesic dome. The construction is used primarily in sports stadia, exhibition halls, radar stations etc. The US exhibition pavilion at the Expo 67 is one world famous example. Other geodesic formations that often appear in photographs are the greenhouses at the Eden project tourist attraction in the UK. They are now joined by the Dome of Visions in Stockholm.