Developed from a project initially conceived by Fuller in 1920, this 1940s model depicts an autonomous, self-sustaining single-family dwelling that, composed of prefabricated elements, could be mass-produced and shipped throughout the world. Fuller described the Dymaxion Dwelling Machine as “an attitude and an interpretive principle” that would mobilize and integrate society. He was an ardent champion of doing “more with less,” and his ambition was to maintain equitable, sustainable relationships in every context and discipline. A portmanteau of three words—“dynamic,” “maximum,” and “tension”—the term Dymaxion connoted a systemic approach to household living; it was also applied to a patented bathroom and an automobile that Fuller developed in the 1930s.
In Fuller’s design, the Dymaxion Dwelling Machine—a freestanding structure of lightweight aluminum—is held aloft by a massive column containing all of its utilities. The hundred-square-meter (1,076-square-foot) building is self-sustaining: wind turbines circulate warm or cool air, while cisterns collect and recycle water. Modular furnishings are included, and an open plan allows the interior to be transformed at will by its inhabitants. Fuller built two full-size prototypes, including the house in Wichita, Kansas, represented in this model. As mass housing became a critical aspect of rebuilding after World War II, one writer, in a 1946 article, commented, “The ‘Dwelling Machine’ is likely to produce greater social consequences than the introduction of the automobile.”
Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)