Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

Learning about "the house of the future"

October 25, 2011 Think THF

This week, we marked 10 years since R. Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion House has been on exhibit in Henry Ford Museum!

Dymaxion House construction inside Henry Ford Museum - December 2000

This prefabricated house was reconstructed mostly from the parts salvaged from the only two Dymaxion Houses ever made - one of which was inhabited by the Graham family of Wichita, Kansas.

Dymaxion House - circa 1960

Did you know that a family actually lived in a Dymaxion House? It's true - William Graham, an original investor in Fuller Houses Inc., purchased the two prototypes and lived in a hybridized version of it from 1948 until the 1970s.

Dymaxion-House-Graham-family

Fast forward to present day (last week, actually), when we came across this tweet:

CAScience-tweet-Oct.-2011

It turns out that Robby Simpson, a fifth-grade science teacher at Columbus Academy in Columbus, Ohio, and his school have been bringing students to The Henry Ford for the Great American Museum Experience (G.A.M.E.) program for years, and they always enjoyed the Dymaxion House exhibit. As it turns out, Ted Graham's daughter began attending Columbus Academy recently, and last week he offered to come talk to the fifth graders about his experience growing up in such a remarkable building before they made their trip to Dearborn to see the real thing.

Watch the video to hear some of the great things we learned from the visiting fifth graders, including:

  • As a boy, Ted Graham loved to climb on the aluminum-alloy window ledge, which runs around the inside of the whole building. He would use the cable-support system to work his way all the way around!
  • The house was very hot in the summer! In order to make the roof quieter and more watertight, Ted's father had insulated and sealed the roof and removed the ventilator on top, so the air circulation system that Fuller had in mind was interrupted.
  • If your Dymaxion house is very close to a lake, you can position a trampoline so that you can jump from the roof, to the trampoline, and into the lake!
  • Because the house was made of metal, every time it warmed up or cooled down, it would make spooky creaking noises!
  • Buckminster Fuller, Bucky Fuller, Dymaxion House

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