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Dymaxion House: 1941

May 1941. "Diamaxion [Dymaxion] house, metal, adapted corn bin, built by Butler Brothers, Kansas City. Designed and promoted by R. Buckminster Fuller." Medium format negative by Marion Post Wolcott.  View full size.

May 1941. "Diamaxion [Dymaxion] house, metal, adapted corn bin, built by Butler Brothers, Kansas City. Designed and promoted by R. Buckminster Fuller." Medium format negative by Marion Post Wolcott. View full size.


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Chez Fark

Check out the Henry Ford Museum

A more elaborate version of the home has been restored and is on view inside the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

And here in San Diego

Even this would sell for half a million. Unfurnished. Without corn cobs.

Fuller DDUs in NJ

There are DDUs at Camp Evans in Wall Township NJ. See

They have been primed and repainted since we posted the photos. They were transferred by the Army in March 2009 to our care and stewardship.

Lustron Houses

From roughly the same era, Lustron Homes were also designed as affordable, metal construction, prefabricated, low maintenance housing. While plentiful compared to the Dymaxion with about 2,500 examples built, they're still quirky though much more conventional in design.

A handful still exist, many in the Midwest, and there are two examples within a couple miles of me. They're a treat for the eye and built sturdily, often not requiring any painting or roofing replacement even after 50 or 60 years.

They're everywhere

We've got these things all over Monmouth County, NJ. The one below is in Wall Township on the former site of Camp Evans.

There's also one on a sports field I drive past everyday. I suspect that they store groundkeeping materials in it.

A third one is on top of the Army's Communications & Electronics Lab on Fort Monmouth. It can be seen from the Garden State Parkway.

I'm sure I've seen plenty of others around here but I usually don't pay them any attention.

Butler bins.

I worked at the old Butler grain bin plant in Kansas City for a few months when I was just out of high school. Butler's grain bin division was bought out by Brock Grain Systems in 1997 and the plant is still operating under the new name.

The manufacturing operations that go into these things (grain bins or grain bin homes) are pretty simple. Shear, roll, punch, stack and next piece. The corrugations are added as the side pieces are rolled into arcs. Always two people working together because of the size of the pieces.

I can imagine rain on the bin/home's tin roof would quickly drive you to use earplugs. A hail storm would quickly drive you mad.


I don't see a bathroom in the cutaway plans. Anyone know where those were located?

[Left side of the drawing. Note toilet seat. - Dave]


There are two in New Jersey, visible from the public road in the winter, can't be seen in Google Street View (summertime, overgrown), but the 1979 aerial on is good. Coords are 40.269486, -74.083348. This particular aerial view is of Naval Ammunition Depot Earle, in Monmouth County, built starting in 1941. I am certain that these buildings were erected there in 41/42. I wonder, could these possibly have been the actual first two that the Navy purchased? They were used as shelters for radio communication and testing purposes during WWII. They are now abandoned, and have not been in use for at least 20 years.

I will try to get a photo from outside the fence, and hope I don't get shot or arrested as a terrorist!

"Dymaxion Deployment Unit" at MOMA

Click floor plan for details, or click here.

Its Fuller, but not Dymaxion

As an amateur student of Fuller, this is his design for an easily produced house for the masses, but it isn't the Dymaxion. This is a term often applied to many of Fuller designs, but would be inappropriate for this particular house. The Dymaxion concept was one that was "stressed" for rigidity, and did not rely on gravity to hold it together. The Dymaxion house was characterized by a central pillar with cables radiating from the top to the ground that were pulled tight and stressed so that floors and walls could be attached to them. The load bearing elements of the structure were not the walls, floors and ceilings but the stressed cabling.

[You would seem to be rather mistaken (see above). Also, you've started off with a bad case of dangling modifier. - Dave]

While I might not be a scholar on the subject, I think my description is correct. Dymaxion is a combination of the terms "DYnamic - MAXimum - tensION" per the Fuller Institute, which would indicate a stressed structure.

["Dymaxion" is the coinage of PR men. Whatever definition the Fuller Institute came up with would seem to be a back-formation: "Its name means nothing you can put your finger on, Mr. Fuller says. He says the same men who invented the word 'radio' invented 'Dymaxion' to express his philosophy after talking with him for three days and deciding that he spoke mostly in four-syllable words." It was Fuller himself who applied the word Dymaxion to the structure in our photo. - Dave]

Good Old Bucky

He sure had a great sense of humor, didn't he?

Homegrown Fuller in Pittsburgh

Available if anybody is interested!

Museum piece

On display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn is "the only surviving prototype of Fuller's dream home."

Easy to imagine one is walking through a spaceship when touring the Dymaxion house!


Fuller was the first to demonstrate what happens when you cross a corn bin with a traffic signal.

Deafening in a hailstorm

And I thought Fuller's geodesic dome designs were peculiar!

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