R. Buckminster Fuller
R. Buckminster Fuller
World architecture, in the unitary sense employed today, is a phenomenon of quite recent origin. Increased speed of communication in the 20th century has made it possible for the architect or engineer to operate in world terms. He is called upon to build in far-flung locations to the requirements of different climatic and social conditions. His works may also be known on a world-wide scale as never before, for ideas and styles now move swiftly around the earth and are rapidly diffused throughout diverse cultures and environments. This acceleration in communication, however, is but one facet of the vast technological revolution which has long been transforming not only our society but the physical environment within which that society functions.
This transforming agency has been the direct application of science through industrial technology to human affairs. For the first time in history, man possesses the potential means to satisfy living requirements to the fullest extent, not only for the few but for all men. In translating the context of architecture, from a local to a global scale, this agency of change has also enlarged the role and widened the responsibility of the architect. He no longer serves only the needs of his immediate community within the limits of local materials, techniques, and knowledge; he may also deal with the requirements of a whole society through the relatively unlimited potential of these industrialized means. The full measure, therefore, of a truly "world" architecture must be gauged not only by the fortuitous global distribution of individual masterworks or the width of their stylistic influence, but also by the extent to which it embraces the challenge and responsibility implied in the technological basis of an emergent world society.
The work of Buckminster Fuller pre-eminently can be judged by the latter criterion. His first sketch was of a "one world" town plan (plate 1). His first detailed project of a house--designed for mass production, yet embodying the highest living standards available--was planned for use in any part of the world and was capable of being delivered by air to even the most remote location (plates 2-5). The central theme of his third-of-a-century pioneer exploration has been one of dedication to the idea of a world-wide "architec-