Richard Buckminster Fuller (phot. organizer's materials)
What do navigation and geodesic sphere have in common? You can find out during a seminar dedicated to the work of Richard Buckminster Fuller – an architect, engineer, and philosopher. It will be held on 23 May
Before the seminar, a performance with a script based on Fuller’s art, will be presented.
“We invite the whole university community, including students, for the performance.” – encourages Waldemar Bober, PhD, event organizer – “Buckminster Fuller was a thinker specializing in new technologies but his cogitations also touched on humanities. That’s why he is an interesting person, as he attempted at utilizing tools from the humanities in the world of technology.”
Richard Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) was an American architect, engineer, cartographer, and philosopher. He is famous for designing the so-called geodesic sphere. He was involved in a wide range of fields of technology, including cars that he designed and build their trial models in the 1920s. He tried to convince the Chrysler company to put one of his prototypes into mass production but without success.
He also designed a modernistic house. It was based on ultra-modern technology solutions using aluminum and steel – houses in which Fuller solved all the problems of well-being, including ventilation and heating. They had a futuristic, tubular shape. He gave all his projects the name “dymaxion”, which can be translated as “maximum dynamics”. Hence, there was a “dymaxion car” and a “dymaxion house”. In the USA, he enjoyed great esteem as engineer-architect, although in fact he wasn’t one – he graduated from a maritime university. His spatial imagination was shaped by the sea when he was serving on gunboats during World War I. All his technological thinking was focused on human needs. He was a humanist-technocrat.
“Fuller believed that civilization originated in the islands of Southeast Asia.” – says Waldemar Bober – “He thought that human intelligence is shaped by the sea, which promotes the need for navigation. He based his geometry on celestial spheres and astronomy, the knowledge of which was necessary when navigating in the night. This geometry resulted in the construction of a number of buildings in the form of geodesy spheres – this was his biggest patented achievement. One of Fuller’s major projects was the USA pavilion for the EXPO’67 world fair in Montreal. During the same fair, Frei Otto presented his idea of hanging membranes. The two pavilions: West German and American competed in terms of structure and design.” – says Bober.
Buckminster Fuller had a wide range of interests. He was involved, for example, in metallurgy and crystallography. He also tried to gain an insight in the theory of relativity and build models of matter. His activity was always focused on humanistic goals, that is, bringing the human happiness. He also spent a lot of time giving lectures, especially in his older years. He did this for free – Fuller was not hired as professor at any university, although he received 46 doctor honoris causa titles from various American universities.
“Fuller’s lectures were in fact monologues.” – adds Bober – “Also, the performance we will watch in May in Wrocław will be a sample of such monologue. It’s biographical, especially in terms of his ideas. It presents the chronology of the Fuller’s world of ideas. Dog Jacobs, a writer and stage director, wrote it on the basis of Fuller’s main work, called “Synergetics”. It contains most of Fuller’s scientific ideas gathered throughout his life. It’s very long and is written using a difficult language. The director made a theatre abstract from the work, creating a monodrama that has been successfully staged in the USA for 14 years, often as part of the cultural programme of conferences. This also applies to our seminar, during which the play will be staged in English.
The monodrama will be performed on the stage of the Wrocławskie Centrum Twórczości Dziecka (Wrocław Centre for Children’s Creativity) at Kuźnicza St. 29a on 16, 17, and 18 May at 7:00 PM.
The symposium will be held on 23 May in the Aula of the Wrocław University of Technology Faculty of Architecture at Prusa St. It will be dedicated to various aspects of Fuller’s activity. The invited researchers will present speeches related to the individual fields of his activity: Fuller as an architect, engineer, actor, philosopher, and chemist. In the morning, student workshops related to geometric aspects – models of architectural-geometrical structures will take place. The speeches of participants are planned for the afternoon, and the third, final performance of the Dog Jacobs’s play “Richard Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mistery) of the Universe” will round off the programme.
Translation: Dariusz Więcławski