The Geodesic Bioship is difficult to define in few words. Perhaps it is easier to first describe what it is designed to do:
The Geodesic Bioship was powerfully influenced by Buckminster Fuller, who first presented the geodesic dome and its mathematics to humanity. This approximately spherical, triangulated shape offers the maximum possible contained volume with the minimum structural investment (all stars and planets are all approximately spherical). If we are going to industrially produce enough dwellings to house everyone, and do so as rapidly and efficiently as possible, does it not make sense to assess the merits of nature's most economical method?
But Fuller influenced more than the shape of the building. He influenced the purpose of its functional design. He saw that humanity -- for the first time in history -- had the accumulated know-how to create a technological infrastructure that could handsomely support all humans, in sustainable syncronicity with the incredibly complex web of natural ecosystems, for all future days. Yes, technology is the answer, at least an essential part of it. But only the right technology. Our accumulated know-how has irreversibly given us enormous power. What we choose to build is critical to our survival and indicative of the maturity of our wisdom. So is what we choose not to build.
Finally, he influenced the format of the Geodesic Bioship's presentation as a concept prototype for an industrially produced dwelling system. Fuller knew the exponentially leveraged advantage gained by many people contributing (industry) a complementary variety of special skills to make something, or many somethings (industrial production). If programmed by the wisdom of adequately informed human choices, the rapid and consistent logic of computers can direct the inanimate muscle of machines to stamp out dwellings, vehicles, and industrial processes that are:
how much Jimmy Carter and Habitat For Humanity could accomplish if they had the titans of industry behind them?
A More Precise Definition - performance requirements
The Geodesic Bioship shall be a dynamic, human life enhancing, environment structuring, energy valving system wherein teleologically apprehending intellect's know-how is longingly and ongoingly applied toward enhancing the only true human wealth by accomplishing ever better metabolic sustenance with evermore efficient investments of energy-mass and time. Daily sun energy income shall be effectively valved to safely and regeneratively provide the photosynthetic, mechanical, thermal, and electronic transformations optimal for the individual person and family's physical/metaphysical freedom for all earthian time.
Craft Construction vrs.. Industrial Production
||Craft production of housing
great personal value for some of us. It can be a medium for personal
of art and science, a healthy focus for personal ambition, a means of
personal responsibility for the health of a certain place. But it can
even begin to leverage the advantages to humanity that are potential in
This Geodesic Bioship was built by the generous efforts of a several capable individuals over a multi-year period, yet it is still not fully completed. Industrial production could produce dozens per day, at a fraction of the cost, with far greater performance capability.
Fuller gave us the special case example of alloys as a demonstration of the principle of synergy -- the principle that there are times when the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. For example chrome-nickel-steel: chromium has a tensile strength of about 70,000 pounds per square inch (psi), nickel is at 80,000 psi, iron is at 60,000 psi, and other constituents at 50,000 psi. The sum of these strengths is 260,000 psi. When these metals are melted together, their atoms array to form a chain whose strength is not only stronger than the weakest link, but stronger than the sum of all the tensile strengths as well. Chrome-nickel-steel has a tensile of about 350,000 psi.
Similar synergy is available industrial production and likely increases with the number of people contributing.
Fuller also tells us the great story of alloys' eventual emergence through emergency into general industrial application:
Emergence through emergency is a pattern so often repeated in history, that it almost begs to be seen as a general principle of the metaphysical (thought and collective thought). Fuller tells us that for 500 years the church was able to ruthlessly keep secret the knowledge of the number zero. This perpetuated church control of calculations for all business transactions. It also prevented emergence of heretical 'science'. The only alternate calculator, the abacus, was intricate and complicated -- more easily kept for exclusive control by monks isolated in their monasteries. But the zero made calculation easy, and enabled greater calculations than ever before. As popular understanding of the zero inevitably emerged, so did an unprecedented general ability to calculate. We begin to see the monasteries lose their monopoly. Commerce flourishes as transactions become easier. Heretics like Galileo, Brae, Kepler, and Copernicus become more capable and more credible. Science -- the agreement to adhere to redemonstrable physical evidence -- gains a toehold, and humanity moves out of the dark ages. The renaissance was released by the zero.
Actually, most of this was accomplished over 50 years ago by you know who. Fuller anticipated the drop in aircraft production that would occur after World War II, and hoped the war-enhanced production capacity could be shifted from production of weaponry toward production of livingry. Beech aircraft got the point, and provided a design-build team of engineers to work with Fuller. Utilizing state of the art metallurgy, lightweight but strong aircraft alloys, and wind tunnel design testing; they developed several prototype models of the Dymaxion House. No part weighted much over 10 pounds. Precision fit tolerances made it strong enough to be hurricane proof. The foundation was a central spring upon which the entire frame rested -- absorbing earthquake shock. The entire cost was no more than the current price of a new car, and Beech had over 5000 standing orders. But Fincap stepped in, this time in the form of special interest trade unions, who perceived their craft was threatened by any shift from craft to industrial production. Humanity had to wait.
Will some set of emergencies release industrially produced housing
quickly, or will the already visible but slow emergence only gradually
develop? Will events like Hurricane Mitch and Kossovo hasten it with
and huge demands for housing? According to Fuller the average time lag
from the discovery of an effective new artifact or process to its
is less than one year in new industries like computers and aerospace,
years in aviation, five years in autos, and over 50 years in single
houses. The older the product, the more entrenched it is in the now
but still clinging, economic patterns of craft production, and the more
difficult its transition to industrial crafting.