that resembled a spacecraft. It embodied the American faith that technology,
science and industry could solve social, and even, spiritual, problems.
There was tremendous demand for the Dymaxion House, but the start-up
costs were high and Fuller was a notoriously bad businessman.
In the end, a few were made by hand, but the project never fulfilled
the promise implied by the mechanical reproducibility of the design.
Now it is 2009. Digital images silently reproduce themselves
via the internet. Architects try to reify digital space.
Science and technology have had a fascinating, but ambiguous
trajectory through the landscape of human satisfaction.
find ourselves in a strange ideological position.
but a practical one. Years-long trade imbalance with the Far East has left
the ports of Europe and North America with huge surpluses of the shipping
containers that convey goods from the cheap manufacturers in
Asia to the omnivorous consumers in the West.
The containers are cheap and plentiful and have interesting structural
and spatial properties. Fit up with other simple industrial products,
they make houses that deliver the basic material decency that early
20century émigré architects sought, but had to simulate,
through hand craftsmanship.
Add to this unlikely scenario Albert Hadley,
the “dean of American decorators” who has worked on
two White House renovations and has helped a generation of
socially prominent families style their homes. It turns out that he has
always had a secret longing to work on more democratic design questions,
but has been trapped in rarified social realms. He brings another
enriching range of reference and experience to the project.
Finally, add Butler Manufacturing,
the oldest and largest American steel building maker, to the mix.
They actually worked with Fuller in the 1930’s on transportable military
housing made from grain silos. Butler has a worldwide network of
builders that is capable of putting up