Research: 2016 Dust and Data, Bauhaus, Weimar.

Young Bauhaus Kolloquium, 2016.

R. Buckminster Fuller’s contribution to modern architecture is often defined by his designs of geodesic domes – artifacts[1] that allegedly “covered more square feet than any other type of shelter.”[2] In parallel, and much less explored in his scholarship, Fuller also pursued the writing of many patents, inventions[3] that sought to define the intelligence of these geodesic systems universally. As a tool to negotiate between the physical and conceptual, or the specific intelligence of these artifacts and the larger knowledge base of the patentsFuller conceived of the Synergetics Dictionary.[4] Working in collaboration with E. J. Applewhite, Synergetics was a monumental work in the form of a collection of words conceived by Fuller and extracted from the many books, articles, lectures, manuscripts, and letters he had written together with notebooks, drawings, blueprints, and press-clippings of his work. Fuller’s assertion that the “numbers of the words in the dictionary grow […] because we have more aspects of subjects to consider”[5] embodied the colossal scope of the task at hand.


Synergetics aimed to “measure” physical experience and “coordinate” it into a conceptual pattern of words.[6] On the one hand, a set of diverging lines embodied our physical “experiencing” as “entropic,” describing our understanding of the order of the physical world as expanding, open to the gathering of more and more quantifiable data. On the other hand, a set of converging lines exemplified our conceptual understating of our environment as “syntropic,” contracting in the search for order within the expansive entropy of the physical world. If Fuller’s incessant investigation of the physical world strove to discover nature’s rules, his conceptual ordering of these aimed to anticipatorily contend with that world’s accelerated disorder. As the basis of the geodesic artifacts and patents, this paper explores Fuller’s Synergetics as a data-based framework from which to reflect upon the physical agency of objects and their discursive networks of connections.


[1] R. Buckminster Fuller and James Ward Ed., The Artifacts of R. Buckminster Fuller: A Comprehensive Collection of His Designs and Drawings, Vol. 3-4, The Geodesic Revolution Part I-II,(Garland Publishing, Chicago, 1985).

[2] “Dymaxion American,” Time 83, no. 2 (10 January, 1964).

[3] R. Buckminster Fuller, Inventions, The Patented Works of R. Buckminster Fuller (New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1983).

[4] R. Buckminster Fuller and E. J. Applewhite, Synergetics Dictionary, the Mind of Buckminster Fuller, Vol. 1-4 (New York, Garland, 1986).

[5] R. Buckminster Fuller, “World Man” Lecture, Princeton University School of Architecture, October 5, 1966. Please refer to the author’s edited volume R. Buckminster Fuller – World Man (Princeton Architectural Press, 2014) for a full transcription of the original lecture.

[6] Fuller and Applewhite, “… a Systematic, Nonlinear […] Selection and Self-branching Arrangement of the Concepts, Definitions and Generalized Principles Discovered by R. Buckminster Fuller,” “First entry: Catalog of a Mind”, Synergetics Dictionary, Vol. 1, Ibid.

Team: Daniel Lopez-Perez