The common form and shape of the Dymaxion housing inventions was driven by Fuller’s idea of following nature in forming a structure that revolved around a central point (just as our universe does), and take advantage of the triangle’s strength in construction by creating a hexagonal form. This use of triangles and tetrahedrons was developed into a practical system of geometry and mathematics he called synergetics
"Synergetics is the system of holistic thinking which R. Buckminster Fuller introduced and began to formulate. Synergetics is multi-faceted: it involves geometric modeling, exploring inter-relationships in the facts of experience and the process of thinking. Synergetics endeavors to identify and understand the methods that Nature actually uses in coordinating Universe (both physically and metaphysically). Synergetics provides a method and a philosophy for problem-solving and design and therefore has applications in all areas of human endeavor."
One of Fuller's geodesic domes under construction
Synergetics involves the behavior of system that can only function assembled, while the action of its separate parts is unpredictable.
Synergetics is commonly referred to as the study of systems with a strong regard of total system behaviour, and the function of interlinked components, just as Fuller did in building structures whose entire stability depended on the central mast, and from which everything was linked in a radiating triangle grid. All structure built under this theory were formed the inside out – evolving around a central mast, which supported the entire structure, and straying outward in a triangular grid. In comparison to other shapes, triangles were known to distribute weight and volume much more evenly over a given area, therefore creating a stronger and more stable structure. The repetition of the triangular grid also aided Fuller in his desire to create standardized living structures, as the components could be constructed in similar proportions and geometries based on this outline, lowering manufacturing cost and elevating its ease.


All the materials Fuller used were utilized in their optimal state of tension – as opposed to a less efficient compressive application. The central mast was the only loadbearing part of all the houses, and the rest was supported by tensile cables and held rigid by compression rings. This system, which dealt separately with tension and compression, became known as tensegrity – formed by tensional integrity. In short tensegrity is a structural principle in which compression and tension are isolated, and the compressed members (bars or struts) do not interact with one another, and the pre-stressed tensioned components (cables or tendons) define the system’s spatial confines.
Tension System within the Dymaxion Dwelling Machine (1944)
The Dymaxion House began as a hexagon but developed into a circular form, once technology in the construction of framework and coverings allowed it to do so. As described in other portions of this blog, the structure was held back from taking the optimal circular form by an inability to form double curved surfaced, but once the construction of such components was invented in other fields (mainly aircraft), Fuller used the development to his advantage and replaced the hexagon in his own design.
This system also allowed for lightweight materials to span greater distances without the need of heavy, loadbearing supports.
“Tensegrity describes a structural-relationship principle in which structural shape is guaranteed by the finitely closed, comprehensively continuous, tensional behaviors of the system and not by the discontinuous and exclusively local compressional member behaviors. Tensegrity provides the ability to yield increasingly without ultimately breaking or coming asunder…Tensegrity structures are pure pneumatic structures and can accomplish visibly differentiated tension-compression interfunctioning in the same manner that it is accomplished by pneumatic structures, at the subvisible level of energy events.”

Authored by: Will Fu, Terry Huang, Justyna Maleszyk and Isabel Ochoa
Edited by: Isabel Ochoa