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Print, Design for the Ten-Deck House

This is a Print. It was designed by R. Buckminster Fuller. It is dated June 16, 1928 and we acquired it in 1991. Its medium is mimeograph print, brush and blue watercolor on white paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

<!--td {border: 1px solid #ccc;}br {mso-data-placement:same-cell;}--> R. Buckminster Fuller was a designer, inventor, architect, engineer, and philosopher but he called himself simply a "comprehensivist." As an optimistic visionary, in 1927 Fuller decided to learn what one individual could do for humanity, considering global, economic, and environmental problems that were then rarely discussed. He designed for future rather than present needs, which is epitomized in the Ten-Deck House, one of his earliest designs for low-cost, mass-produced housing. To install the house, a small bomb would detonate, creating a crater. Then, a dirigible would deliver and lower the pre-constructed house, made of lightweight materials, into the hole. The entire building was structured around a central mast with tension cables that supported the decks, freeing the ground space. Each deck accommodated four living stories. This hand-colored mimeograph print, created using an early version of a photocopying machine, depicts the house from an angle, giving it the look of a skyscraper. Fuller was uninterested in aesthetics and traditional norms, so this image is likely the result of a functional idea, rather than a predetermined visual effort. Although the Ten-Deck House was never realized, he applied its principles to later designs, like the well-known single-family Dymaxion House, for which he created a prototype.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Experimental Structures.

It is credited Museum purchase from Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program Fund.

  • Object ID #18468717
  • black crayon, stumped, pen and black ink, brush and black wash, varnish on....
  • Gift of Mrs. Hugh Ferriss.
  • 1969-137-4
  • Drawing, Design for Sportshack
  • brush and gouache, black ink, airbrush over stencil, graphite on illustration....
  • Gift of Donald Deskey.
  • 1988-101-1515

Our curators have highlighted 14 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

  • Object ID #18390641
  • graphite with fixative on tracing paper mounted on cardboard .
  • Gift of Ely Jacques Kahn..
  • 1952-15-13

Its dimensions are

27.9 × 21.6 cm (11 × 8 1/2 in.) Mat: 45.7 × 35.6 cm (18 × 14 in.)

Cite this object as

Print, Design for the Ten-Deck House; Designed by R. Buckminster Fuller (American, 1895–1983); USA; mimeograph print, brush and blue watercolor on white paper; 27.9 × 21.6 cm (11 × 8 1/2 in.) Mat: 45.7 × 35.6 cm (18 × 14 in.); Museum purchase from Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program Fund; 1991-53-1

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Making Design.

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Print, Design for the Ten-Deck House |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=10 June 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>