Tensegrity R. Buckminster Fuller

Fig. – One of the images used by R. Fuller on his original article back in 1961 (Portfolio and Art News Annual, No.4). […] There have been recent news references to structures which I have designed for firing to the Moon. Six hundred pounds is the approximate weight of my thirty-six foot diameter sphere self-openable from a thirty-six inch diameter ball. There can, and probably will, be much larger units, which I will discuss later in this disclosure. Of first interest to engineers and artist-conceivers is the fact that my potential prototypes of satellite- and moon-structures are tensional integrity, omni-triangulated, high-tensile-cabled, spherical nets in which local islands of compression act only as local sprit-stiffeners. The local stiffeners are so oriented that they angle inwardly and outwardly between comprehensively finite, exterior and interior, tensional, spherical nets, thus producing positive and negative waves of action and reaction in inter-stabilized dynamic equilibrium. […]

Tensegrity: 1. Definition coined by R. Buckminster Fuller (architect, engineer and cosmologist), who is best known for his geodesic domes (surely, you will recognize some of these).  Tensegrity is a portmanteau of tensional integrity (check below some passages from his original article in Portfolio and Art News Annual, No.4, 1961). It refers to the integrity of structures as being based in a synergy between balanced tension and compression components. The term “synergetics” may refer more abstractly to synergetic systems of contrasting forces. 2. Structure using distributed tension to hold islands of compression. 3. “The tension-bearing members in these structures – whether Fuller’s domes or Snelson’s sculptures – map out the shortest paths between adjacent members (and are therefore, by definition, arranged geodesically). Tensional forces naturally transmit themselves over the shortest distance between two points, so the members of a tensegrity structure are precisely positioned to best withstand stress. For this reason, tensegrity structures offer a maximum amount of strength.” (Donald Ingber). 4. Was also a term used (unfortunately, let me add) by Carlos Cesar Arana Castaneda (guru! born 1925, Peru) to refer to some movements called magical passes (a series of meditative stretches, stances and movements) that he said were developed by Native American shamans who lived in Mexico in times prior to the Spanish conquest. 4. Tensegrity Ritual Suicides?! Patricia Partin and several other Tensegrity activists went missing after Castaneda’s death in 1998. Later Partin’s body was found in Death Valley Desert. She had apparently committed ritual suicide.

[…] One cannot patent geometry per se nor any separate differentiated-out, pure principle of nature’s operative processes. One can patent, however, the surprise complex behaviors of associated principles, where the behavior of the whole is unpredicted by the behavior of the parts, i.e. synergetic phenomena. The latter is what is known as an invention, a complex arrangement, not found in nature, though sometimes superficially similar to nature. Though superficially similar in patternings to Radiolaria and Flies’ Eyes, geodesic structuring is true invention. The Radiolaria collapse when taken out of water. Flies’ Eyes will not provide structural precedent or man-occupiable structures. […]

[…] It is a sad fact that the world of patronized design is the last area of commonly accepted social behavior where piracy is considered ethical. Patrons hire designers to steal their competitors’ work. Patrons hire designers to steal other non-professional designers’ fresh-new crops of potential economic growth. Only by joining forces will the architect-, scientist-, engineer-artists be able to eliminate this intellectual cancer of the regenerative processes. […]

[…] All these Geodesic events were news items simply because they were synergetic surprises, ergo contrary to the obvious. Copied geodesic ventures in higher modular frequency of triangular Geodesic subdivisioning, or other less symmetrical employments of the Geodesic structural integrity than I have as yet undertaken, do not constitute invention.Nor does the variation warrant exemption from the temporary economic authority granted to me as a patent. […]