Software or Hardware: from Computer Technology to Buckminster Fuller


The environmental bubble of the flower nation of the sixties was a pop fantasy delivered in two versions, pneumatic and geodesic; Foster tinkered with both. In the case of the inflatable structure, the opportunity arose when a rapidly growing company, Computer Technology, tried to find temporary accommodation during the construction of the new office. An air supported structure usually employed for storage was placed in the car park, and the softly glowing, warm space was a more inventive building experience than the by now rather predictable serviced shed that was to become the permanent headquarters, and whose completion in 1971 led to the anticlimactic deflation of the pneumatic bubble. The geodesic bubbles, on the other hand, never took off from the drawing boards, but their concept would be hugely influential in buildings like Willis Faber &Dumas and other structures of Foster’s late career. Designed with Buckminster Fuller, the first was an underground theatre in an Oxford quadrangle; and the second was a theoretical project of a total environment which was baptized Climatroffice. The friendship between them led to other unrealized collaborations, and to Fuller delivering the formal speech when Foster received the RIBA Gold Medal in 1983...[+]

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