a. Patent Summary

Geodesic Tent
Patent *


TENT (1959)**

US Patent No.:
March 1, 1957
Serial No.:
November 24, 1959

The Artifacts of R. Buckminster Fuller:
A Comprehensive Collection of his
Designs and Drawings,
James Ward, Ed.,
Garland, New York,

Inventions, The Patented Works of
R. Buckminster Fuller,
R. Buckminster Fuller

Heretofore, as described in my prior Patent No. 2,682,235, granted June 29, 1954, I have discovered how to create building structures in which the main structural elements are interconnected in a geodesic pattern of approximately great circle arcs intersecting to form a three way grid of substantially equilateral triangles. 

Such building structures may consist of skeletal frameworks made of interconnected sheets or plates , or of molded plastic sections fastened together along flanged edges, or of flexible fabrics or plastic skins conforming in pattern or behavior to the three way grid geodesic construction. Also I have found that a very special relationship exists between a geodesic building structure made of interconnected struts and a complementary geodesic building structure made of flexible fabrics or plastic skins where these two structural components are made to conform in structure, pattern or behavior to a mutual three way great circle synergy. 

My present invention is concerned with an improved geodesic skin, or tent construction which gives a new and synergetic stress distribution - synergetic in the sense that the behavior of the skin under stress is unpredicted by its several parts, and that there is imparted to the structure a strength beyond that which would be calculated using accepted values of strengths of materials and usual methods of stress analysis and computation. 

Fundamentally, I accomplish improved results by “tailoring” the several pieces which go to make up teh tent in such a fashion as to yield an omni-triangulated suspension pattern. The pieces themselves may or may not be of generally triangular form, but the suspension pattern should be so in any case. the tailoring is such as to include an omni-triangulated pattern of suspension points extending over substantially the entire area of the tent, with a predetermined dip in the fabric between one suspension point and another. This dip produces a centenary curve, or an approximation thereof, between each pair of adjacent suspension points. Around each point of suspension the structural form is essentially that generated by revolution of a catenary segment about the catenary suspension point. this form approximates a cone and for simplicity is sometimes referred to herein and in the appended claims as “conical”. in some instances a truly conical form can be used, so I employ the term “conical” as including both a true cone and such pyramidal or catenary forms as will be described with reference to the several exemplary embodiments shown in my drawings.

R. Buckminster Fuller, “Geodesic Tent”, “Patent No. 2,914,074”, United States Patent Office, November 24, 1959, p.1-6