Linkin’ Logics: Rhythm & Algorithm (for Bucky Fuller)
Buckminster Fuller was a utopian designer of aesthetic optimalities, a modernist who sought housing that could be built from cheap and modular materials, as well as structures that stable were under different kinds of forces (as with “tensegrity”). Industrial materials and non-standard geometries were characteristic of his vision for life on Spaceship Earth – innovation over inertia, the future rather than the past.
Lincoln Logs are a toy of constructed possibilities, allowing anyone create architectural maquettes of habitats that could be. On the face of it, they seem retrograde and nostalgic, if not antithetical to Fullerism. The wooden logs’ 1800's frontier tendency is that of traditional building: rectilinear and gravity-stabilized forms using heavy materials. A futurist could well lose sight of the possibility that Lincoln Logs might also present their own utopian model – indeed a whole modeling set whose principles are in many ways consistent with Fuller's philosophy in terms of modularity, simplicity, and sustainability as embodied in its standard wooden pieces. The logs are an example of a Fullerian DIY sensibility par excellence, enabling constructions that are playful prototypes for speculative structures which can function as habitat, monument, or some hybrid of the two - linking the logic of one era to another, and yet another still.
Invented a century ago by Frank Lloyd Wright's son, John Lloyd, Lincoln Logs took inspiration from the interlocking wooden logs that his father used for the foundation for the famed Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. Those logs were also designed with plenty of give in its joints, hopefully enough to let the hotel’s structure withstand the shaking of an earthquake without collapse. That same give was purposefully designed into the interlocking joints of Lincoln Logs so that the buildings constructed by children could stably accommodate the rambunctious jostle of their play.
Here, by employing an overlapping assembly pattern that weaves the logs together, the “give” of the joints are taken to their limit, bringing about a twisting form evocative of Fuller's tensegrity designs, as well as of the spiraling found in DNA helices and other biomorphic structures. Sometimes the past waits for its future to arrive.
A fantasy proposal, the structure links logs and links histories, with rhythm and algorithm. a homage to Illinois and its history of design, a state where Fuller spent many years teaching (at Southern Illinois University), where John Lloyd Wright was born and raised (in Oak Park), and where the eponym of the Wright’s logs - Abraham Lincoln - was brought up in a log cabin. Where there is a frontier sensibility of bygone days, there is also a more recent frontier of uncertainty, calling for the novel rather than the new.
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Algorithm: The conventional Lincoln Log stack is that of separate layers (L). By changing the position of only one of the four corners the layers become offset and interwoven, naturally creating a spiral in its stacking.