Montreal Biosphère of 1967 / Buckminster Fuller © ArchEyes

Completed in 1967 by Buckminster Fuller, the Montreal Biosphere is a museum in Canada dedicated to the environment. It is located at Parc Jean-Drapeau, on Saint Helen’s Island in the United States’ former pavilion for the 1967 World Fair.

Montreal Biosphère Technical Information

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

– R. Buckminster Fuller

Montreal Biosphère Photographs
Montreal Biosphère of 1967 / Buckminster Fuller © Flickr user Michael Wu
Montreal Biosphère of 1967 / Buckminster Fuller © Flickr user

Montreal Biosphère Article1

The Biosphere is the synthesis of his entire process: built from triangles, which Buckminster Fuller considered the perfect form, he demonstrated that it was possible to create a liveable space using only one-fiftieth of the materials normally used in a conventional architectural design. The triangle is a natural mathematical figure that provides maximum efficiency with minimum structural effort in combination with other triangles. Fuller obtained a dynamic construction in which the individual components contribute to the overall structure by assembling a series of identical geometrical units that are both self-supporting and light. While each component is independent, it cannot exist without the others.

Montreal Biosphère Plans
Montreal Biosphère of 1967 / Buckminster Fuller Plan of the Montreal Biosphère
Montreal Biosphère of 1967 / Buckminster Fuller Section of the Montreal Biosphère
Montreal Biosphère of 1967 / Buckminster Fuller Section of the Montreal Biosphère

About Geodesic Structures1

“Buckminster Fuller’s first geodesic dome, 18 meters in diameter, was built on The Dome Restaurant in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, in 1952. The technical problems encountered – leaks, the difficulty of controlling indoor temperatures in bright sunlight, the fragility of the outer covering, and high ambient noise levels – were hardly surprising given the structure’s novelty but slowed down the development of this type of construction.

Nevertheless, the experience was considered conclusive enough for Buckminster Fuller to move on to the construction of larger domes. The Dome Restaurant’s hemispherical structure, composed of triangular plastic elements fixed to aluminum struts, laid down the basic principles that he refined in the years.

A striking demonstration of the soundness and quality of Buckminster Fuller’s ideas came in the spring of 1953, with the construction in just a few weeks of the Ford Dome above the central atrium of the Ford Motor Company’s cylindrical head office building in Dearborn, on the outskirts of Detroit, Michigan.

The 8.5-tonne dome, with a diameter of 83 meters, was the only structure capable of covering the vast central space without placing too much pressure on the walls of a building that had not originally been designed to accommodate such an addition. World media attention to the construction and inauguration of the dome popularized the theories of “Bucky,” as he came to be known.

In short, when he approached the American government in 1963 to design the U.S. pavilion for Montréal’s World Fair in 1967, Buckminster Fuller had become a star. Geodesic domes are the most efficient structures ever created in terms of material weight. Their main quality is that they distribute tension and stress economically throughout the construction by channeling it differently.

The larger the dome, the more resistant it becomes because of the synergetic forces at work. However, the domes also have several drawbacks; for example, they are not suitable for highly urbanized environments and are practically impossible to extend. Also, given the dynamics of indoor air circulation, they require major fire prevention installations and excellent ventilation systems.

Ambient noise can also generate problems. On the other hand, the domes provide an ideal solution in some environments because of their solidity and lightweight.”

Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren’t any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn’t be here in the first place.

And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life’s challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person.

– R. Buckminster Fuller

Gallery of Buckminster Fuller of Geodesic Structures.

Source: Extracts from the Government of Canada webpage

Cite this article: "Montreal Biosphère of 1967 / Buckminster Fuller" in ArchEyes, April 9, 2016,