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Kanye West channels R. Buckminster Fuller -launches manufactured-housing project!!
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Posted by: LateForLunch ®

07/31/2019, 08:16:24

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R. Buckminster Fuller was a polymath not just an architect. Fuller engaged in many projects and fields peripheral to architecture (engineering both civil and technical). 

Among Fuller's concerns were affordable housing. He realized that there is already sufficient technology to manufacture modular, prefabricated homes which would cost dramatically less than the conventional home of today. 

Fuller created a term for designs which incorporated maximum efficiency and wide availability "dymaxion". He designed and built Dymaxion homes which were, safe, interesting architecturally and affordable (because the modules could be mass-produced on assembly lines). 

West has no-doubt either heard of or read about Fuller's pre-fab home designs and prototype homes and this likely inspired him to do this.  Whether he''ll acknowledge this or not remains to be seen.

Knowing West's history, he may try to claim that he "invented" it. PR is for better or worse, a big part of our capitalist free-market system.  

Fuller's Dymaxion homes would if necessary, be able to  survive hurricanes. Linking individual homes by permanent means could also be easily done in communities needing such things (in storm-zones). The goal being that towns would no longer be "wiped out" in big storms (saving rebuilding costs for insurers and governments). 

West's history of success branching off from his primary career as an entertainer (rapper) has been uneven. His fashion design career is reputedly not a big money-maker. The cash he sank in to that venture might well have yielded better returns by going into conventional investments. 

West's recent embracing of Donald Trump is laudable and makes West an interesting person to me. Whether his dabbing in housing finds fruition as a business remains to be seen, but I give the fellow high marks for if nothing else, being a pioneer in a field that could some day be revolutionary. 

If it were possible to build and successfully market homes which could be built and maintained at a fraction of the cost of conventional homes of equivalent size (tens of thousands instead of hundreds of thousands) that could change the paradigm of real estate development globally. 

A community of hundreds of "micro-homes" has recently been green-lighted which will include a planned HOA-maintained neighborhood. 

This micro-home sort of thing is new for modern real estate, and grew out of a fad in high-cost urban markets (NYC, etc.) by property owners trying to reduce costs and maximize affordable living space on their parcels. First-home buyers is the primary market, I believe.   

If manufactured housing along the lines of hyper-efficient Dymaxion homes got started (manufacturing plants got built), it might find a market for rental-income and planned communities in urban first tier, and in middle class-and-above markets in second and third-tier economies where affordability and durability were central goals. 

Mass-production, started by Henry Ford, has existed now for more than a century. It is probably inevitable that the gradual advancement of pre-fab technology would make manufactured housing on a large scale profitable. 

Kanye West may just be trying to get in on the ground floor of something that really has a market waiting to be tapped. Or it could be another waste of investment capital. 

At present, I believe that Russian companies are the largest producers of manufactured housing both in prototype R and D and in the narrow (international) market for pre-fab sales. It would be great if some U.S. company could capture that initiative and make pre-fab housing something with mass-market appeal.

Modified by LateForLunch at Wed, Jul 31, 2019, 08:31:35

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