Solarpunk Design Legends

Following the truth in your heart often leads to ‘rebellion’ with no guarantees of security. It takes vision, faith, courage, and ‘Punk’ to pioneer a new concept or innovation. Two of the greatest legends of what we now call “Solarpunks” are Buckminster Fuller (July 12, 1895 – July 1, 1983) “The pioneer of Sustainability,” and  Frank Lloyd Wright (June 8, 1867 – April 9, 1959) “The pioneer of Green Design.” Although they would never hear the phrase ‘Solarpunk’, we can consider them some of the first Solarpunk designers. 

Buckminster Fuller

Buckminster Fuller SolarPunk Legend

Buckminster Fuller was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, and futurist. His mission was to create a design science revolution that would improve people’s lives. His beliefs around systems, equality, and cooperation made him deeply Solarpunk

“There is enough for everyone. People think that there isn’t enough, so they get as much as they can, so many people don’t have enough.”


Buckminster is known for popularizing the Geodesic dome in 1954. In addition, he invented the Dymaxion House in 1927, an inexpensive, mass-produced home that could be airlifted to its location. Originally called the 4D House, it was later renamed “dymaxion” based on the words “dynamic,” “maximum,” and “ion.” The word became synonymous with his design philosophy of “doing more with less,” a phrase he coined to describe the trend toward efficient technology.

“Humanity has the option to become successful on our planet if we reorient world production away from weaponry – from killingry to livingry. Can we convince humanity in time?”

Solarpunk Legend Buckminster Fuller

In 1933, he invented The Dymaxion Car, a three-wheeled zeppelin-shaped vehicle designed to run 30 miles per gallon on alcohol. The vehicle never made it to mass production. 

“We are not going to be able to operate our Spaceship Earth successfully nor for much longer unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common. It has to be everybody or nobody.”

Buckminster Fuller Dymaxium mapSpaceship Earth (or Spacecraft Earth or Spaceship Planet Earth) is a worldview encouraging everyone on Earth to act as a harmonious crew working toward the greater good. In 1943, Buckminster created the Dymaxium map to allow 

people to view continents without divisions. He also wanted to create a map that could be unfolded in many different ways, in order to emphasize many different aspects of the world.


Buckminster believed in self-education, a greater intelligence, and that we are here for a reason. He believed that life was not valued by what we produce but by simply living and learning. 

R. Buckminster Fuller Quotes

“We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”

“You can’t change the way people think, all you can do is give them a tool, the use of which will change their thinking.” 

“We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.”

“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.”

“Being devoted to making a living is a common pitfall that distracts humans from their purpose”

Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright smoking

Frank Lloyd Wright was an American architect, designer, writer, and educator. To this day he is considered to be the greatest architect who ever lived and if he was alive today, he’d be considered a Solarpunk designer. Wright began his work on contract with Louis Sullivan, an American architect known as the “father of skyscrapers” and “father of modernism.” However, Wright broke the contract by working his side hustle, designing buildings in harmony with nature. 

When students worked with him, Wright encouraged them and even required them to think as what we would call Solarpunk designers. He had a manifesto for his apprentices which encouraged them to think much differently than the architects of the times.




Frank Lloyd Wright’s 10-Point Manifesto for His Apprentices

  1. An honest ego in a healthy body
  2. An eye to see nature
  3. A heart to feel nature
  4. Courage to follow nature
  5. A sense of proportion (humor)
  6. Appreciation of work as idea and idea as work
  7. Fertility of imagination
  8. Capacity for faith and rebellion
  9. Disregard for commonplace (inorganic) elegance
  10. Instinctive cooperation

Wright wanted to work with nature and uphold it as the key to intelligent design. To him, nature had the ultimate answers for humans.

“I believe in God; only I spell it Nature.”

“Organic architecture seeks superior sense of use and a finer sense of comfort, expressed in organic simplicity.”

Wright believed that architecture could convey morals, which made him a deeply Solarpunk designer. He didn’t simply build buildings. He recognized that design could speak and convey ideas on a deeper level. Lloyd designed his buildings in a way that showed how people could be deeply connected to themselves and the land. 

“Above all integrity,” he would say: “buildings like people must first be sincere, must be true.” His architecture was not just about buildings, but about nourishing the lives of those within them.

As you can see, Wright aligned his work with nature and whole systems thinking. He believed in many organisms and objects working together to make a whole. 

“In organic architecture then, it is quite impossible to consider the building as one thing, its furnishings another and its setting and environment still another,” he concluded. “The spirit in which these buildings are conceived sees all these together at work as one thing.” To that end, Wright designed furniture, rugs, fabrics, art glass, lighting, dinnerware, and graphics to go along with his buildings and was considered a master of ‘placement.’

Wright’s work can still inspire the Solarpunk designers of today. His commitment to working symbiotically with nature has left behind beautiful examples.

 “No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together with each the happier for the other.”

Frank Lloyd Wright waterfall house


Frank Lloyd Wright Desert houseFrank Lloyd Wright Interior



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