Bending-Activated Tensegrity

Type: Structural Research
Year: 2015
Team: Sebastian Huth, Eike Schling, Joram Tutsch, André Ihde
Office: Technische Universität München, Chair of Structural Design, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Rainer Barthel
Publications: IASS2015, Bending-Activated Tensegrity
CARPRO, Membran Konstruktionen, Harry Buskes
FIBROLUX, Glass Fibre Composites
CBM, Centrum Baustoffe und Materialkunde

The structure ‘FORM FOLLOWS TENSION’ combines the benefits of active bending with a tensegrity and membrane system. It is using elastically bent glass fiber composites in combination with polyester membranes and belts, to form a modular, pretentioned and self-stabilizing structure. For the IASS Symposium Contest a system of 2 x 2 modules was fabricated. The sculpture is 6 x 6 m in size and weighs approx. 75 kg. The planning process, including design, material testing, FEM simulation and Method statement is presented in the paper ‘Bending-Activated Tensegrity’ at the IASS 2015.

Tensegrity structures in combination with membranes show outstanding aesthetic qualities in their natural lightness and transparency. At the same time they offer efficient structural solutions by combining pure compression and tension elements. Bending-active structures similarly merge the design of form and structure. Beyond constructional advantages, these structures allows for the utilization of residual bending stresses, which can improve the structural performance. The beauty of these structural principles – tensegrity, membranes and active bending – lies in their natural expression of form, resembling their inner stress distribution. This sculpture aims to unite these principles in an aesthetic and structural symbiosis, creating a ‘bending-activated tensegrity’-structure.

The basic module consists of two elastically bent spring-steels rods, which are positioned orthogonally, with their concave sides facing each other. A membrane is tied to their four outer points, while two cables connect the extremities of one arc to the center of the opposing arc. The tensile stress inside membranes and cables balances out and stabilizes the position of the steel rods. These modules can be replicated in an orthogonal grid. The elastic rods form interwoven sinus curves that never touch. Every intersection is fixed by a membrane and two sets of cables. This creates a closed tensegrity system in which all stresses are at equilibrium.


About eikeschling

Dr.-Ing. | Architect BYAK Assistant Professor in Architectural Structures The University of Hong Kong

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