Spatial Design

Tensegrity

Lieke van der Meer
Project Capsule
Major Spatial Design
Year First Year

This project is a part of Term 1 that focuses on designing of life-size spatial objects to learn the basics of Object, Space, Light, Order and Surface Modulation. Students learn how to build relationships between spaces, functions and routes in an apartment and how to construct and articulate these spaces with materials. The visual representation in all phases is a key element.

Final model

Physical forces could limit you in realising the fantastic structures you have in mind. Alternatively, forces could also inspire you. Instead of seeing physical forces as a limitation, I have challenged myself to use them as my point of departure. Unexpectd structures evolve when experimenting with the balance between tractive and tension forces. Strings or cables can effectively cope with tension forces, tubes are placed where tractive forces are active. These elements combined create a tensegrity structure. I used the principles of tensegrity to design a capsule.

Tensegrity

The term 'tensegrity' was coined by Buckminster Fuller in the 1960s as a portmanteau of "tensional integrity".
"Tensegrity describes a structural-relationship principle in which structural shape is guaranteed by the finitely closed, comprehensively continuous, tensional behaviors of the system and not by the discontinuous and exclusively local compressional member behaviours.” R. Buckminster


R. Buckminster Fuller holds up a Tensegrity sphere. 18th April, 1979.

The capsule was supposed to give you shelter during the night. Only paper and cardboard could be used as a building material. To me, this meant building with four meter long cardboard tubes and paper strings.

The possibilities of tensegrity for building a capsule are emphasised by these tubes that appear to fly and the asymmetric basis of the structure. Only a roof is needed to create a feeling of being sheltered after entering the capsule. The capsule has an open and light appearance.

Model (1)

Building the capsule, with its four meter long tubes was not exactly an easy process. The helping hands of my classmates were indispensable in holding the tubes up in the right place during the construction. Let’s say that designing a model is nothing compared to building the 1:1 scale structure!

1:1 scale model

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