The material chosen, reinforcement steel, was delivered in 6 metre long, slender, circular section rods 6 mm in diameter. According to this linear geometry, highly textured surface and elastic potential, a collection of structural morphologies is possible across a range of structural performance types (tension, compression, shear and bending) and their manufacturing processes (elastic or plastic) as starting point for model explorations. The goal was to derive form from an intuitive performance driven approach, based on the emergent intrinsic properties of the material, the structural requirement (beam, column..) and utilising hand crafting as manufacturing process.
Different bracing and geometrical strategies stiffened the slender nature of the elements that form the compressive “bundle”. Expanding the inertia of the connected lines of bars was needed to avoid buckling modes and to prevent instabilities in the structure.
The design of stable or multistable energetic systems by coupling produced highly elastic systems that stabilise themselves. An invitation to explore dynamic rather than static behaviour, as a path to form-finding novel and unexpected, adaptable or self-balancing structures, embracing the use of the stored energy due to elastic deformation.
The arrangement of cell units, ended up with crystaline wireframe structures. The goal was to provide stiffness by the increment in the moment of inertia while keeping a very lightweight system. The challenge was then to test several units, their aggregation and the structural continuity of the fabrication. Local adaptation by cell scale and density were encouraged.
Weaving produced rigid fabrics which could be employed as shells. Upscaling this meta-material involved finding the right process and enough elasticity in the material. The form is given either by support reactions, deforming the whole shell, or by the topology of the network, distributing and absorbing all the forces throughout the shell. The coupling of the pieces was normally achieved by the friction between the interwoven bars, whereas the continuity of short elements is maintained by overlapping.This achievies high performance with no mechanical joints, and thus is a highly accesible fabrication method.
High performance tension membranes, such as those developed for competetive sailing, are custom made by fibre placement and density adaptation. By weaving, knitting, lace making, felting, braiding or plaiting, steel tension fabric research is able to produce a diversity of joint typology and adaptability to topography in order to créate form.