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MINIMAL SURFACES AS ARCHITECTURAL PROTOTYPES 2009

Emerged from ‘Minimal Surfaces as Self-Organising Systems’, the prototyping phase of the same research project focused on the application of the form-finding algorithms to architectural structures. Having modularity and repetition of components as parameters embedded in the algorithm, the dynamically generated  minimal surface geometries reach a state of equilibrium as a homogenous system composed of similar size linear elements. These elements become components of various shapes, materials and configurations, according to the scale and the function of each structure.

From the fabrication point of view, the research focused on Schwarz P, a specific triply periodic minimal surface with a crystalline structure composed of identical reflected fundamental basic regions.  The basic surface region of the Schwarz P Surface was developed based on a final geometry generated by only 14 particles defining a very simple mesh composed of 16 triangular faces. All systems and prototypes were designed considering the potential in applying them not only at a building scale as architectural elements, but also at different scales of furniture, object or even fashion design. They consist in modular components build out of planar elements, cut and folded or mechanically fixed.

The first system transformed the faceted geometry into a three-dimensional structure by extruding every edge of the mesh, normal to the surface defined by the set of particles. The new planar elements would act as beams for the structure and give substantial rigidity for large scale prototypes. A small scale version was built from folded paper strips forming 16 triangular components associated with the 16 triangles of the mesh.

A second system is based on a conical primary component which was derived from the first system by substituting each triangle with a correspondent cylinder generated by the circles inscribed in each of the triangles of the mesh; the direction of the extrusions is normal to the surface. The interlocked rings prototype is focusing on defining an architectural fabric, with potential extrapolation to fashion design applications and it is based on having every particle (vertex of the mesh) as the centre of the circle defining the ring. Accordingly, each fundamental region would be composed of 14 rings. Due to the balance of tension and compression in the system’s behaviour, the result is considered  a tensegrity structure with a high degree of flexibility.

Many thanks to: Professor Stephen Gage, Sean Hanna, Ruairi Glynn, Richard Roberts. Bartlett, UCL.

 

 

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