Finding Complex Forms – Origami Computation

The project suggests a system through  detailed experiments for a novel way of designing any form and fabricating emergency tents and housing. Using computational methods and scripting in Grasshopper and Python (Rhino 3D) this project creates custom made kit-of-parts which can be fabricated as flat-sheets. Kit-of-parts will be used as an approach to design and construct emergency housing and urban settlements in difficult environmental contexts. This research illustrates form-mobility relationship, computation, technology and prototyping.

The project aims to develop a collection of discrete building components, easy-to-manufacture, that are pre-engineered and designed to be assembled in a variety of ways beside defining a finished building. The project examines the use of tensional integrity as the structure of the building and Origami as the skin of the building. Those two components will formulate a possible platform for reconfigurable spaces which can be customized according to the end user. The project will show how the combined system will generate unlimited configuration for the housing units and the urban settlements.

How can we provide a shelter for people who have just suffered from a certain disaster very quickly and at the same time care about designing an innovative outcome?

Kit-of-parts refers to the study and application of objected-oriented building techniques, where building components are pre-designed, pre-engineered,pre-fabricated for inclusion(A.S. HOWE 1999) . The innovative approach towards design will enable you think how the building components will be assembled together and the logic of dissembling them afterwards. By designing it, you are required to solve some design challenges for the kit using advanced manufacturing techniques and automation

KOT is divided into 4 types :
1- Joint based (Linear element)
2- Panel-based (planar element)
3- Module-based (solid element)
4- Special construction - Deployable (time element)

The latter type includes folding trusses, swing open modules, and inflatable structures. They are designed to be lightweight, compact, and portable during shipping and storage, but expand to appropriate-sized volumes when opened/inflated.

Going through a brief description for the development of Kit-of-Parts, one can notice the existence of KOT thinking in ancient civilizations, Archigram developed an interesting concepts for a “plugin city” however, the current robotic practices are to address a realistic approach to automate design by using robots. (M.Bechthold 2006)

The following diagram will show a summary of the development of KOT concepts through history:

_Today, what can we expect from the kit-of-parts architecture? Will the existing methods create a controllable free forms?
_The majority of these buildings have been designed were mass produced. How can we create a customized kit-of-parts for free form buildings ?

Tensegrity can be found in natural, for example Tensegrity icosahedrons are used to model biologic organisms from viruses to vertebrates, their cells, systems and subsystems.(Levin) In natural tensegrity systems, there are only tension and compression elements. There are no shears, bending moments or levers, just simple tension and compression. This is interesting for designing a deploy-able structures.

Dr. Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan of Harvard reported that nature itself has an origami trick or two, including the Miura-ori pattern. His analysis suggested that the nature of the skin of a leaf and its supporting framework could lead to the same efficient folding that Dr. Koryo Miura developed in 1980.

The pattern is found in wings, flower petals and leaves like the one below, which starts out as a folded Miura-ori pattern and then unfolds to display how, as Dr. Mahadevan writes, “the buckles tilt into a zigzag pattern separated by kinks”.

We can define tensegrity as a physical mechanism rather than a type of structure, it relies on the use of isolated compressed elements connected by a continuous network of stretched components. The term, with this meaning, was coined by Richard Buckminster Fuller in 1955, even though in the same years David Georges Emmerich and Kenneth D. Snelson formulated the same concept.Fuller was entrusted to a more empirical approach as he created a series of structures. The Term is derived from “Tension” and “Integrity”.
The application of it in Architecture has been boomed since the introducing of structural digital analysis and simulation.

Inflation script is another development in [C] Forms project, it
is controlled by the origami surface. The script gives the designer the ability to change the type of the grid and stitches systems. The
script can be connected with a live data source ( internet source) in future development of the blower which can be attached with a specific facade detail.

The design generated from this script can be unroled and fabricated in 2 dimensions then folded in factories before shipping it with the kit-of-parts The designer can use to create origami from a surface or from curve cross section
1- Curve cross section will create a symmetrical 3D geometry
2- Surface creation will generate free
form origami surfaces


Team: Suleiman Alhadidi
Year: 2011

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