Membrane Arrays

This research project aims at combining two form-active tension systems in an integral manner: a layered cable-net system and an array of membrane patches suspended between the layers of the cable-net. Both systems derive their specific articulation in space through applying tension and more specifically the distribution of bearing points and the direction of the tension force applied. Since the specific articulation of the membrane patches is dependent on the way they are suspended between the layers of the cable-net it can be said that the overall assembly consists of two hierarchically related systems. Combining the two systems into a complex field of arrayed membranes enables careful environmental modulation beyond the capacity of the typical large membrane roof. Arraying smaller membrane patches serves to reducing horizontal wind loads and the local acceleration or deceleration of airflow. Likewise it also serves to achieve differentiated pattern of shading and self-shading. Physical and digital form-finding go hand in hand in the design process. Once the interaction between cable-net and arrayed membrane patches is established in a series of physical tests, it is possible to elaborate the differentiated assembly through continuous variation in a parametric associative modelling environment, utilising a dynamic relaxation function that through an iterative mathematical process approaches the minimal surface geometry of form-active tension systems. The output of this process was subsequently evaluated and ranked through advanced digital analysis [Computer Fluid Dynamics] with regards to the modulation of airflow. Specific instances of the system articulation were then tested through a series of scaled prototypes, culminating in a full-scale assembly at the Architectural Association.

AA Diploma Unit 4 (Michael Hensel, Achim Menges)
Pavlos Sideris, Architectural Association, London, 2005-06