This research focused on achieving membrane systems with a complex geometric surface articulation created by connecting the membrane with itself, implying increased membrane articulation without increased connections to compression elements. This alternative approach is of particular interest for contexts that do not offer many attachment points for membrane systems, like, for instance, between existing buildings that do not have the structural capacity to receive tensile loads. The research commenced with a set of experiments that investigated different cutting patterns for membrane patches and the way in which different patches can be connected by means of minimal holes, V-shaped cuts that provide an additional control-point at the end of the resulting flap. The introduction of minimal holes makes it possible to achieve more definition, with the membrane being connected to itself rather than to the external frame. It is also possible to nest smaller minimal holes within larger ones.
This approach enables the integration of self-similar manipulations of the form-active tension system which helps, in turn, to achieve varying degrees of permeability of the membrane and exposure of the spaces beyond it. Membranes can either be connected by joining the flaps of minimal holes or by directly sewing and welding membranes to each other. Both aspects are defined by the cutting pattern of membranes and their form-found geometry. A second set of experiments focused on connecting membrane patches by sewing them together in a continuous strip and investigating the possibility of directional changes of the membrane in tension. This resulted in the articulation of a larger system consisting of 14 patches that were strategically connected and pre-tensioned according to a digitally defined protocol. The resulting membrane morphology indicates the possibility of arriving at variable degrees of enclosure and visual control through multiplication of the boundary threshold or greater levels of porosity by means of introducing more minimal holes.
GPA 02 Studio Membrane Spaces (Michael Hensel, Achim Menges)
Rene Toet, Rotterdam Academy of Architecture and Urban Design, 2005