Membrane Frame Kinetics

For building scale constructions membranes with low elasticity are usually used. Low elasticity membranes are pre-tensioned, much like a drum-skin, in order to be able to bear loads. If, however, the requirements were such that elastics membranes could be used it would be possible to change their configurations into multiple stable states. In other words, elastic membranes are shape-adaptable for as long as they are shaped by equal tension into minimal surfaces when the bearing points are displaced. This would introduce form-active systems to a full construction scale. In order to pursue this possibility a set of initial experiments aimed at achieving membrane and frame relations in which a multitude of stable states can be achieved.

Subsequent experiments involved the frame in the kinetic setup. The frame too became reconfigurable, with the degree and direction of movability being informed by the vectors of displacement of the bearing points of the membranes. Calibrating the movement of membrane and frame so that equal tension was retained in all membrane patches included establishing the relationship between the membrane boundary points on the frame, the locations of the joints and the axes and extend of rotational movement. Once this was accomplished it was possible to model these relations in an associative parametric modeling environment and to digitally analyze the performative capacity of different stable states. A scaled prototype for an adaptable membrane canopy concluded this research.

GPA 02 Studio Membrane Spaces (Michael Hensel, Achim Menges)
Jaap Baselmans, Rotterdam Academy of Architecture and Urban Design, 2005