Structures 2: Tectonics

February 22, 2010

This project was an short investigation inspired by a project done in our Tectonics class to create a structure out of a single sheet of paper that was supported on only three points without cutting or ripping the paper. On this project, I worked with fellow architecture student and friend, Amy Vu. In class, we built an angular triangular structure (image attached) that looked like what would happen if Calatrava designed a Native American Tipi. Jumping off from this point, we were interested in purifying the form and simplifying the structure, since we had to fudge parts to compensate for the rectangular shape of a piece of paper. We were also were careful to keep a practical, real-world mindset through our development. We wanted the result to be something that could be built and assembled simply.

We began by understanding the form itself. We realized, through a series of study models and sketches, that the shape we were pushing for could manifest itself in any form within a spectrum of two extremes. One extreme was created from a trapezoid, the other from an equilateral triangle. The advantage to the equilateral triangle however, is that it could theoretically be folded into the form with no gluing/attaching of the two sides, unlike the trapezoid.

But, when we took into account actual material thickness, even the triangle could not fold to the shape we needed. We found our solution by cutting the triangle into three identical pieces, folding them into their forms, and then bolting them together along the top joint.

We also kept in mind potential real-world applications while designing. Because we cut the triangle into three pieces, it could be constructed, shipped, and assembled easily. We imagined that this structure could be used as a portable tent structure, with uses ranging from disaster relief situations to concerts, and could be made out of many different materials and implemented in many different scales.  More to come.

One Response to “Structures 2: Tectonics”

  1. Amy Says:

    John Martin! I emailed this to Senior Vargas and he bumped up my grade.

    Also, you have not updated this blog in a while. It’s really disappointing.


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