Mate­rial Informed Struc­tures and Archi­tec­ture

Transformable Structure from "Endless" Measuring Tape

By Faezeh Sadegi 
Supervisor : Prof. Günther H. Filz

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Strip material, which is forming specific patterns, is widely used in architecture and engineering to generate highly efficient, but lightweight and therefore sustainable structures. We know such regular and irregular patterns like geodesics for example from grid shell applications. The patterns from initially planar elastic strips can generate planar and spatial configurations respectively the intended surface curvature by utilizing the strips ́ weak axis. However, material, as we know it from measuring tapes, is usually not considered for construction. Such tapes have two predominant and unique features, firstly, they have high extension stability due to their concavity, and secondly, they are extremely thin and can be rolled to a small, compact dimension. So, measuring tape fabricators aim for both, the highest possible inflection points by the concavity of the tape, and the optimal running smoothness, which relies on the planarity when rolled. However, measuring tapes had been never considered as a material system neither in architecture nor structural applications.
This master thesis explores possible constellations and structures from a single, “endless”, concave strip — a measuring tape— with the aim to satisfy both above-mentioned requirements. The design space is mainly dependent on the width of the used strip, its strong and weak, concave axes, the inflection point, which can not only change its position but also generate dynamic patterns, and the self-interconnection of the strip. Our research explores the material system of the tape in both, physical and digital experiments. The results of exploration were applied to generate the transformable lightweight, growing structures, adjusting to predefined or changing boundary conditions. Accordingly, the speculative design was developed by the use of generative design in three case studies in different scales. Based on the selected, unusual material system, its physical properties, and the method of assembly, the study provides insights into the emergent architectural shape generation and opens a new chapter in the field of lightweight structures and architecture.

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