Bending-active Sandwich Shells: Studio One Research Pavilion 2017 – Conference Proceeding


Schleicher S., La Magna R., Zabel J.
Bending-active Sandwich Shells:
Studio One Research Pavilion 2017.
ACADIA 2017, MIT, 2017

The goal of this paper is to advance the research on bending-active structures by investigating the system’s inherent structural characteristics and introducing an alternative approach to their design and fabrication. With this project, the authors propose the use of sandwich-structured composites to improve the load-bearing behavior of bending-active shells. By combining digital form-finding and form-conversion processes, it becomes possible to discretize a double-curved shell geometry into an assembly of single-curved sandwich strips. Due to the clever use of bending in the construction process, these strips can be made out of inexpensive and flat sheet materials. The assembly itself takes advantage of two fundamentally different structural states. When handled individually, the thin panels are characterized by their high flexibility, yet when cross-connected to a sandwich, they gain bending stiffness and increase the structure’s rigidity. To explain the possible impacts of this approach, the paper will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of bending-active structures in general and outline the potential of sandwich shells in particular. Furthermore, the authors will address the fundamental question of how to build a load-bearing system from flexible parts by using the practical example of the Studio One Research Pavilion. To illustrate this project in more detail, the authors will present the digital design process involved as well as demonstrate the technical feasibility of this approach through a built prototype in full scale. Finally, the authors will conclude with a critical discussion of the design approach proposed here and point out interesting topics for future research.

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