martes, 3 de marzo de 2009

1st structural approach

While trying to think of how the structure must be, several examples of deployable structures passed infront of my eyes. From simple deployments to snap-through structures, which use buckling as mechanical factor for configuration.

First of all, the structure should have such a geometry that, at the same time it enables the contraction and deployment, is compatible with the environmental control elements (cladding or any other element that will serve for sunlight and rain control).

As a fisrt approach, a geometry was chosen that can, at first sight, achieve the configurations. This image shows a series of deployable arches that, when placed together, form a roof. A similar geometry can be taken into considereation for reproducing the desired configurations.

Another aspect of the structure should be the tesselation that would be chosen in order to cover the space. There are some kinds of tesselations that are more appropiate to use for planar, or at least, single curved structures. If the structure is double curved or has a free form, some other tesselations, or even diferent shape modules, should be necessary to achieve the final form.

In terms of ease for study the behavior of such a desired structure, first I will work with regular modular shapes. Therefore I am currently searching the posibilities of an hexagonal module and the way it fills a curved shape. Maybe after some geometric analysis, I find more appropiate to slightly change the module of completely replace it with other geometrical shape.
The main concerns at this point are two: 1. how to create a structure taht can also be compatible with the cladding: and 2. How would the two wings of the structure adapt to each other in order to work as one structural entity.

Context for the structure

The context for which the structure is going go be design is a public square in Bologna, Italy. It is surrounded by small buildings (2 stories high) that have a coomercial usage. Shops, caffes and a restaurant will be facing to this public square. Therefore the need for a structure that can serve as a roof for sun and rain control is needed.

This architectural project corresponds to the Compresso Unipol and the architectural design belongs to Open Project. This images was courtesy of them and given to me just as a context reference by means of Michela Turrin.
According to the aim of the research question, there are to features to achieve with the design of such a structure:

1. Reconfigurations of main structure

2. Sun and rain control

For the reconfiguration of the structure, three positions considered to achieve. The first configuration would be giving a completely open space with direct sunlight. The aim of this stage is to still give the place a sence of open and outdoor space.

For the second configuration, a semi open shape is taken into consideration. This shape enables the shops and the caffes to have a protection and shade, while keeping the rest of the square completely open to the environment.

The third configuration would be when this two portions of structure that are coming from different sides connect in the middle of the square giving a different quality of space and light by completely covering the square, but letting diverse quality of light to come into the place.

So finally, the three stages are show in the following image. 1. Completely deployed structure. 2. semi open structure covering just shops and caffes area. 3. Completely open and contracted structure. Note that the representation of this images not necessarily corresponds to the final shape of the structure.

miércoles, 18 de febrero de 2009

1st guideline for research

A kinetic structure can be design to control sunlight and rain water in an open public space at the same time it reconfigures itself to provide a duality of open and closed space.

Applicable uses:
  • Public squares
  • Gardens
  • Arenas
  • Stations
Research Question:
Is it possible to create a 3D structure that can be stable in 3 different configurations* and that at the same time deals with sunlight and rain water control?

*These configurations are: closed, semi open and completely open (hidden).

About main structure:
  • Which kind of structure is more stable for this type of project?
  • What is the most efficient way to reconfigure an entire structure?
  • What is the exact position for the new configurations?
  • What are the mechanical possibilities to achieve a reconfiguration?
  • What kind of material is more suitable for this task?
About secondary structure (light and water features):
  • How can a structure move in order to control light income?
  • How can a structure deal with combined needs? (e.i. sun control+ventilation; rain+need of light; rain+ventilation, etc.)
  • What kind of materials are available to create this features?
  • What kind of material is more suitable to adapt into the structure?
  • What are the machanical posibilities to achieve this movement?


  1. Study the context and the site of the design.
  2. Search for the reconfigurable structures available
  3. Select the reconfiguration positions of the structure
  4. Select the mechanical systems
  5. Search for materials for main structure
  6. Modeling of the structure
  7. Structural analysis in different configurations
  8. Search for daylight parameters and sun trajectory
  9. Analysis of combined environmental factors (rain+light+ventilation)
  10. Search for mechanism to control environmental factors
  11. Search for materials for secondary structure
  12. Modeling of the secondary structure
  13. Light analisys (flux)

Software to be used:

  • Structural analisys: Diana
  • Daylight income: Ecotect
  • Geometry creation: Generative Components

Aim of the kinetic structure

After having a clarifying chat with Michela, the main question arose: Why would I introduce a kinetic structure for solving an specific architectural problem?

The answer was found during the analysis of the site (context). I was thinking of a public square, where the need of shading and a temporary shelter should be needed in order to hold some public events, or purely to protect the people that gather in this place from sun and rain. Yesterday, Michela kindly offered a site to develop the structure: a public square in Bologna, Italy. This site enhace in some way the aim of the reseach. From my country background (Mexico) and from what I saw in Italy during a few months I was there, public squares are used to gather, people go to these places to meet other people and to socialize. So protecting this space to give a comfortable stay is one of the reasons.

In the other hand, people is familiarized with these spaces as open. So a big impact would be produced if a static structure is design. It can even make people to stop coming and enjoying the space.

Taking the above into account, the main objective of introducing a kinetic structure in a public square is to manage sunlight and rain water in order to bring a comfortable space to stay. This structure should be clever enough to keep the sence of outdoor space. Therefore two different movements where identifyied for the structure:

1. Small movement to control in an accurate way the light income, which entirely depends of the sun trajectory and the season; and to control rain water.

2. Big movement to completely open the structure and keep the sence of outdoor space. This movement can be achieved as Michela suggested by two means: Small accumulative movements or a single big scale movement. I think I still have to explore both possibilities.

jueves, 12 de febrero de 2009

Clearifying research question

Last monday February 9 the presentation about the research questions was done. In order to present this research question, some reduction of posibilities was done to get a quite an almost definitive research topic in which most all factors were defined.
Since I had 3 possible questions to search on structure and that at the same time they were interenting for me, I decided to extract from them the most meaningful part of each one (change configuration, self supporting and daylight), and tried to bring them into a single and global question:

Is it possible to create a 3D structure such that it can be stable in three different configurations without changing its elements?

In order to get this question answered in the right track, some delimitations have to be settled. The context on which I want to persue this topic is having the structure on an open space such as a square. This structure should serve as a canopy, providing shade to the people, and when changing configuration, letting direct daylight go through. So the main objective is to demonstrate that a single structure can be transformed in such a way that has multi-stable configurations and by this it can provide spatial quality* without decreasing efficiency.
In order to test this hypothesis, some parameters have to be defined. In this case, th following are considered:

1.The structure should open at least for 50% the span
2.Avoid disconnection of originally attached elements
3.Change from one shape to another (floor plan)
There are still some factors to be determined, such as the surface treatment, the waterproofment of the structure, the size of the structure and the square, and other that may arise while the search is being done. In this case I would appreciate if anybody can point out anyother element that hasn't been taken into account.
*For this case the spatial quiality will be daylight income.

jueves, 5 de febrero de 2009

Interests in architectural field

Eversince I decided to study architecture, I felt attraction for structural matters and how they could be integrated to a final design. Most of the architectural projects treat design and structure as separate elements and this last has to be adapted to fit in the design most of the times. As far as I conceive architecture, structure should play a significant role in the main piece and should also be attractive enough to contribute to the final outcome.
In search for a theme to research, I decided I would like to go deeper on the understanding of structres. After a few hours of thinking, I found three topics that are interesting to me, all related with the movement and the use of the least possible elements:
1. How could a solid structure open and close to let daylight go in without changing its form too much?
2. What kind of structure should be the most adequate to use in order to create a structure that is self supported?
3. How can a solid structure (such as beams or columns) move to completely change position without decreasing its efficiency during this process and create a new shape?

Hopefully at the end of this period I will find a solution for any of these matters.


I finally decided to go for standUp architecture. What interests me the most is that anything can be possible for this lecture. This blog is going to be a diary of the evolution of my thoughts and the work done in order to developt a challenging architectural matter.