Convertible Folding Structures

  Transformable Folding Constructions © Chair of Structures and Structural Design  


Convertible Folding Structures © Chair of Structures and Structural Design Convertible Folding Structures

Foldable constructions are utilised more and more in architectural applications. Their development reaches from temporary, mobile envelopes up to a large scale use as retractable sun-protectors. These can shade event locations as textile screens or serve as self-carrying, rigid folding stadium-roofs. The general constructional goal is to accomplish the maximum functionality of a structure by providing multiple usable configurations. The configurations used so far are based mostly on the usage of light membrane-roofs as flexible elements or stiff structural elements, which can be shifted or folded. Wide-span constructions that are based on the principals of folding offer very efficient and powerful supporting structures with simultaneously space-defining and designing features. On top of plain static features it is possible to create constructions the can perform kinematic motion sequences, when the edges of all folding plates are connected by hinges. Convertible constructions that simultaneously utilize static advantages of the folded support elements as well the possibility to create a reversible, space-defining usage or a flexible sculpture are created. Such constructions were rarely realized because of material requirements and subsequent technical problems that are yet to be overcome. The development was not promoted due to the complex kinematic situation. The use of modern materials and the newly available parameterization technology allows implementation and application of folded plate constructions in architecture.



Motion analysis of folding structures as paper model © Chair of Structures and Structural Design Motion analysis of folding structures as paper model

The main goal is the exploration of folding mechanisms and the fundamental research development for the design and structure of folding-based constructions. Based on the elaboration of a system of foldable structures that summarizes the different possibilities of construction and the kinematic principals, the special requirements in the architectural and static planning are developed. A cataloguing of all existing foldable constructions as a basis of further development is a main element in this creation of typologies. Further, the suggested solutions for constructive details and actuation concept are needed.


Projects of Realisation

convertible stage-roof at Kennedy-Park © Chair of Structures and Structural Design convertible stage-roof at Kennedy-Park

For the realisation of the convertible stage-roof at Kennedy-Park, planned by Arne Künstler (former researcher employed this chair), for the city of Aachen, theory were examined and applied in the planning process. Concurrently, the realizations of the planning process regarding implementation of agile connecting-elements, the influence of kinematics on the load-bearing behavior and the drive formation in the theoretical basis are reflected. Within the scope of the ‘Parametric constructions’ -seminar the construction Rocking Origami is developed and demonstrates the performance of folding within the construction.