Deployable Structures

I designed and built the models pictured below for Mohamad Al Khayer’s Deployable Structures class at PennDesign.  The first images show the product of a collaboration with Kate Rufe and Kacie Comly, and this structure is currently on display in the lobby of the School of Design (as pictured), where it will likely remain for a year.  All other models were individual projects unless otherwise noted.  Each model is carefully designed, and the joints were of particular interest to me; you will see that I explored several approaches to joint design throughout the series of models.


We planned this model with public installation in mind, even though we did not yet know that it would be selected to be displayed.  It involves two units that deploy inversely–when one opens, the other closes, and vice versa.  We wanted to show the range of deployment in a static display.  The model consists of several materials with slight changes in opacity and contrasting hardware with a gunmetal finish.  The long acrylic members are reinforced by a second layer of sand-blasted acrylic, and the joints are made stronger with doubly-interlocked pieces.


The model pictured above is the precursor to the model that is on display.  It was also completed with Kate Rufe and Kacie Comly.


This model provided the inspiration for many aspects of the final two models.  This model is made of acrylic and copper tubing.


This model is composed of a central deployable “rod” that is a gently sloping hyperbolic revolution connected to two deployable circular rings with woven fishing wire.  The rings and “rod” had to be designed and sized carefully so as not to restrict their deployment.  Plywood, copper tubing, and fishing wire were used to make this model.


This was the first deployable hyperbolic revolution I built, and it holds the origins of many aspects of the later projects.  Each of the four connections on a single joint is oriented in a unique plane, so several flat pieces are required to accommodate the angle changes involved.  These joints are relatively simple and clean, but also delicate, so in later models I experimented with more interconnecting pieces.  This model is made of plywood and copper tubing.


This structure is a portion of a rhombicuboctahedron, a polyhedron whose faces are made up of triangles and squares.  Each joint must connect three square faces and one triangular face.  I created a four-piece interlocking joint that required no glue.  This model is the first one in which I used this shape for the angulated scissor pieces, a shape which is repeated in many of the following models.  This shape locates the mass of the material around the center point between the three connection points of each scissor piece.  This model is made of plywood and copper tubing.


This joint was the first one I designed for this class, and it illustrates the simplicity, efficiency and continuity I strove for throughout the semester.


PennDesign, Deployable Structures, Instructor: Mohamad Al Khayer, 2012

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