Simplified Tensile Tents

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The idea of working with simplified tensile and compressive forces is simple. We aimed to work with a component which had direct load transfers, and which was not weakened by the application of loads, but rather strengthened.

development-04Experimentation in forms varied from holistic hanging meshes and membrane structures, to smaller components representing the same geometry and load transfer systems, for both static and kinetic systems.


The ideas explored with the  timber grid was to develop a structure which could be easily modified to fulfil any form, whilst maintaining its core structural behaviours and material integrity.wood-01

The circular structure was explored using small joints which cold form circles or other shapes when linked together. This joint is still under development, as it has many possibilities. The load paths are directly along the fibres of the wood, and the flexibility of the wood allows the joints to be pulled into any direction and at a wide variation of angles. Extra-08

The cardboard models on the other hand were acting as a load distributing component in a mesh structure – with the intention of developing a system with a designed deformation under applied load.

The question was then asked – are we working with a shell or a skeleton? The answer to this followed not through a direct response, but after exploring forms and geometries to explore the possibilities in simple structures.

From the simple mesh and membrane structures, we looked at collapsible structures.


The idea of taking a material and increasing its structural performance without any external additive was very appealing to us. The inspiration of Origami led us to explore the structural capabilities of paper – and therefore any sheet or flat material.

The more detailed arch pictured on the left provided greater aesthetics, but less structural performance than the simplified structure we eventually worked with.

We see two major influences on the performance of these structures:

more-06Firstly, the criss-crossing folds lead to a branching structure which allows point load distribution to a larger floor area;

Secondly, the short load path through minimal components allows direct load transfer to the ground;

Thirdly, we see that the folds remove the problems of bending moments in the structure. The load is not forced into a bend, but is rather redirected to the ground;

Fourthly, the triangular geometry of design creates a self-bracing and tensile component. We see in the diagrams left and below that there are two structural behaviours represented: tension and compression. These behaviours compliment each other when a load is applied, adding to the overall stability and strength of the structure until failure point.


Although the component we have developed is not designed to be integrated into a larger structure through the addition of multiple components, it is possible to break the current components down into the individual folds, and work with adding additional components as necessary. mainly it is designed to be a singular, collapsible component with multiple structural behaviours.





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