An experimental prototype to insight into structural equilibrium of Knots
Document typeConference lecture
Rights accessOpen Access
Structures have advanced from their heavy, static and often not environmentally respectful origins, to become light, smart and structurally efficient. Lightweight structures represent one of the most advanced achievements of the research oriented towards a sustainable design. The pavilion described in this paper employs two lightweight structural elements, namely a pneumatic beam and a pre-tensioned membrane, in order to obtain a covered space for visitors. The idea behind the pavilion design originated by the study of harmonic knots, in particular the trefoil knot. The concept to realize an aesthetically pleasant and structurally challenging form led us to develop further the trefoil knot curve in order to rotate this regular 3d-curve in a rotate strip. The choice of such shape has been guided by the fascinating topological properties of the Möbius strip, which possess the peculiar characteristic of continuity along the two boundaries. In this case, to maintain the symmetries of the trefoil knot itself, the strip is twisting three times before closing. All these features resulted in a self-equilibrated internal forces flow and solved the stability problem in an elegant and simple way. Based on this concept, the main visual element of the pavilion is the inflatable tube that is shaped along the unique boundary of the Möbius-trefoil knot. A membrane, that follows the rotating strip, has been studied to create a shelter for visitors. The pavilion has been designed to be automatically tensioned by the pneumatic tube during installation: the increasing pressure provided to the internal fluid gives shape to the tube and simultaneously tightens the membrane.