Transformable Structures

Transformable Structures and
their Architectural Application

Sam Bouten
Master’s dissertation submitted in order to obtain the academic degree of Master
of Science in the engineering sciences: architecture

The field of transformable structures is remarkably varied since it transcends the borders of conventional disciplines and inscribes itself into the modern notion of adaptivity. The main aim of this thesis by Sam Bouten is to provide insight in the design of transformable structures on an architectural scale.

In the first part of the thesis, an extensive literature research is done to show the possibilities that lie in the hands of the designer. Geometrical variations are complemented by examples of real-life use of each of the addressed categories: scissor-like structures, rigid-foldable origami and Jitterbug-like mechanisms. Many of them are identified as being variations on overconstrained linkages.

The second part addresses the kinematic aspects such as the analysis of degrees of freedom and trajectories. A numerical model for a generalized deployable 4-bar structure is given. Materialization challenges and pitfalls in the scaling of transformable structures are further discussed, specifically joint design and actuation.

The third part focuses more deeply on the Sarrus linkage and the different arrays that can be formed from it. A novel way of introducing a polar angle in the Sarrus linkage by means of a joint offset is given. Furthermore, a novel array, dubbed the overlap array, is analyzed and its geometrical aspects discussed.

A parametric tool for the design of flat and polar Sarrus arrays is given. The trade-off between deployability and structural performance of the arrays is discussed and two case studies finally are used to structurally analyze the different arrays.

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