Using Actuated Tensegrity Structures to Produce a Responsive Architecture

The major theoretical roots of responsive architecture lie within the work of Nicholas Negroponte, and its most inspiring realization, to date, is found in the work of dECOi Architects. The work of NOX, and Diller & Scofidio provide two other built examples of responsive architectures. Each of these works is impressive within its own right. However, all of them have their shortcomings, suggesting that several possibilities for alternative visions still exist.

While Negroponte's work identifies the characteristics of a responsive architecture, it does not propose a model that is suitable for implementation. On the other hand, the work of dECOi architects does not address the technical needs of a building envelope designed for real world conditions of weather and structural load. Diller & Scofidio's work, also does not have a functional envelope, and NOX's work lacks physical responsiveness, favoring a palate of virtual responses instead. This paper, after examining the four specific precedents of Negroponte, dECOi, Diller & Scofidio, and NOX, will examine how a fifth precedent-that of Buckminster Fuller's model of tensegrity structures-may be applied. The paper will propose that by actuating a tensegrity structure a responsive architectural envelope that addresses real world weather and structural loading conditions becomes feasible.

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