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Practice-based research, testing and application of Tensegrity for a demountable 'Tension Pavilion'

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Abstract

This paper presents the results of practice-based research into Tensegrity systems, formfinding, structural analysis, testing and use in a 'real-life' project: a demountable Tensegrity pavilion with a tensile fabric canopy-'Tension Pavilion'. Tensegrity has rarely been utilised in the built environment for a building structure. The term is often misunderstood and wrongly applied to structures that use different structural systems, or have been adapted to such an extent that they are no longer purely Tensegrity. This demountable pavilion was built with a chain of simplex Tensegrities that form an undulating ring, warped to follow a sine wave, creating three arches and three valleys. The Tensegrity ring and fabric canopy have been designed to resist 75mph wind loads, and tested for an 80kg load at the apex of an arch. In this paper we present preparatory practice-based research, parametric modelling, formfinding, structural analysis, physical testing, detailing, fabrication and construction. The benefits and challenges of using Tensegrity are discussed, and recommendations for future use and further study are made.

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