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Kinematic Sculpture

Winner - Gold

Competition: Spark:Engineering
Designer: William Baker - Structural Engineering Partner
Design Type: origami-like rigid structure designed as a pavilion
Company / Organization / School: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Website: http://www.som.com
Team Members: William Baker, David Horos, Eric Long, Alessandro Beghini, Samantha Walker, Nicole Wang, Daniel Koroski, Toby Mitchell & Arek Mazurek

The Kinematic Sculpture is inspired by ancient origami techniques and driven by the mathematical relationships between force and motion. The 27–foot long doubly–curved kinematic structure is made of hinged and stiffened wood panels. Its flat panels are connected at various angles and dimensions with stainless steel hinges, while the entire structure is suspended from aluminum trusses and braced with steel wires. Initial inspiration for the structure came from research that Professor Tomohiro Tachi of the University of Tokyo is doing into “rigid origami.” The idea was to create a structure that can be transformed into various configurations with minimal human effort and without deforming any of the individual panels. The result is a surface whose geometry allows it to be moved and flexed into various shapes with the application of minimal pressure or load. The structure remains rigid throughout its pattern of movement. SOM’s research and design process for the sculpture included designing the geometric form, conducting analyses to understand the behavior of the structure’s movement, materials testing, and constructing scaled models to refine design solutions for strength, serviceability, and constructability. Merging structural engineering expertise with architectural design and artistic vision, the Kinematic Sculpture demonstrates how collaboration puts design in motion.