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M.Arch Thesis

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Architecture is both an act of replication and invention. It becomes illustrious when the will to realize a vision coordinates with market capital and opportunity. Creating a reflexive relationship between form and value, architecture can also become a proprietary invention—open to an evolving development and replication. Set in a backdrop of boxy urbanity; fabric structures can offer style, curvilinear dynamic, translucency, visual lightness, and clear large spans. Temporary fabric structures can possess a fleeting character, as opposed to the permanence and monumentality of heavy traditional construction.

Tensile architecture has a history that stretches back over 44,000 years when nomadic peoples would drape animal skins over sticks and bones. Over time, canopies, individualized tents and full enclosures started to develop with gradual improvement. As recent as the 1950’s, proprietary membrane structures and architectural canopies arose to develop light weight tensile technology.

With an increasing demand for mobile enclosures or canopies to meet a variety of needs with distinction, fabric structures can introduce functional sophistication. The possibility of a fully recyclable kit of modular parts means that environmental stewardship finds symbiotic alignment with the financial bottom line.

My thesis is a feasibility study of a new product, tri*par—a readily deployable and demountable stage cover designed for central staging. Bolted in modularity, curved triangular trusses form pointed arches triplicated around a central point. Along the perimeter of these trussed arches, canting away from the centre, a membrane cover spans between the uppermost edges of the aluminum trusses. Locked in anticlastic curvature, the beautifully efficient membrane is activated by tension to resist downward pressures and wind uplift.

The stage cover opens the possibility to engage special events from three axes, without incurring too steep of a cost. Minimal site impact and an ability to deploy virtually anywhere gives tri*par a logistical advantage. Small installation teams of 3-4 structural handlers can set up the stage cover in under eight hours. Two sizes, tri*par 25 and 40 reference their relativistic span and can be combined to form an organic matrix.Tri*par is an opportunity for lead users to differentiate and build their brand as they transform their event with this fabric marvel. The approaches of aesthetics, program, feasibility, economy, and logistics together illustrate the significance of the stage cover.


Thesis Video

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The project itself was created with standard CAD and finite element analysis software which accurately calculates and tests the fabric membrane against such factors as self-weight, snow and wind. The design process requires many sketch models to approximate and test the structure and its installation. These models are later reiterated at 1:25 and 1:50 at a higher resolution.

The primary representation of the project is a narrated 17 minute sequence with full animations. Since doubly-curved surfaces have a complex geometry that cannot be properly represented by typical orthographic projection, digital animations help to visualize the form.

The sequence takes a promotional and educational approach, which intends to unfold the story of the project itself. tri*par is first introduced through a rendered animation showing the product in context, unveiling the brand, and demonstrating potential programmatic uses. The history of tents is presented with animated monochromatic drawings, which animate the deployment of each structure. Following history is a section that illustrates the science behind the structures, before explaining the form derivation and connection details.

A separate supplementary set of drawings and calculations support the viability of the project. Included are plans, elevations, axonometric views, product variations, a financial report, wind, snow and prestress calculations.