A studio I co-lead in the University of Melbourne’s Master of Architecture program. From the words of by co-tutor, Dr Stanislav Roudavski:
The HEX kite is an outcome of an experimental studio run at the Melbourne School of Design in 2016. Kites can be interesting for architects because they tame a powerful energy source with minimal means to achieve amazing, and sustainable, performance. What if buildings could be supported by the available wind, just like kites? What can kites teach architects about the invisible landscapes of air? These are the types of questions asked by the broader ongoing research that motivated this project.
Kites can be interesting for architects because they tame a powerful energy source – wind – with minimal means to achieve amazing, and sustainable, performance. The Hex kite is a component of the overarching research into lightweight architectural structures that can be supported without the use of mechanical devices. The Hex is one of many prototypes that were used to develop form-making and fabrication workflows, investigate suitable materials and test the outcomes in the target conditions.
###UNIQUE PROPERTIES / PROJECT DESCRIPTION:###
The Hex kite is a twelve-meter-long inflatable structure that was produced by a computational process originally invented to describe the growth of plants (L-system algorithms, see here). This technique allows designers to write down rules that can guide the growth of whole families of objects. Like living creatures evolving through natural selection, members of such families can adapt to diverse needs and conditions leading to outstanding efficiency, unimaginable forms and aesthetic enjoyment
The Hex is a unique structure that has never been attempted before in a kite. It is generated semi-automatically with the custom software resolving all joints and preparing the patterns for assembly. The process of assembly is also challenging and requires careful management of multiple similar parts. Because the topology of the Hex does not allow the whole object to be turned inside-out, the joining of the parts has to follow a unique strict sequence to ensure all seams are on the inside.
###OPERATION / FLOW / INTERACTION:###
Launch the pilot kite, then the Hex and enjoy.
###PROJECT DURATION AND LOCATION:###
Can be flown is steady winds anywhere. (Admittedly, at this local kite festival, the winds were a a bit lacking.)
###PRODUCTION / REALIZATION TECHNOLOGY:###
1. Use an L-system to generate the graph.
2. Skin the graph using a parametric model.
3. Use a custom program to pattern the skin, unfold the patches, nest the patches into the standard sheet for cutting.
4. Cut and stitch.
###SPECIFICATIONS / TECHNICAL PROPERTIES:###
Lightweight fabric construction, approximately 12m in length, packs into 0.5 cubic centimeters, self-organizes into a self-supporting space grid structure that expands to 430 cubic meters when inflated by the wind.
The Hex Kite won the Platinum A’Design Award, and has been exhibited at the Cervia International Kite Festival, Cervia, IT; the 40×40 Exhibition, Budapest, HU; and at the MOOD Museum of Design, Como IT.
###TEAM MEMBERS (17) :###
Stanislav Roudavski, Alex Holland, (tutors)
Vivien Au, Xirong Bao, Bradley Elias, Rhys Jones, Thomas Jones, Stefanie Judd, Michael Mack, Leila Mottaghizadeh, Danny Ngo, Andrew Nicholson, Nancy Samayoa, Woon Khai Wong, Sihang Yang, Tony Yu and Yijia Zhang (students)