Tensegrity is a combination of tension and integrity, a term and idea popularized by Buckminster Fuller and Kenneth Snelson, also worked on by many researchers, artists and biologists. Keeping elements of a stable structure under tension forces the volume of material used to reduce, as materials that carry tension are typically lightweight and thin, such as cables, ropes and fabric, and this is how lightweight structures can be made. The appeal of tensegrity lies in its floating and ethereal visual qualities, which is simply an outcome of its minimal structure rather than intentional. This project examined the principles that make tensegrity structures work through practical explorations in forms and deploy-ability, combined with a digital form-finding approach. The project attempted to apply tensegrity forms derived from in-depth model explorations rather than defining a use case first. It presents a generalized understanding of tensegrity as an alternative building method for small scale spatial structures and products, using basic materials and local hardware. Membrane tensegrities are favoured for ease of assembly and enclosure formation. These structures may have applications as lightweight deployable shelters, exhibition pavilions, or even modular toys.
Keywords: form-finding, membrane structures, self-supporting structures, spatial structures, tensegrity