ITECH MSc. 2015 – Elena Chiridnik

Pneumatically actuated bistable system based on biomimetic principles
Elena Chiridnik

Inst. of Building Structures & Structural Design (Prof. Knippers)
Inst. for Computational Design (Prof. Menges)

Thesis Advisors: Axel Körner

Thesis Supervisor: Prof. Dr.-Eng. Jan Knippers
Second Supervisor: Prof. Achim Menges

Adaptive architecture can transform in order to better suite environmental
conditions, to change function of the object, or to interact
with the user in order to cause curiosity. I believe this field of architecture
is fascinating as it can be harmonized with men’s lifecycles
and needs.

In the field of kinematic and adaptive architecture most of the existing
articulation solutions are mechanical. They require high precision
and high energy consumption. The elements are separate
bodies, so a lot of energy is lost in friction.

If we look into biology, we will find systems with more efficiency
than mechanical man-made systems. Example is a joint of an arthropod
limb. The joint is strong and flexible at the same time. It is
an inseparable part of the body.

My interest is to implement natural intelligence in the architecture,
and, in particular, to transfer the motion principles, as the motion
and ability to change is what identifies the living world. All natural
motion mechanisms are compliant. Any living body motion is based
on the flexibility of its material.

Arthropods’ pneumatically actuated motion mechanisms were selected
for the current research. The stiffness of arthropods exoskeleton
is in the range when it is able to carry self-weight and forces
produced by the jump or other movement, and at the same time it
allows the compliant movement.

The cuticle – the material arthropod body is built of – is a fibrous
composite material with variations in flexibility and allowing continuity
between all the arthropod body parts.

The proposed role models for the study are hydraulically actuated
(with haemolymph fluid) joints of arthropods. The kinematic system,
joints themselves, position and functioning of pneumatic elements
were studied and applied to the system of architectural elements.
In the most technically advanced fields of spaceship construction,
robotics, and medicine, soft systems can be found. These systems
have high redundancy and more degrees of freedom than mechanical
joints. In architecture these features are not applied yet. What
was used from existing technology in a thesis prototype