This research is focused on the development of physically transformable architectural systems by exploring a range of material scales in the composition of textile-reinforced composites and pneumatic actuation, through a collaboration between architecture and aerospace engineering. This introduces a unique characteristic for composites where they seamlessly interconnect highly differentiated material properties with embedded means for geometric transformation. Fiber-reinforced composites, primarily made with loose fiber or woven textile reinforcements, have a growing attraction in architecture focused primarily on their ability to be designed for any shape. Composites developed through tailored fiber placement primarily address structural constraints through minimum material usage. The Morphable Architectures research seeks to merge skin and structure, where the material architecture can adapt through changing its geometry without the means of mechanical actuation. Investigations include robotically-controlled deposition of thermoplastic matrix (binder) materials onto differentiated CNC knitted textiles - tailoring stiffness to drive the hybrid composite material to self-actuate from a initially flat state into a complex 3D structure. Actuation is also explored through knit-constrained pneumatics, utilizing differentiation in the knit structure to drive the geometric transformation when the system is inflated.
Sean Ahlquist, Assistant Professor, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
Wes McGee, Assistant Professor, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
Henry Sodano, Associate Professor, College of Engineering, Department of Aerospace Engineering