HANGING MODEL / EXPERIMENT FOUR
Intrigued by Frei Otto, Heinz Isler and Gaudi’s explorations in self-forming processes using hanging models to find and test innovative forms, our team developed a hanging model of our own. We began the project by defining a boundary, in this case a partially enclosed cube made up of acrylic panels, with a 7 x 18 grid of equal square cuts. We defined the features of the boundary by taking into consideration the desired size of the material and the number of angles from which we wanted to deform said fabric. We experimented with multiple materials and cutting strategies, in light of achieving a uniform and dramatic fall. The winning fabric ended up being a polyester elastic piece of Tian’s athletic shirt, with semi-circular cuts on each side, to avoid buckling. Held in tension by four equally distributed points in two intersecting rods, resting at the center of each panel, our selected fabric naturally vaulted by its self-weight. This form was then manipulated through external compression forces, applied by wooden rods placed within the defined grids. At this point, our team began the form finding process, playing with the number, spacing and direction of the rods, to create balanced compositions. This dynamic technique of form finding, gave us great flexibility to make design decisions during prototyping, while ensuring the structural efficiency of the resulting model, knowing that it would comfortably rest on the four tension points, when flipped.