AIRSHELL - Bending timber with air
MSD PhD student Alessandro Liuti completed the construction of AIRSHELL, the first timber gridshell structure ever formed by means of a pneumatic formwork.
Gridshells derive their lightness and strength from combining material and geometric properties into a form-resistant structure.
Inspired by the work of Frei Otto and Dante Bini, this new system combines the use of an inflatable membrane and an Arduino board - the former used as a dynamic formwork, the latter to monitor the height of the structure and the membrane pressure throughout the forming process.
AIRSHELL was conceived by integrating digital design techniques with small-scale prototypes, which helped simulating, prior to construction, the technology and behaviour of the system.
The project was supervised by Dr Alberto Pugnale and Dr Toong-Khuan Chan at the Melbourne School of Design.
Manufacturing and prototyping were developed in collaboration with: Prof Alessandra Zanelli (Politecnico Milano / Textiles Hub); Prof Sergio Pone (University of Naples Federico II / Faculty of Architecture / Gridshell.it); Dr Sofia Colabella (EPFL Lausanne / Gridshell.it).