Assembly of shells with bi-stable mechanism

Y.-C. Chiang, Sina Mostafavi, Henriette Bier

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

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Shell structures achieve stability through double curvature, which brings about construction challenges. This paper presents a strategy to design and assemble a panelized shell with a bi-stable mechanism aiming to make the assembly process more efficient. The developed prototype has two states of flat and three-dimensional stable configuration. This reconfiguration is achieved by reconfiguring the flattened surface of a shell into a three-dimensional structure using embedded bi-stable joints. In order to apply this approach on free-form double curved shells, a workflow to translate a shell into its flattened state is developed. Discrete components are connected using bi-stable joints, where each joint has two stable states. Once the joints are mechanically activated, they guide the adjacent components contracting and rotating into the three-dimensional configuration. Initial explorations indicate that an edge of a shell will turn into an isosceles trapezoid in the flattened configuration while a node of a conical mesh will turn into a cyclic quadrilateral in the flattened configuration. The flattening process is demonstrated using a free-form vault, while scaled physical porotypes are 3D printed with PLA and tested. Future studies require exploration into applications with construction materials at larger scales.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of Advances in Architectural Geometry 2018 (AAG 2018)
EditorsLars Hesselgren, Axel Kilian, Samar Malek, Karl-Gunnar Olsson, Olga Sorkine-Hornung, Chris Williams
Place of PublicationChalmers, Sweden
PublisherChalmers University of Technology
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)978-3-903015-13-5
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventAAG 2018: Advances in Architectural Geometry 2018 - Göteborg, Sweden
Duration: 22 Sept 201825 Sept 2018


ConferenceAAG 2018: Advances in Architectural Geometry 2018


  • bi-stable mechanism
  • reconfigurable assembly
  • shell structure
  • free-form construction
  • programmable material


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