Rapidly assembled reciprocal systems with bending-active components: the ReciPlyDome project

Stijn Brancart, Olga Popovic Larsen, Lars De Laet, Niels De Temmerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


While transformable structures allow rapid assembly, reuse and reconfiguration, their technical complexity and related production or cost issues often hinder architectural application. Yet, vernacular or nomadic structures, like teepees or yurts, show how reversibility and transportability can be achieved with low-tech structural systems. The project presented in this paper is part of a broader research that investigates how material understanding and manipulation through elastic deformation can contribute to the development of low-tech and rapidly assembled kit-of-parts structures. More specifically, the ReciPlyDome project combines the concepts of bending-active and reciprocal structures. The parametric design and modelling of the system are based on regular polyhedra to guarantee uniformity and allow reconfiguration of the components. While this works from a design perspective, the structural performance is limited by the flexibility of the components. Therefore, we developed a double-layered component to increase the structural height and improve the stiffness of the structure. Preliminary FEM analyses provide assessment of this layering and stress stiffening, i.e. the stiffening effect of the residual stress. A full-scale prototype illustrates the rapid and low-tech manufacturing and assembly process. Through design, analysis and finally construction, this project illustrates the potential of active-bending in developing more low-tech and rapidly assembled structures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-77
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Bending-active structures
  • Finite element analysis
  • Kit-of-parts systems
  • Parametric modelling
  • Prototyping
  • Rapidly assembled structures
  • Reciprocal structures
  • Structural design


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