Re: Charles J Knight: Fabric Structures

> Date:    Thu, 14 Oct 1999 22:20:51 -0500
> From:    Charles J Knight <c dot knight at juno dot com>
> To:      floating-cities at sculptors dot com
> Subject: Re: ...Ahem... Is this thing on?
> > > For large public buildings, such as common buildings and
> > > hospitals, membrane architecture makes the most sense -- it's
> >
> > 	These structures are great. I took classes and 
> > studied/designed
> > this type of architecture in college. You can find out more about it 
> Then perhaps, Pat, you can help me with patterning.  It's not exactly
> intuitive for me.  (I've got a few small models that I want to build,
> and a few ideas to work out, one of which is not even architectural)
> > > But, all systems are untested, and tooling is enormously 
> >
> > 	They're not *all* untested. Birdair ( )
> > has a long history and track
> > record, as do other companies. But I would say that they're still 
> > quite
> > unconventional, to the mass-public's eye. 
> What I meant to say was that the specific building (unless they 
> have something the size of a big top pre-engineered) would be
> untested, and construction in a war zone as opposed to erection
> on properly prepared concrete pads, etc, is untested.
	Well, if you mean small (tent-to-house-sized) fabric structures,
there are quite a few that have been made by tent companies. John Atkins,
(who used to frequent this list) and I both took these classes together. He
then worked with Bill Moss at Moss Tent Works, designing all manner of
fabric structures, from small tents for camping, to large pavillions that
could host outdoor events.

	Circus-tents are done in grassy areas. You just need the right
kinds of poles, ropes, and stakes. I have a feeling that concrete pads
really aren't needed for anything but the most permanent structures (like
airports, stadiums, etc.)

> I know Frei Otto designed a tent system...basically a simple hypar
> which was designed for erection on less than ideal surfaces, but
> I'm not aware if it has ever been built, except for his proof of concept 
> prototype.
> It's not a difficult proposition to design one of these buildings, of
> almost any size, with the right software and tooling.
>      -- Chuck Knight

	True enough. Birdair has a fabric-mesh software package listed on
their site, but it's expensive. ($600/$5000, depending on which license you

	I have been using the Moray 3D Modeller (shareware for Windows) 
which can be found at
	I've been using this software since last December, and I can't
speak highly enough about it. I used it for about 9 months, and finally
registered it, as I feel the authors deserve support. (I'll be posting many
images in the near future of designs I've been working on for the
autonomous house.) It's an extremely versatile tool, if you take the time
to learn it.
	As it relates to fabric structures, the software has support for
Bezier patches, which can be pulled and stretched like a piece of fabric,
then rendered in different materials, to give you a photorealistic (if
desired) view of how it would look at the end. I also just downloaded their
"dome" plugin, which doesn't seem to do geodesics, but does a great job
with other concave mathematical shapes and structures. 

	Go grab a copy of Moray and POV-Ray (the freeware 3D Raytracer) or
PolyRay (another one, I haven't played with that one) and give it a go.
It's like 3D CAD/CAM, and it really lets you do some very advanced design

	I don't know of anything that will do the stress-analysis of the
fabric sheeting in this software, but that's because it's not really a
fabric-structures design tool. Still, for getting your idea quickly out of
your head and into a form that others can see, it's great.

	   ___________________Think For Yourself____________________
	 Patrick G. Salsbury -
       Like geodesic domes? See
    "Giving money and power to the government is liking giving whisky and
		 car keys to teenage boys."  -- P.J. O'Rourke

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