An evening with architects and engineers.

Hi, all! 
	I've just returned from a day and a half of helping my good friend 
(and fellow list member) Ken Turgen pack and prepare for his move from San 
Francisco to Boston. (His wife, Kim, is currently on the road driving most of 
their stuff eastward with a friend. You can find out more details about the 
move on the UpSpin mailing list archives at - I won't fill 
everyone's mailbox with redundant info, here.) 

	What I *will* talk about, though, is some of the people we met with 
tonight, on Ken's whirlwind goodbye tour. 

	We stopped by a place he used to work, RYS Architecture, and met with 
his former boss, Robert Sauvageau. It was very cool to wander around the 
office and see the things they were working on. They do a lot of commercial 
architecture, such as hotels & restaurants. One of the things that impress me 
greatly about architects is they can take a concept, an idea, or a sketch, 
make it into technical drawings and renderings, then work with the builders 
and planning departments, and actually get these things built. They're real 
buildings going up all over the place. Very often we take buildings for 
granted, but they're man-made. These folks dream them up, and make them 
happen. It's really cool. :-)

	Robert, or 'Bob', as he likes to be called, told me that they had 
begun to look into using fuel-cells in some buildings, and were starting to 
discuss it with clients, but didn't have anything solid at this point. I told 
him about the fuel-cells mailing list I run, and am going to see if we can get 
him to join there and post reports on what they find with trying to get these 
into real-world buildings. 

	I also showed him the autonomous house designs, and the hub and panel 
details. He seemed to like them, and had a variety of questions. We didn't 
have a whole lot of time, so I gave him a brief tour, and pointed him at the 
web pages. Hopefully we'll get a chance to discuss in more detail at some 
future point.

	After the visit to RYS, we visited Ken's friends, Onder and Anca 
Kustu. They are a husband and wife team that run a structural engineering firm 
in Belmont, CA. (About 10-15 miles south of San 
Francisco) Onder is Turkish, and he has about 35 years of experience in 
construction technologies and structural engineering. Anca is Romanian, and 
she's been doing structural engineering for more than 20-25 years. (I think!) 
She also has a background in sculpting, art, and architecture. Needless to 
say, the conversations were fascinating and lively! :-) 

	In just the first 5 minutes of meeting Onder, I sketched out the basic 
ideas I was pursuing with the autonomous house (he was familiar with Bucky's 
work, and used to play around with geodesic designs), and asked him some 
questions about doing stress-analysis calculations on octet-trusses for use in 
the floor joists. He said this shouldn't be hard at all, but that a 16 meter 
span may end up being too far to do without a fairly deep truss.

	However! He then proceeded to blow my mind wide open to a few new 
ideas, which might prove to be stronger, and even perhaps even lighter than 
the octet-truss designs. (Not to mention perhaps even cooler!) Both involved 
using some sort of compression ring that would circle around the inside of the 
dome and provide a way to contain many of the forces involved. 

	Idea 1: Use a much shallower/flatter dome as a floor support, and 
build some joists above it to put the flat floor upon. In essence, when 
looking from below, it would be a ceiling that arched slightly upards towards 
the center of the dome, but nowhere near as much as the outer dome shell. 
(I'll try to provide some drawings/renderings in the next few days to 
illustrate this.) Looking from the top, without the flooring, this dome would 
look sort of like a large, dimpled trusswork. Raising slightly towards the 

	Idea 2: Use a cable mesh or network that suspended the floor from the 
edges of the compression ring. This would have some flex and bounce to it as 
you walked across, unless you did some counter-balancing with other cables to 
lock it in place, but you could employ the tensional forces correctly to make 
it rock-solid, yet still weigh next to nothing. 

	In fact, I suspect that the 
Wichita House that Bucky designed, the Dymaxion Dwelling Machine, used a 
technique like this. I remember reading (I think in BuckyWorks - ) 
something about the residents of the house learning to walk with that slight 
bounce to the floors. Can anyone else confirm this, or point to a reference?

	I really liked both of these ideas. And the second has some neat 
possibilities for keeping the weight ultra-light, while the strength is 
ultra-strong. Not to mention extra coolness-points for designing a tensegrity 
or aspension floor system! Talk about ephemeralization! You might be able to 
replace huge wooden beams and planking with a lightweight spiderweb of cables, 
and bring the materials usage (and cost) way down.

	I'm not sure how much time Onder and Anca have to spare, but I've 
invited them to check out the site and lists, and hope to get them to join and 
share their inputs and ideas. They're both incredibly bright people, and Ken 
has loved working with them over the years on many projects. I now understand 
why. :-) 

	That's enough from me, for now. :-)

(still wired from all the stimulating talk 3 hours ago... :-)  )


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