Transformable Structures: Materialising Design for Change

Transformable Structures: Materialising Design for Change


Department of Architectural Engineering, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Belgium

30 September 2017
| Citation



Living in an age of rapid changes, designers are challenged to create solutions that remain sustainable in a continuously evolving environment. Since most of our earth’s resources are finite, these solutions should incorporate efficient material use and reuse. Buildings and structures are always in transition. Facilitating these transformations is vital to the sustainable development of our built environment. With our group we study, develop and assess transformable structures on different scales, in differ-ent contexts and for various time-spans and purposes. This paper presents our work on transformable structures, based on four case studies: a kinetic curved-line folding component, a temporary and rapidly assembled structure, a dynamic wall assembly and a BIM tool for material flow assessment of adapt-able buildings. Although varying in scale or purpose, these cases demonstrate the same key principles of transformability. Reducing the complexity of the connections and structural system facilitates an easy and rapid assembly, but also allows users and locals to participate in the assembly, maintenance, reconfiguration and deconstruction of the structure. Apart from benefits during the assembly and adapt-ability, it is important to assess transformable structures and building solutions on their material and cost effectiveness. With BIM tools it is possible to incorporate this assessment already in the conceptual design phases of a project, as illustrated in the fourth case.


BIM, deployable structures, design for change, kit-of-parts structures, material flows, ­prototyping, transformable structures.


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