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Tensegrity, Geodesics and Bamboo PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 22 August 2004 14:48

I've been fascinated by Buckminster Fuller's Geodesic domes for a long time. I live in an area which grows a lot of bamboo, and its often used for construction projects, but a big challenge is the jointing. I've been realizing that tensegrity - Buckie's system of balancing compressive and tensional forces, might provide a solution as in a typical tensegrity structure the struts don't join.

Unsuprisingly, this isn't a new idea, and the links before are some of the best I found.

First, a few examples of what can be done

A nice collection of pictures of different styles of modern bamboo architecture.

Pictures of a plan by Michael McDonough to build a tensegrity bamboo bridge in Mendocino - its unclear if it ever got built.

An article on biomimicry and bamboo and his amazing "hooch" treehouse.

And now some of the techniques and math's needed

Here's an interesting tent from Shelter Systems using the skin of the tent as the tension part. There are also pictures of one way of joining the poles.

There is some descriptions which help with the math here, especially this diagram

A simple calculator and the formula for Geodesic structs.

This is the best page I've seen for calculations and complete instructions for a bamboo dome

And getting to the simple end of things, here are complete instructions for building a tensegrity coffee table,


I'm unsure where this leads, I have an intuition that there are some lessons here for sustainability. Bamboo is an abundant natural resource, and there should be a way to use tensegrity, or geodesics or something to use it in an efficient way for many uses where currently plastic, or metal are used. At the very least, I think I'm going to give the coffee table a go, using bamboo instead of copper pipe, and I have some ideas that might make the dome instructions above a little less labor intensive.