Structural Systems for the Future


  • René Motro, Head of the Civil & Mechanical Engineering Laboratory and of the "Lightweight Structures for Architecture" research team at the School of Architecture Languedoc Roussillon, both at University Montpellier II

The word tensegrity results from the contraction of ‘tensional’ and ‘integrity’, a word created by Richard Buckminster Fuller. He went on to describe tensegrity structures as ‘islands of compression in an ocean of tension’, and René Motro has developed a comprehensive definition which is ‘systems in a stable self equilibriated system comprising a discontinuous set of compressed components inside a continuum of tensioned components’. This publication represents the life work of a leading exponent of a revolutionary and exciting method of structural design.
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Civil and structural engineers, architects, artists, designers, and researchers and students of related disciplines


Book information

  • Published: June 2003
  • ISBN: 978-1-903996-37-9


To explain the importance of tensegrity, Mamoru Kawaguchi, President of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures, writes in his review: ‘Foldable Tensegrities is a topic unique to this book, since it is a result of the author’s study for more than ten years. The information in this chapter may be helpful in research of deployable structures. In the final chapter on Actuality of Tensegrity he confirms that tensegrity is now applicable to architecture as an established structural system, while it can be applied to other fields as well.’ Stefan J. Medwadowski, Past President of the IASS, states in his review: ‘I am convinced that this volume will go a long way toward making the concept, the theory and the practicalities of tensegrity much more accessible. The design professionals will be able to design better structures. The interested non-professionals will experience the great pleasure of being able to say “I understand why the Hisshorn tower stands up”.’

Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. History and definitions2-1. Introduction2-2. History2-3. Definitions2-4. Conclusion3. Fundamental concepts3-1. Introduction3-2. Relational structure3-3. Geometry and stability3-4. Selfstress states and mechanisms3-5. Conclusion4. Typologies4-1. Introduction4-2. Typology criteria and codification4-3. Elementary cells or “spherical cells”4-4. Assemblies of cells4-5. Conclusion5. Models5-1. Introduction5-2. Problems to solve5-3. Form finding5-4. Selfstress and mechanisms5-5. Selftress qualification5-6. Designing tensegrity systems5-7. Active control5-8. Conclusion6. Foldable tensegrities6-1. Introduction6-2. Folding principle6-3. Foldable modules6-4. Foldable assemblies6-5. Folding design6-6. Simulation of the folding process6-7. Modelling the contact of two struts6-8. Conclusion7. Tensegrity: Latest And future developments7-1. Introduction7-2. New tensegrity grids7-3. Other projects7-4. Tensegrity as a structural principle7-5. Conclusion8. Bibliography9. Appendices