The opposing forces that act upon the world are as obvious as they are invisible; tension and compression make up the twin logics of pulling and pushing, distance and proximity, stretching and squashing. When these forces are balanced in equal opposition to one another, they create the conditions for harmonious architecture. One term for this is tensional integrity, or “tensegrity.”
What it might be like to Build
We are attempting to build a project that is unlike anything we have built before.
It is going well so far! And it has been lots of fun so far!
Tensegrity is having a bit of a moment. So there is no shortage of sources and references to it around on the internet. You can find endless videos of people making "floating tables" and there are loads of toys available (even one by Lego.).
The shape we choose is a common tensegrity structure. Here is an example of someone on youtube building a tiny model of what we are building out of Popsicle sticks and rubber bands: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrEy4zgItrA
EXCEPT >>>> We will be building with 10ft 4x4s. The test build used ratchet straps, and the final project will uses steel cables.
If you dig around the internet a bit deeper, you can find a few examples of folks building large tensegrity structures. Most notably Kenneth Snelson (see note below about the origin of this type of construction.) Still, little is documented about process and the bit that is involves a lot of money and heavy machinery. Our mid scale was not something we found.
End of process note: We completed this project, concept to finish, in 3 weekends. It was super fun! So fun that we are now setting out to make a tensegrity piece that is roughly 3 times the size. But this this time we know what we are doing.... kinda ;)
Fabricating the end caps
Close up of end caps
Gathering materials for testing
Set up for first test build (which was not completed successfully).
making a model of the shape
We figured out we needed to help our team visualize more for the test build
Successful Test Build!
Tension in the tendons
Finishing the Struts
Fabricating the Steel Cables
So Many Heavy Cables!
Fully assembled hardware
* PLEASE READ THIS IMPORTANT DOCUMENT TO SET THE HISTORICAL RECORD STRAIGHT! YOU HAVE BEEN TAUGHT LIES! THANK YOU TO HANNAH DICK FOR THIS IMPORTANT SCHOLARSHIP!
*The shape of this piece is not a regular icosahedron, but a Jessen's icosahedron. If you want way too much info, you can also read the wikipedia page on the shape here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jessen%27s_icosahedron