Buchanan, Will

From TensegrityWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Read here about an artist, designer and metal worker who builds tensegrity structures.


Will Buchanan was trained as a Mechanical Engineer with a broad background in sculpture arts and software. He graduated cum laude from Virginia Commonwealth University and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2014 to immerse himself in the Maker Community. He led an ambitious tensegrity project that was presented at Burning Man.


Buchanan is an artist and designer with a broad range of skills and interests including software development, electrical engineering, blacksmithing and metal working. He has worked in companies such as DuPont and Autodesk, leading various roles in the design and production process including carpentry, custom metal fabrication, product design, solar energy collector fabrication, high-volume manufacturing and vintage motorcycle repair. His projects have ranged from building the experimental setup for a thermoelectric generator that captures waste heat from vehicle exhaust to designing a detachable nozzle that attaches to the rear of a tractor-trailer and decreases drag by 15%. In 2014 Buchanan was an Artist in Residence at Autodesk, where he explored the relationship between hand and machine by combining sculpture with 3D scanning and Finite Element Analysis and published three projects on Instructables, including a water monitoring system.


Buchanan publishes his work on his website and maker websites. A few of his publications that relate to tensegrity include: Chirality, a 12 strut classic tensegrity sculpture: http://www.instructables.com/id/Tensegrity-Goes-Big-For-Burning-Man/, http://buchananwp.com/Chirality-Rapid-Deployment-Tensegrity-Sculpture Intention, planned extension of the above work: http://buchananwp.com/Intention



Chirality is a 12 strut tensegrity deployed at Burning Man 2015. The information below is by Will Buchanan, taken from the Instructables site Feb. 2016, where it is published with CC license (CC BY-NC-SA 2.5).

Description by the artist: The piece is called 'Chirality', meaning 'handedness', and is a large scale tensegrity sculpture that was designed and built for Burning Man 2015 in the span of four months. It was built onsite by a dedicated crew of 8, with a total volunteer base of 30. The structure had LEDs triggered by accelerometers embedded within the end caps, and changed as the structure was climbed. At night it became a structural data visualization, resembling a twinkling point cloud at night.

The piece was built in American Steel Studios in West Oakland, CA, a hub of the maker movement.


The build team consisted of many people, notably the following:

  • Katherine Barton - General Counsel, Sanity Check, And Best Helper
  • Devon Penney - Animator
  • Natalie Walsh - Fabric Design
  • Ken Caluawerts - Electronics Design & Software Development
  • Jack Kalish - Lighting Effects
  • Rachel Ciaverella - Electronics/Fabric/Drill Press
  • Atil Iscen - Software Analysis
  • Ekin Senturk - Structural Engineering
  • Many Others Including, But Not Limited To: Johann Karkheck, AJ Romine, Pamela Pascual, Vytas Sunspiral, Joe O'Connor, Jonathan McKeever, Ashley Cuppet, Jamie Trowbridge, Gordon Kirkwood, Dustin Fieder, Tory Voight, Brittany Powers, Aaron Porterfield, Bryan Hermannson, Owen Laine, Shelby Clark
  • Mentors, Flux Foundation staff such as Peter Kimmelman, Catie Magee, Wes Skinner, Thwen Chaloemtiarana, Jess Hobbs, Paul Franke, Marc Hertlein.


Sonjia Smith funded the project. The funds were disbursed as follows

  • 40% Mechanical
  • 20% Electrical
  • 20% Infrastructure
  • 10% Fabric
  • 10% Contingency


Abaqus was used for the formfinding.

Construction Plans

See http://www.instructables.com/id/Tensegrity-Goes-Big-For-Burning-Man/

Links and References

Official Website, http://buchananwp.com/