Tensegrity Goes Blob by Trier University

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Read here about a sculpture, based on a proposed pavilion design, both constructed according to tensegrity principles, by architecture students as part of their architecture schooling.


A tensegrity sculpture is designed and displayed. The overall geometry combines classic tensegrity spheres and prisms with innovative Klein bottle topologies.

IASS 2015 Expo. Photo by Bernhard Sill.

Project Text

TENSEGRITY goes BLOB was a project completed by Architecture students of Trier University of Applied Sciences in 2015. The sculpture was displayed at Muziekgebouw Amsterdam, at the venue of the IASS 2015 symposium & exposition July – August, 2015.

In simple terms the concept behind the sculpture: Tensegrity Sphere + Tensegrity Twist = Blob. "Twist" is the classic tensegrity prism. "Sphere" is the classic sphere. A tensegrity sphere is extended with a series of tensegrity twist units to form a freeform geometry in the topology of a Klein bottle.

The Klein bottle was named after the mathematician Felix Klein, and describes a geometric object called in mathematics a non-orientable surface with the characteristics that you can’t distinguish between inside and outside or, in other terms, it is a one-sided surface.

This sculpture is the culmination of four years of working with tensegrity. In October 2012's PreBachelor week, students built a Tensegrity Tower, stacking tensegrity twist units with 6, 5, 4, and 3 struts on top of each other, developed and built by freshly enrolled bachelor students within a few days under the guidance of Professor Bernhard Sill. Its materials were timber rods, vineyard stakes, dowels and nylon rope. A year later, at PreBachelor Week October 2013, freshman bachelor students advised by Professor Bernhard Sill created a Tensegrity Sphere. The materials were again timber rods, vineyard stakes, dowels and nylon rope. Finally, the Tensegrity Vortex was the result of an interdisciplinary workshop with students from Architecture, Intermedia Design and Communication Design, with advisors Professor Bernhard Sill (Faculty of Architecture) and Professor Daniel Gilgen (Faculty of Intermedia Design), in the Interdisciplinary Project Week of October 2014.

The “TENSEGRITY goes BLOB” sculpture represents a spherical surface pervaded and interpenetrated by omphaloid trumpets in the Klein bottle topology and with emerging funnel-shaped protuberances. The stability and load carrying behaviour of the structure is astonishing, considering the peculiar tensegrity constraint excluding any direct contact between any two compression elements in the entire system. The stability is mainly generated by the continuous tensile matrix and prestressing. The sculpture is assembled from aluminum tubes and a network of steel cables joined with shackles, thimbles and clamps. To manage the complex topology, all compressive members have equal length whereas the cables are of different lengths. The joint between compressive and tensile members are designed and engineered to incorporate various numbers and different angles of the tensile elements.

The design development of the “TENSEGRITY goes BLOB” sculpture was advanced through vast and rigorous experimental models by the architecture students Cynthia Weiland, Stephan Kenkel and Roman Goergen in a seminar on structural design and optimisation under the guidance of Professor Bernhard Sill. The Assembly Team of the sculpture displayed at IASS was Roman Görgen, Selma Camic, Mischa Horsmans, Stephan Kenkel, Benedikt Kiefer, Luis Filipe Oliveira Dos Santos, Daniel Rappold and Bernhard Sill.

Image Gallery

See the project gallery page for more photos. Photos are by Bernhard Sill unless otherwise noted.

Tensegrity goes blob poster.jpg
. Photo by Sebastian Marx.


Team & Contributors

Design Team, October 2014 – January 2015: Architecture students: Stephan Kenkel, Cynthia Weiland, Roman Görgen, with Professor Bernhard Sill, Trier University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Architecture

Project Team, April – June 2015: Architecture students: Lisa Bauer, Michael Bylinski, Selma Camic, Tiago Da Costa Barros, Liliane Da Silva Goncalves, Elif Siva Dinler, Fabio André Dos Reis Lopes, Jo-Anne Elsen, Michael Fritsch, Roman Görgen, Igor Götz, Dennis Grossmann, Mischa Horsmans, Stephan Kenkel, Benedikt Kiefer, Alerecia Lopes Fernandes Tavares, Valentino Morocutti, Luis Filipe Oliveira Dos Santos, Andrei Pertsch, Daniel Rappold, Jan Schäfer, Paul-Wilhelm Staschiok, Evgenia Wagner, Cynthia Weiland, Sinan Yalcinkaya, Christina Zens, with Professor Bernhard Sill, Trier University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Architecture

Intermedia Design Team, April – October 2015: Intermedia design students: Julien Burckhardt, Jonas Eiden, Michelle Kaufmann, Simone Rduch, Valéry Reck, Wolfgang Stegmann, Marthin Thul, Irena Weiß, with Professor Daniel Gilgen, Trier University of Applied Sciences, Intermedia Design.

Teaching Assistant: Lorenz Reiter, cand. B.A. Architect, Trier University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Architecture.

Photos & Videos: Sebastian Marx, B.A. Architect; © Hochschule Trier, Trier University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Architecture.

CNC-Milling: Tobias Ehlenz, workshop manager and Johannes Thiel, metal worker, Machine and Metal Workshop, Trier University of Applied Sciences, Mechanical Engineering Department.

Project funding: Private Donors. Trier University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Architecture, Schneidershof D, D-54293 Trier, Germany www.architektur-hochschule-trier.eu Förderkreis der Hochschule Trier e.V. International Office, Trier University of Applied Sciences.

Donations in materials and parts: Carl Stahl Architecture Manufacturer of stainless steel cables and mesh, Siemensstraße 2 D-73079 Süßen, Germany. [www.carlstahl-architektur.com]]

ProKilo® Metall- und Kunststoffmarkt. Zurmaiener Straße 176, D-54292 Trier, Germany

Links and references

Official WordPress page: [[1]] YouTube video of erecting a model: [[2]]