TENSEGRITIES: Design, Analysis and Constructing

Jan W. Marcus
Bridges Leeuwarden: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2008)
Pages 389–392


Tensegrities (tensional integrities) are structures which have only pure compressive and pure tensile elements while compressive elements do not touch each other directly but are interconnected solely by tensile elements. Consequently they exist only if there is sufficient pre-tension in the tensile elements (similar with the spokes in a bicycle wheel). A lot of shapes have been published, based on spatial forms such as the icosahedra. To go from Design to Constructing actual physical structures, there is a need for some kind of bridge. This bridge is the Analysis of stresses and displacements. For tensegrities, placed in the public domain or used as a structural component in some larger structures, these analysis are obviously critical essential. The problem with designing tensegrities is that the shape depends on the level of pre-tension and therefore those shapes cannot be stipulated easily. This presentation is about computer-programs, based on the Finite Element Method to do stress analysis on tensegrities. These programs can also be of great help to design tensegrities with a minimum of tensile components.