Latex & Thread Skin Model 02

This model takes the Latex & Thread Skin Model 01 to a larger scale developing the minimal system and forming a 1:20 fragment of a potential skin. The result is an intricate but surprisingly strong web.

Latex & Thread Skin Model 01

This small scale model attempts to create cleaner intersections between threads of the minimal system by using latex instead of resin, previously explored. The latex forms a web like surface joining the threads smoothly. This model is made by cross referencing all points i.e. each pin is connected to all other pins by the thread. The latex is then applied and the model is then relaxed to allow the overlength of thread to form find its minimal path.

Algae Growth

Vertical growth/closed loop production has been developed by biofuel companies to produce algae faster and more efficiently than open pond growth. With vertical growing, algae are placed in clear plastic bags/tubes, so they can be exposed to sunlight on all sides. The extra sun exposure increases the productivity rate of the algae, which in turn increases oil production. The algae are also protected from contamination due the closed envionment of their growth.

This small scale experiment shows the growth of algae in a clear plastic tube of rainwater exposed to sunlight. An air pump is used to circulate the algae solution and to provide ample ‘dirty’ air including carbon dioxide. The rainwater provides nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus also required for algae growth. It can be seen that algae grows rapidly – in a matter of days – unlike seasonal crops.



Algae Systems

Before algae appeared in Earth’s history billions of years ago, our planet’s atmosphere was saturated with CO2 – by producing O2, algae, also known as cyanobacteria, made our atmosphere breathable. Similarly, fossil fuels are comprised of carbon-rich deposits of ancient algae and other similar organisms. Basically, there has never been a breathable atmosphere, or a drop of fossil fuel pumped from below, that does not originate from these organisms. Today, living algae represent a new source of regenerative energy for our vehicles, industries and power plants. By converting perceived waste into resources, algae has the potential to transform economies and create closed loop systems to sustain life.

Algae needs sunlight + waste H20 + CO2 to grow = and produces O2 + clean H2O + lipids [which can be used for a variety of products i.e. biofuel / pharmaceuticals / food / plastics / energy]

There are different ways to extract the oil [lipids], H20 and biomass from the mature algae solution, the following are links to some video’s showing the cultivation and extraction processes that are used in algae based systems.

Growing Algae : GreenFuel Technologies

Processing Algae for Oil: Algae Bioreactor

Single Step Extraction for Oil from Algae:


In this TV programme Professor Iain Stewart journeys from the spectacular caves of Vietnam to the remote deserts of Africa and sees how plants first harnessed light from the sun and created our life-giving atmosphere. He describes how the plant kingdom has transformed a lifeless planet into our living world.

Flotation Power

The concept of Flotation Power is primarily based around salt and its sustainable uses. Flotation Power uses saltwater as an electrolyte to generate electricity for nightime lighting and as an integral ingredient for flotation therapy. The programme of flotation informs the architecture by requiring a cocoon-like environment with salty, skin-temperature water in which to float, sheltered from the harsh elements, this is provided by natural salt formation.

Flotation therapy offers health benefits. It is well known that relaxing sleep in bed is essential to good health and often the best way to recover from stress and illness. Floating in a flotation therapy tank is even more relaxing. The deep relaxation state achieved allows the body to recover from stress, provides pain relief, stimulates blood flow and releases natural endorphins. It is a mental and physical relaxation therapy. This installation also deals with the issue of sustainable energy generation, so rather than bringing electricity generators to the site it uses a natural resource sourced from the site = saltwater.


This model uses the process I have previously explored, of minimal path systems by Frei Otto, but attempts to take the concept a stage further to create a minimal structural system.

The thread lengths are given approximately a 12.5% over-length leaving them quite loose and messy when dry. The model is then dipped in a water and soap solution and hung upside down. The wet threads bunch together, as seen in previous experiments, but due to the increased over length they also dip downwards creating a domed form. When dry, the model can be coated with resin in order to cast the form. The model can then be turned over maintaining the rigid minimal structural system. This process generates a strangely appealing aesthetic.

Le Ricolais


Le Ricolais was considered along with Fuller & Otto a leading expert on structural morphology in architecture. He was an engineer, architect, poet and painter, known for his theoretical research on trellis structures and tensegrity during the 1950’s. His work’s roots are in nature and science, in a seashell, a soap bubble or le Ricolais’ fantasy of ‘going inside a rope’ to find a new way to realize his central vision of zero weight, infinite span.

In 1935, as a practicing hydraulics engineer, he introduced the concept of corrugated stress skins to the building industry and was awarded the Medal of the French Society of Civil Engineers. Then in 1940 his work on three-dimensional network systems introduced many architects to the concept of ‘space frames.’ After years of research he was well established as the ‘father of space structures.’

Le Ricolais quote : ‘the art of structure is where to put the holes.’