Tag Archives: system

‘Da Vinci Codex’ is a latticed sculptural piece which creates unique poetics of morphology that merge structure and movement. It transgresses the artificial boundary between art, science and technology, casting seemingly established analogies in a new light while inviting visitors to rethink the relationship between form, geometry and construction. Linear and curved scissor elements form a series of recursive cubes which speak of infinity and the complexity of our world. It denotes a recognizable metaphor of ‘object-within-similar-object’ that appears in the design of many other natural and crafted objects. The precision of the cubic form reflects the organised chaos of our universe. Poignant patterns inspired by a study into the scissor movement of the cube elements are perforated into the triangulated parts of the Codex.

Da Vinci Codex 1

Da Vinci Codex 2

As they expand and collapse, the triangles form unique and intricate shadows which highlight the transitional quality of human life and emotions, changing from a state of happiness to sadness, from calm to anger, from life to death. The structure provides shelter from the heat of the sun while entertaining its guests with opportunities to engage with the structure. A deployment mechanism inspired by study into Leonardo da Vinci’s machinery sketches found in his Codex Atlanticus is actuated by a series of gears situated at the base of the structure, which are set into motion by a pedal system powered by visitors. As burners interact with the piece, they contemplate a fascinating and spectacular change of light and decor. ‘Da Vinci Codex’ stands as a piece of event architecture, a spatial construct where movement is a transformational creative force.

The visitors interact with the piece by powering one of the four pedal systems connected to the deploying mechanism. As they pedal, the burners witness a captivating movement: the synchronised expanding and collapsing of the three cubes which cast intricate shadows and stimulate a sense of play. The visitors can also step inside the cubes and experience a series of ‘in-between’ spaces before reaching the central volume and enjoying a level of protection from the wind and sun. The highly abstract aesthetic of the ‘da Vinci Codex’ is meant to affect the community with a spirit of experimentation and encourage each and every burner to question preconceived ideas, beliefs or desires.

Da Vinci Codex

Da Vinci Codex3Da Vinci Codex2

The size of each member has been carefully considered not only to allow structural integrity but also to respect the proportions of the human body. Each face of the cube moves in a synchronised manner. The relationship between the size of each face and proportions of the human body has been inspired by da Vinci’s Vitruvian man.

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A deployable structure includes an enclosed mechanical linkage capable of transformation between expanded and collapsed configurations while maintaining its shape.

These types of structures have the advantage of creating versatile, modulated spaces, with easy and fast assembly which generate benefits such as adaptability, flexibility and space transformation.

Charles Hoberman pioneered a type of deployable structure based on curved scissor pairs as seen in his Hoberman sphere. The unfolding structure resembles an expanding geodesic sphere which can reach a size up to five times larger than the initial one. It consists of six loop assemblies (or great circles), each made of 60 elements which fold and unfold in a scissor-like motion. Portfolio 2.jpg

Hoberman Sphere by Charles Hoberman

A loop assembly is formed of at least three scissors-pairs, at least two of the pairs comprising two identical rigid angulated strut elements, each having a central and two terminal pivot points with centres which do not lie in a straight line, each strut being pivotally joined to the other of its pair by their central pivot points. The terminal pivot points of each of the scissors-pairs are pivotally joined to the terminal pivot points of the adjacent pair such that both scissors-pairs lie essentially in the same plane.Portfolio 22

Regular curved scissor-pairs in motion

When this loop is folded and unfolded certain critical angles are constant and unchanging. These unchanging angles allow for the overall geometry of structure to remain constant as it expands or collapses.Portfolio 23

Regular and irregular curved scissor-pairs in motion

The above diagrams show a closed loop-assembly of irregular scissors pairs where each scissors-pair is pivotally joined by its two pairs of terminal pivot points to the terminal pivot points of its two adjacent scissors-pairs. This loop-assembly is an approximation of a polygon in the sense that the distances between adjacent central pivot points are equal to the corresponding lengths of the sides of the polygon. Further, the angles between the lines joining adjacent central pivot points with other similarly formed lines in the assembly are equal to the corresponding angles in the polygon.

The beams forming scissor-pairs can be of almost any shape, providing that the three connection points form a triangle. The angle of the apex would dictate the number of scissor-pairs that can be linked together to form a closed loop.Portfolio 28.jpg

Scissor-pairs of varying morphologies

My physical experiments started with materials that would allow a degree of bending and torsion in order to test the limits of the system. Using polypropylene for the angular beams and metal screws for the joints, I created these playful models that bend as they expand and contract.Portfolio 214.jpg

Later I started using MDF for the beams as well as joints and noticed that a degree of bending was present in the expanded state of the larger circle.Portfolio 215.jpg

After using curved scissor pairs of the same angle to form closed linkages, I decided to combine two types of scissors and vary the proportion between the elements to achieve a loop which would offer the highest ratio between the expanded and contracted state.Portfolio 216.jpg

900 curved scissors loops

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900 curved scissors with linear scissors loops

The above diagrams show a combination of 900 curved scissors with linear (1800) scissors to form rectangles that expand and contract. The length of the 900 beam was gradually increased  and by measuring the diagonals  of the most expanded and most contracted forms, I obtained the following ratios for the three rectangles:

R1 = 0.87

R2 = 0.67

R3 = 0.64

By keeping the curved scissor with the best ratio, I created three more rectangles, this time by varying the length of the linear beam. The following ratios were obtained:

R1 = 0.64

R2 = 0.59

R3 = 0.67Portfolio 218.jpg

900 curved scissors with linear scissors loops

I then took the linkage with the best ratio of 0.59 and rotated it 900 to form a cube which expands and contracts.Portfolio 219.jpgPortfolio 220.jpg

Combined linkage cubes

The change of state from open to closed is visually attractive and could have the potential of creating spaces that are transitional.Portfolio 223If more linear scissors are placed between the 900 scissors, a better contraction ratio is obtained.Portfolio 222

Combined linkage cubes with two linear scissors

Auxetics are materials that have a negative Poisson’s Ratio. When stretched they become thicker perpendicular to the applied force, from our own experiences when a material is stretched we expect the material to not only become longer but also thinner. Auxetics behave in a different way because of there internal structure.

Poisson’s ratio (v) of a material is the ratio of the lateral contractile strain to the longitudinal tensile strain for materials undergoing tension in the longitudinal direction. It shows how much a material becomes thinner when stretched, therefore most materials have a positive Poisson’s ratio.


The images below show modules of four structures that have Auxetic behavior. The images show the change in state of the structure as they undergo tension in the longitudinal direction.























This video shows an interesting application of an auxetic structure with inflatables by Fergal Coulter.



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In mathematics, a Scherk surface (named after Heinrich Scherk in 1834) is an example of a minimal surface. A minimal surface is a surface that locally minimizes its area (or having a mean curvature of zero). The classical minimal surfaces of H.F. Scherk were initially an attempt to solve Gergonne’s problem, a boundary value problem in the cube.

The term ‘minimal surface’ is used because these surfaces originally arose as surfaces that minimized total surface area subject to some constraint. Physical models of area-minimizing minimal surfaces can be made by dipping a wire frame into a soap solution, forming a soap film, which is a minimal surface whose boundary is the wire frame. However the term is used for more general surfaces that may self-intersect or do not have constraints. For a given constraint there may also exist several minimal surfaces with different areas (for example, minimal surface of revolution, Saddle Towers etc.).

Scherk's Surface Soap experiments

Scherk’s minimal surface arises from the solution to a differential equation that describes a minimal monge patch (a patch that maps [u, v] to [u, v, f(u, v)]). The full surface is obtained by putting a large number the small units next to each other in a chessboard pattern. The plots were made by plotting the implicit definition of the surface.

An implicit formula for the Scherk tower is:

sin(x) · sin(z) = sin(y),

where x, y and z denote the usual coordinates of R3.

Scherk’s second surface can be written parametrically as:

x = ln((1+r²+2rcosθ)/(1+r²-2rcosθ))

y = ((1+r²-2rsinθ)/(1+r²+2rsinθ)) 

z = 2tan-1[(2r²sin(2θ))/(r-1)]      

for θ in [0,2), and r in (0,1).

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Scherk described two complete embedded minimal surfaces in 1834; his first surface is a doubly periodic surface, his second surface is singly periodic. They were the third non-trivial examples of minimal surfaces (the first two were the catenoid and helicoid). The two surfaces are conjugates of each other.

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Scherk’s first surface

Scherk’s first surface is asymptotic to two infinite families of parallel planes, orthogonal to each other, that meet near z = 0 in a checkerboard pattern of bridging arches. It contains an infinite number of straight vertical lines.

Scherk’s second surface

Scherk’s second surface looks globally like two orthogonal planes whose intersection consists of a sequence of tunnels in alternating directions. Its intersections with horizontal planes consists of alternating hyperbolas.

Other types are:

  1. The doubly periodic Scherk surface
  2. The Karcher-Scherk surface
  3. The sheared (Karcher-)Scherk surface
  4. The doubly periodic Scherk surface with handles
  5. The Meeks-Rosenberg surfaces

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Scherk’s surface can have many iterations, according to the number of saddle branches, number of holes, turn around the axis and bends towards the axis. Some of the design iterations and adaptations of the system are presented below:

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Scherk’s Surface can be adapted to several design possibilities, with multiple ways of fabrication. Interlocked slices using laser cut plywood sheets, folded planes of metal or CNC stacked wooden slices. With its versatile and flexible form it is adaptable to any interior space as an installation or temporary furniture.

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Dutch Invertuals – ‘Cohesion’

Moiré patterns are superimposed secondary patterns created when two static surface patterns are overlaid one on top of the other. By displacing or rotating one or both patterns a new visual pattern becomes visible separate to the geometry of the first two. This moiré effect is created in the eye of the viewer, disparate from the shapes formed by the individual patterns themselves.


A moiré pattern generated by overlapping two identical patterns of concentric circles

Associated mathematical formulas can be used to determine the size and spacing of inferred moiré patterns from a series of regularly spaced overlaid patterns. The beauty of the moiré effect is the illusion of movement created through completely static overlays. This forms a naturally interactive experience for the participant, giving over control to the superimposed pattern through visual movement and rotation.

Physical Moiré experiments

The video above illustrates the moiré effect in two dimensions by overlaying static linear and concentric patterns, printed on acetate, and manipulating their motion and rotation in order to create a new visual pattern.


Concentric and Linear patterns, printed on acetate overlays

This effect is not restricted to two dimensional patterns but can also be applied in three dimensions. These spatial patterns then utilise the motion of the viewer in order to manipulate the moiré effect. The video below illustrates how three dimensional sculpted elements, set on separate spatial planes can form a visual pattern and take advantage of simple motions by the viewer.

Scale model of the facade for Brisbane Girls School Creative Learning Centre – M3 Architects

The two primary resultant effects from the physical experiment above illustrate the potential of moiré to create alternate visual patterns and to generate the illusion of movement. These were then applied digitally to create an animation that controls these aspects to create a recognisable representation of motion to the viewer, as opposed to an abstract pattern.

Digital testing of the moiré effect in animation

The above digital animation illustrates the rotational movement of a circle through the movement of a linear overlay, created with the two static images below:

Moire Overlay   The linear moiré overlay       Resultant Shape

The moiré underlay  creating the circular motion 

This moiré underlay is created through a series of rules defined by the size of the overlay and the direction, factor and type of movement (linear or rotational). The diagram below explores the rules associated with this specific type of moiré animation.

Brief 01_Moire System Analysis_Linear Animation-page-001

Rules for defining a moiré ‘underlay’ for linear animation

Whilst primarily a visual effect it is the ability to translate spatially which gives the moiré effect the potential to be applied in a design context, particularly given it’s interactive nature and the reliance on the involvement of participants in order to reveal it’s true beauty.

The video below takes this concept to the extreme, exploring the effects of imagining matter as nothing more than multi-dimensional moiré patterns……

Moiré – Julias Horsthuis

Updated Research:

Video illustrating various physical moiré experiments


Rules for defining moiré patterns in linear gratings


Mathematical rules for defining moiré patterns of rotation


Physical model for experimenting with moiré rotation patterns



Results from the physical model using sin curves & square gratings

Moiré patterns can be ‘programmed’ using a certain mathematical formula. If two variables are known; the base layer and the desired moiré pattern (in this instance a sin curve) the resultant reveal layer can be determined, allowing moiré patterns to be programmed to any shape.


Digital tests and physical proofs of programming moiré

Moiré patterns work in both ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ constructions. Positive moiré can be classed as additive, constructing patterns consisting of lines to create the effect. Negative moiré conversely removes elements of material (in this instance circles from card) to create patterns when held at a distance. The bottom row of images shows the most successful variables for discerning negative moiré patterns.


Negative moiré, set-up & physical experiment

The above experiment was digitally reproduced, modelling its negative space in order to understand how the variables of distance affect the reception of pattern.


Digital experiments with distance variables

In order to move from the plane into a spatial exploration of the moiré effect, sin curve gratings were mapped onto the faces of a cube, at varied rotations. The effect is a spatial understanding of moiré patterns when the various faces of the cube overlap. The moiré effect can be created by two distinct methods; a movement by the user, distorting the areas of overlap and the movement of the cube itself, visually shifting patterns.


Physical model exploring moiré patterns in three dimensions

The history of curved crease folding goes back to as early as the Bauhaus, where a student had scored circular creases onto a paper in order to study its materiality. When a circular surface is folded along concentric rings, the resultant form bends on itself and forms a paraboloid in order to make up for the loss in circumference. Initial investigation involved the replication of such system and multiplying the modules which are then interlocked into each other to create various origami sculptures.

Circular Modules

Circular Modules

The system is then digitally simulated in order to extract the parameters which may affect the resultant geometry of the surface. With a combination of Kangaroo Physics, Hinge Forces and Springs, the digital simulation is created which allows anchor points to be placed, thus dragging for surface into various forms. Tests are carried out on different surfaces, including a closed circle of equal concentric rings, a closed circle of increasing concentric rings as well as an open circular strip with concentric rings. With an increasing fold angle, the bend angle increases.

System Exploration

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Upon cutting the closed circle, the surface becomes an open ended circular strip. The constraints that follow a closed surface no longer presents itself, thus allowing the strip to bend freely – although the principles of the system still applies. With increasing fold angles, the strip bends at greater angle. Having this revelation, different open ended strips are then tested against different parameters to extract the system further.






In parallel to the research of curved crease folding is the investigation into the probability of transferring the system onto a more rigid, larger material, such as plywood. Here lattice hinge / kerf folds are employed, allowing the plywood to bend in a similar manner to card and paper. The final patterns for the hinges are a result of rigorous testing through trial and error. By repeating the modules we begin to see that, due to the folds, plywood can be as flexible as card.



A reciprocal frame is a self-supported three-dimensional structure made up of three or more sloping rods, which form a closed circuit. The inner end of each rod rests on and is supported by its adjacent rod, gaining stability as the last rod is placed over the first one in a mutually supporting manner.

These rods form self-similar and highly symmetric patterns, capable of creating a vast architectural space as a narrative and aesthetic expression of the frame. The appearance of the entire structure is determined by the geometric parameters of each individual unit and the connections between the units.


Precedent image

Reciprocal frame (RF) principles have been around for many centuries, proving themselves versatile, efficient and resistant. They were present in the neolithic pit dwelling, the Eskimo tent, Indian tepee and the Hogan dwellings where mutually supporting beams form a rigid skeleton. The Hogan dwellings consist of a larger number of single RFs being supported by a larger diameter RF structure. Later development of the structural form can be seen in the timber floor grillages of larger medieval buildings where they were used for spanning spaces wider than the length of available beams.


Eskimo tent

Leonardo da Vinci explored two forms of reciprocal structure: a bridge and a dome. His work was commissioned by the Borgia family, with the purpose of designing light and strong structures which could be built and taken down quickly. This was to aid them in their constant quest for dominance over the Medici family in Renaissance Italy. The bridge would have been used for crossing rivers, and the dome could have functioned as a military camp.

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Leonardo da Vinci’s sketchbook

Understanding the geometry of the reciprocal frame and the parameters that define it is essential in order to design and construct larger systems. The parameters that define RF units with regular polygonal and circular geometry are the following:

– n: number of beams;

– R: radius through the outer supports;

– r: radius through beam intersection points;

– H: vertical rise from the outer supports to the beam intersection points;

– h: vertical spacing of the centerlines of the beams at their intersection points;

– L: length of the beams on the slope;

– l: plan projection of the length of the beam.

16.10.14 Systems 6Manipulating the length (L), height (H) and radius of the circumscribed circle of the three intersection points (r), the geometry of the structure changes as follows:

-increasing the length of the beams reduces the height of the entire structure;

-increasing the height of the RF structures reduces the span of the overall structure;

-increasing the radius of the circumscribed circle reduces the span of the overall structure.

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Each RF member is subject to forces of compression, bending moments and shear forces as well as axial forces. The members transmit the vertical forces of their own weight and any imposed loads through compression in each member. These forces must be resisted at the perimeter supports. In addition, the lower part of the beam, between the outer support and the point where the beam is supporting the adjacent one, is in compression whereas tension forces will occur in the upper part of the beam.


Rhino model

Having investigated various morphologies through digital and especially physical modelling, I have started creating a dome-like structure which, through an irregular reciprocal unit, folds into a super-dome. Repeating the process, I arrived at a spiralling domical structure which I have then panelled, using the same reciprocal morphology. This lends a recursive effect to the entire structure.

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Progression of the structure in physical form