Designing strength into buildings to prevent collapse has been the underlying tenet of structural engineering since before the ancient Egyptians built the first pyramids. A second fundamental principle, is to build structures that are stiff enough to prevent excessive movement and deformation under statistically-calculated worst-case loads (think: high winds, heavy snow, large crowds). This is not really a question of safety, rather it is about the usability of structures and comfort of the user.
This requirement to limit movements often demands more material than safety alone, so it raises the question: can it be tackled by other means, without using excessive quantities of concrete, steel, timber or other construction materials? Can we have a different kind of engineering design philosophy?
This exhibition invites you to test this new engineering philosophy with an interactive, 6m long cantilevered steel space truss structure, a scaled version for the super structure of a tall tower subjected to wind load. This structure is as slender and lightweight as the material would allow with strain gauges sensing loads and actuators actively controlling movement, in real-time. If you walk to the end of the 6m gang plank, the cantilever structure senses you and stays completely flat.
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