Seminar: Tensegrity - a structural design concept, technology, experimental and computational methods Event as iCalendar

02 April 2015

12 - 1pm

Venue: Room 439.201

Location: Level 2, UniServices House, 70 Symonds Street

Host: Dr Richard Clarke

Contact email:


A Department of Engineering Science research seminar by Detlef Kuhl of the University of Kassel, Germany.



Tensegrity is an artificial word, invented by the American architect Richard Buckminster Fuller. It describes a special kind of structure commonly built with rods and ropes, whereby the rods are exclusively linked to ropes and the ropes can either be connected with rods or ropes. According to Fuller (1975) the definition of tensegrity reads as follows: 'Tensegrity describes a structural relationship principle in which structural shape is guaranteed by the finitely closed, comprehensively continuous, tensional behaviors of the system and not by the discontinuous and exclusively local compressional member behaviors.'

In order to enable tensegrity structures, like the fantastic artworks of Richard Buckminster Fuller and Kenneth Snelson, for real engineering applications, the main ingredients of structural design, mechanical analysis and technology developments are discussed in the present lecture. After a brief review of the history of tensegrity structures, methods for the modeling as well as static and dynamic analyses of these kind of structures are presented and the prestressed controlled mechanical properties are studied. Furthermore, methods for the topology and form finding of tensegrity structures and the technology of construction elements are shown. As essential aspect for the engineering application of tensegrity structures, experimental methods are proposed to check the geometry and the distribution of prestresses in the ropes. Finally some real world engineering applications of tensegrity structures, designed and mechanically analysed at the University of Kassel, are shown.