Lara Alegria Mira

Lara Alegria Mira

Lara Alegria Mira is a structural engineer, graduated in 2010 at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). The title of her master’s thesis is “Design and Analysis of a Universal Scissor Component for Mobile Architectural Applications”. As a member of the TRANSFORM research group at the VUB department of Architectural Engineering she conducted research on deployable scissor structures. Her research was funded by the agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT). On 28 November 2014, she succesfully defended her PhD work entitled "Parametric structural assessment of deployable scissor systems - Optimising the Universal Scissor Component".


PhD research

Parametric Structural Assessment of Deployable Scissor Systems - Optimising the Universal Scissor Component

Date2011 - 2014
SupervisorsNiels De Temmerman and Ashley P. Thrall
FundsIWT (Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology)

Building activities and their daily use are very prominent in our current society. We are building structures and adapting them at the same speed to keep up with society's fast evolving requirements and needs. A more sustainable approach is essential if we want to reduce the large amount of waste produced in this industry. Reuse of material can increase if we start realising that a structure is better designed for a transition phase rather than for a particular end purpose.  

For temporary, mobile and variable applications (e.g. exhibition pavilions, emergency shelters), deployable scissor systems can offer a solution since they are able to change their form and functionality. Deployable scissor structures are structural mechanisms that transform from a compact state (for storage or transport) to expanded states into a fully deployed configuration. However, a barrier to the realisation of scissor structures is a complex design process. It is essential to have a thorough understanding of the geometry and its direct relation to the deployment kinematics and structural performance.

To enhance the design of scissor systems, this work presents first a parametric assessment giving insight in the structural behaviour at the conceptual design stage. By doing so, guidelines for scissor structures are developed. This analysis leads to a second part where a new scissor concept is investigated and structurally optimised: the Universal Scissor Component (USC). This component offers an alternative for current scissor structures which are traditionally designed for a single purpose (i.e. shape, span and loading). The USC enables material reuse and mass production: the same component can be reconfigured in a variety of configurations and spans. The results in this thesis are a step towards better understanding and designing more efficient and competitive deployable scissor systems. 

Master’s thesis

Design and Analysis of a Universal Scissor Component for Mobile Architectural Applications

Date2009 - 2010
SupervisorNiels De Temmerman

Deployable structures have the ability to transform themselves from a small, closed or stowed configuration to a much larger, open or deployed configuration. This dissertation focuses on the deployable structures based on pantographs or scissors. Deployable scissor structures consist of beam elements connected by hinges, allowing them to be folded into a compact bundle for storage or transport. Subsequently, they are deployed, demonstrating a huge volume expansion. This process can be reversed, allowing re-use. In architecture, the main applications are temporary lightweight structures such as emergency shelters or exhibition and recreational structures.

Despite the advantages scissor structures have to offer, few have successfully been realised. The design process is complex and a thorough understanding is needed of the scissor geometry and its direct influence on the deployment behaviour and the structural performance.

The purpose of the research aimed at designing and analyzing a new multi-configurational Universal Scissor Component. While current designs of scissor systems give an ‘ad hoc’ solution, this research provides a methodology for designing a scissor component resulting in generic structures. The component is created to develop two typologies which are of great use in architectural applications: domes and barrel vaults. A preliminary feasibility study is conducted to investigate the scissor component for these multiple structures according to geometrical, kinematical and structural implications.


Laureate ie-price 2010 category: Infrastructure


The "ie-prices" are granted annually to civil or bio-engineers (Masters in Engineering or bio-engineering), in that year promoted, for their Master's dissertation. They are competing for the price by making a poster about the work with special emphasis on market potentiality and social relevance. There are various categories. A jury, consisting of professionals from industry, government, research and education institutions, evaluates the posters, also takes into account communication and quality, and indicates, along with the audience, the winners. They may call themselves "laureate ie-prices 2010".