Reciprocal domes workshop

Hands-on fabrication of bending-active reciprocal structures

During a hands-on workshop the first year students constructed a full-size reciprocal dome.

The student constructed the dome using a kit of all identical components.

Before assembling the dome structure, they experimented with smaller modules.

In the scope of the design studio we organised a hands-on workshop in which the first year students had their first experience with 1:1 models and prototyping. Inspired by famous designers and inventors like Buckminster Fuller, the students experimented with different structural geometries and compositions following the princple of reciprocal frame structures. Putting a modern twist on this ancient principle, dating back to that other famous inventor Leonardo Da Vinci, the students used the flexibility of thin plywood laths to develop different configurations from a uniform set of identical components. Just like a Meccano® kit. First testing smaller modules and different assembly methods, the workshop slowly progressed to a larger scale, ending up with a full-scale dome structure on the roof of the design studio. 

The workshop was part of the master thesis work of Thibaut Brans and the Proof-of-Concept project 'Flexible systems for temporary, mobile and transformable event shelters’. As such it gave the students a first glimpse of one of the many resrarch topics that are investigated at VUB Architectural Engineering.