Saturday, October 10, 2009

A bridge between Nature and the built environment

Bucky Fuller's search for Nature's "minimum inventory/maximum diversity strategy for "doing more with less" led to the discovery of some of the most profound discoveries of the twentieth century. Among other things, Bucky found that Nature employs the "ultimate technology" in the form of elegant, resource efficient and inherently beautiful design principles that dynamically reconcile internal and external forces.

Bucky observed a complementarity of apparent opposites that is pervasive in Nature's design strategy: "Every fundamental behavior patterning in Universe always and only coexists with a complimentary but non-mirror-imaged patterning". Think outside-inside, convex-concave, clockwise-counterclockwise

Tensegrity is a design strategy that builds on the complementarity of tension and compression. Bucky observed that while tension and compression always coexist (pulling on a rope will cause its length to increase in response to tension while its cross-section (width) compresses at the same time. He further observed that Nature favors designs that emphasize tension and downplays compression ("pulling vs. pushing"). Our muscular system is best described in terms of tensegrity. Winds do not really blow -- the air is "pulled" between high and low pressure systems.

He also noted that Nature's principles are independent of size, i.e. they operate at all scales from micro to macro.
Tensegrity provides valuable insights into the design of organic structures, galaxies and bridges.

World-first Brisbane bridge now open

ABC News

Oct 4, 2009

The bridge links Tank Street in the city to the Queensland Cultural Centre at Southbank.

Brisbane's latest architectural icon - the $63 million Kurilpa Bridge - is now open.

The structure links Tank Street in the city to the Queensland Cultural Centre at Southbank.

Construction of the bridge began in October 2007 and is the first in the world to be built using a method that combines tension and compressed steel.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh says it is a world-first.

"This bridge has been built using an engineering technique that balances tension and compression combiners," she said.

"It is light weight - but incredibly strong."

Ms Bligh says Kurilpa is a bridge for all Queenslanders - whether they live in Brisbane or visit the city regularly.

"It will be a bridge where people from around the country and around the world will come and have an opportunity to cross the beautiful Brisbane River."

The bridge attracted controversy during construction and concerns were raised in June that an oversized truck driving on the Riverside Expressway could hit the bridge, causing major damage.

Queensland Art Gallery director Tony Elwood has had a close-up view of the bridge and says it is a work of art.

"What's important is its confidence as a piece of design, that anything that takes a position that goes beyond something that's quite bland is going to generate debate," Mr Elwood said.

"But I'd much rather see Brisbane embracing ideas that are bold and confident than not, and I fully support it.

"I look at that and I can certainly fathom the idea of it referencing boat sails, and the sort of paraphernalia of the boat, or a series of boats.

"It's got a poetic quality that is evocative of the water, and of sails, and so on, so it's quite appropriate as a bridge I would have thought."


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