Authors : Erin Cuevas, Jana Masset, Michael Johnson

University : Harvard,  Graduate School of Design

Status : MArch II, 2015

Advisor : Achim Menges

Title : Fibrous Pneumaticity

The use of carbon and glass fiber as construction materials presents opportunities for innovative architectural building practices, given the combination of their ultra-lightweight and high strength characteristics. While these fibrous materials have been used frequently in molded composite applications, their potential to operate outside that realm has been largely unexplored. Inspired by [ pneumatic-like structures ] found in nature, our project utilizes carbon and glass fiber to translate biological constructs into architectural space.

The system consists of two parts: first, a sectional cell structure; second, a pair of surfaces, consisting of a fibrous layer and a membrane layer which enclose the cell structure. These integrated design components rely on the inherent qualities of fibrous materials – providing both performative and experiential functions, while responding parametrically to desired structural, spatial, and luminous qualities.

Our project ultimately exemplifies the seamless relationship between function and aesthetic, allowing quantitative material performance to be understood through diverse architectural experiences.


S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Spatial qualities can be controlled through a careful composite of algorithmic parameters and systems.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
Biology, structure, art and installations, disco.

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
You can use structural systems to support experiential qualities of architectural space.

S//A : Describe your dream project
An ongoing lifelong research project, bringing experimental testing grounds to life in large-scale built work.