STRUCTURE – Production and Assembly: What system of components and joints can most efficiently and elegantly suspend the screen? How does the system need to be modified to meet site-specific installation requirements?
Constructing the prototypes in different materials made the divergent performance criteria more evident. In addition to having visual properties of high reflectance and moderate translucence, the screen materials needed to be flexible to fold yet rigid enough to hold shape. The original small paper screens were easily self-supporting, could flex at the hinges, retain folds and spring back to a semi-open position.
At the larger scale, no single material could meet all the criteria. To give both structural stiffness and foldability, thicker frame elements were adhered to a flexible layer that could act as hinge and reflective petals. Among materials tested, an acrylic frame laminated to Tyvek provided the most attractive assembly. The Tyvek non-woven construction makes it highly resistive to tearing and its fibers create an organic texture when backlit.
For folding and unfolding the screen, tension cables acting as a drawstring will open up the screen from one side as in a traverse curtain rod. In contrast, local pre-tensioning with elastics allows all folds of the screen to open consistently.
For future development we take inspiration from Issey Miyake’s A Piece of Cloth project[i] in which a dress was fully woven into a bolt of material, needing only to be trimmed to scale. In a similar way, the screen material could be woven, printed, embossed or overlaid with patterns of rigid ribs, resilient and reflective petals, and embedded tendons.
[i] Scanlon, Jessie. “Seamless: Issey Miyake saw the future of fashion. So he gave up haute couture to become a softwear engineer.” Wired Magazine. December 2004. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.04/miyake_pr.html