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Félix Escrig. Prof. of the School of Architecture of Seville.

José Sanchez. Prof. of the School of Architecture of Seville.
Juan Perez Valcarcel. Prof. of the School of Architecture of La Coruña.


In our recent works we have used

extensively spatial expandable grids
build by connecting straight bars
connected by means of hinges that
move in three dimensions. We
consider that this system is very
useful in almost all cases in which
we can use elevation devices. But in
other cases it is enough with plane
grids that can be curved on any two
dimensional space.

Thus we achieve a new type of Figure1. Model folded and deployed of an spherical
structures that we have defined X-Frame grid.
geometrically and we have used to
design some important buildings as
cited in this paper.


In the former designs we have used

the good properties of bundles of
X-frames to build in a few days
complexes structures as shown in
Figures 1 and 2.
Figure 2. Structure build for shadow (8x8 sqm.)

We have published this application for the Sa. Pablo Swimming Pool in Sevilla. (Reference 1).
The gread advantage is that the complete cover can be folded in a little parcel (Figure 3).
Figure 3. Three different stages of deploying of the cover oz St. Pablo swimming of Sevilla.

We have continued our research in foldable structures by developing two dimensional grids on
curved surfaces. The Figure 4 shows the principles of a new invention. It consist in curve a
rhombic hinged mesh on any surface. By the moment we have developed the projection on a
cylindrical one as explains the figure 5.

Figure 4. Rhombic deployable plane mesh.

Figure 5. Cylindrical projection of a rhombic deployable mesh.

This solution can not be packed in a bundle

and then it is not portable as the X-Frames
are. But for fixed installations it is easier
of be moved only by pushing or pulling it.

The system, based on the figure 4, if is

curved needs to achieve a solution for the
length “li” that must be the same in any
case as shown in the figure 6.

Figure 6. Change of width for a rhombic mesh. The figure 7 shows a basic component
formed by two arches hinged at two
intermediate points placed at half of the

The deploying and folding is produced

from the basis motorising the assemblie
on wheels.

We have some complications in solving

the hinges because the diameter of the
pipes obliges to displace the position of
the supposed axis (Figure 9) and then the
deploying or folding can not be complete
and it is limited by the corbelling of a tube
upon the other. The separation “d”
Figure 7 . Two coupled arches and position of the hinges. controlles the capacity of deploying but
introduces some deflections on the arch.

Figure 8. The deploying of two coupled arches. Figure 9. The necessary displacement of the two
coupled arches is named “d”
Figure 10. Design of a deployable cover by means of coupled arches.

Figure 11. Reduced scale model of the previous design.

We can use any curve for the

arches with the only restriction
that the hinge is placed at the
half of the height.

If we connect several of the

coupled arches we can achieve
Figure 12. External view of a deployable cover. a longitudinal construction as
shown in the Figure 10.


Our first design was for a swimming pool with

a covered area of 18x30 sqm.

We solved the system by means of six coupled

arches drove on wheels and managed by hand.
The Figure 10 shows the proposal tested at
first in a reduced scale model as shown in the
Figure 11.
Figure 13. Internal view of a deployable cover.
The Fig 12 and 13 shows different views of the
building and the Figure 14 some constructive
Figure 14. The main constructive details of the previous design.

This design is covered with a transparent fabric to collect directly the solar radiation making
possible a saving in energy of 50%. And even to avoid to use complementary external power.
The test carried on a similar solution build with X-Frames confirmed this extreme. The temperature
of water arrived till 19 º C in winter when the daily average temperature was of 5ºC and the
sunny days were of 80%. The temperature of water arrived till 37ºC when the external temperature
average was of 18ºC. (Figure 15).

Figure 15. Transparent cover used for testing of a system for energy saving.


In this case the span to cover was of 41 m. and we chose a solution as shown in the figure 16,
tested at reduced model in the Figure 17 and in full scale in the Figure 18.
Figure 16. Design to cover an Auditorium in the folded and deployed positions.

Figure 17. Reduced scale model of this structure.

Figure 18. Full scale model of the two coupled arches.

We used arches made with pipes of D400.6 hinged in five points and powered by means of tour
motors of 2HP wheeled on chains. The Figures 19 and 20 show some details of the solution and
the Figure 21 different aspects of the assemble.

At difference of the solution for the swimming pool, in this case the fabric hangs from the pipes
presenting inside a continuous cylindrical surface.

All the analysis has been done by means of the SAP-90 and tested in laboratory. The Figures 22
to 25 shows some details of the building during the construction.
Figure 19. Details of the driving system.

Figure 20. Details of the momented driving system.

Figure 21. Views of the reduced scale model of the whole.

Figure 22. General view of the construction.

Figure 23. View of the coupled arches. Figure 24. View of the scene.

Figure 25. Erecting the fabric cover. Figure 26. Erecting the fabric cover.


ESCRIG, F. Ed. “Mobile and Rapidly Assembled Architecture”. STAR. “Structural Architecture”.
Sevilla, 1997.
CHILTON, John. Ed. 3rd. SMG Colloquium “Structural Morphology Towards the new
millenium”. Nottingham, 15-17 August 1997.
ISHII, Kazuo. “Structural Design of Retractable Roof Structures”. WIT. Southampton. To be
published in Sept. 1999.
DOMBERNOWSKY & TURE WESTER Ed. “Engineering a New Architecture”. Aams School
of Architecture. May 26-28, 1998.