Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Development of an adaptable structure for architecture applications

Final Report Summary - HYPERMEMBRANE (Development of an adaptable structure for architecture applications)

Executive Summary:

The HYPERMEMBRANE FP7-SME-2011-BSG “Development of an adaptable structure for architecture applications” is a Research and Development project funded by the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme managed by REA-Research Executive Agency under grant agreement n° 286485.
The grant agreement was signed by 3 SMEs: Buildair Ingeniería y Arquitectura, DCP-Pultrusion and TAO-Transatmospheric Operations and 2 RTDs: CIMNE-International Centre for numerical methods in Engineering and Fundacio Privada ASCAMM.
Project coordinator has been CIMNE and the technological coordinator has been the architect Jordi Truco.
The HyperMembrane Project started in September 2011 and has finished in end of August 2013. The results are extremely successful and the consortium is strongly determined to push forward their efforts to be able to enter the market with the revolutionary Design & Construction System HyperMembrane developed.
We are extremely proud to confirm that the just finished Research for SME Project has already shown that the HyperMembrane System is fit for purpose and that the revolutionary innovative properties of this structure have been successfully developed by the cutting edge areas of expertise involved in the project.
At the end of the Research for SMEs project, the results have been successfully achieved and are proved to be fit for purpose. They will need to be adjusted by the partners involved to make them ready for the exploitation phase.
There is a future project HYPERMEMBRANE-DEMO, awarded by the Research Executive Agency (REA) in the 7th Framework Programme in the call FP7-SME-2013, 2.3 Demonstration Activity, which is the continuation of HYPERMEMBRANE project. The Demonstration activity is previewed to last 2 years and will aim to adjust the present results to make them fully fit for market and exploitation standards.

Project Context and Objectives:
Driven by the exponential integration of new digital technologies into architectonic design processes, nowadays the architectonic community has the possibility of dealing with great complexity in the design of building morphologies, far from the traditional Cartesian plane. This community contrast to reality when the advanced possibilities of their design technologies face with the lack of resources for free-form construction in traditional building industry. In the construction industry, there is a need for the development of an industrialized and standard constructive method that enables to build singular, customized and free form architectonic structures within the limits of a reasonable cost.
Construction is one of the most traditional and low tech industries when compared to other building industries (aerospace, car, shipping...). Construction industry needs support in research & development in order to be more competitive and integrated within the present world standards.
The title of the project is “development of an adaptable structure for architecture applications”, and the consortium behind it works to provide the European industry with a standard and industrialized system to design and build high-quality, adaptable (meaning reusable, reconfigurable and recyclable), and customized free-form architectonic structures (fitting today architecture tendencies), from short to long spans.
The HyperMembrane is a standard system to build and design free-form adaptable structures in architecture. It consists on a system of Physical and Digital elements able to generate multiple and non-predetermined shapes, modifiable with regard to different programmatic requirements.
-The Physical System of the HyperMembrane is an amazingly shape-adaptable self-supporting structure, able to stand different equilibrium positions with regard to the shape of the structure that the end user chooses. The HypermMembrane has capacity for local flexion and capacity to change its moment diagram sign throughout its surface. It bases its extraordinary formal articulation performance in:
-the elastic properties of composite materials,
-in the innovative shape of its beams and;
-in the differential elongation of its compression members (named actuators).
-The Digital System of the HyperMembrane is a tool for its design and structural validation. The triggering point for this digital design tool is the possibility to morphologically control and structurally model and validate an unlimited number of equilibrium positions of the HyperMembrane system based on the algorithmic relation that exists between the curvature achieved by the HyperMembrane System, and the differential elongation of its compression members.
The qualifying and characteristics of the HyperMembrane system are extremely innovative in the context of structures for architectonic purposes:
-elasticity, shape adaptability,
-algorithmic control,
-self-supporting strength in an unlimited number of equilibrium positions
The range of applications in the building industry for these qualifying characteristics is extremely
wide: from “Ephemeral Architecture” (Stands, canopies, temporal promotion/exhibition buildings), going through “Short/Medium span open air structures” (Patios, markets, auditoriums, porches for stands, for stations) to “Singular free-form building envelopes” (Permanent building roofs and/or façades).
In order to put them into practice it is required research and technological development in a wide spectrum of fields such us software for architectural design, structure engineering, composite materials and its industrialization, and actuation mechatronic devices for construction purposes.
More specifically, the project has developed:
-an adaptable self-supporting structure for architectonic purposes
-a software for its design and structural validation
-an industrialized manufacturing process based in pultrusion technologies for thermoplastic composites.
-an actuation system for HyperMembrane.

Project Results:

All of the project objectives for the project have been successfully achieved. The following are the main results:

- Main results in the Digital HyperMembrane:
On the side of "Digital System for HyperMembrane design and structural validation", the result is the joint development of WP1 and WP3 accomplished in "Final Digital HyperMembrane shape control code (including all features)" to have a digital tool with friendly interface to edit and model the desired shape for the HyperMembrane grid, and link to structural verification developed in WP3. In order to accomplish this ambitious objective, it was necessary to rewrite the code that had been developed in RP1 (DH for beam control). So in a new code was designed to take in account physical variables needed to complete all tasks related to 3D model because of unavoidable limitations of the beam numerical algorithm for the beam control (2D). The final code also included the link to structural verification -Analysis Code and Interface design analysis- with a graphical interface for the pre and post-processing input data (initial geometry, boundary conditions, material, loads) and analysis results (displacements, strains, stresses)
Sample analysis were studied in order to analyze good performance of software, to give input data for strip design, and actuators design and to prove good correlation with Physical HyperMembrane (Performance of DH in relation to PH). Also in MS3 accomplished by means of D5.3 (Final demonstrator) a complete analysis was performed by means of this software.

On the side of "The Physical System of the HyperMembrane”. On WP5 ”Construction of an architectonic structure” the objective was to architectonically design a HyperMembrane structure. For this purpose the several results of material components -Strips and Actuators- have been integrated in a final 1:1 scale HyperMembrane Structure.

On the side of "An industrialized manufacturing process for the beam elements based in pultrusion technologies for thermoplastic composites”. The R&D objective of designing and producing thermo-composite material strips for the HyperMembrane required the R&D result of designing and defining a manufacturing process to produce them. The mould for pultrusion and reshaping was done in 1RP. During 2RP, hundreds of meters of beam have been fabricated in order to set up the parameters of production. It has also been designed the algorithm for composite material and taken forward its correlation numerical/experimental.

On the side of “4- An actuation system for the HyperMembrane” the R&D objectives where to design and produce an actuation system for the HyperMembrane and a fixing system to the ground to aloud structure arising while construction.

From the comments above we can conclude that all the objectives stated in the project have been successfully accomplished.

Potential Impact:

The HyperMembrane System is a High-Tech Construction and Design System.
The envisaged resulting product is a standardized system for design and construction meaning that: On the one hand the physical system aims to be made of simple standard and storable components that will be industrially produced and assembled in site by medium skilled limited number of workers; and on the other hand the design process will be highly systematized through a design software that will aim to reduce time, cost, and construction solution detailing. For these reasons, the present project will help to raise technology level of the European industry.
European opportunities for the exportation market should be enhanced by simplifying current construction processes: With the development of HyperMembrane new technology, European construction industry will improve its competitiveness at an international level with a technological product where design & management processes and construction timescales are significantly reduced.
Due to its aimed standardization and lightness qualities, the HyperMembrane system requires from a low number of medially specialized site-workers for the assembling process. For the design, a high profiled worker can be inserted within the enterprise: We believe that high-tech construction industry supports European employment stability and allows for systematizing quality control within enterprise policies. Control in in-house processes of enterprises, absolutely reverts in better occupational health and safety results.
The HyperMembrane structure is light, dismountable, collapsible, storable, adaptable, and reusable. These are very important points when we approach sustainability taking into account the whole of the life cycle of buildings. In is important to approach sustainability from a wide point of view in order to avoid resolving one problem while creating another. When approaching sustainability within the building industry it is important to take into consideration the whole of the life cycle of a building (both goods and services). Composite materials used for the Hypermembrane, as well as the previously listed characteristics of the overall system have relatively low direct and indirect embodied energy when compared to other heavy or non reusable constructive methods.
It is important to state that this project will not only have a remarkable effect within the construction industry, but also will promote other economic areas:
On the one hand the expansion in market, knowledge, technology and know-how of emergent material industries (composite) and production processes (pultrusion). World credited professors like Julian Vincent, George Geronimidis or Adrian Beukers make claim for the revolutionary change of approach to design of structures that composite technologies are triggering.
On the other hand opening new markets for actuation devices, the development of the present project opens the way to further development in real time adaptable architecture:
-shape adaptable self-supporting structures may better face solar rays for best capture of energy
-morphological changes in buildings may save energy in air-conditioning spaces.
-dynamic structures for façades in high-rise buildings may allow performing better structurally in relation to wind forces.

List of Websites: