Compliant Mechanisms; an Approach Leading to Functional Deficiencies Reduction in Kinetic Skins

Document Type : Research Paper


1 School of Architecture, Honar University

2 Master of Technology in Architecture, Faculty of Fine arts, Tehran University, Iran.


In order to achieve a responsible architecture, which can adapt itself with surrounding conditions, the major approach is that architects, designers and structural engineers concentrate on design and construction of kinetic structures consisted of rigid bodies and mechanical joints. Although this method may have some advantages in, but for architectural applications, which increasingly need their own solutions in each project, it can have deficiencies such as failures and ruptures due to high tensions in joints as well as high costs in repairing and maintenance. Kinetic skins in architecture are usually designed and executed in negligible numbers and customized for each new project. In architecture as other fields of engineering, kinetic structures are usually based on the principles of the basic construction that rigid bodies are connected with mechanical joints. However, there is a difference between moving structures in the machine industry and architecture. The high weight of these structures with mechanical elements leads to higher weights, which can cause lots of deficiency in earthquakes. In addition, the construction of complex designs that are often desirable for architects and designers is only due to the complexity of mechanisms and considerable increasing in the number of elements. In other words, along with all the advantages of structures made with rigid elements, which cannot be ignored, disadvantages of this design and construction also have to be considered. Most of challenges due to rigid mechanical structures seem to be caused by animated joints; high stresses, fractures and structural failures often occur in these parts of structures. The aim of this research is to use the potential of compliant mechanisms in design and construction of kinetic facades to familiarize architects and designers with their functions, applications and advantages and for that; after classifying the application of compliant mechanisms in architecture in two levels (the first level is to replace compliant mechanisms with rigid ones and the second one, designing an integrative mechanism), Here, the focus is on first level. In the first level, developed structures are designed in a rigid-body mechanism in which compliant joints replace with mechanical joints, which lead to simplicity in construction and maintenance. The achievement of this level, which has been considered in three subcategories (Translational, rotational, translational-rotational movements in compliant joints) by means of simulation method, is design, computational simulation and construction of three physical models of kinetic skins with compliant joints. Through these models, most benefits of compliant structures such as structural integrity, reduction in member numbers and structure weight, significant reduction in joints’ tension, cost of repair and maintenance and finally, economic justification of plan can have been achieved. In the second level, integrated flexible mechanisms were considered, most of which are difficult to design and need nonlinear equation analysis. Nature, plants in particular, as an inspirational source in the design of these mechanisms have been studied, so that by exploring the rules of motion in the tested plants and transferring them to kinetic structures in architecture, to achieve greater reliability and less complexity, these structures were achieved.


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