Our six year R&D collaboration with University College London and research engineer Gennaro Senatore culminated in the creation of an adaptive truss prototype which we took to Amsterdam where it was star-of-the-show at International Association of Shell and Spatial Structures conference. This combined conference-expo was attended by over 500 of the world’s top engineers, architects and academics – most of whom were daring enough to climb onto the active truss and tested it out for themselves (not all at the same time of course!)
This 6m long high-tech cantilever is not just a research experiment: it demonstrates a new engineering design philosophy where strength is dealt with separately to movement. The steel members making up the truss have been sized to prevent collapse, but instead of adding more steel, the more onerous requirements of deflection is precisely controlled by linear electric actuators (‘pistons’) keeping the truss rigid.
Compared to a conventional structure, the prototype uses 80% less whole life energy (actuators need zero electricity most of the time) and it is six times more slender. To find out more about this new design philosophy take a look at our thinking piece and also the website of Gennaro Senatore. And of course this R&D project wouldn’t have been as successful as it is without the financial support of ICE, IStructE, EPSRC and the Useful Simple Trust.