Ruga Architectural Skin (RAS): Towards Building Smart Self-folding Topology

By Jiangmei Wu and Sohel Anwar.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: January 29, 2016 $US5.00

This paper presents the concept and design requirements of an innovative architectural skin that can potentially be deployed instantaneously for temporary architecture and other related applications. “Ruga” is a Latin word for making winkles, creases, and folds, and the word has recently been used by material scientists to describe these various qualities. RAS is inspired by the use of folding, namely, the art of origami, to create complex topological forms from flat thin sheet materials. Focusing specifically on the Yoshimura pattern, the RAS project explores its potential for being an architectural fabric for temporary use. This architectural skin comes from two-dimensional sheet materials that can be pre-fabricated and assembled off-site and then shipped flat to the site, thus tremendously reducing the required amount of energy and resources in comparison to conventional structures. Once arriving on the site, it can be reconfigured to work for various spatial functions. This paper presents the initial results of this ongoing RAS project by identifying the following: first the design considerations, tools, techniques, methods, and processes for the construction and installation of full scale mock-ups using corrugated cardboard, secondly the design requirements for the actuation system while identifying a number of potential candidates from active and passive systems, and thirdly the self-folding mechanism and related remote micro-processor control system appropriate for this application. The findings of this study show that the design and construction of such topologies are within the purview of currently available technology.

Keywords: Sustainability, Origami, Architectural Skin, Folded Structure, Temporary Architecture

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 7, Issue 3, September 2016, pp.17-30. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: January 29, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 877.595KB)).

Jiangmei Wu

Assistant Professor, Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA

Dr. Sohel Anwar

Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering Department, Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA