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How Structures Move: Three Projects in Deployable Structures

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Architectural Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Architectural Engineering

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Paper Authors


Sudarshan Krishnan University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Sudarshan Krishnan specializes in the area of lightweight structures. His current research focuses on the structural design and behavior of cable-strut systems and transformable structures. His accompanying interests include the study of elastic and geometric structural stability. He teaches courses on the planning, analysis and design of structural systems. He has also developed a new course on deployable structures and transformable architecture. As an architect and structural designer, he has worked on a range of projects that included houses, hospitals, recreation centers, institutional buildings, and conservation of historic buildings/monuments. Professor Sudarshan serves on the Working Group-6: Tensile and Membrane Structures of the International Association of Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS), the American Society of Civil Engineers' (ASCE) Aerospace Division's Space Engineering and Construction Technical Committee, and the ASCE/ACI-421 Technical Committee on the Design of Reinforced Concrete Slabs. He is the Program Chair of the Architectural Engineering Division of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE). He is also a member of the Structural Stability Research Council (SSRC). From 2004-2007, Professor Sudarshan served on the faculty of the School of Architecture and ENSAV-Versailles Study Abroad Program in France. He has been a recipient of the “Excellence in Teaching Award” and has been consistently listed on the “UIUC List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent/Outstanding by their Students” for architecture and civil engineering courses.

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Yaxin Li University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Ms. Yaxin Li is currently a Ph.D. student (Building Structures) in the School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Her Ph.D. research focuses on the geometric and structural design of deployable structures. She obtained her M.Arch degree from UIUC and B.Arch from Xiamen University in China.

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This paper describes three projects from a graduate structures course in the architectural curriculum at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The senior author has been teaching “deployable structures” as part of required courses, as independent study and as an exclusive course when possible. Constructing transformable designs has been exciting and challenging to architecture students who typically design structures to be static. Students have been able to implement the principles and advantages of transformability, namely ─ deployability, lightness, ease of transportation, ease of erection and material reuse, in their design projects either in portions of their buildings or as the main structural system. This paper starts with a brief discussion of the importance of courses dedicated to deployable structures in architecture and architectural engineering curricula. The three projects are described to provide a sense of the knowledge and skills required by students to be successful in the endeavor. Both “research” and “learning by making” were central to the projects assigned. With American universities intrinsically serving as experimental grounds for rethinking design curricula, the possibilities of teaching a course on transformable architecture in the context of disciplinary diversity has never been as ripe.

Krishnan, S., & Li, Y. (2018, June), How Structures Move: Three Projects in Deployable Structures Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30582

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