Folding Structures

Chuck Hoberman, Hoberman Associates
B.F.A.- Sculpture, The Cooper Union
M.S. Mechanical Engineering, Columbia, University
Faculty Adjunct, School of Architecture, Columbia

I have developed the work presented here over the last seven years. Unique hybrids of both structure and mechanism, folding structures are "shapes that grow themselves" –fluidly transforming from tight and compact bundles to strong yet graceful structural elements. The possible forms and functions of these folding structures are virtually unlimited. Uses for them currently are being explored in the areas of toys, tents, packaging, architecture, and outer space.

Continuous Surface system
U.S. Patent 4,981,732
International Patents Pending

This system is suited for smaller shelters and tents. Numerous shapes can be generated from a single sheet of material. Manufacture is inexpenslve, and structure may be made waterproof. Allowance is made for the finite thickness of the sheet.


Radial Expansion Truss
U.S.Patent No. 4,942,7000
International Patents Pending

This is a highly flexible system, whose structures exhibit smooth, stable expansion and contraction. One can design a collapsible truss of virtually any shape. Whatever the specified shape, it does not change as the truss is expanded and contracted. For example, a hemispherical dome will remain self-supporting at all times during deployment. As the structure expands, each point on its surface radiates out from the center. These straight-line trajectories easily may be used to expand and contract the structure with a winch ro similar device.


Iris-Type Retractable Roof
(Radial Expansion Truss with Covering)


Like an iris, the roof opens over a space in a symmetric fashion, with its center retracting toward its perimeter. As it retracts, the roof material also compacts, so that the circumference of the roof always remains essentailly unchanged. This stable grounded perimeter is a key structural characteristic of the system. The roof may also be set in any intermediate position to provide a space that can adapt to many different uses.


View video of Chuck Hoberman and the Continuous Surface System
[mpg file]

Download Printable Catalog of the Exhibition
[pdf file]