08 March 2013
Architectural Association, London
Hexapods is a prototypical construction system, erected using torsion and held in place with tensioned membranes and magnetic joints. It provides a transitional architectural solution for displaced people. It is tested in peri-urban Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which is affected by population displacement and growth, and concomitant housing shortages. The conceptual research stems from nomadic African vernacular architecture. Its use of knots allows rapid construction and deconstruction of dwellings. These knots were conceptualised into vectors and nodes, and kinetic research led to the torsion system. Hexapods’ frame is assembled flat, then twisted upright and locked with electro-permanent magnetic joints; collapse is prevented by a minimal surface membrane. Hexapods can be interconnected, allowing growth and expansion. This system also enables community participation and an expression of cultural identity through the potential application of local materials where the minimal surface is not structurally necessary.
Technology – sensors, smart meters and water and solar energy collection – is embedded into Hexapods, informing the inhabitants of their surroundings and facilitating livelihood activities like agriculture. A script based on cellular automata studies urban growth patterns for hexapod agglomerations, and shared agricultural and community spaces. Hexapods addresses social problems created by an expanding population.
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