Diamond-shaped: Materials Explorations

During this phase of the project we concentrated on researching and exploring different types of materials and connections for the skin. We searched for skin materials that are durable and resistant to water, wind, and sun. We also looked at materials that are elastic and flexible as well as materials with structure stability. After testing numerous materials, we decided to further the exploration with four fabrics and three different connections based on local availability and the allotted budget.

Form Procedure

The idea behind the skin was to add another layer that communicates with the grid shell and at the same time reinforces the conceptual form. We shaped the skin panels into diamond forms with different heights to create a sense of topography emerging from the grid. We performed the same form for all materials, but we changed the connections to accommodate each fabric with the appropriate connection.


Diamond Shape Skin_Large


This material is excellent for outdoors use and performs well in hot climates. The connections we used were PVC tubes covering the metal rods to add more stability. Metal S-hooks connect the plastic tarp with the PVC tubes.
Advantages: The trap is lightweight and flexible to move and bend. Along with the connections this method allows for the connections to move with the fabric as it curves and deforms.
Disadvantages: Tarp begins to sag in between connections (rods) where no structure is holding the material. Also the tarp and connections are very expensive.

Tarp 1

Tarp 2

Tarp 3

Tarp connection


Plastic Banner

This material, in addition to being waterproof, can withstand sun and wind conditions. The tarp and the elastic banner have moderate rigidity, thus it cannot be used structural support. When testing the material, we incorporated the same connections as in the elastic fabric- tubes and plastic cable ties.

Advantages: Since the banner material is moderately rigid, it has the ability to deform. Also, its lightweight allows for easy handle and assembly of the connecting panels.

Disadvantages: This material and connections is not capable of providing the appropriate elasticity to the projected curvature of the gridshell. Also, the connections applied to this assembly resulted more expensive that the previous material analyzed.

Plastic 1

Plastic 3

Plastic 2

Plastic connection


White Elastic Fabric

This material can be use indoors and outdoors. It is 100% polyester and 10% polyurethane. It is mildew proof and water proof. The connections we used were PVC tubes covering the rods with plastic cable ties connects to the fabric.

Advantages: Similar to the tarp, though it is even lighter and flexible. The assembly of this material does not require intense labor and the fabric is very elastic, adapting to the curvature of the gridshell.

Disadvantage: Similar to tarp, this material also sags in between the connections. Furthermore, the number of connectors needed for this panel to perform properly were very costly.

Elastic 1

Elastic 2

Elastic 3

Elastic connection


Corrugated Plastic

The type of plastic is very heavyweight in composition, thus is very appropriate for outdoor use. Similar to the previous fabric described before, it performs well under heavy rain and sun conditions. The connections used were PBV Tubes tied with an elastic string to hold the corrugated plastic in place. Since the plastic doesn’t bend, we cut 4 different surfaces to later connect to the Pvc tubes.

Advantages: The material and connections worked well altogether. The decisions made in the design allowed for the needed flexibility and curvature while holding it well in place firmly. The diamond paneling when used in this material balances both, the compression and tension present in the structure of the grid shell.

Disadvantages: Corrugated plastic is very expensive and when added to the cost of the connections, it surpassed the projected budget.

Corrugated Plastic 1

Corrugated Plastic 3

Corrugated Plastic 2

Corrugated connection


Through this exploration, we tested 4 different materials: tarp, elastic fabric, plastic banner and corrugated plastic to find a material that would be both, flexible and firm to withstand natural conditions and a range of temperatures. The material that performed best under the diamond shape design was the corrugated plastic as its lightweight qualities complemented the rigidity present in the material. An additional advantage found during this skin development process proved to be its easy assemble. In regards to the connections, they worked well under the curvature conditions in any given direction.



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