Gravity Screens


Project by Omar Khan
Project Role: Research, Design and Fabrication

Gravity Screens are surface constructions whose form results from gravity’s effect on their material patterning. They are composed from elastomers of different Shore hardness that allow the screen to alter its shape from flat to extended. Rubber’s elasticity and high weight to volume ratio make it particularly problematic as a self-supporting material. However, the compounded effect of excessive weight on a stretchable material results in it stiffening. By crisscrossing hard and soft rubbers, Gravity Screens use this property to create a controlled stretch. This is shifted by a motor in response to environmental sensing of people’s movement in the space.

Screens as a system for spatial differentiation are inherently flexible. Their ingenuity lies in the fact that they are deployable; there when needed removed when not. But what if disappearance was the last resort? What if the screen could adapt itself to a variety of configurations facilitating new spatial interactions? Such a system is easily plausible for Gravity Screens which can accommodate a variety of spatial organizations. Node Spacing and Patterning define the performance of each screen. Several trials with different spacing and patterns were conducted to determine the most produvtive screen. Tests show that screens with the larger node spacing in the vertical center (central column) produced the most interactive gravitational forces. Gravity performance on a patterened composite elastomer results in a responsive architecture machine, where the characteristic of weight resluts in a complex form, defining the shape while describing the forces working.

The goal of the gravity screen is to create a system that works not only through gravitational force, but also through human interaction. A system that has several components working together allows for variation in use and in performance. Initial testing is designed and constructed on a small scale, allowing the forces working to become simulated by mere pulling on opposite ends of the screens. As full scale prototyping follows, the system will be reconfigured to better accomodate a larger load and will also demonstrate different assembly. Because of its ties to internal and external factors, the screens are in constant motion and are forever reinventing their aesthetic, form and permeability.

Looking at the series of screens as a room more distinctively defines a boundary and a way to enclose a space. The purpose of studying the screens as a room was initially to define a space and a shape that the gravity screens would take. After more analysis, the idea of the room became much more vital. The initial circle (room concept) that the screens were connected to allowed the series of screens to bend in particular way and react with adjacent screens. The end result was a seemingly symmetrical unit where all parts were working for the whole, and there was little variation in the experience a user might have with each screen. The concept of the room seems to work flawlessly in the homeostat, while in theory and reality, the homogeneous setup leaves little variation in use and spatial experience.