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ater SOLAR PONDS A solar pond is a pool of saltwater which acts as a large-scale solar thermal energy collector The saltwater naturally forms a vertical salinity gradient also known as a “halocline”, in which low-salinity water floats on top of high-salinity water. • The top layer, has a low salt content, and is the coolest layer. • The intermediate insulating layer has a salt gradient, which establishes a density gradient that prevents heat exchange by natural convection. • The bottom layer, has a high salt content, and is the hottest layer. The hot bottom layer is pumped through a liquid with a low evaporation temperature. The resulting water vapour drives a turbine to generate electricity. Cold water from the top layer is then pumped to the top of the apparatus to condense the liquid, which returns to be reheated again.

SOLAR STILLS Solar stills are low tech ways of distilling water.Utilising the power of the sun and differences in temperatures to evaporate water from impure fluids and condensing it into a separate container. If you happened to get stuck in the middle of a desert a solar still can easily be made to extract distilled water from your own urine. 1. Dig a hole and urinate in it. 2. Place a container in the middle of the urine and cover the hole with a plastic sheet. 3. Depress the middle of the sheet with some rocks. 4. The sun heats up the urine evaporating the water. The vapour then condenses on the relatively cool plastic and runs down into the cup.

Vapour condensed by cool top layer water and returns to basin Turbine driven by vapour to generate electricity Liquid with low temperature of evaporation Cool freshwater layer Intermediate insulating layer Hot saline layer

SEAWATER GREENHOUSE Seawater Greenhouses enable the growth of crops in arid regions, using a greenhouse structure, seawater and solar energy. The technique involves pumping seawater (or allowing it to gravitate if below sea level) to an arid location and then subjecting it to two processes: • The seawater is used to humidify and cool the air • It is then evaporated by solar heating and distilled to produce fresh water • The remaining humidified air is expelled from the greenhouse and used to improve growing conditions for outdoor plants.






Buckmister Fullers lifelong environmentalist philosophy maintained that one can: MAKE THE TOTAL WORLD RESOURCES SERVE 100% OF HUMANITY THROUGH COMPETENT DESIGN

The geodesic dome was one of Fullers better known inventions. He developed the idea in 1949 in Black Mountain College, North Carolina, with the support of fellow proffessors and students.

Triton city was an example of Buckys attempts to acheive a CLOSED LOOP SYSTEM on an urban scale. Floating off the coast of Japan, this city was meant to provide the highest possible standard of living at the lowest cost. The project, which was never realised, would ‘desalinate and recirculate’ the water which it floated on ‘in many useful and nonpolluting ways.’

Dymaxion House was created by Bucky as a response to providing cost effective dwellings for everyone that were suitable for every environment and used resources efficiently. Whilst the house may have been economically and to some extent environmentally efficient, it was never implemented by Fuller. In reality, the aluminium prefab houses were energy-intensive, as well as disregarding their local site and surroundings

The domes are constructed of interlocking icosahedrons whos members experience tension as well as compression. Fuller termed this balance of forces TENSEGRITY The domes appealed to Fuller due to their strength, stability, and the fact that a sphereencloses the greatest volume for the least surface area. Whilst the domes precluded one of Fullers central PHILOSOPHY OF GROWTH according to societies needs, they epitomised his ideals regarding CLOSED LOOP SYSTEMS.

The city would have the ability to shrink or grow depending on the needs of its inhabitants. Prefabricated homes would be shipped over and slotted in to the tetrahedronal megastructure of the city.


rei Otto



Tensile structures are composed of elements that carry only tension, with no compression or bending forces involved, although the structures are usually supported by compression members as portrayed in the GERMAN PAVILION at the ‘67 Montreal expo (above).

This experiment eventually became the method by which Otto was able to create his gridshell structures such as the Mannheim Multihalle.

A proponent of lightweight structures and minimal surfaces, Frei undertook a multitude of rigorous EXPERIMENTS in order to better inform his understanding of how he could span large distances with minimal strucuture.

The chain consists of links of equal weight and length, and is hung from a frame. The shape that the chains dead weight assumes is called a CATENARY, and is subject to only tensile forces. By inverting this curve and replacing the thread with a rigid material, a ‘standing’ catenary is produced which is stressed by axial compression. By applying this principle to a hanging net, inverting it, and constructing it out of a rigid material, a gridshell is created.


igital Experimentation A line is drawn in rhino, and input into grasshopper. This script creates an adjustable circle, thats centre point is capable of moving up and down the line.

The script is copied twice around the endpoint of the line.

This grasshopper script allows for an adjustable periodic curve to be formed around the lines.

A mesh is created from the resulting grasshopper shapes in rhino.

Finally, the mesh is plugged back into Rhino and patched through weaverbird, creating various different mesh forms.



ension Model 1


ension Model 2 Fishnet Test

Displacement: 0 mm Construction The model structure is two 40mmx40mm MDF boards supported by 4 M6 threaded rods. The MDF boards have a grid of 4mm holes drilled into them, and are held in place by bolts. The frames of fabric are capable of moving up and down the threaded rods. A string was attached to the fabric, threaded through the top central hole, and held in place with a bulldog clip. An early problem that was encountered was the fabric getting caught byt the threaded rod in the holes of the frames.

Displacement: 50 mm

Displacement: 100 mm Length Displaced (mm) 50 100 150 200

Displacement: 150 mm Effect on Fabric N/A N/A Material begins to deform at boundary points. String breaks.

Conclusion The fishnet material was not especially elastic, having a mesh like constituion which was extremely rigid. After a diaplacement of 15cm the string could no longer hold the fabric in tension and broke. The material itself, however did not tear.


ension Model Stretchy Net Test


Displacement: 0 mm

Displacement: 50 mm

Notes The stretchy net material was much more elastic than the previous experiment involving the fishnet fabric. As evidenced by the table on the right, it was able to stretch twice the distance of the previous experiment before the fabric tore at the knot.

Displacement: 100 mm

Length Displaced (mm) 50 100 150 200 250 300 350

Displacement: 150 mm

Effect on Fabric N/A N/A N/A N/A Rip at pinch point of fabric forms Material begins to deform at boundary Material fails (string tears fabric at pinch point).

Displacement: 200 mm

Displacement: 250 mm

Conclusion The stretchy net was able to stretch twice as far as the fishnet fabric. The strength of the stretchy net, however, was far less than the fishnet as evidenced by the tearing that occured at the 200 mm extension point.


ension Model Latex Test


Displacement: 0 mm

Length Displaced (mm) 50 100 150 200 250 300 350

Displacement: 50 mm

Effect on Fabric

Latex stretched at connection point Tear increases in height Tear increases in height Tear increases in height Tear increases in height Latex rips at connection point

Displacement: 100 mm

Displacement: 150 mm

Displacement: 200 mm

Displacement: 250 mm

Conclusion Whilst the latex was as elastic as the stretchy net fabric, there was a clear difference in the forms produced. From a very low displacement, the point at which the latex was being pulled began to deform. This deformation increased the further down the frame was pushed, resulting in a much shallower tent than the previous experiment, with an extremely high pinch point.


igital Experimentation 2 Stretching a Fabric TIMELAPSE A square mesh is created in grasshopper, with an adaptable size and number of faces.

The inner points of the mesh are isolated by plugging the closed faces of the mesh into the list item function.

A wireframe of the mesh is created, and the points of the vertices extracted.

The wireframe of the mesh is turned into springs and given a variable stiffness.

The centre point is isolated using the formula 2

(x+1) 2 which is plugged into the integers of the mesh faces.

The boundary points are isolated by plugging the naked faces of the mesh into the list item function.

The central point is assigned a force acting upwards. The clothed points are given a small force downwards.

Kangaroo is used. The boundary (naked) points are made the anchor points. The wireframe, central point, and inner (clothed) points are made the force objects.


ension Model 2 Ring Experiment



From the previous experiments, the stretchy net fabric yielded the best results in terms of elasticity and resistance to deformation.

As the tension was distributed over several points around the ring, the result was that the fabric could stretch to a greater length without ripping or deforming as much as before.

In an attempt to improve the elasticity of the materila a wooden ring was introduced to the experiment. This ring was sown into the centre of the material and attached by string to the top of the model, as was done previously.


ension Model 2 Ring Experiment 2



Following on from the previous experiment a second frame was introduced to the experiment. The ring was attached to both fabrics, and the frames were then pulled apart.

As the tension was distributed over several points around the ring, the result was that the fabric could stretch to a greater length without ripping or deforming as much as before.

This was a form finding experiment and an attempt to acheive a more volumetric form than the previous pyramid shapes.


ension Model 2 Ring Experiment 3

Notes This experiment combined the previous experiment with the string models that this investigation began with. As before, the 2 frames were attached to eachother by a wooden ring, and then separated. Once the frames were separated, a string attached to the wooden ring was pulled through the top of the structure. This had the effect of pulling the lower fabric through the top fabric


ension Model Multiple Forces


Notes The investigation then progressed into multiple forces acting upon the two fabrics in order to create a volumetric form. This combined the principles learned in the previous experiment of stretching one fabric through another, with strings acting at multiple points. The result was a topography that blended into and between the two materials.


ension Model 2 Multiple Forces - Round 2

Notes This second generation model, improved upon the previous iteration in 2 ways. 1. The points at which the material was to be stretched was marked on the fabric before it was deformed. This resulted in a much more symmetrical form and volume. 2. The fabric was coated in several layers of resin over a period of 3 days. This made the resulting form much more structurally sound, and prevented any sagging.


igital Experimentation 3 Moving Anchor Points TIMELAPSE A mesh is created in Rhino and brought into Grasshopper.

Points along the boundary of the mesh are isolated and amde capable of moving up and down in the Z-direction from 0 to -100

A wireframe of the mesh is created, and the points of the vertices extracted.

The central point is plugged into the move tool, which allows it to be moved in the XY plane up to the boundary of the mesh

The centre point is isolated using the list item tool

The wireframe of the mesh is plugged into the springs tool which has a varying stiffness

Kangaroo is used. The isolated boundary (naked) points and the central point are made the anchor points. The boundary points are isolated by plugging the naked faces of the mesh into the list item function.

The wireframe is made to be the force object The boundary points are moved downwards whilst the central point is held in the XY plane.


urning Man

Burning man principles of

is a week self-expression,

long festival self-reliance,

in the Nevada communal effort,

desert and

that celebrates the leaving no trace.

Many of the ideals expressed at Burning Man are closely related to the principles set out in the Gaia Charter (left), a proposed list of rules towards organic architecture. The festival has grown from 500 participants in 1990 to over 50,000 in 2011. This level of growth has been accomodated by expanding the town radially outwards, relating strongly to Buckminster Fullers philosophy on evolutionary architecture, which states: ALL UNITS SHOULD BE INDEPENDANTLY ALIGNED TO THE WHOLE COMPOSITION OF THE STRUCTURE, THEREFORE PROGRESSIVELY REPLACEABLE BY EVER MORE ADEQUATE UNIT SOLUTIONS.


he Burning of the PEE

Temperature Differentials


As outlined earlier, solar stills work based on the concept of temperature differentials. As much as the pee is heated by the sun directly, the ground surrounding the pee is heated more. The plastic sheet admits solar radiation but retains heat.

As the pot was heated, the rising steam caused the plastic to inflate. This was due to the fact that cling film is an extremely thin material. As a result, the hot evaporated water caused the plastic to deform, thereby allowing it to expand and inflate with the rising heat.

Due to the relatively high heat of the ground, water vapour from the pee is able to condense on the relatively cooler plastic sheet above.

As the cling film inflated, heavier weights had to be used in order to create a steep enough gradient for the water droplets to run into the beaker. These plastic chips worked initially, but as the film expanded the droplets remained in situ rather than collecting to a central point.

This amount of expansion was continuous and cumulative, and after 10 minutes on the stove the film eventually popped. Before the material failed, however, the experiment succeeded in condensing the water vapour and collecting it in the beaker. This experiment was undertaken in order to ascertain wether the theoretical solar still could be recreated in reality.

The plastic chips were then replaced by 3 metal washers, whose extra weight created a steep enough gradient for the droplets to drip down into the beaker.

For the purposes of the experiment the urine container was heated on a stove in order to artificially emulate the sun heating the sand in the desert. The pot was then covered with cling film and depressed in the centre with some small weights. The water from the pee evaporated and condensed on the cling film, succesfully dripping into a beaker placed within the pot. Whilst the experiment suceeded, some unexpected occurences happened along the way.

With continuous rates of inflation, more washers were stacked on top of eachother to retain the angle nescessary for run-off to occur. A convection current in the pee occured as the temperature rose. This resulted in the container constantly moving around the saucepan as it was not fixed to the base. As the container moved, the weights also had to move in order to allow the water to be collected.

Plastic Sheet





igital Experimentation 4 Inflation TIMELAPSE

A mesh is created in Grasshopper

The extracted points are set as restraints and the mesh is inflated.

The mesh is decomposed into its component parts.

A slider is attached to the poximity tolerance tab. This determines how close the mesh vertices can be to the restraining points.

The boundary points are selected as well as several individual points within the mesh.



Pee Trough Following on from the previous experiment into boiling pee, a larger model was created in order to address some of the issues that arose. In the first experiment, as the pee was heated, a convection current was created. The container used to collect condensed water was not fixed to the base of the saucepan, and as a result constantly moved with the current. This meant the weights used to depress the plastic sheet had to be constantly moved in order to line them up with the centre of the container.

Collection Containers


The collection containers were constructed out of several metal discs and pipes.

• A plastic sheet is stretched across the trough. • The containers are then bolted to the mesh trapping the plastic sheet between the top two discs • The trough is then placed on the BBQ and the pee boiled.

• A pipe was welded to a metal disc with a 5 mm hole drilled through its centre. • An M5 12 mm bolt is inserted into the hole • A secondary pipe is threaded on either side, a disc is attached to the top and the bottom is screwed into the initial pipe. • The top disc is then bolted to a secondary disc, with the intention of sandwiching the plastic sheet that is to be stretched across the trough.

As the pee was boiled, the intention was that the plastic sheet would inflate creating a series of domes. The condensed water that forms on the underside of these domes would then drip down into the containers. The experiment falied, however, as the flames from the BBQ were big enough to reach the plastic sheet and melt it.


he Burning of the PEE 2


aking the PISS!

Pee Proposal This installation combines experimentation into stretching inflating fabrics.

the and

The sketces explored possible systems by which urine could be evaporated, condensed, and delivered as potable water. • The occupants pee into a container • The pee evaporates and the steam passes vertically to a secondary tensile membrane • The water condenses and drips into secondary containers which lead back to the occupants position. • The occupants are then capable should they wish to drink, whilst they urinate

Water condenses on plastic

Water collects into container

Secondary Layer inflates as volume of pee increases

Fresnel lens heats pee container

Sun Study

6 AM

8 AM

12 PM

4 PM

6 PM


ee Tea

Installation Process The burning man festival provides portable toilets that are emptied on a regular basis. The toilet areas are positioned symettrically around the playa: • 12 around the theme camps • 2 in the central circle My proposal is to replace the current toilet system with a series of installations that will distill water from urine. This distilled water will serve 2 purposes. • The water will be trickled down a fabric membrane that is facing the prevailing NE wind. This will have the effect of cooling and humidifying the dry desert air, making it possible to grow plants such as mint. • The rest of the water will be collected in containers that will boil it in order to make tea. All the installations will be connected via a pipe system that will run along the parabolic trough which will extract the collected urine. The parabolic trough will heat the urine, evaporating the water which can then be collected and distributed among the installations.

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

• People pee into a stretched plastic container

• As the container fills, the pee flows up a pipe that is positioned along a parabolic trough. • The suns rays are concentrated onto the pipe by the parabolic trough, evaporating the water from the urine.

• The resulting water vapour is then sent back to the central column and up to the top container. • The water condenses on the roof of the top container and drips down to 2 collection points.

• The collected water is then trickled down the stretched fabric on the left in order to cool and humidify the hot desert air. This provides an environment in which mint can grow. • The rest water flows down to another container, and is boiled to make mint tea

References • The first image shows the current portaloo system at burning man. • The second image is of a parabolic trough in the Israeli desert. • The third image depicts a typical bedouin tent.


ee Party

The Gift of Pee In order to make a nice cup of tea available to all, burners are encouraged to gift their pee. Through an evaporative distillation process powered by the sun and magnified by parabolic technology, the urine is distilled, distributed, and reboiled before making it to your cup. Water which is also used to moisten the outer fabric shell, cools and humidifies the hot and dry desert air, aloowing fresh mint to be grown and consumed. This is not entirely a closed loop system, but its as close as we can get!


Portfolio after crit

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