KINEGRITY Energy producing structure
Introduction This document is an introduction to the master thesis of L.S. Klerk and P. Koelewijn. The graduation project is the culmination of the master program of Building Technology within the faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at Eindhoven University of Technology. Motivation for an ambitious research and design task has led to idealistic thoughts and interests in global future problems. This thesis gives a description about the application, designing, engineering, testing and realizing of an energy producing canopy structure which, is of multifunctional and synergetic use for its users. The approach model describes the methodological path from the forming of the general subject, trough the decomposition in significant aspects which, lead to a detailed level of understanding for the forming of concepts and judgements of designs. In this brochure, the results are presented briefly for information and evaluation of the elaborated and presentable developments within this master thesis.
Judge design and concept
Check vision Check demands
State of the art
Subject In order to fulfil the expected global developments, humanity need to produce with a neutral or preferably a positive footprint. On building level this means that a new future building can only consume if it will give back more at the end of its lifecycle. On energy level the building is self-sufficient+ and on material level it will close all lifecycle loops separated in the techno- and biosphere. In the future build environment a smart structure can shelter and thereby regulate the degradation of biodegradable materials, while it generates energy, catches rainwater and is beneficial for the comfort level of the space beneath it. The more functions it can fulfil the more profitable such a structure can be.
Input from nature
Inspiration Inspired by these frameworks and the motivation to adapt to necessary changes in the future the concept has been developed. The concept should fulfill each aspect of these frameworks to fit in a sustainable future build environment.
Building ecology, P. Graham For each aspect the triad approach is applied; one: prevent use, two: use renewables and three: improve the efficiency of the use of non-renewables.
Graham Toponoma (land-use)
1 Within excising
No permanent landuse
2 Low important nature
3 Spread over nature
1 Reduce transport
2 Sustainable transport
After use limit transport
3 Efficient transport
1 Reduce energy need
2 Renewable sources
3 Effective energy use
Effective energy use
1 Avoid water use
2 Renewable sources
3 Effective water use
Efficient water use
1 Prevent material use
Low material degradation
2 Renewable materials
3 Effective material use
The basis of the concept exists of a modularity, reusable and demountable roof which protects and thereby regulates the fully biodegradable building beneath. Besides the fact that this concept will never take land permanently, the canopy should be designed to fulfill multiple functions to be economically and ecologically profitable.
Cradle to Cradle, W. MCDonough & M. Braungart Following the Cradle 2 Cradle principle, non-biodegradables (techno sphere) can be used as long as they are fully recyclable or preferably fully reusable and only without contaminating the biodegradables (bio sphere). Thereby the concept strives for minimazation of techno materials.
One planet living, WWF Currently humanity uses 30 percent more of our planetâ€™s natural resources than we can replace. If everyone on this planet wanted to live with the lifestyle of the average European, we would need three planetsâ€™ worth of resources to pull it off. For an American lifestyle even 5 planets worth of resources.
Elsevier about predictions A fully renewable global energy system is possible: we can reach a 95% sustainably sourced energy supply by 2050. To achieve this goal we need to combine aggressive energy efficiency on the demand side with accelerated renewable energy supply fromall possible sources. This requires a paradigm shift towards long-term, integrated strategies and will not be met with small, incremental changes.
Abundance, P.H. Diamandis Exponentially growing technolo-
gies will enable us to make great-
er gains in the next two decades
than we have in the previous two
hundred years. We will soon have
the ability to meet and exceed
the basic needs of every man,
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
woman, and child on the planet. Abundance for all is within our grasp.
Graph 3: Moore’s law
Energy is the most important facet for abundance. With enough energy, water scarcity can be solved, which also improves current health problems. Energy also brings light, which facilitates education, which, in turn, reduces poverty.
$100,00 $80,00 $60,00
Oil price crash
Iraq war 9/11 Financial crisis
PV PV$/watt $/watt
fossil $/barrel oil $/barrel
Graph 1: unstable oil price  Graph 2: declining PV prices 
lot of aspects. The cost of solar energy declines very quickly and becomes
The oil price unstable and, as mentioned in this graph, dependant on a financially competitive with fossil fuel electricity.
Vision One planet to use Currently humanity uses 30 percent more of our planet’s natural resources than we can replace. This calls for drastic measurements! We shouldn’t be conservative and hope for the best but react on the hopeful ongoing positive changes and think different.
Ecology The initial idea, inspired by building ecology and the cradle to cradle philosophy, was to literally separate the technosphere materials from the biosphere materials. The technosphere materials are less effected by natural degradation and can function as protection of the biosphere materials. Because a canopy is bigger than the protected building beneath it can be modular and reusable.
Technosphere (reusable) protector
Regulated degradation of Biosphere materials
Biological degradation of Biosphere materials
Biosphere materials back to nature
Water The canopy regulates the biodegradation of the biosphere materials underneath by eliminating one of the most important factors of biodegradation, water. This means that the canopy has to be watertight and therefor can be used to collect water. Currently a billion people lack access to safe drinking water, and 2.6 billion lack access to basic sanitation.
Energy Acording to P. Diamandis exponentially growing technologies are at the knee of the curve at this moment and already bursting. One of the main effects of this analysis is the coming energy revolution. There’s over five thousand times more solar energy falling on the planet’s surface than we use in a year. It’s not an issue of scarcity, it’s an issue of accessibility.
Focus The most important objective of this concept is the multifunctional roof structure which can provides shelter, energy, desirable conditions and water for what is underneath. To meet the requirements of a lightweight and solar tracking structure, the most potential has been found in tensegrity structures. Large spans with very little material can be realised thereby, is it relatively simple to make these structures kinetic for solar tracking by manipulating certain cable lengths. The focus in this master thesis will be on the designing, engineering, testing and realising of an energy producing, kinetic tensegrity canopy structure which provides shelter, generates energy, catches rainwater and is beneficial for the comfort level of the space beneath it.
Car park / station
One planet living
5 planets are needed
Cradle 2 cradle
Multiple use of space
Tensegrity structures can be made kinetic through, manipulation of spe-
Tensegrity is a structural principle for spatial, reticulated and light-
cific cables lengths which will result
weight structures that are composed
in tilted struts. Manipulation of one
of struts and cables, using the struts
cable will, equally or unequally affect
for only compressive forces while
all struts because, they are discon-
the cables only can handle tensile
tinuously placed in a continuous
forces. A state of equilibrium is ob-
network of cables.
tained through self-stress between the struts and cables.
Highly efficient respond to energy revolution
Modular lightweight low material use structure
Multiple use of space safeguard for biosphere
State of the art The concept of smart multifunctional canopies appeared to be very rare. The realized projects which can be compared with this idea are static PV canopies covering parking lots which are mostly realized in the US. Not realized but very interesting are the found concepts of multiple applications and implementations of solar canopies.
Powerscape, Otto Ng A tensile solar-collecting canopy comprised of inflatable mirrors produces clean energy and provides usable space beneath. The inserted Powerscapes will interiorize the desert landscape and shelter the ground from the harsh direct sunlight that will be captured for power supply.
Solar carport by BMW and super cherger by Tesla Combining a energy producing canopy with a charging station electrical vehicles can use green energy while standing in the shade. Having a green image is important to many company’s, also in the automotive sector. These canopies are a good example of avoiding the use of fossil fuels and use the space that’s needed to generate solar power. Although the idea is good the implementation isn’t. Because the solar panels are almost flat a lot of the solar energy is lost. Directing the panels an still being able to provide shadow and shelter would be a great product, especially because of the dynamic charter of mobility.
Conceptual sketches Sahara DESERTEC Arid regions are the most sunlit and therefor have the most potential for generation of solar energy. Within this situation the concept could be part of a super grid while it protects the people and ground beneath from the harsh direct sunlight.
Cover for sustainability Within the western world an energy producing structure can provide protection for sustainable, biodegradable building materials. The structure can make the users self-sufficient within a micro grid or renewable energy suppliers within a super grid. Beneath, detailing without taking percipitation into account, is possible.
Mexico City Slumpower Covering slums to protect the poor from natural influences as precipitation and the harsh direct solar radiation, while the structure generates â€œgreenâ€? electricity for the surrounding people and companies.
Design A new kinetic tensegrity system was developed with a stable tensile structure as top layer of the double-layered grid. The lower cable grid has the capability to move in the x and y axis and therefore the vertical bars can hinge in all directions. These bars will make a field of highpoints in the membrane surface. At these height points the bars will punch through the membrane roof and the hinging point is at the height point of the stable tensile roof structure. On top of the bars a PV cell is connected that will follow the path of the sun by the hinging of the vertical bars. The struts and the cables form a two way frame of bowstring-girders in the x and y axis.
The Benefits of a kinegrity solar tracking textile roof structure are: • PV cells will be used in the most optimal way as a result of the dual axis solar tracking system. • This system is also able to collect solar energy in the early morning, late evening and winter. • The structure might also be used in façades, but roof structures are preferred because for roofs there are fewer demands as façades and have in most cases a better orientation to the sun. • Tensegrity structures are one of the most optimized structural typologies for making large span roof structures and add an architectural value to the building. • The structure uses a minimum of material sources compared to other roof structures and solar tracking systems. • The integration of an architectural roof structure with a dual axis solar tracker is cheaper than a membrane roof and a solar tracker separately. • The PV cells will give shadow on the membrane roof and will therefore have a positive effect on the cooling capacity of the building below the membrane structure. • This solution will provide the local production of electricity for direct use and therefore save on network systems for the transportation of electricity. • The solution is completely demountable and recyclable.
During the Dutch Design Week the first kinetic tensegrity structure will be presented. In this 9 by 9 meter model, with a stable 70m2 membrane roof, 21 hinging vertical struts will tilt 21 panels towards the sun. Carpo is making the membrane, somfy the operation of the motors and Schuurmans and Van de Mortel provided the materials. The convergence of multiple land use, lightweight construction and a dynamic interaction with the sun, results in an eye-catcher for sustainability and innovation. Obviously, the applications is practically unlimited where a roof is needed.
Solar irradiation profit The total amount of global irradiation on a square meter in Amsterdam is 982kWh, 699kWh (71%) diffuse and 591kWh (60%) direct.
Long term 5%pj
The total gain of a Kinegrity system over 20 years is estimated at €29.599,which is €4.868,- more compared to a static horizontal system. Because tilting the panels is pretty lucrative in the Netherlands the gap between a static tilted system is smaller €2.706,- over 20 years. The solar tracker shows there is enough extra profit to be made with a optimization of the system; there is a €6.804,- gap between the solar tracker and the static 36.
Average daily irradiation Year
Static 0 degrees
10:00 11:00 12:00 13:00 14:00 15:00 16:00 17:00 18:00 19:00 20:00 21:00 Static 37 degrees
Kinegrity 20 degrees
Optimal solar tracker
Increased efficiency monthly Amsterdam
55% 46% 45%
15% 12% 7%
12% 10% 9% June
19% 16% 9%
26% 24% 13%
47% 39% 24%
August September October November December
The same simulation has been done for Madrid and Mexico City. In Madrid the generated solar energy would be around 6.600kWh. About â‚Ź50.000,- in 20 years. In Mexico city the energy gain is the highest, 6.800kWh, but the extra efficiency of a solar tracker is lower.
Synergy On very different scales from canopying the dessert to energy producing carports synergy can be created for a more profitable energy producing structure. The existing projects show how simple and logical it is to create space beneath solar panels. Protective The excising projects and concepts show the potential of multiple use of space and hereby regulate and protect the space beneath the canopy. Lightweight In line with sustainable thinking, the state of the art concepts all show lightweight structures which is an important factor to the embodied energy and its ecological payback time. Kinetic Adaptable and changeable structures and canopies are very rare. One of the greatest inventions made during this project is a system which is lightweight, tensegrity, and kinetic.
KINEGRITY Energy producing structure
Ing. L.S. (Lucas) Klerk Ing. P. (Peter) Koelewijn