WIT Press

Transformable Structures In Architectural Engineering


Free (open access)

Paper DOI






Page Range

457 - 468




4314 kb


N. De Temmerman, L. Alegria Mira, A. Vergauwen, H. Hendrickx & W. P. De Wilde


This paper explores the possibilities of transformable structures in architectural and structural engineering. Key aspects concerning the design, analysis and construction of mobile, as well as adaptable constructions, are explained. The transformation of such structures, intended to meet changing requirements, is done by using mechanisms (deployable/foldable) or reconfigurable components (demountable kit-of-parts). Transformable structures can adapt their shape or function according to changing circumstances, to meet rapidly evolving needs, induced by a society which – progressively – embraces the concept of sustainable design. This is further supported by the understanding that structures are not designed in an end state, but in a transition state, hence ‘transformable structures’. Based on how this transformation is realised, two groups of structures can be distinguished. The transformation of the structure is primarily done by either: (i) incorporating a kinematic mechanism, enabling the structure to deploy from a compact configuration (e.g. for transport) to a larger, expanded state in which it can fulfil its architectural function (e.g. providing shelter) or, (ii) by designing and realising the structure as a kit-of-parts system (cfr. Meccano construction toy) with dry, reversible connections between the constitutive components, enabling design for disassembly, whereby all components can be reconfigured, replaced or re-used.


transformable constructions, adaptable structures, mobile structures, deployable structures, kit-of-parts systems