Mangrove Structure

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3D printed nodes network flexurally prestressed rods to create ultra-lightweight, resilient structure.

The Mangrove Structure is an ultra-lightweight composite construction assembly that takes advantage of two complementary material systems for its basic character and organization. The first is a networked system of “bending-activated” structural elements made from engineered pultruded glass fibre reinforced polymer (GFRP) rods. These elements are sprung into a network of structural shapes through a second complementary network of complex node and floor connections. This second system is comprised of custom digitally designed node clusters that are manufactured through state-of-the-art digital modeling and 3D printing techniques.  Each connector is unique although typologically categorized into ‘apex cluster’, ‘x-node’ and y-node’ types. There are nine nodes in the installation. Each has been engineered, shaped and subdivided to suit 3D printing materials and tolerances, while providing adequate structural support for the system. Several of these are advanced prototypes, one exploring more complex and integrated local joinery, another 3D-printed in its entirety in stainless steel.  Each of the ‘apex nodes’ has been fitted with a responsive sensor and actuator circuit that modulates on-board LED lighting in response to local vibrations in the structure.

The light weight and relative strength of the structural elements, combined with the infinite local variation of the node components, make for a very versatile construction assembly.  Like the coastal mangrove forests from which this installation takes its name, the mangrove structure gains resilience through networked connections and represents a skeletal infrastructure that harbours a variety of potential elements, spaces and ‘habitats’.  Through its multiple connection points, each element of the structure helps to support the rest.

Architects: Denegri Bessai Studio | DBS Design and Fabrication
Gallery: Design Exchange
Exhibit: 3DXL: A large-scale 3D Printing Exhibition