Flectofold developed at ITKE (Institut für Tragkonstruktionen und Konstruktives Entwerfen, University of Stuttgart) is the name of a compliant façade shading system. In this bio-inspired material system, the mechanical hinges have been replaced by a simplified curved-line folding geometry with distinct flexible hinge-zones. [source: Flectofold – A biomimetic compliant shading device for complex free form facades]

Baubionik Exhibition/Schloss Rosenstein:

Baubionik exhibition at Schloss Rosenstein/Stuttgart was an opportunity to display the advancement of Flectofold on a proto-architecture scale. Designed and fabricated by researcher Saman Saffarian, this demonstration depicted the possibilities of using this shading device in real-world architecture.

The demonstrator consisted of a frame holding 36 Flectofold panel in a 6 by 6 grid representing a curved surface. Each element was controlled by a pneumatic actuator to apply a distributed pressure to the middle part of the Flectofold panels.
To regulate the amount of air pressure in each pneumatic cushion (with a direct relation to the applied force), a control system was developed from scratch including digital pressure regulators, customized electrical circuit, and a graphical user interface.

My contribution:

The multi-layer control system starting from Festo pressure valves to high-level user interface was the area I had the chance to contribute the most.

The user interface consisted of a server-side software responsible for communication with embedded software and a client-side web application to change control-modes and visualize the current state of each panel.

The embedded software running on Arduino board was responsible for conversion from high-level commands coming from server software to low-level one-byte data and send them over SPI protocol to the targeted digital potentiometer.

Each digital potentiometer was designated to one Flectofold which was able to output a range of voltage indicating the goal pressure of Festo pressure valves.

ITKE Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design / University of Stuttgart / Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jan Knippers
ITFT Institute for Textile and Fiber Technologies / University of Stuttgart / Prof. Dr.-Ing. Götz T. Gresser
PBG Plant Biomechanics Group, Botanical Garden / University of Freiburg / Prof. Dr. Thomas Speck
IBB Institute for Structural Mechanics / University of Stuttgart / Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Manfred Bischoff
Design development
Saman Saffarian
Scientific development
Larissa Born, Axel Körner, Anja Mader, Renate Sachse, Saman Saffarian, Anna Westermeier, Dr. Simon Poppinga, Dr. Simon Schleicher
With support of
Sandie Kate Fenton, Dongyuan Liu, Tessa Rudolph, Behrooz Tahanzadeh, James Solly and Valentin Koslowski