3rd Place: Don’t Leave Me Hangin’

Cornell University students created this dome from braided fiberglass roving. Photo Credit: Cornell University, Robotics Construction Laboratory

Third place was awarded to Cornell students Karolina Piorko, Veronika Varga and Song Ren, who created a lightweight fiberglass dome using braided rovings. After investigating the hanging chain models of the Spanish architect Antoni Guadi and the suspended string installations of artist Janet Echelman, the team set out to form a dome using gravity.

To increase the dome’s strength, the students braided fiberglass roving into a three-part braid. The braid was split and merged into a catenary pattern inspired by spider webs and plant leaves. This continuous network was then suspended from a frame until it reached an ideal state of tension. The braids were then brushed with a non-styrenated resin and cured for a day before being inverted to create the dome.

Team Advisor Sasa Zivkovic says that fiberglass rovings, unlike other materials, easily supports this kind of construction. “It’s an ideal material to freeze something in space while it’s hanging relaxed in tension, and, when it is flipped around, it becomes an ideal compression structure.” With further research, he believes this method could be used for multiple applications, such as stadium roofs and other large span structures.

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