Suspension Success!!!

On Sunday we suspended our kitset shelter again, determined to solve the last little suspension niggles we had, and to take photographs for our final presentation on Wednesday.

The kitset shelter, set up in the crit space of studio

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Over the last couple of days we had had a few thoughts on how to solve the problem of pulling the central points of the structure away from the wall in order to provide a less claustrophobic space within the shelter, whilst also creating the curving, embracing shape we wanted.

We realised early on that attaching cord to the centre of the top hexagon and then fastening it above the central picture screw was not going to work; rather it would pull the structure flatter and closer to the wall. Therefore the central points need to be pulled up and away from the wall in order to create the shape that we want. We thought that this could be achieved by attaching the central cord to a fixture on the ceiling, or by suspending a piece of cord between the span of two walls and then attaching cords to this. However, these solutions would be entirely dependent on the environment that the end user of the shelter is in, and we really wanted to make the construction of our kitset shelter adaptable to the environment, rather that creating conditional restrictions.

In pondering the idea of an overhead cord, we wondered if perhaps a cord that was fixed above the current suspension points of the shelter and then run overhead and anchored to the floor, much the same as a tent guy rope, would work; the end of the cord could be anchored in various ways, including rocks or bricks, or heavy furniture from the house.

So we tried out the ‘guy rope’ idea, anchoring it to the floor using a chair and a presentation plinth – this seemed to be more than enough to hold the cord taut. Next we threaded lengths of cord through two squares of corrugated card and positioned them in the interior of the shelter, with the cord poking through to the exterior; one placed at the centre of the top hexagon, and the other at the point where hexagons A, B and C meet (after suspending the centre of the top hexagon, we realised there needed to be a second suspension point further down).

Amy putting the suspension squares in position

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The ends of the cord were then fastened to the overhanging cord, pulled tight so that the structure curved away from the wall, and knotted securely. Success!!! With the addition of two further cords attached to the overhang in order to pull the sides out a bit, we were excited to see that our shelter was successfully suspended! It was quite lovely, all that hard work and it looked just as we had imagined it would!

Finally suspended kitset shelter

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We managed to get some really lovely exterior shots – hundreds actually, it was hard to stop taking pictures! The interior was also really beautiful, with the sun shining through the inserts and colouring the floor and wall within the shelter.

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Amy and I spent quite a bit of time sitting in our shelter, enjoying the fruits of our labour. It was very comfortable for two people, and so nice to just sit there and chill out. It really does provide a boundary and respite from the outside world, and you do feel very ’embraced’ by the structure.

We didn’t want to leave!

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We surprised a few passers-by as well!

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We were slightly worried about the side cords that attach to the wall, as they do create an obstacle to getting into the shelter, so we tried removing the connections to see what would happen…

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The removal of the cords actually made the structure more a more enclosing, cocoon like space – perhaps a quiet retreat for a person to hide away and read for a moment.

Interior with the side cords removed (and the added suspension joint just visible)

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This was a happy discovery, as it means that there is an element of adaptability when the structure is up; the user can enclose or open up the interior space according to their requirements.

Knowing that the temporary square suspension points were not fitting with the rest of the design, we made two circular cardboard ‘suspension discs’ which will now be included in the kitset. For continuity we stenciled them with the letter E and numbered them; rivets were added to the holes where the cord goes through so that the pressure of the cord doesn’t rip the cardboard.

The suspension discs

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All in all a successful day for us. While we realise that the ‘guy rope’ is not necessarily the ideal option for suspension, we are so excited that our shelter is taking on the embracing, curving form that we had envisioned all along. It would be really interesting, if we had more time, to explore this structure further – maybe in a metal material the shape will hold itself and the need for suspension would be moot?

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Buoyed by todays work, it’s time to get ready for the final crit on Wednesday!

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