Tyson Moll Programming & Design - Toronto, 0N CANADA
Tensile Morphology



A study of the elasticity of wood veneer as units and as functional components of fractal systems.


         Veneer possesses this fantastic relationship between inherent flexibility and rigidness, resulting in a sort of structural elastic member. Without fail, the veneer strips used in this study can easily be flexed into a circle and whip back into its naturally straight form. With this in mind, I decided to develop a structure that celebrates the veneer’s reflexive qualities. Because this particular study is so involved with moving parts, video documentation proved to be much more effective in describing its capacities than the static images in the above slideshow.


The objects created for this project comprise of a single, hexagon-based unit. The unit was developed by first gluing two veneer pieces at the extremities of their flat sides, forming a v-shaped ‘couple’. Three of these couples were then bonded together into a closed, hexagonal form. The hexagons naturally snapped into zig-zagging vertical units when released from the binder clips that held the glued joints together. Two of these six-strip units were then pinned together by the veneer’s midpoints with joints of metal wire, forming a twelve-strip unit. These units can be flattened out back into the closed hexagonal form when compressed and snap back into their vertical form when released.


Two objects were created from these twelve piece units: an eight-point star-shaped node and a very flexible triangular pyramid. To develop these objects, the units were formed into columns by connecting the extremities of two twelve-strip units or connected to multiple units to form nodal points; the columns simply extended the units whilst the nodes acted as directionally manipulable mechanisms.


The triangular pyramid is capable of numerous transformations. Fascinatingly, any one of its nodal peaks can be compressed and pushed through their respective triangle-shaped bases, forming what resembles a trillium flower. Likewise, the tension can be released by pushing the peak back out of the form, releasing the peak and reforming the pyramidal form. Releasing this tension releases a relatively forceful snapback through the combined force of the columns that were drawn through the pyramid’s base.


The eight-point ‘star’ node exemplifies the capacity for the nodal connections to flex and reorient themselves. The star’s units can either be molded into a parallel-running column or spread out like  an octahedron. The star is also capable of being compressed flat into a cross shape. Because of how symmetrical the object is, its behaviours translate to every one of the units combined into the node. Notably, if two adjacent nodes are pulled in a particular direction, they will simultaneously move the two nodes parallel to them in a mirrored fashion.


The properties of these larger objects lend themselves to the properties of the original twelve-piece unit. Without the unit’s flexibility and form, the objects simply would not have performed or develop the way they did. In theory, if many more of these objects were created, it would be possible to further develop the forms into very Buckminister-esque structures.


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