Institute for Building Design and Technology

Zelte Segel
Elective in cooperation with the department of construction technology

Building with ropes and membranes is one of the most original methods of creating architecture.
It is directly derived from the human endeavour to protect oneself against environmental influences. For example, skins and hides were used for the early constructions of this kind, much like the first forms of clothing.

The origins of the construction method cannot be dated, but the first finds date back to the Late Palaeolithic around 30 000 BC. The building of tents is an expression of the way of life of the people in this period. They are not settled and their dwellings must be able to adapt to changing environments and weather conditions. It is essential that the tents are easy to erect, dismantle and transport.

For all the simplicity and flexibility of the buildings, something culturally and historically decisive is happening: When people put up their tents, they change their environment. They define a place and take up space.

The fascination of this process can still be felt today when we encounter nomadic architecture or pitch a tent ourselves. The lightness and originality of this construction should be the content of our seminar.

In an introductory phase we deal with membrane structures, their construction and assembly. Afterwards we examine interdisciplinary analogies in sailing ship construction, kites, paragliders and tents.
The second focus is the design of a canopy as shelter for 4 persons. In the design work the theoretically developed contents are to be applied.

The final step is the joint realisation of the best design work in a one-week workshop. The result is the object on a scale of 1:1.