Plank Lines


posted by Chris Chalmers

ScreenHunter_04 Jul. 21 20.19

ScreenHunter_02 Jul. 20 22.48

This is an exploration of  geodesic curves and their use in the  fabrication of free form shapes. For this study, I adapted a grasshopper definition by Lorenz Lachauer of  Eat-a-Bug. Geodesic curves are defined as the shortest path between two points along a curved surface. This has some connotations for structural efficiency, however the interesting thing for me is that when unrolled, the lines are perfectly straight. Linear components are beneficial in two ways: first, they can be nested efficiently on sheet material (see the strips laid out above). Second, you don’t need fancy CNC machinery to fabricate them. All you need to do it manually is a set of dimensions: lengths of strips and distances between their attachments.

download the grasshopper definition : TurtleTest5.ghxpaper model

Buckminster Fuller’s domes popularized  Geodesic geometry, but they are only half the story. More varied versions have been used by Frei Otto,  Shigeru Ban and HUT Wood Studio.



The examples above use a large number of regularly placed start points. The example below, perhaps more interesting, used fewer start points but allowed the strips to wrap around the surface a few times. If we change the location of the start points and the angle of the strips, this could be used to concentrate material in key places, making  structure more responsive than a regularized mesh. Obviously lots more to explore here.

ScreenHunter_01 Jul. 20 21.50


download the grasshoper definitionttp://


4 thoughts on “Plank Lines

  1. Pingback: Disoriented Strands « Bios Design Collective

  2. Hi Chris, Interesting work! Currently I am working on weaving bamboo structures, I am pretty new with grasshopper but achieved to have a weaving definition, still depending on the strucuture it present curved strips, it interest me when you mentioned that in your definition the pieces come straight, I tried to download your file but the pages seems not to exist any more.. is it possible to get your file somehow? I would like to study it and take ir further to the next step that is to make the structure from 2D to 3D by applying a force, similar to FREI OTTOs work.
    I am a masters student at the University of Tokyo. Thanks!

  3. Chris, I was also looking to check out your plank definition for a carbon fiber filament winding project I am working on as a grad student in architecture at the University of Michigan. Cheers, Dan.

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