Pop-Up, Inflatable Structures Maintain Shape (Without Pressure)

Researchers from Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have developed inflatable, pop-up buildings that maintain their shape, without constant input of pressure. The structures could someday be used as stronger alternatives to field hospitals and sports complexes.

The origami-inspired idea uses a set of triangular building blocks that can pop up or fold flat, in a variety of configurations, to build closed, multistable shapes.

“We are relying on the geometry of these building blocks, not the material characteristics, which means we can make these building blocks out of almost any materials, including inexpensive recyclable materials,” said Benjamin Gorissen, an associate in Materials Science and Mechanical Engineering at SEAS .