Extending the use of heat actuated materials to architectural purpose: new developments in ‘Nylon Muscles’ have been taken up in 2 Masters projects at the IaaC*, Barcelona. See Blogroll for a link.

*Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia where, apart from the outcomes of Masters programmes, there is an abundance of architectural research worth reading about. (See Blogroll link).

Students undertaking this research on nylon muscles are studying their Masters in Advanced Architecture: RS.3 Digital Matter – Intelligent Construction /

An aside: Shape memory materials such as Nitinol – consisting of Nickel and Titanium – have been around for a number of years  and are used in robotics.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nickel_titanium /

All text below has been taken from the Iaac site.


‘Actuated at 60-75°C, these muscles contract by up to 10% and are capable of carrying 700 times their own weight and have no reported loss of strength over multiple cycles, thereby making them ideal to use on an architectural scale. Since one of the preconditions for actuating these springs is a calibrated amount of tension, ma[ny]forms explores systems that work with a careful counterbalancing of forces by pairing the springs so they tense each other, and create movement when one is actuated. While optimizing the amount of work the muscle has to do, such systems add the capability to create a member that can be aggregated to twist, turn and lift – much like the human spine –  in multiple axes and directions.

These can then create shape-shifting systems which can be controlled to span across spaces in a dynamic and configurable fashion, allowing a large degree of control over the creation, construction and use of these systems.’








‘The phenomenal scalability that this material provides has been used to form different parts of the system. We can create members that can be carriers of compression or tension to form a larger dynamic system. The force flows that are created can be relayed live to tiny elements which hold the main struts together to create a dynamic system that feeds back on data from its own structural state, thus creating systems that are not only dynamic, but configurable to the extent of being capable of handling the fluctuating forces generated in dynamic architecture.

maNYforms is more than a product, it suggests a larger idea that can enable dynamic architecture systems at varying scales, over millions of cycles with a fabrication process that can be taken to any location, facilitating configurable, manipulated architecture.’

maNYforms is a project of IaaC, developed at Master in Advanced Architecture in 2016 by:

Students: Utsav Mathur, Jean Sebastian Munera and Connor Stevens
Faculty: Areti Markopoulou
Faculty Assistants: Alexander Dubor and Angelos Chronis



‘First published in 2014**, nylon muscles are a relatively new smart material. Nylon muscles are created from commercially-available nylon fishing line. The process to convert the straight fishing line into a coiled muscle is simple. By keeping one end of the string in tension while twisting the other end (by means of a motor or drill), the string eventually over-twists and coiled unto itself. As a result, a nylon muscle is created.

Nylon muscles are heat responsive and have shape-memory properties. Specifically, they can either contract or expand when heated, and return to their original length when heat is removed. Our project envisions the use of these nylon muscles to create a heat responsive, weaved volume. Our experiments and research thus far is outlined below.’


Set 110




System Explorations + Potential Applications

‘Moving beyond prototyping, we explored two potential applications for a woven, responsive architecture [above]. The first design was a flexible, woven joint.’


‘The second application explored was a pumping system. Nylon muscles would contract and expand, push water vertically upwards. We imagine a vertical irrigation system, distributing water to patio vegetation, green walls and green roofs.’


Heat Actuated Nylon Muscles is a project of IaaC, developed at Master in Advanced Architecture in 2016 by:
Students: Utsav Mathur, Jean Sebastian Munera and Connor Stevens
Faculty: Areti Markopoulou, Alexandre Dubor and Angellos Chronis

[**] http://io9.gizmodo.com/scientists-just-created-some-of-the-most-powerful-muscl-1526957560

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