A special thanks to Tracey Bascue, Chris Brown, Don Paine, and Emily Terrell for editorial, scripting, and design critique contributions to the project!
Seeking only to transform an metaphoric uncured plane
of carbon fiber into a load bearing form, the SEPALchair and SEPALtable utilize
matching language of stress resolution commonly found in the stiffened planes
of plant structures to resolve two dramatically different functions, the chair and table. Following is a sequence of photos illustrating the transition of the table from a plane to resolved form.
a plane bound at the edges and released at the corners
lateral force forming ripples in the plane
additive pressure creating displacement in the table plane
increased deflection of table plane and reflection of pressure at central beam
force deepening central and diagonal spine
force exiting through released corners extending legs
As the HELIOtrope evolved over the past few years, frequently shifting between the front burner to the back shelf, it has seen many forms and iterations. Through the process, the goal has remained constant; create a highly visible urban landmark for cycling infrastructure and allow the mundane storage component of cycle facilities to depart from the ground plane. Ideally when navigating a new city or new part of town, the bike lanes and cycle tracks should be easy to find. Painted lanes while helpful for defining space for motorists, are not exceptionally helpful for off-route stranded cyclists. Therefore, a wayfinding pylon, nodallly linked with mass transit, could be instrumental in defining cycle infrastructure. In a post 9-11 world, transparency is essential on all scales of urban design. The bike locker, while effective and compact, may soon become, not dissimilar to the phone booth, a relic of the past. The result of this shift means that new storage solutions will be singular parking volumes controlled with secure access. As real estate adjacent to mass transit comes at a premium, a solution that goes up and not out is the best. With this approach, as storage capacity grows, so too does visibility.
Initially the design began as a 'bike tree,' in that the intended purpose was for the standard bicycle. As the success of bike-share programs grew and the ZIPcycle design came into focus (see previous post), the HELIOtrope became a dispensary for a ZIPcycle sharing program. However, the intent here is for storage of privately owned traditional bicycles as well as a ZIPcycle component. In the most ideal scenario however, energy generation would be linked over the rail through induction to batteries powering electric assist ZIPcycle drivetrains. When a HELIOtrope is empty or vehicle batteries are full, through a grid tie approach, energy could be delivered to the surrounding grid.
solar optimization through tracking and angle
While the whimsical nature nature of bike storage becoming the dry cleaning rack of the urban street-scape cannot be undermined, the form is derived from the ubiquitous street tree. As an ellipse connected to a vertical line is the common abstracted sketch for a tree, the HELIOtrope is the metaphor for the tree. To continue this thought, so too do the photovoltaic cells dispersed across the anticlastic ETFE membrane dapple light and generate energy as a leaf does. Of course this abstraction could be continued to absurdity, as bikes growing on trees... beyond the tree, the structure is not dissimilar from the rim of a bicycle, albeit a 'tacoed' or bent rim. A metal rim held in tension in this case by a membrane and not spokes and hub. The kinetic nature of shuffling bicycles across a spline and a slow but consistent rotation to follow the movement of the sun is ultimately appropriate to its intended purpose; the motion based nature of active transit.
To put this project in context, I must first describe my larger goal. My focus is on advancing the potential of active transit systems. To create a system that reduces travel time and increases the safety and well-being of the patron; the challenge is both in the design of the vehicles and the infrastructure. The latter is the subject of a book I am working on, the focus of this post is on the vehicle. For the time being, let me at least say, one cannot exist without the other.
development sketch of recumbent bicycle with fairing
The intent of this study is the development bicycle that can double the average cruising speed of the standard bicycle. Given that the standard cruising speed of normal cyclist is around 12 mph, attaining a cruising speed of 24 mph is somewhat attainable (elite cyclists can average this or greater cruising speeds for extended periods of time). The most straight forward means of increasing velocity is through aerodynamics. The astonishing feats of speed, on human power alone, at Battle Mountain are a testament to this principle (http://www.recumbents.com/wisil/whpsc2009/speedchallenge-2009.htm). Shifting the human form into a reclined position is the most efficient means of optimizing the aerodynamics of the human form. Thus, my design focus has been on the refinement of the recumbent bicycle.
fluid dynamic analysis of an preliminary concept
Before digressing at length on the details of aerodynamics and the mechanics involved in my work, I should first explain some of the more practical challenges that must be addressed. First and foremost is cost. To be effective, an active transit system must be accessible to all people. Therefore establishing the ZIPcycle as a sharing program is key. The price of a ZIPcycle would be comparable to a high end racing bike, precluding private ownership from the masses. If this cost were to be amortized over much larger group of people, i.e. members of a ZIPcycle sharing program, it would become an affordable public mode of transit. Advertising could also play a significant role in cutting costs, as proven by the Citi Bike system set to open in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens (http://citibikenyc.com).
form study shown without components or wheels
Beyond the aesthetic appeal of any concept, the most critical aspect of this design exploration is safety. Most issues of safety associated with the ZIPcycle find resolution in the dedicated separation of pedestrians, motor vehicles, and bicycles. In fact most issues of safety find resolution in the design and detailing of the infrastructure. That being said, the ZIPcycle must be stable at high speeds, adjustable and comfortable for a variety of body types, and as 'easy' to ride as a standard bicycle.
silhouette of preliminary concept
Currently we have many issues to face as a society. As obesity rates soar, providing attractive opportunities for exercise,
may be our best hope for battling the epidemic of diseases associated
with the sedentary lifestyle. Transit systems across the globe are surpassing capacity while infrastructure budgets dwindle. As urban centers become more and more dense, we must find ways to improve our experiential quality of life. While only being a singular element in a larger system to effect positive change and economic well-being, the effects of implementing active transit systems, and in this instance rapid active transit systems, can prove immeasurable.
current scheme, airbrushed to show components behind monocoque chasis