These Tinkertoys For Architects Simulate How Buildings Really Work

To laymen, architectural principles are rather abstract. Buildings seem to stay up based upon nothing but sturdiness, when in actuality, even the simplest buildings stay erect based upon a combination of structural principles, many of which are extremely hard to explain in words–the way that things like beams, columns, trusses, retaining walls, and more actually work.

What might surprise you is that these structural principles don’t seem abstract just to laymen. Many an architecture student wrestles with them too, which is why Brazilian architect Márcio Sequeira de Oliveira created the Mola Structural Kit a few years back in response to the abstract nature of the postgraduate course he was overseeing. Now, this set of Tinkertoys for architects is back, as ArchDaily points out, with an updated kit that is even more realistic.

Like the first kit, the Mola 2 is made primarily of a series of magnetized springs, planes, and ball bearings which, when assembled on a base, allow architects to visualize the way structural forces work on a building–and how they deform. Two new mechanisms in the set join the previous collection of pieces to allow architects to simulate continuous pillars, continuous beams, transition beams, and more.

The Mola 2 is fully backwards compatible with the first kit, and can be used to mock up some cutting edge buildings, such as OMA’s CCTV Headquarters in Beijing, or Arata Isozaki’s Art Tower Mito in Japan. It can also be used to model the structural forces that act upon infrastructure like cable-stayed bridges; press on your bridge with a finger to simulate how a catastrophic tsunami or hurricane might break it apart.

The Mola 2 Structural Kit can be preordered on the Brazilian crowdsourcing site here, starting at around $36.

[All Images: via Mola/Catarse]JB