As a future engineer taking Aesthetic of Design class, one of the first things that came in mind was the work of artist and physicist Theo Jansen. It all started in 1090 when he started building the Strandbeest and today he is one of the most recognized artists for his work.
Strandbeests are dynamically beautiful in a way that might get you thinking they are some sort of an engineering product. However, standing as big as 6m in length, 5 m in width, 4.7 m in height and weighing 3200 kg they are burly aesthetic and applicable to the up-cycling criteria. That is, first they were built out of wood but today they are built out of PVC, bottles and vinyl sheets. Almost mimicking animals at times, utilizing dynamics, wind and the beautiful scenery as they are mostly tested on beaches, they will fascinate you.
Being made to realize that engineering can be aesthetic, too, I wanted to understand Strandbeests’ dynamics in hope of building my own mini dynamic sculpture. Mini sculpture that aesthetically looks nice and functionally dynamic. Moving forward, I bought a mini strandbeest assembly kit to help me better understand the mechanism and drain some ideas, and I was able to assemble it as shown in the following figures:
Side view showing gears connected to wind tunnel and crankshaft
Front view of wind tunnel and legs
My next step was finding my up-cycle materials. I obtained some used toys and LEGO, and went ahead and played with them having a rough idea of what I want, a dynamic toy. Few hours later I had generated few ideas regarding the design. The design would utilize gears and wheels and would probably look like a vehicle driven by a fan and the wind.
preliminary design sketch
Making a toy
Finally, I gathered what I wanted, two wheels, additional two wheels that I decided to use as gears and a little fan. However, trying to build sturdy structure proven to be somewhat difficult. What has become some sort of a vehicle now kept on falling on its sides. Another challenge was the friction on wheels and gears, ting them too tide to structure or using rubber or glue hindered the rotation of wheels. Nevertheless, after going through an iterative process whereby I refined my design over and over in terms of looks and materials I was finally able to build figure shown below which runs fine when I blow hair dryer air on its fan.
Final project built using old toys parts
In the near future I would like to take this project further and use a motor and a solar cell, which I’ve already obtained, to drive the mini toy dynamics. Furthermore, I would like very much to mimic a walking sort of motion thus I might 3D print gears and connect them to a shaft to establish this motion.
Last but not least
Finally, though I was aiming for the “motion” aesthetic my project ended having “LEGO” aesthetic to it, too. Nonetheless, I will continue on trying to improve on the “motion” aesthetic as I think that the walking motion is more attractive than sliding motion. Attached is the designing process I went and plan on going through as I develop my project.