25 September 2013 Volume :1 Issue :3

Architecture Students Seek New Heights

Architecture Students Seek New Heights
First year Architecture students at UKZN design and construct miniature hot air balloons as part of their Theory of Structures 1 course.

First year Architecture students at UKZN had great fun when, as part of their Theory of Structures 1 course, they were assigned to design and construct miniature hot air balloons or sky lanterns as they are more formally known.

Not only did the balloons have to be functional but they also had to be beautiful. Maximizing interior volume while minimizing envelope weight and at the same time creating something attractive proved a real challenge for the students.

When the big day arrived, balloons were initially marked on their aesthetic appeal.  However, the big question on everyone’s minds was: Would they fly?

The obligatory clearance was obtained from Air Traffic Control at King Shaka International Airport and the moment of truth arrived.

Unfortunately, most designs succumbed to the seduction of art, the desire for beauty making them too heavy to fly. Of the 25 or so teams, four managed to get their craft airborne, and when they went they really soared – high into the sky until they were only dots (good thing we contacted King Shaka).

A great exercise in learning not only about strength to weight ratio in structures but also that oh-so-important link between beauty and functionality that every architect must grapple with!

-          Bill Williams


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