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Tensegrity, tensional integrity or floating compression, is a structural principle based on the use of isolated components in compression inside a net of continuous tension, in such a way that the compressed members (usually bars or struts) do not touch each other and the prestressed tensioned members (usually cables or tendons) delineate the system spatially.

Tensegrity structures are structures based on the combination of a few simple design patterns:


  • Loading members only in pure compression or pure tension, meaning the structure will only fail if the cables yield or the rods buckle
  • Preload or tensional prestress, which allows cables to be rigid in tension

  • Mechanical stability, which allows the members to remain in tension/compression as stress on the structure increases.

Because of these patterns, no structural member experiences a bending moment. This can produce exceptionally rigid structures for their mass and for the cross section of the components.

The term tensegrity was coined by Buckminster Fuller in the 1960s as a portmanteau of "tensional integrity".[2] The other denomination of tensegrity, floating compression, was used mainly by Kenneth Snelson.

For application in kinesiology and physical therapy, see Scott Sonnon's flow.


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