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DESIGNER
CHUCK HOBERMAN
DATE
1995
LOCATION
New York, NY, USA
TYPE
recreational
USE
Toy
Hoberman Original Sphere

Hoberman Sphere manifests the designer’s idea of “making structures that transform their size and shape”. The structure resembles a geodesic dome and its shape, called icosidodecahedron, is a polyhedron consisting of twenty triangular faces and twelve pentagonal ones. The pieces of the sphere are interlocked and able to spread apart allowing the structure to contract and expand to a much larger form of its normal size while keeping its shape. Double-armed joints allow scissor-like actions, which maintain the included angle of the edge throughout the transformation. As a sculpture, the Hoberman sphere appears in many museum collections, with its larger version forming the central exhibit in the atrium of the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey. As a toy it is very popular as one can throw it, bounce it, kick it, spin it, roll it or suspend it. It is also used as a device for physical therapy as well as a visual aid for breathing exercises, encouraging children (and grown-ups) to synchronize their breath with an expansion-contraction cycle led by the instructor. In 1998, Hoberman Sphere received the Parents’ Choice Gold Award, one of the many distinctions that recognize its ingenuity. Regarding future plans, Hoberman Associates is collaborating with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) to adapt and optimise the sphere for use as a radar calibration satellite.

TRANSFORMABLE DESIGN FEATURES AT A GLANCE
PRINCIPLE
PHENOMENOLOGICAL
folding
ACTUAL
folding
TYPE
PHENOMENOLOGICAL
reciprocal frames (scissors)
ACTUAL
reciprocal frames (scissors)
SYSTEM
manual
ELEMENTS
Whole structure
Application Framework
Enclosed Space Open Space
Private Space Public Space
Passive Communication Active
Project Scale
Kinetic Elements Scale
Equipment
People
Intensity of Activity
Fluctuation of Intensity
Periodicity of Fluctuation
Design
New Design Intervention
Requires Support Self Supported
Simple Geometry Complex Geometry
Low Tech High Tech
Manual System Intelligent System
Surface Transformation
Volume Transformation
Morphological Variations
Modularity
Portability
Adaptability
Sustainability
Materials
Conventional Sophisticated
Elastic Rigid
Transparent Opaque
Warm Cold
Weight
Maintenance
Insulation
COST (estimation)

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Image source:

1, 2: http://www.hoberman.com/portfolio.php

Further Reading:

http://www.hoberman.com/
http://discovermagazine.com/1992/mar/theunfoldingworl6