Arup's Motion Platform; Arup's Motion Platform;

Arup's Motion Platform, Hong Kong, London, Melbourne, New York

How can we design by feel?

Achieving good vibration serviceability and performance can make the difference between a high-quality space and one which is uncomfortable for occupants. Traditionally engineers have been focused only on the strength and safety of the spaces we design, but we must think beyond this to the question of quality and the realisation of full building value. So how can we design in this way at a time when the occupant and building do not yet exist? In the same way that the Arup SoundLab lets us to listen to spaces before we build them, the Motion Platform allows us to feel building vibration while still at the drawing board.

First developed in 2014, the Arup Motion Platform has been deployed on design projects ranging from stadia to office floors, bridges, and even dance clubs. We can simulate existing conditions based on field measurements or input project conditions data for spaces that are yet to be constructed. This ability to faithfully simulate vibrations enables our clients and collaborators to make important design decisions around vibration performance by feeling it.

Project Summary

4 locations Hong Kong, London, Melbourne, New York

1gmaximum acceleration

11ftmaximum lateral movement

Origin of the idea

Arup is a part of many major building and infrastructure projects that require our clients to make important decisions on vibration at the design stage and sometimes during operational service. These decisions relate to existing buildings with excessive vibration and new buildings or bridges that are still on the drawing board. Imagine designing a tall building and trying to determine how much sway could be acceptable in a wind storm. The best way to make these decisions is for the project team to experience the motion themselves and decide on that basis. The Arup Motion Platform was funded by our internal strategic research program and enables our teams to design better by supplementing computational analysis with the design by feel approach. Arup can already combine the Motion Platform with virtual reality and sound to create a deeply immersive environment and this too will be part of our design capability in the near future. 

Technical challenges behind the build

The platform is a novel combination of several software and hardware technologies. We partnered with a company that specialises in theatre seat motion and integrated some of their technology into the platform. Through this partnership, we developed software programs to turn vibration signals into physical motion. The platform can be easily operated by any Arup engineer with minimal training. This, combined with the fact that the platform uses regular power outlets, means it can be easily transported on location for demos and project work. The Motion Platform was developed as a close collaboration between a number of engineering and design disciplines, an approach that is distinctively Arup.

And it’s not just about the platform, we also wrote an app for recording vibrations. This fuels the platform with signals from around the world that we can play. The platform has expanded from pioneering work in New York to a proven tool being deployed around the world in Arup offices.

Platform project examples

Arup’s Motion Platform has already provided added value on several projects. 

Projector vibration: A large arena project was proposed which would use projectors to create an immersive 180-degree projection dome. The projectors would be mounted on seating tiers and project images 250+ feet away. The client was concerned about the potential vibration of the projectors affecting the clarity of the projected image. Over the course of two days, we used the platform to precisely shake projectors while measuring and observing the resulting images with the client, to set criteria for acceptable vibration levels.

Dance club mitigation selection: A casino containing a large dance club was experiencing significant vibrations during certain concerts. Arup acted as vibration consultants in developing multiple solutions for the client of increasing effectiveness and cost to implement. The client and project stakeholders experienced the predicted vibrations using these solutions and used this experience to decide on a final solution.

Pedestrian bridge tuned mass damper study: During the design of a new office complex in Washington DC, Arup used the platform to simulate predicted vibrations in an architectural pedestrian overpass. We conducted a workshop with project stakeholders to establish the amount of damping to add to the bridge for satisfactory performance.

High Roller High Roller

Giant observation wheel: During the design of the Las Vegas High Roller we used a lateral motion platform to simulate vibrations from the wind to ensure everyday comfort in the wheel cabins.