Kenneth Snelson is the inventor of the structural system subsequently named ‘tensegrity’ by Buckminster Fuller. Snelson’s large scale constructs show how compression members can provide rigidity while remaining separate, not touching one another, held in stasis only by means of tensed wires. By means of discontinuous compression and continuous tension, Snelson’s multi-story towers and large scale amorphous exoskeletons of wire and steel give dramatic, visible expression to the idea that tension and compression are the eternally complementary elements in any structure, and that great economy in materials may be achieved through strategies that, like textiles, rely primarily on tension instead of compression. In Buckminster Fuller’s synergetics, tensegrity becomes a metaphor for how Universe itself is constructed.
Kenneth Snelson’s Tensegrity Weave was on display in 2001 at the Textile Museum of Canada in an exhibition titled On Growth and Form.