{Note: View the making of a Space Chain as in Basel in 2010 (video) or in the exhibition Architecture without building, in De Vleeshal in Middelburg in 2012 (video).}

Friedman found the trihedral system unsatisfying because the use of the system demands very high technical accuracy in fitting. His work experience as a construction worker after WWII on building sites in Israel learned him that this need for precision would mean to be an obstacle for flexible building.

He was searching for a system that would  allow for random patterns, to be chosen while working and easy to reconfigure. His idea was to use rings as a basic shape, as it has no nodes. The way to work with rings would be to connect them at will, simply by joining them. He coined this method ‘Space Chains‘ and applied this for the first time in his design for the development of the Medina of city of Tunis.

The way to work with the ‘Space Chains’ is to view a circle as the face of a cube or a tetrahedron. The spheres can be connected by using circle on circle as a parallel point of connection and build a three dimensional shape. This than is a spherical polyhedron.  Various polyhedrons may be connected with each other, building the desired construction. The principle proved to be easily understood and worked upon by constructional engineers. (See also: Orazi, Manuel, ‘A Conversation with Yona Friedman’, Log, nr 26, New York, USA, 2012).

To even get more flexibility Friedman designed the principle of ‘Protein Structures’ where spheres of various diameters are connected. This allows for truly random and even erratic designs as there is no way to predict the relation between neighboring polyhedrons. The reference is to protein molecules whose shapes are equally unpredictable.

Friedman kept reapplying the principle of the Space Chains and after exhibiting them on a life-size scale at the art fair in Basel (Switzerland) in 2010 he found response in the world of exhibition and museums for his idea to use them for creating flexible exhibition space. This project was titled ‘Iconostase’. A permanent installation is to be found in front of the building of the CNEAI at Chatou (near Paris, France).

(See for reference on polyhedrons in Wikipedia).

Space Chains 1970
Bicentennial French Revolution 1989
Protein Structures, 1992
Iconostase, from 2006

Related projects and studies
Simple technology
Ville Spatiale, visualization of the principles
Trihedral system, 1955
Tunis, 1959
Bridge-Town over the Channel, 1963
Bamboo constructions, 1970-1975
Domes, 1982
Bronx Museum NY, 1986
Museum without Doors, 1987
Green Church, 1988
Passerelle de Musée, 1988
Hill of the Faiths, 1990
Administrative Centre EU, 1990
Chairs, 1991
Milano Pyramid, 2000
Project for MART, 2006
Exhibition CNEAI Chatou, 2007
Exhibition in CAPC Bordeaux, 2008