How These Magical, Gravity-Defying Doors Actually Work

Describing the sculptures of Austrian designer Klemens Torggler as "doors" feels like an insult. These aren't doors—they're magical pieces of engineering, half kinetic sculpture and half magic trick, that you happen to walk through. So, how do they work?

You may have seen Torggler's work around before: In his many YouTube videos, the Austrian designer walks nonchalantly through the frame, and with a flick of his wrist, sets a whirling structural manouevere in motion, either closing or opening the door in question. Torggler has been building these doors since 1997; each one being different from the last. We decided to look at the five main types.

Let's start with the video the Torggler uploaded today. We're seeing his double rod system in action. In some ways, this is the simplest design to understand. It consists of two superimposed leafs. They swing open and close thanks to the long pieces of metal mounted to each square—by rotating, they swing the sections into place:

Then there's the epitrochoid curve system, which consists of a wheel and a curved track. The wheel moves along this track when the door is set in motion:

The triangle system might be the most mesmerising. In it, the door is split into two halves; each of those halves is split diagonally, too. The two orthogonal edges that meet in the middle are connected to a track that, when put in motion, pull the triangles into a folded position, which pulls the main edged into position:

The screen system is a complex, large-scale partition: Mounted around a central rod affixed to the floor, two distinct "double rod" doors swing out to form a room-sized screen. Unfortunately, there's no video of this one yet—but check out the still shot:

Many of Torggler's doors mix and match pieces of each system, and there are all kinds of crazy experiments to be seen on his YouTube page. Check out this asymmetrical glass version:

Or another series of early prototypes:

We've reached out to Torggler to find out what he's working on next—but in the meantime, check out his website for more ingenious designs. [Klemens Torggler]