Thinkshell Architectural Geometry Lessons

Organised by:

Olivier Baverel (ENPC), Cyril Douthe (IFSTTAR), Laurent Hauswirth (UPEM)

The Thinkshell Architectural Geometry Lessons are a series of conferences that intend at encouraging exchanges between mathematicians, computer scientists and structural engineers interested in structural design. The objective is to spread the advances in architectural geometry among the builders community and to encourage the development of fabrication-aware structural design.

Next session: Ass. Prof. Eike Schling (TUMünchen), December 11th 2018, 14:30 in Amphi Navier

Repetitive Structures
Design and construction of curved support structures with repetitive elements

In his talk, Eike Schling will present a variety of architectural studies which aim to construct gridshells from repetitive parts. For this purpose, he introduces a theoretical framework that enables a systematic design and an analysis of the repetitive quality of doubly curved grid structures. The key is to consider both geometric as well as constructive criteria to allow for a repetitive fabrication of parts.

Eike has extensively studied such “repetitive structures” in both his research and teaching. His examples utilize various methods: Through digital sensitivity studies he investigates the impact of specific geometric parameters; in creative, experimental design studios, he conducts ‘research by design’ to develop modular shells; and finally, the theories of differential geometry are implemented to deduce the morphology of smooth networks.

Eikes studies not only reveal fundamental principles and dependencies within repetitive design, but also show the great potential and aesthetics of such structures. A novel design method – asymptotic networks on minimal surfaces – allows for the construction of strained gridshells from straight lamellas and orthogonal nodes. Construction of a prototypical structure, the Asymptotic Gridshell, was completed in Munich in 2017.

Bio: Eike Schling is an architect and assistant professor at the Chair for Structural Design at the Technical University in Munich. Since 2008 he has worked as a computational designer at Auer+Weber in Munich and PLP Architecture in London. This experience fostered his interest in the design and planning of façades and structures with complex geometries. Since 2012 he has been teaching parametric methods, architectural geometry and structural behavior with the clear goal of enabling fabrication-aware design. Eike completed his doctorate “Repetitive Structures” in 2018 with distinction. His research investigates the potentials of designing gridshells with repetitive elements based on a holistic consideration of geometric parameters and constructive criteria.

To be announced:

  • Prof. Johannes Wallner (TUGraz), January 29th, 2019
  •  Anna-Maria Bauer (TUMunchen), February 12th, 2019
  • Dr. Thilo Roerig (TUBerlin), February 19th, 2019?

Past speakers:

  • Prof. Philipp Block (ETHZ)
  • Ass. Prof. Amir Vaxman (UUtrecht)
  • Prof. Mark Pauly (EPFL)

Prof. Philipp Block (ETHZürich), November 27th 2018

Strength through Geometry – Reimagining shell structures

Throughout history, master builders have discovered expressive forms through the constraints of economy, efficiency and elegance. There is much to learn from the structural principles they developed. Novel structural design tools that extend traditional graphical methods to three dimensions allow designers to discover a vast range of possible shell forms. By better understanding the flow of forces in three dimensions, excess material can be eliminated, natural resources conserved, and humble materials like earth and stone reimagined.
Drawing from a revival of forgotten principles combined with the latest advances in the design, engineering, fabrication and construction of doubly-curved shell structures, this lecture reveals the foundations upon which the award-winning “Beyond Bending” exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2016 and the thin, flexibly formed concrete shell of the NEST HiLo project were based.

Bio: Dr. Philippe Block, Professor at the Institute of Technology in Architecture at ETH Zurich, studied architecture and structural engineering at the VUB in Belgium and at MIT in USA. The Block Research Group focuses on equilibrium design methods and computational form finding and fabrication of curved surface structures. Prof. Block is also the director of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication and partner of Ochsendorf DeJong & Block (ODB Engineering).

Ass. Prof. Amir Vaxman (UUtrecht), November 20th 2018

Moebius Geometry Processing

The mainstream approaches in digital geometry processing employ triangular (simplicial) meshes, discretize differential quantities using finite-element function spaces, and define transformations with piecewise-affine maps. I will describe how discrete Moebius geometry provides a novel alternative to these paradigms, by using circles as its basic elements, and describing quantities like conformality and regularity through the invariants of Moebius geometry. This paradigm allows to develop various capabilities, such as polygonal (non-triangular) mesh conformal deformations and multi-resolution design of unconventional mesh patterns with spherical precision. The applications for discrete Moebius geometry processing are within graphics, architectural geometry, and shape design.

Bio: Amir Vaxman is an assistant professor in the Geometric Computing Group in the Department of Information and Computing Sciences at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. Before his position at UU, he was a postdoctoral fellow in TU Wien (Vienna) at the Geometric Modeling and Industrial Geometry group, where he also received the Lise-Meitner fellowship. He earned his BSc in computer engineering, and his PhD in Computer science, both from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. His research interests are geometry processing and discrete differential geometry, focusing on directional-field design, unconventional meshes, constrained shape spaces, architectural geometry, climate and medical applications.

Amir Vaxman's lesson

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Prof. Mark Pauly (EPFL), November 8th 2018

Mark Pauly's lesson

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Light, Matter, Form : Computational Design of Functional Geometry

In this talk, Mark Pauly will outline a general computational approach for material-aware design of complex 3D models. The key step is to identify suitable geometric abstractions of physical properties that enable effective computations with high predictive accuracy. He will show several examples of this approach for interactive design with inextensible and auxetic materials, and for performative optimization of light re-directing surfaces. These studies illustrate how to leverage geometric insights, mathematical theory, and advanced algorithms to build effective computational tools for material-aware design of performative geometry.

Bio: Mark Pauly is a full professor at the School of Computer and Communication Sciences at EPFL. He received his PhD in 2003 from ETH Zurich, spent two years as a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University and four years as assistant professor at ETH Zurich. His research interests include computer graphics, computational design, digital fabrication, and architectural geometry. He received the ETH medal for outstanding dissertation in 2003, the Eurographics Young Researcher Award in 2006, an ERC starting grant in 2010, and the Eurographics Outstanding Technical Contributions Award in 2016.

The thinkshell Architectural Geometry Lessons are supported by: