It is unclear where the unusual shape of the Basento Viaduct (Potenza, Italy) was derived. Some even say the thin shell concrete pedestrian bridge is shaped like the headdresses of nuns in Federico Fellini’s Italian films . Regardless, the Basento Viaduct is an example of a structure designed using early form finding techniques.
Today, we rely heavily on the use of computational methods for the form finding of thin shell structures. Yet, we see existing shell structures around the world that were designed and realized before engineers had numerical technology. Who were these extraordinary engineers and how did they generate these unique forms?
Since 2002, the emerald ash bore beetle, Agrilus planipennis, has destroyed more than 20 million ash trees in the US, with only 30% of the waste timber recycled into low-end products such as mulch and firewood. High value uses could turn this “waste” material into a valuable resource and an economic opportunity, especially considering that, before the widespread development of plastics, aluminum, and carbon fiber, … Continue reading Ash wood – catastrophe or opportunity for creativity?
Incomplete but already a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gaudí’s Sagrada Família towers over the city of Barcelona. Over a century in the making, the cathedral is expected to finish in the next 10-20 years.
In the form finding world, we’re often familiar with Frei Otto and Heinz Isler’s hanging methods, in which inverting a hanging model in pure tension informed the designer of the structure’s final form, which takes pure compression. While Gaudí is also known for making hanging models, a common misconception is that he embraced his hanging models as a way of determining the shape of his structures.
News broadcasts showing images of collapsed buildings, ravaged roads and torn-apart cities regularly remind us about the destructive power of earthquakes. While decades of research have greatly improved the understanding of these cataclysmic events, building professionals and researchers continuously try to adapt and employ the most sophisticated numerical methods to improve the behavior of buildings during a seismic event in order to safeguard their occupants.
Researchers at the Form-Finding Lab of Princeton University (http://formfindinglab.princeton.edu/) are exploring the design of elegant and expressive structures that can safely be employed in seismic areas. They focus on shell structures, which are very thin, curved and typically large span structures made out of wide range of materials going from steel and glass, to concrete and even bricks or mud.
Welcome to the Form Finding Lab’s blog! Under the direction of Prof. Sigrid Adriaenssens, we are a group based at Princeton University dedicated to studying the relationship between form and efficiency for the sustainability of future structures. This blog serves to share ideas and news from members of the group. Feel free to take a look around! Continue reading Welcome!
By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. Structural engineers envision, design and construct the bridges and long-span buildings those city dwellers daily depend upon daily. The construction industry is one of most resource-intensive sectors, and yet our urban infrastructure continues to be built in the massive tradition in which strength is pursued through material mass. In contrast, the research at the … Continue reading About the Form Finding Lab