Digital Fabrication & Architectural Geometry

Short Summary

The objective of this research is to investigate mathematical concepts, robust algorithms, scalable geometric optimization techniques, and flexible data structures to form a computational toolset for architectural design/construction and digital fabrication.

 

Description

"With the use of digital technologies, the design information is the construction information. (...) It is the digitally-based convergence of representation and production processes that represents the most important opportunity for a profound transformation of the profession..."
Architecture in the digital age: Design and Manufacturing - Branko Kolarevic

Recent advances in construction and material technology have enabled the use of freeform surfaces as striking elements in contemporary architecture. Today’s Computer Aided Design software provides intuitive interfaces for the design of arbitrarily complex freeform surfaces. The construction of freeform surfaces, however, requires a segmentation of the surface into many small pieces that are then separately manufactured and mounted onto a support structure. Despite its high practical relevance for freeform architecture, this rationalization process remains a challenging problem with many fundamental questions still unsolved.

A similar challenge comes from digital fabrication, i.e., the fabrication process using machines controlled by computers, such as 3D printing, laser cutting, and CNC machining. Such fabrication techniques provide great flexibility to realize complicated shapes, but their limitations also induce geometric constraints for the target shapes that can be fabricated. Such fabrication-related constraints need to be taken into account during the geometric design process, to ensure the designed shapes can be effectively realized by digital fabrication.

The objective of this research is to investigate mathematical concepts, robust algorithms, scalable geometric optimization techniques, and flexible data structures to form a comprehensive toolset for constructive variational freeform surface design, as well as for effective realization of complex 3D shapes using digital fabrication. The goal is to enable the design of complex freeform shapes with immediate feedback on its fabrication complexity. We investigate new complexity reduction techniques to enable interactive, construction-aware design that bridges the gap between design and production.

 

Projects

NCCR Digital Fabrication

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Computational Caustics

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Interactive & Material-aware Design

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Complex Assemblies

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