On Tuesday April 7th, I spent the day at the faculty of Architecture, at TU Delft, Netherlands, my alma mater. That week, Tektoniek organized a workshop for both architecture and engineering students to create fabric formed structures based on design input from bi-directional evolutionary structural optimisation (BESO). The entire Tektoniek event was supported by the Cement&BetonCentrum, bureaubakker, TU Delft and Weber Beamix.
The students were divided up in teams, and I worked with representatives from each team on installing and using Millipede for Grasshopper and the BESO plugin for Rhino, as options to perform this type of structural optimization. Millipede comes with lots of example files, and the BESO plugin was developed by Prof. Mike Xie’s research group at RMIT, who’ve pioneered and published a lot on this topic. Dr. Zhihao Zuo and Prof. Xie were kind enough to provide me with a license file for all the students to use. Basically, BESO adds material where it is needed and removes it where it is not, until it reaches a volume fraction of some design domain, set by the user/designer.
In the evening, two keynote lectures were planned to frame the context of the workshop.
Prof. Rob Nijsse spoke on the similarities between glass and concrete, and showed several projects from his engineering firm, ABT, where glass was structurally applied and exploited.
I then lectured on my previous work applying BESO and genetic algorithms to fabric formed beams, as well as ongoing work at BRG on the NEST HiLo project. I made a point to highlight the limitations and pitfalls of optimization, as well as the visual similarities between output from BESO and work around the globe on fabric formed structures, in order to help the students with the remainder of their workshop.
That’s Prof. Nijsse folding a piece of paper to illustrate the structural implications of folding and corrugating, a technique he has applied to the shaping of glass facades. The slide I’m showing in the photo, is an image of a theoretical bridge by Dr. Chris Williams, completely analytically described, and part of what inspired me as a student to look towards topics on structural optimization.
Later that week I had left for Zurich already, when the student teams were able to make various exciting fabric formed structures. This was achieved in just a couple of days, with most students never having worked with concrete or fabrics before!
Many thanks again to Siebe Bakker of bureaubakker and Coen Smets of Cement&BetonCentrum for inviting me as tutor and lecturer for this workshop.