Form finding and structural analysis of a freeform stone vault

Van Mele T., Mehrotra A., Mendez Echenagucia T., Frick U., Augustynowicz E., Ochsendorf J., DeJong M. and Block P.
Proceedings of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS) Symposium 2016
Tokyo, Japan

This paper describes the form-finding and analysis process of a freeform masonry vault. The vault is a dry-­set, cut-stone structure with 399 voussoirs. It covers an area of 75 m2 and spans almost 16 m. The thickness of the discrete, stone shell varies from 12 cm at the supports to 5 cm at the highest points. The form-finding process of the funicular geometry was based on Best-­fit Thrust Network Analysis. Structural analysis was performed with the Discrete Element Method as implemented in 3DEC. We will provide: a detailed description of the form-finding process starting from a geometrically defined target surface and a specific layout of the horizontal thrust in the system and resulting in a three­-dimensional network of forces in pure compression for the given loading and boundary conditions; an overview of the discretisation into voussoirs and the data structures involved in this process; details about the conversion of the complex voussoir geometry into tetrahedralised compound blocks for analysis in 3DEC; and the results of the structural analysis addressing both static and dynamic loading conditions.


    author    = "Van Mele, T. and Mehrotra, A. and Mendez Echenagucia, T. and Frick, U. and Augustynowicz, E. and Ochsendorf, J. and DeJong, M. and Block, P.",
    title     = "Form finding and structural analysis of a freeform stone vault",
    booktitle = "Proceedings of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS) Symposium 2016",
    year      = "2016",
    editor    = "K. Kawaguchi, M. Ohsaki, T. Takeuchi",
    volume    = "",
    number    = "",
    pages     = "",
    publisher = "",
    address   = "Tokyo, Japan",
    month     = "September",
    doi       = "",
    note      = "",

Related publications

Rippmann M., Van Mele T., Popescu M., Augustynowicz E., Méndez Echenagucia T., Calvo Barentin C., Frick U. and Block P.The Armadillo Vault: Computational design and digital fabrication of a freeform stone shell,Advances in Architectural Geometry 2016,: 344-363,2016 (September).
Calvo Barentin C., Rippmann M., Van Mele T. and Block P.Computer-controlled fabrication of a freeform stone vault,Proceedings of the IASS Symposium 2016,K. Kawaguchi, M. Ohsaki, T. Takeuchi (editors),Tokyo, Japan,2016 (September).


ETH Zurich
Institute of Technology in Architecture
Block Research Group
Stefano-Franscini-Platz 1, HIB E 45
8093 Zurich, Switzerland

+41 44 633 38 35  phone
+41 44 633 10 53  fax

Copyright © 2009-2017 Block Research Group, ETH Zurich, Switzerland.