Digital Stereotomy

This research develops a method for tessellating free-form masonry-like vaults.

More info

The tessellation of geometry is influenced by the general shape of the surface (linked to the design intent), its visual appearance (tectonics), its structural analysis (force flow) and fabrication as well as its material properties. Based on the tessellation pattern, individual blocks are generated automatically in a continuous digital process. In order to build vaults from stone blocks, this ongoing research aims to simplify the geometry of the stone blocks to meet specific fabrication and construction constraints. Moreover, additional block geometry modifications addressing the registration and fitting accuracy of the blocks are tested and analyzed in the course of the project.


Rippmann M. and Block P.Rethinking Structural Masonry: Unreinforced, Stone-cut Shells,Proceedings of the ICE - Construction Materials,166(6): 378-389,2013.
Rippmann M., Curry J., Escobedo D. and Block P.Optimising Stone-Cutting Strategies for Freeform Masonry Vaults,Proceedings of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS) Symposium 2013,Obrębski, J.B. and Tarczewski, R. (editors),Wroclaw, Poland,2013 (September).
Rippmann M. and Block P.Digital Stereotomy: Voussoir geometry for freeform masonry-like vaults informed by structural and fabrication constraints,Proceedings of the IABSE-IASS Symposium 2011,London, UK,2011 (9).
Rippmann M. and Block P.New Design and Fabrication Methods for Freeform Stone Vaults Based on Ruled Surfaces,Computational Design Modeling - Proceedings of Design Modeling Symposium Berlin 2011,Gengnagel, C., Kilian, A., Palz, N and Scheurer, F. (editors),: 181-189,Springer Berlin HeidelbergSpringer, Berlin,2011 (October).
Lachauer L., Rippmann M. and Block P.Form Finding to Fabrication: A digital design process for masonry vaults,Proceedings of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures Symposium 2010,Shanghai, China,2010 (11).


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.