Geometry-based Teaching of Structures Through Computational Graphic Statics

Lee J., Enrique L., Van Mele T. and Block P.
IASS2020/21-SURREY7 (Annual Symposium of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS2020) and the 7th Surrey International Conference on Spatial Structures)

This paper presents how computational graphic statics can be used in university-level architecture and structural engineering curriculums for geometry-based teaching of structures. Compared to a more traditional paradigm of teaching structural design in academia where dimensioning and analysis of structures are prioritised through numerical calculations, graphic-statics-based approach enhances students’ intuition and understanding of structures through graphical representations of the relation between a structure and its internal forces through reciprocal form and force diagrams. Visual representation of equilibrium enables students to challenge how typical structural design problems are addressed and provides tangible insights into how designs can be improved. By combining the inherent benefits of graphic statics with today’s computational tools, interactive drawings of form and force diagrams can be constructed, which students can manipulate with real-time, visual feedback. Computational implementations of graphic statics are not only useful for educational purposes in more technical courses, but also for projects in architectural design studios as a new canvas and a kit of parts to design buildings in a more insightful and structurally-informed manner. The development of the presented computational graphic statics platforms and tools for teaching structures is based on the COMPAS framework. The potential of geometry-based teaching of structures using computational graphic statics is demonstrated through examples of student work from a new computational graphic statics course that was developed and taught at ETH Zurich in the fall semester of 2020. The detailed content, structure and teaching methodology of the course are also presented.


    author    = "Lee, J. and Enrique, L. and Van Mele, T. and Block, P.",
    title     = "Geometry-based Teaching of Structures Through Computational Graphic Statics",
    booktitle = "IASS2020/21-SURREY7 (Annual Symposium of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS2020) and the 7th Surrey International Conference on Spatial Structures)",
    year      = "2021",
    editor    = "",
    volume    = "",
    number    = "",
    pages     = "",
    publisher = "",
    address   = "Surrey",
    month     = "",
    doi       = "",
    note      = "",

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