Graphic statics is a powerful approach for relating the geometry of a structure to the forces acting in the structure. Master builders have used this simple but powerful design methodology to discover structural form for over a century. Enhanced by computation, novel design approaches allow for geometrical exploration well beyond historical precedents. Even for highly constrained boundary conditions, infinite solutions are possible and new forms are waiting to be discovered.
Thrust Network Analysis (TNA) extends graphic statics to 3D for contemporary design. Form and force diagrams provide explicit control over the geometry of a spatial network of compressive forces in equilibrium with a set of vertical loads. The form diagram defines the directions along which the horizontal thrust in the network can flow, and the lengths of the lines in the force diagram represent the magnitude of those forces. The form and force diagrams demonstrate the logical beauty of TNA-based form finding, going well beyond the classical dome.
Three-dimensional graphic statics expands the intuitive and visual method to fully spatial systems of forces. Equilibrium is now represented by aggregations of closed polyhedra, where each polyhedron represents the equilibrium of a node in 3D.
This paper will show a series of results and case studies from our own graphic-statics based research and practice. The examples demonstrate that traditional methods such as graphic
statics have not been made obsolete by modern computational technologies. In fact, their combination seems to bring out the best of both worlds.