Funicular funnel shells

This research introduces a new typology of structurally efficient, funnel-shaped shells for light and open architectural applications. It uses a novel approach for the structural form finding of funicular shell shapes by defining free boundaries that are balanced by continuous tension rings.

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This new technique demonstrates how the combination of compression-only shells with funicular tension rings leads to a great variety of efficient and expressive forms. The research demonstrates how compression and tension forces can be explicitly controlled and manipulated locally in such structures, using a fully implemented, digital form-finding tool based on Thrust Network Analysis.

Thanks to flexible implementation, resulting shell designs range from simple symmetric shapes to complex configurations with perforations in the shell and undulating ridge edges. Independent of their complexity, all resulting shells are subject to a clear and comprehensible structural system.


Rippmann M. and Block P.Funicular Funnel Shells,Proceedings of the Design Modeling Symposium Berlin 2013,Gengnagel, C., Kilian, A., Nembrini, J. and Scheurer, F. (editors),: 75-89,Berlin, Germany,2013 (October).
Rippmann M. and Block P.Funicular Shell Design Exploration,Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of the ACADIA,Waterloo/Buffalo/Nottingham, Canada,2013 (September).
Block P. and Rippmann M.The Catalan Vault – A historical structural principle with a bright future,DETAIL ,5: 528-536,2013 (May).Issue on 'Simple and Complex'.


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