Modelling Interdependency (scale of the element)


The sub-projects Modelling Interdependency (scale of the element) examine the interdependencies that appear in friction based structures. Taking point of departure in timber based macro-weaving systems that scale up textile principles, the project aims to devise novel ways of computing the complex feedback in the stress-forces that characterise these systems. Using evolutionary systems of computational learning, the aim is to devise an adapting system in which goal states self-parameterise thereby allowing greater design control.

Lace Wall (2016)

Generative Cable Networks For Active Bending Structures

Lace Wall

Lace Wall explores hybrid structures that combine elements in tension and compression. Here two elements of low stiffness – the fibreglass beam and the cable network – are combined to create one whole of high stiffness. The element is form active shaped by the interdependency between the elements that restrain each other.

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Stressed Skins (2015)


Stressed Skins explores how very thin, easily bent metal sheet can become a strong but lightweight structure. Architects use thin metal sheets as cladding panels to provide integrated enclosure, structure and form. Because loads vary over such a building system, performance requirements vary, and customized load-adapted panel designs could mean significant efficiencies of material use and possible reductions for supporting structural systems.

This project develops workflows and methods to support customised design and fabrication using Incremental Sheet Forming (ISF).  These include the prediction of changes in material properties such as thinning and work hardening, the automated generation of load adapted rigidisation geometries, the prediction of overall structural behavior, and the automated generation of fabrication information. A specific concern is the development of adaptive mesh-based methods as a means to communicate information about design, material properties and performance across scales.

Team: Paul Nicholas, David Stasiuk, Esben Clausen Nørgaard

Materials Testing: Monash University, Materials Science and Engineering: Prof Christopher Hutchinson

Structural Engineering: Bollinger + Grohmann: Robert Vierlinger, Clemens Preisinger

Robotics: Thibault Schwartz, HAL Robotics ltd

Photography: Anders Ingvartsen



Stressed Skins is a frameless, stressed-skin structure, with tension, compression and shear forces carried through the skin. In the design of stressed skins, one of the main problems is to ensure rigidity at multiple scales: against the instability of the whole structure and also the local buckling of the parts which have to carry compressive load. Stressed Skins develops a structural approach in which local corrugation resists  buckling through geometric stiffening of the skin, while shear connectors transfer loads between upper and lower skins to rigidise the entire structure.



Stressed Skins explores the transfer of forming technology from automotive into architecture.  Each panel is formed by a robot directly linked to a 3D computer model, a process known as Robotic Incremental Sheet Forming (ISF).  In this fabrication method, a ball-head tool is moved over the surface of a thin flat metal sheet, progressively imparting localised plastic deformation and 3D form.  This stretching of the metal has implications for material properties: the sheet ungoes localised thinning and hardening, and can no longer be considered as having uniform properties. A key contribution of Stressed Skins is to develop a design-integrated modeling process that connects calculation of these forming implications to performance at material, element and structural scales.




The modelling approach used for Stressed Skins is necessarily multi-scale.  At the macro scale, it is important that the design is aware of possible instability in the whole structure, at the meso scale, of local buckling of the panel elements, and at the micro scale, of material thickness and the potential for micro buckling during the forming process.  These parameters are to a large extent interdependant.

The multi-scale modelling approach used in this research project is comprised of techniques which enable the information generated at each scale to flow both up and down the continuum. Here, an adaptive mesh refinement method is used to support localised variations in resolution and information flow. From the perspective of the design development, these include: overall form-finding and panelisation operations; global structural analysis and adaptive specification of connectivity arrays; and recursive local tectonic pattern formation which depends upon finite element analyses and is further informed through the calculation of forming strains and material thinning.






Panels of approximately 50*100 cm were fabricated using an ABB industrial robot.  Rather than using conventional toolpath generation algorithms, in which toolpaths are generated as sliced contours in the horizontal plane, a custom spiral-based algorithm was developed that included grouping of features, recofiguration of jig positioning to fit optimimal zones of forming, and adjustments to tooling speed with relation to wall angle.

stressedSkins_CF071282 stressedSkins_CF071301


The Social Weavers (2013)


The Social Weavers is a bending active, non-standard grid shell structure made from fibre composite rods of variable diameter and stiffness. The installation develops aggregate self-forming processes that intersect with the behavioural activation and distribution of fibre-composites under design direction for the production of a novel architecture. 

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Learning to be a Vault (2014)


Where parametric modelling allows designers to work in flexible ways with variable geometries, the associated problems of parameterisation and reduction are well known. Parametric models are normally limited because they necessitate a pre-configuration of their embedded variables as well as a pre-determination of model topology, meaning that the designer needs to know all defining parameters and relationships between model elements at the start of the design project. “Learning to be an Arch” operates as an experiment that tests new methodologies for the modelling of design systems that challenge this standard of configuration fixity by opening parameter spaces in both variable value and element connectivity while simultaneously embedding material behaviour within morphogenesis.

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Hybrid Tower (2014)

The inventory of the Hybrid Tower

Traditional thinking in architecture and engineering alike is to understand the built environment as static, unaffected by changes in their environment. Buildings are designed for permanence and thought as stable and unchanging.

Tower explores the idea of a moving arch, a resilient structure that adapts under environmental changes.

Tower is a the result of an interdisciplinary research collaboration betweenCentre for Information Technology and Architecture (CITA) at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation in Copenhagen (Denmark), the Department for Structural Design and Technology (KET), University of Arts Berlin (Germany), Fibrenamics, Universidade do Minh, Guimarães (Portugal), Essener Labor für Leichte Flächentragwerke, Universität Duisburg-Essen (Germany) and the Portuguese textile company AFF a. ferreira & filhos, sa, Caldas de Vizela.


resillienceRepresentative at the Danish Design Museum

A TOWER – The resilience Tower Typology

The concept of resilience is chosen as a primary design driver in the project. Resilience is understood here as the ability to recover from or adjust to change or external stimuli. Specifically this implies being able to withstand not just self weight but live loads such as wind. The design strategy here where to develop “soft structures” where resilience was defined as the ability of a material to absorb energy when it is deformed elastically, and release that energy upon unloading. This design requirement points towards a focus on potential applicability to industry and practice.


The architectural typology of the tower was chosen as the design case with the aim of building a 6-10 meter tall demonstrator in the spring of 2015.

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The ability to design for and with material performance is a core resource for design innovation closely tied to material optimization. The project introduces three scales of design engagement by which to examine material performance: the structure, the element and the material.

Tower questions the tools for integrating information across the expanded digital design chain, the project asks how to support feedback between different scales of design engagement moving from material design, across design, simulation and analysis to specification and fabrication.methods



Designing at three scales

MACRO: At the “macro” scale the architectural typology of a form active tower presents challenges outside of common applications of form finding such as shells and membranes which may be form found using known and tested principles such as catenary networks and minimal surfaces.



MESO: On the “meso” scale the project explores the potential of Bending Active Tensile Membrane structures as a strategy for satisfying the goals described on the macro scale. Specifically these may be defined as bending active linear members constrained by a tension active membrane resulting in a stiff hybrid structure with a high degree of resilience..



MICRO: At the “micro” scale the project introduces bespoke elastic knit as the tensile membrane – specially fabricated from high tenacity polyester yarn and programmed to the tower and its performance – and fibre-reinforced polymer rod as the slender bending members which are constrained by the membrane.

Textile_channels00_bwThe fabric is knitted using knit Piquet Lacoste a less elastic a more isotropic knit. The membranes are produced on a double bed knitting machine which allows the creating of channels and pocket to steer the rots position, and wholes for tension/lines and stitching the membranes together.

Detail   tension system


Photographer Anders Ingvartsen

GRP materials by Fibrolux GmbH