Funicular Shell Design
Addressing both architects and engineers, this dissertation by Matthias Rippmann presents a new framework for the form ﬁnding and design of fabrication geometry of discrete, funicular structures in the early design phase. Motivated by ongoing debates about digital architecture and funicular shell form ﬁnding, it introduces a new methodology for structurally-informed design of curved surface architecture through the use of geometrical rather than analytical or numerical representations of the relation between form, forces and fabrication.
Based on Thrust Network Analysis (TNA), new algorithms are presented that enable an interactive exploration of novel funicular shapes, enriching the known formal vocabulary of shell architecture. Using TNA, the framework adopts the same advantages of techniques like graphic statics, providing an intuitive and educational approach to structural design that ranges from simple explorations to geometry-based optimization techniques.
Complementary to this structurally informed design process, the work reﬂects on the latest building technologies while also revisiting historic construction techniques for stereotomic stone masonry and prefabricated concrete shells to develop eﬃcient fabrication design strategies for discrete funicular structures. Based on architectural, structural and fabrication requirements, several tessellation approaches for given thrust surfaces are developed for the design of informed discretisation layouts of any funicular shape.
The ﬂexibility and feasibility of the form-ﬁnding framework is demonstrated in several case studies employing the new structural design tool RhinoVAULT, which implements the developed form-ﬁnding methods. The use of fabrication design strategies is discussed in a comprehensive case study that shows project-speciﬁc tessellation design variations and ﬁrst fabrication results for a complex stone masonry shell.