Increasingly complex architectural geometries present new challenges for structural engineers. Collaborative, digital workflows which integrate 3D parametric architectural models with Finite Element Modelling software grant structural engineers a higher degree of geometric versatility and influence during the preliminary design phase. Through integrated parametric design models – also labelled “co-rationalized” – structural engineers may not only easily respond to rapid model variations and unusual assemblies, but also inform the building design from inception.
This thesis by Alexandra Adelle Hinkel Cheng presents an example of a project executed in a co-rationalized manner through architectural and structural collaboration, using both digitally-integrated and analog models, for the design and construction of solid timber shells structures using Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) panels. By exploring a co-rationalized design process, timber engineering details are identified and integrated into the architectural model, and the role of structural engineer takes an active rather than reactionary role in the preliminary design stages.
The result of this process using integrated parametric models was the design, fabrication, and assembly of a folded plate wall prototype and three CLT panels with double curvature. This research demonstrates how collaboration and integrated modeling enables the realization of the architectural versatility that mass-timber has to offer, and the efficacy which co-rationalized design and integrated models can bring to orthodox and unusual structures alike. As a consequence, this research serves as a precedent for structural detailing-based generative architecture and collaborative work in the future.