Harmonic form-finding for the design of doubly-curved shells

Cecilie Brandt-Olsen, Paul Shepherd, Paul Richens

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Abstract

Abstract
Purpose
Shell structures are highly efficient and are an elegant way of covering large uninterrupted spaces, but their complex geometry is notoriously difficult to model and analyse. This paper aims to describe a novel free-form shell modelling technique based on structural harmonics.

Design/methodology/approach
The method builds on work using weighted eigenmodes for three-dimensional mesh modelling in a computer graphics setting and extends it by specifically adapting the technique to an architectural design context. This not only enables the sculpting of free-form architectural surfaces using only a few control parameters but also takes advantage of the synergies between eigenmodes and structural buckling modes, to provide an efficient means of stiffening a shell against failure by buckling.

Findings
The result is a flexible free-form modelling tool that not only enables the creation of arbitrary doubly curved surfaces but also allows simultan. The tool helps to assist in the design of shells at the conceptual stage and encourages an interaction between the architect and engineer. A number of initiatives, including a single degree of freedom design, boundary constraints, visualisation aids and guidelines towards specific spatial configurations have been introduced to satisfactorily adapt the method to an architectural context.

Originality/value
The tool helps to assist in the design of shells at the conceptual stage and encourages an interaction between the architect and engineer. A number of initiatives, including a single degree of freedom design, boundary constraints, visualisation aids and guidelines towards specific spatial configurations have been introduced to satisfactorily adapt the method to an architectural context. This paper includes a full case study of the iconic British Museum Great Court Roof to demonstrate the applicability of the developed framework to real-world problems and the software developed to implement the method is available as an open-source download.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1073-1091
JournalEngineering Computations
Volume37
Issue number3
Early online date19 Oct 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Buckling
  • Curvature
  • Fourier analysis
  • Free-form surfaces
  • Harmonics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Engineering(all)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics

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