Intuitive interactive form finding of optimised fabric-cast concrete

Andreas Bak, Paul Shepherd, Paul Richens

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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Producing organic shapes in concrete has been a challenging problem since complex freeform buildings became a major trend in contemporary architecture. Many different techniques for casting doubly-curved shapes have been proposed. Most of them produce elements which exactly match a preconceived design, but at a high cost in manufacture. Fabric formwork techniques (such as those pioneered at the Centre of Architectural Structures and Technology at the University of Manitoba (CAST)) are relatively economical, but require a form-finding approach which takes into account the physics of casting, as well as structural and functional requirements of the finished element.
The research presented here involves a specialised methodology for the design and manufacture of optimised concrete elements cast in fabric formwork. Using a novel software tool, our approach lies in between the largely intuitive methods reported by CAST and the precise but expensive computer-controlled manufacturing methods normally used in practice. Combining topological optimisation with computational form-finding, the developed software guides the designer towards a shape that is economical in both material and manufacturability. By combining knowledge of computational structural analysis, optimisation algorithms, fabric simulation and the practical casting techniques of fabric formwork; the gap between structurally optimised forms, and those developed intuitively by fabric casting, can be bridged. This is demonstrated through a case study involving the computational design of a centrally supported slab, supplemented with design studies realised using plaster scale models.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2012
EventSecond International Conference on Flexible Formwork (icff2012) - University of Bath, UK United Kingdom
Duration: 27 Jun 201229 Jun 2012


ConferenceSecond International Conference on Flexible Formwork (icff2012)
Country/TerritoryUK United Kingdom
CityUniversity of Bath


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