Structuring Free-Form Building Envelopes

  • Daniel Gebreiter

Student thesis: Masters ThesisMPhil


In contemporary architectural design, the definition of envelope geometry often precedes consideration of its material build-up. The geometries created in such a top-down manner require subsequent rationalisation for construction. This thesis addresses methods for the aesthetic and efficient structuring of arbitrary surfaces while respecting distinct architectural considerations. Digital design tools have been developed to approximate surfaces using isotropic triangular or quadrangular elements. Various methods for the creation of simplified base complexes are shown. Such complexes expose a simplified topological build-up of surfaces and are used to create global parameterisations of surfaces of arbitrary genus. For quadrangular discretisation, the restructuring can be aligned to a user-defined vector field on the surface. The generated geometries are then optimised with regard to architectural considerations by means of dynamic relaxation. Particular attention is given to the compatibility of the methods with existing design workflows. Suitability and performance of the tools are assessed when used for the design of a real glass roof designed with Schlaich Bergermann and Partner in Luwan, China.
Date of Award29 Sept 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorPaul Shepherd (Supervisor) & Paul Richens (Supervisor)


  • free-form building envelopes
  • panelling
  • meshing

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