17 Geometry, topology, materiality: The structural parameters in a collaborative design approach

Manfred Grohmann and Oliver Tessmann

Collaborative design resembles a discussion or a conversation. Ideas are bounced off the different members of a design team. The engineer joins a design team, depending on the task and the point in time, with different structural parameters and contributes to an integrated solution. This chapter will present different strategies that we pursue, at Bollinger & Grohmann, involving geometry, topology and materiality. Geometry plays a major role for structural performance in large-scale structures and at the same time embodies the architectural design approach. Thus, a solution which suits different requirements has to be negotiated. Topology of surface- and vector-active systems within a predefined shape or envelope can become the objective of evolutionary design processes where structure adapts to specific needs. Materiality is embedded into a larger context of material systems that include digital work flow and fabrication.

The geometry

Within a structural form, the geometry defines the position of objects in space with positive characteristics in redirecting forces. When forces can be reduced to pure tension and compression, the entire cross-section of a structural element is exploited, whereas bending causes stress to occur only in the outer areas and therefore disrates the remaining material to be useless ballast. The elegant shells of architects ...

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