Geometric Structural Design (fall 17)


Geometric structural design provides a comprehensive introduction to novel geometric methods of structural design based on 2D and 3D graphical statics. The main emphasis of the course will be on developing a general understanding of the relationship between structural forms in equilibrium and the geometric representation of their internal and external forces. This relationship will be used as the main apparatus in designing provocative structural forms using only geometric techniques rather than complicated algebraic/numerical methods. Moreover, special consideration will be given to materialization of the structural geometry and the proper fabrication techniques to construct the complex geometry of the structure.

Note that this course is based on an on-going research in the field of 3D graphical statics, and therefore provides students with the opportunity to directly contribute to the current research in geometric methods of structural design. Familiarity with a parametric software is required and code-writing ability is an asset. Special attention will be given to structural model making and careful structural drawings. The outcomes of the course will be exhibited for a period of time after the final review at the end of the semester. In addition, a special summer research fellowship will be available for highly motivated students to build a one-to-one scale structural prototype based on the forms developed in the class.


The course is divided into five consecutive parts with specific intentions; Part I will introduce the geometric principles of equilibrium of structural forms; Part II will focus on structural form finding using geometric techniques; Part III will concentrate in manipulating the geometry of the structural form and its force diagram to explore various architectural schemes; Part IV will provide the necessary procedures to constrain the form and force diagrams to specific locations and control the boundary conditions; and Part V will specifically emphasize the choice of material and the fabrication techniques to construct complex spatial forms.


Therefore the course has the following particular intentions: (a) to introduce the concept of equilibrium using geometric techniques, expanding the reciprocal relationship between the elements of an equilibrated structural form and its force diagram; (b) to emphasize the use of geometry in designing complex yet efficient structural forms and deriving the internal and external forces using geometric diagrams; (c) to simplify the understanding of complex structural concepts using geometric language instead of numerical methods; and, (d) to investigate different materials and fabrication techniques to realize spatial structural forms.


On completion of this course, students should be able to:

(a) describe the equilibrium of structural concepts using geometric methods of graphical statics in 2D and 3D; (b) construct structurally informed, novel architectural concepts and derive the internal and external forces in the system geometrically; and, (c) understand the challenges in materializing spatial structural forms and develop appropriate fabrication techniques to construct their complex components.


Masoud Akbarzadeh

Students: Mostafa Akbari, Musab Mohammad Badahdah, Ryan Mcchord Barnette, Yuhan Bian, Xinyue Cao, Xiaoyi Gao, Naman Gupta, Bosung Jeon, Xueyan Sabrina Li, Tian Ouyang, Kunil Paik, Shuoqi Xiong