A Method for the Realization of Complex Concrete Gridshell Structures in Precast Concrete

Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA)
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Synthetic Digital Ecologies: Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Conference of the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture, 2012, pp. 209 - 216
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This paper describes a method for the design and fabrication of complex funicular structures fromdiscrete precast concrete elements. The research proposes that through the integration of digitalform-finding techniques, computational file-to-fabrication workflows, and innovative sustainableconcrete casting techniques, complex funicular structures can be constructed using prefabricatedelements in a practical, affordable, and materially efficient manner.A recent case study is examined, in which the methodology has been used to construct a pavilion.Custom-written dynamic relaxation software was used to define the overall form and successivealgorithms; it then defined each component's unique geometry, unrolled into flat shapes, andnested all parts into cut-files. PETG plastic sheets were two-dimensionally laser cut and folded toproduce the unique casting molds. The case study was carried out in collaboration between theAarhus School of Architecture and the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). Basic research incasting techniques defined the framework for the design process, and a custom-written dynamicrelaxation software application became the primary form-generating tool in the design process ofa constructed pavilion. Fabrication and construction constraints were embedded within the designof both the overall structure and its components. Finite element analysis [FEA] was completed inorder to verify the form-finding results, to ensure structural stability, and to direct adjustments ofthe structure during the design process.The constructed pavilion case study, constructed in a very short time, for low cost and with relativelyunskilled labor, demonstrates that the integration of algorithmic form-finding techniques, CNCfabrication workflows, and the use of innovative PETG folded-mold techniques enables thepractical realization of freeform funicular structures in precast concrete.
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