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IASS-SLTE Symposium 2014: Shells, Membranes and Spatial Structures: Footprints


IASS Symposium 2014

SESSION: Structural Morphology 3: Morphology and Transformables

The birth of shell forms without computers – a student construction workshop

< Table of Contents for Structural Morphology 3: Morphology and Transformables
  • Proceedings Name: IASS-SLTE Symposium 2014: Shells, Membranes and Spatial Structures: Footprints
  • ISSN: (Electronic Version) 2518-6582
  • Session: Structural Morphology 3: Morphology and Transformables
  • Title: The birth of shell forms without computers – a student construction workshop
  • Author(s): Gabriel TANG
  • Keywords: timber gridshell;concrete shell;architectural education
Abstract
Of particular interest is the investigation of various parameters and design drivers in the design and construction process of such lightweight structures. Also of interest is the use, or the lack of computer technology in the process of lightweight shell form-finding. The late Heinz Isler notably form-found, and quite prolifically, concrete shell structures without the use of complex computer software and scripting programmes, but by the artful mastery of resin hanging models. This interestingly counterpoints the state of modern day form-finding techniques. In recent years, the computer and new materials has made the construction, manufacture and assembly of structures of complex geometries in architectural, structural and civil engineering design more accessible than ever. This paper describes a student workshop conducted in March at Sheffield Hallam University in 2013 called Material Connection. This builds on the ideas and works of the author in architectural education and as a technology investigator of construction of shell construction. The construction workshop was open to all students in architecture and architectural technology streams dealt with formfinding of shells using physical models – a methodology employed by the great shell designers before and at the beginning of the advent of sophisticated computational software. The paper reports a construction workshop which students designed and investigated the structural behaviour of timber gridshells. Following the construction of the gridshell, fabric concrete patented Concrete Canvas was used to drape over it, where this material was hydrated and left to set in the creation of a shell. This reports the findings of such a system where the tripartite ideas of Billington’s ideas/ framework of structural artists (1983) : aesthetics, economy and efficiency will be presented, discussed and evaluated.

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