Ultra-lightweight space frame structures based on minimal path computation

M. Fleischmann, T. Kotnik, P. Teuffel, G. Henn

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Minimal surfaces, as visible in various natural systems, have great potential for application in high-rise building design, due to their structural efficiency, overall area minimization, and efficient material distribution. All of these factors contribute to a sustainable architectural model and green building concept as they integrate structure, form and force distribution in one coherent system. In architecture, minimal surfaces have been predominantly realized as tension-active surface structures, namely membranes or cable-nets [4]. Their application for compression active-structures, other than shells, has not been as prominent. On the other hand, many examples exist in nature. As natural systems are able to compute, in essence, their physical form is the result of a constant feedback process. In this research, we model the formations of soap film to derive a space frame structure based on minimal paths. The system is then applied to the design of a 500m tall prototypical steel structure. The three-dimensional space frame structure was created using minimization methods and shortest path algorithms. Together with horizontal slabs, it forms a rigid system which can be seen as an alternative to conventional structural solutions in high-rise building design. First simulations indicate that these systems can achieve the same stiffness with less material compared to traditional space frame structures based on 90 degree angles. The proposed system is an ultra-light structure design that allows for minimal material usage, thereby reducing the environmental impact significantly without compromising the structural integrity of more conservative solutions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the [Re]Thinking Lightweight Structures TENSINET Symposium 2013, 8-10 May 2013, Istanbul, Turkey
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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