This publication exhibits the work created by graduate and 4th-year-undergraduate students at the Department of Architecture, HKU, during the elective course „Structural Research“ in the spring semester 2020.
This course specialized in the design and construction of doubly curved grid structures. Through analysis of existing structures and innovative research of independent hypotheses, students discover new potentials for digital design and fabrication. The course implemented a methodology of research-by-design, fostering self-responsible, creative research based on well-founded scientific principles. These principles were taught through theoretical inputs,
hands-on workshops, model making and digital modeling of reference structures.
Due to the erupting Covid pandemic, this semester was taught completely online via Zoom, Conceptboard and Whatsapp. The semester consisted of two parts, Analysis and Design, in which students first examined reference projects and then applied their newly gained knowledge to propose new applications for asymptotic lamella construction.
The analysis focused on a variety of doubly curved gridshells, historical and modern, timber and steel, discrete and smooth, elastic and rigid. Students investigated their specific program and functionality, construction process, and detailing. Through tutorials, students learned how to conduct digital form-finding and model the spatial grids of their precedents. Finally, each student conducted a detailed curvature analysis. This research allowed the students to draw conclusions on the dependency of geometry and construction and deduce strategies to resolve the complexity of double curvature.
From this analysis phase, students developed their individual research-design concepts, looking for new applications of asymptotic lamella construction at all scales. These investigations ranged from elastic sun-shading to secondary facades, from cat cages to reusable formwork for concrete shells. Each proposal attempting to make full usage of the geometrical and constructive benefits of straight lamella construction. The design were detailed and visualized and high resolution.
Despite the short time and the highly technical subject, students managed to create architecturally and structurally sophisticated work investigating and designing complex curvilinear building envelopes.