Title: AS2 – Asymptotic Building Envelope
Type: Teaching Publication
Course: Structural Research, MA Elective
Editor: Sherene Ng, Eike Schling
Published in: Architectural Structures Series
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 fall semester 2020/21.
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.
This particular semester was conducted in collaboration with the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Prof. Shen-Guan Shih, and with the sponsorship of GOMORE building envelope technology, Sam Hsu. Their generosity allowed us to construct two asymptotic facade modules in parallel at the HKU and NTUST campus. These prototypes were used during the course as a digital and physical testing ground for curved facade envelopes.
The students engaged in the construction of this prototype, as well as a one-day workshop on timber gridshells, and submitted two major assignments: The analysis of an existing building, the design research of a novel building envelope for asymptotic construction.
The analysis focused on doubly curved building envelopes, their specific program and functionality, construction process and detailing, as well as the numeric investigation of curvature parameters of their underlying network. 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.
These strategies were implemented as design research. The students applied their new knowledge and developed bespoke solutions for doubly curved building envelopes for the asymptotic substructure. These investigations range from triangular glass tesselations, through negative pressure membranes to an innovative air filter system. Each proposal was detailed and visualized and high resolution. Some students constructed physical proofs-of-concept and installed them on the prototypical facade module.
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.