Asymptotic curtain wall system

Type: Journal Paper
Title: A geometry-based design approach and structural behaviour for an asymptotic curtain wall system
Year: 2022
Authors: Eike Schling, Zongshuai Wan
Published in: Journal of Building Engineering, 104432
Available: 29 March 2022
Office: University of Hong Kong

This paper presents a novel design approach for doubly curved façade structures, based on isothermal networks on minimal surfaces. It combines theories from differential geometry with knowledge in mechanical behaviour and architectural design. By controlling the curvature of surface and network, and allowing the elastic deformations of elements, a curtain wall system is fabricated from straight steel strips, assembled with repetitive 90-degree joints, and covered with planar quadrilateral or developable panels. The goal of this research is to study the complete workflow from digital design through simulation to the physical construction of a 2.4 × 2.4 m steel structure. The article presents the computational and mathematical method to design minimal surfaces, find the path of asymptotic and principal curvature lines, and create isothermal networks. To analyse elastic stress, two methods are compared using analytical beam theory and a novel flatten-reduction approach for Finite Element (FE) shell elements. The novel approach offers benefits in manufacturing, logistics, prefabrication and erection process. The FE method is used to analyse the bent structure, simulate the kinetic behaviour and evaluate the impact of residual stress, lamella slots, joint reinforcement on the structural performance. The study offers a systematic workflow to accurately design for construction and predict kinetic and static behaviour. It provides evidence of the feasibility of this strategy to create low-cost, resilient, smooth doubly curved façade structures.


Asymptotic network, Construction-aware design, Double curvature, Elastic construction, Finite element method (FEM), Kinetic behaviour, Residual stress

About eikeschling

Dr.-Ing. | Architect BYAK Assistant Professor in Architectural Structures The University of Hong Kong

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