AS4 – Asymptotic Construction

Title: AS2 – Asymptotic Construction
Type: Teaching Publication
Year: 2022
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 2021/22.

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 UC Berkley College of Environmental Design, Prof. Simon Schleicher. The digital interaction between students in NorthAmerica and Hong Kong sparked new innovation in the use of asymptotic geometry for doubly curved construction, such as concrete formwork, timber stacking and reciprocal structures,

The students engaged in the construction of physical prototypes, 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 construction strategy using asymptotic networks..

The analysis focused on doubly curved grid structures, their specific 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 various materials. Each proposal was modelled physically, detailed and visualized and high resolution.

Despite the short time, the COVID restrictions and the highly technical subject, students managed to create architecturally and structurally sophisticated work investigating and designing complex curvilinear building envelopes.

About eikeschling

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

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