Spatial Slur

[ Design & Algorithms ]

Directed Growth

Earlier this year, a few of us from ZHCODE joined forces with the Block Research Group to run a workshop at DigitalFUTURE 2017 focusing on the exploration of compression-only structures via Thrust Network Analysis.

During the workshop, I spent some time playing around with a growth-based approach to segmenting some of the funicular forms we were generating. While the results were mostly nonsense from a structural standpoint, the students thought they were “cute” enough to warrant documentation so naturally, I colored them pink and got to it.


Growth-based segmentation

Since then, I’ve been experimenting with controlling this growth model through predefined spatial functions in an effort to get at more convincing results. Below shows some early tests in 2 dimensions where each grown structure was influenced by the pair of functions on its right. The one on top is a scalar-valued function determining growth rate and the one on the bottom is a vector-valued function determining growth direction.


Growth 1


Growth 2


Growth 3


Growth 4


Growth 5


Growth 6


Growth 7


Growth 8


Growth 9


Growth 10

While the functions used here are totally arbitrary, they could easily be substituted for more relevant ones given a particular design context. In the case of masonry shell structures, for example, deriving growth rate from some scalar measure of bending moment would result in interlocking blocks where bending resistance is needed, allowing the form to deviate from a pure funicular.

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