PLACE | LONDON/UK
DATE | 2012
COLLABORATORS | JACK CHANDY FRANCIS
TUTORS | MICHAEL WEINSTOCK + GEORGE JERONMIDIS
RESULT | THESIS DISTINCTION (A+)
MATERIALS | FABRIC FORMWORK & SHOTCRETE
HYbrid BIOStructures explores the possibility of using innovative construction logistics that are the result of hybridisation of materials and methods.
The research mainly attempts to explore the potential of coupling free form tensile structure fabrication and concrete shell construction methods; to simplify the building process of complex doubly curved concrete forms. These forms are valued for the potential of creating interesting differentiated spatial qualities, obscuring the transition between structural and spatial elements resulting in a more coherent overall geometry.
Physical and digital experiments were carried out as an initial step towards achieving coherence in space. Analogue prototypes in fabric helped to develop simple techniques in the fabrication process to realize the forms. Scaling up of these forms and materials were one of the biggest challenges that had to be resolved through detailed material experimentation The process is split into material experimentation, analysis of the structural stiffness using Physical and digital tools, and finally the fabrication process.
Our process of exploration has relied on a nonlinear synthesis between information gathered from models of different scales and mediums. Different weights of emphasis have been placed on parts of the process depending on the gain and relevance of the part under examination. The sequence of progression towards a viable solution to the proposed problem is recursive, and iterates between what these techniques have as results, of data to inform the research.
1. Industrial fabric is used for form finding to crate an enclosure that is also the form work base layer.
2. Jesmonite (a cementitious composite) is sprayed over the fabric to keep the geometry in equilibrium state, layered with fiberglass.
3. A Doubly woven steel mesh is laid over this form and Barchip fibre reinforced concrete is sprayed over it to make the form structural. The thickness varies from 100mm to 150mm for a span varying from 15 to 25 meters.
The tensioning of fabric is done using hydraulic jacks and anchoring at edges. Jesmonite is sprayed using robitic arms to maintain the uniformity in thickness. Similar technique in used to sprayed structural concrete over the dry fabric and Jesmonite layer.
Cultural Centre as Public Space
Architecturally, the building method of the study lies in creating spatial fluidity. The program of a Cultural Centre was worked out within the algorithm, which calculates the building form. Force load distribution will then be optimised to ensure these elements are in an equilibrium state.
Program and circulation are seen as input parameters for the generation process, adding an element of pragmatism to the structures, along with immediate environmental conditions as a driver for ecological building models. Design decisions that are based on program, and pragmatic logic have been the result of the building process in this case, in a sense working backwards in the classical design approach, where the building method has been given a function that is generic to it.
Digital form-finding simulations aid in numerically-quantifying the form finding processes, while embedding material behaviour to output accurate formal results and structural analysis of the forms produced. Enhancing the generation at the design phase, saving time and effort while prototyping.
A mesh relaxation algorithm was developed to simulate the methods of forming to achieve a material informed simulation. The advantage the current generation of designers has over previous attempts, carried by the likes of Heinz Isler and Frei Otto, is the powerful computation that allows for quantifying the geometries of qualitative forms achieved by physical models. Hence allowing the accurate testing of these complex forms for per formative criteria, whether structural or environmental.