We are Digital Structures, a research group at MIT working at the interface of architecture, structural engineering, and computation. We focus on the synthetic integration of creative and technical goals in the design and fabrication of buildings, bridges, and other large-scale structures. We are particularly interested in how digital techniques and tools can play an unexpected, collaborative role in these processes. Led by Professor Caitlin Mueller, the group is based in MIT’s Building Technology Program in the Department of Architecture, and also includes contributors from Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the Center for Computational Engineering.
Caitlin Mueller gives invited talk about 3D printed structures at 50th SEAoA Convention2016-06-17
In a talk entitled 3D Printed Structures: Challenges and Opportunities, Caitlin Mueller spoke to practicing structural engineers above current developments and future research directions in the area of full-scale 3D printing technologies for buildings and bridges.
Congratulations to our 2016 Digital Structures MIT graduates2016-06-03
Undergraduate Chyrstal Chern and graduate students Inés Ariza, Nate Brown, Jessica Duke, Ben Jacot, and Melody Tan all received MIT degrees today. Congratulations to them and the rest of the Class of 2016!
4.101 Final review: Undergraduates design and build full-scale spanning structures2016-05-12
The large-scale structures were designed and fabricated by students working in teams of three over the final five weeks of the class. One structure featured an array of articulating, tesselating tetrahedral forms made with polycarbonate tubes and custom-designed lasercut snap fit joints. The second structure, a pair of segmented towers made of hand-cut foam blocks, could be converted from stiff, straight forms to flexible, expressive tentacles by changing the tension in the design's integrated elastic chords.
Tam et al., 2016Rob|Arch 2016: Robotic Fabrication in Architecture, Art and Design 2016 (In press)
The presented research uses a 6-axis industrial robot arm and a custom-designed heated extruder to develop a new robotic additive manufacturing (AM) framework for 2.5-D surface designs that adds material explicitly along principal stress trajectories. AM technologies, such as fused deposition modelling (FDM), are typically based on processes that lead to anisotropic products with strength behaviour that varies according to filament orientation; this limits its application in both design prototypes and end-use parts and products. Since stress lines are curves that indicate the optimal paths of material continuity for a given design boundary, the proposed stress-line based oriented material deposition opens new possibilities for structurally-performative and geometrically-complex AM, which is supported here by fabrication and structural load testing results. Called stress line additive manufacturing (SLAM), the proposed method achieves an integrated workflow that synthesizes parametric design, structural optimization, robotic computation, and fabrication.
Mueller & Ochsendorf, 2015Automation in Construction
This paper addresses the need to consider both quantitative performance goals and qualitative requirements in conceptual design. A new computational approach for design space exploration is proposed that extends existing interactive evolutionary algorithms for increased inclusion of designer preferences, overcoming the weaknesses of traditional optimization that have limited its use in practice. This approach allows designers to set the evolutionary parameters of mutation rate and generation size, in addition to parent selection, in order to steer design space exploration. This paper demonstrates the potential of this approach through a numerical parametric study, a software implementation, and series of case studies.
Lee, Fivet, & Mueller, 2015Modelling Behaviour: Proceedings of the Design Modelling Symposium, Copenhagen 2015
Most architectural modelling software provides the user with geometric freedom in absence of performance, while most engineering software mandates pre-determined forms before it can perform any numerical analysis. This trial-and-error process is not only time intensive, but it also hinders free exploration beyond standard designs. This paper proposes a new structural design methodology that integrates the generative (architectural) and the analytical (engineering) procedures into a simultaneous design process, by combining shape grammars and graphic statics. Design tests presented will demonstrate the applicability of this new methodology to various engineering design problems, and demonstrate how the user can explore diverse and unexpected structural alternatives to conventional solutions.
Stormcloud: Interactive evolutionary exploration for GrasshopperTool, 2014 - 2015
Braced frame design, fabrication, and testingResearch, 2013