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.
Mark Tam and Caitlin Mueller present at RobArch 2016 in Sydney2016-03-18, Tags: fabrication 3d-printing additive-manufacturing principal-stress-lines
Digital Structures are at the 3rd Robotics in Architecture conference in Sydney, Australia to share their work on robotics-enabled stress line additive manufacturing, a new 3D printing technique that deposits material along lines of force flow for enhanced structural performance.
Renaud Danhaive presents at the 104th ACSA Annual Meeting in Seattle2016-03-18, Tags: collaboration computation conceptual-structural-design computational-design
In a session titled Structure as Design Knowledge, Renaud presents a paper that connects the history of computation in architecture and structural engineering to current and future digital developments.
Nate Brown wins 2016 SOM Structural Engineering Travelling Fellowship2016-03-04
Congratulations to Digital Structures graduate student Nate Brown for winning this prestigious fellowship. His travel itinerary, described in detail here, will focus on buildings that synthesize multiple design goals simultaneously, a theme that extends from his research in multiobjective optimization for design. For further information, see this MIT News article.
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