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 and Renaud Danhaive at Design Modelling Symposium Paris2017-09-18
Professor Mueller delivers a keynote address and Renaud Danhaive presents a research paper at the Design Modelling Symposium in Versailles.
Welcome new Digital Structures students2017-09-13
This school year we welcome three new graduate students to Digital Structures (left to right): Courtney Stephen, Mohamed "Moh" Ismail, and Demi Fang. Courtney is working on a FEMA grant focused on post-disaster housing. As a Tata Fellow, Moh will explore sustainable structural components in the developing world. Demi hopes to work on the parametric design of interlocking joint connections.
Paul Mayencourt presents at Footbridge 2017 Berlin2017-09-04
Ph.D. student Paul Mayencourt presented a conceptual design for a pedestrian bridge in Berlin designed by a group of Digital Structures students at the Footbridge 2017 conference. Called Hängemattenbrücke, the design uses a tree-like cable topology and a curved deck to create an urban resting place in the city.
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.
Structural grid shell design with Islamic pattern topologiesResearch, 2015 - 2017
Hängemattenbrücke (Hammock Bridge)Design, 2017
Structural lattice additive manufacturingResearch, 2015 - Present
Forces Frozen: Exploring Structural Ice ShellsWorkshop, 2014 - Present