Low-Cost, Low-Carbon Structural Components for Housing in IndiaResearch, 2017 - Present
In More Economically Developed Countries (MEDCs) such as the United States, labor costs constrain affordable construction. As a result, architects and engineers design with systems that reduce the time and complexity of assembly – making use of standardized structural components, nominal sizing, and elements that are not materially efficient or optimal for estimated loading conditions. On the other hand, in Lower Economically Developed Countries (LEDCs) material costs, rather than labor, inhibit affordable construction. Conservatively, materials account for an estimated 60-80% of construction costs in LEDCs such as India. This incongruity highlights an opportunity for structural components optimized for material efficiency and suit the context of a developing LEDC such as India.
This research explores the design of structural components and standards that could be disseminated by partners involved in India’s affordable housing construction. It is an application of emerging technology and practices in structural optimization. The exploration will involve not only defining ideal structural forms, but also designing the mechanisms required to build and assemble these components – reducing the environmental and economic costs of construction through the entire process of realization. This research is being done with the support and guidance of the MIT Tata Center.
Early-Stage Integration of Architectural and Structural Performance in a Parametric Multi-Objective Design ToolNathan Brown, Jonathas de Oliveira, John Ochsendorf, and Caitlin Mueller, 3rd International Conference on Structures and Architecture, 2015
In conceptual building design, an architect must simultaneously consider a variety of design objectives, including structural efficiency, total energy usage, and aesthetic expres- sion. Multi-objective optimization (MOO) has been demonstrated to adequately account for de- signers’ needs and guide them towards high performing solutions early in the design process. However, conceptual building designers seldom use MOO in practice, and although the use of parametric design tools is widespread, these tools rarely give rapid, multidimensional perfor- mance feedback to guide design exploration. In response, this paper describes relevant MOO methods and discusses how architects and engineers can use them to generate diverse, high- performing designs. It also introduces a number of computational tools that support MOO im- plementation and are embedded in traditional parametric modeling software. Finally, this paper presents a design case study of a cantilevered stadium roof to show how designers can effective- ly set up and navigate an architectural design space.
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.
Boston Society of Architects' ABX conference includes presentation from Digital Structures2015-11-18, Tags: collaboration computation
Thin concrete shells at MIT: Kresge Auditorium and the 1954 conferenceWilliam Plunkett and Caitlin Mueller, Proceedings of the 5th International Congress on Construction History, 2015
This paper presents original research on two historical developments in the field of thin-shell concrete structures in the United States, both at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the 1950s. The first topic is the design and construction of MIT’s Kresge Auditorium (1953-1955), enclosed by a concrete shell on three supports designed by architect Eero Saarinen (1910-1961). The second topic is a seminal conference on the architecture, engineering, and construction of thin concrete shells hosted by MIT in 1954, which included presentations by architect-engineer Felix Candela (1910-1997), engineer Anton Tedesko (1903-1994), architect Philip Johnson (1906-2005), among many important designers and scholars.
Both the building and the conference are historically significant, and together, they mark the peak of a design era optimistic about the enduring value of thin-shell concrete structures. However, they also reflect the underlying tensions and contradictions of thin-shell concrete technology that contributed to its limited use in subsequent decades. The project therefore serves as an early example illustrating the limitations of thin-shell concrete applied to arbitrary formal ideas.
The concurrent conference often related directly to the design and construction of Kresge Auditorium: both its structural engineer (Charles Whitney, Ammann and Whitney) and contractor (Douglas Bates, George A. Fuller Company) presented papers, and a proceedings summary notes that “this conference has…cantilevered out from Saarinen’s dome.” The conference highlights broad enthusiasm for thin-shell concrete structures, but also reveals disagreements between theoreticians and practitioners, architects and engineers, and designers and builders. This paper gives a critical review of the influential conference, based on conference proceedings and supporting historical documents.
In summary, this paper contributes new knowledge on the history and significance of paired events in thin-shell concrete in the 1950s at MIT. In addition to detailed accounts of both the building and conference, the paper offers original insight about their contextual role in the rise and fall of thin-shell concrete technology in the design and construction community.
4.463: Building Structural Systems IIClass, 2014 - Present
Taught in the third semester of the MArch curriculum, this class is linked to the Core 3 comprehensive design studio and incorporates an integrated approach to building technology and design. The class addresses advanced structures, exterior envelopes, environmental systems, and contemporary production technologies. The class continues the exploration of structural elements and systems, expanding to include more complex determinate, indeterminate, long-span, and high-rise systems, and a range of structural materials including reinforced concrete, steel, and engineered-wood. The contemporary exterior envelope is discussed with an emphasis on the classification of systems, their performance attributes, climate-based design criteria, and advanced manufacturing technologies. Environmental systems for heating, cooling, and ventilation are introduced, with an emphasis on sustainability and opportunities for passive design. State-of-the-art computational methods and tools are introduced and utilized across all subject areas. This class is taught by Caitlin Mueller along with Andrea Love and Les Norford. Project images show work by Jessica Jorge.
Integrating constructability into conceptual structural design and optimizationResearch, 2014 - 2015
This research encourages interdisciplinary design exploration through consideration of constructability in conceptual structural design. Six new metrics are introduced to measure variability in structural components, impose reasonable construction constraints, and encourage standardization of structural characteristics which can improve the ease, efficiency, and costs of construction. This research applies these original constructability metrics to truss facade structures for an objective, quantitative comparison with structural performance metrics. The primary contribution of these new metrics is a computational method that can aid in identifying expressive, high-performing structures in the conceptual design phase, when decisions regarding global structural behavior have the greatest impact on multi-objective project goals.
Multi-objective optimization for early-stage architectural designResearch, 2014 - Present
In traditional optimization, an algorithm can be applied to a well-defined problem to return a single solution. In architectural design, problems are rarely this simple—building design is a process full of human preferences and interrelated performance tradeoffs. Multi-objective optimization (MOO) is often more appropriate for managing the various design influences and priorities in conceptual design, but it is inherently dependent on human input throughout the process. This research presents a variety of visualization techniques and computational methods that have been developed to facilitate the use of MOO in conceptual architectural design.
Design optimization for structural performance and energy efficiencyResearch, 2014 - 2016
In contemporary design, a high-performing building must minimize energy usage throughout its construction, operation, and end of life. For certain architectural typologies, such as towers, stadiums, or long-span roofs, structural form plays a significant role in determining the lifecycle energy usage of a building. The precise nature of the relationship between the embodied energy of the structure and the operational energy of the building changes for different design contexts and climates, but it can be explored through parametric modeling and rapid performance simulations. This research project intends to develop a theoretical framework and practical tools for navigating these tradeoffs, while also uncovering generalizable architectural knowledge that can be applied in the context of integrated design for structural and energy efficiency.
Modelling with forces: grammar-based graphic statics for diverse architectural structuresJuney Lee, Corentin Fivet, and Caitlin Mueller, Modelling Behaviour: Proceedings of the Design Modelling Symposium, Copenhagen 2015, 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.
Grammatical design with graphic statics: rule-based generation of diverse equilibrium structuresJuney Lee, MIT MEng Thesis, 2015
During early stages of design, an architect tries to control space by “finding a form” among countless possible forms, while an engineer tries to control forces by “form-finding” an optimized solution of that particular form. Most commonly used parametric tools in architectural design provide the user with extensive geometric freedom in absence of performance, while engineering analysis 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 prohibits exploration beyond the design space filled with already known, conventional solutions. There is a need for new design methods that combine form generation with structural performance.
This thesis addresses this need, by proposing a grammar-based structural design methodology using graphic statics. By combining shape grammars with graphic statics, the generative (architectural) and the analytical (engineering) procedures are seamlessly integrated into a simultaneous design process. Instead of manipulating forms with multiple variables as one would in the conventional parametric design paradigm, this approach defines rules of allowable geometric generations and transformations. Computationally automated random generator is used to iteratively apply various rules to generate unexpected, interesting and yet structural feasible designs. Because graphic statics is used to embed structural logic and behavior into the rules, the resulting structures are always guaranteed to be in equilibrium, and do not need any further numerical analysis. The effectiveness of this new methodology will be demonstrated through design tests of a variety of discrete, planar structures.
Grammatical Design with Graphic Statics (GDGS) contributes new ways of controlling both form and forces during early stages of design, by enabling the designer to: 1) rapidly generate unique, yet functional structures that fall outside of the expected solution space, 2) explore various design spaces unbiasedly, and 3) customize the combination of grammar rules or design objectives for unique formulation of the problem. Design tests presented in this thesis will show the powerful new potential of combining computational graphic statics with shape grammars, and demonstrate the possibility for richer and broader design spaces with much more trial, and less error.