Digital Structures attends IASS 2017 in Hamburg
Members of the Digital Structures research group recently participated in the 2017 Symposium of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures in Hamburg, Germany. This conference brought together researchers from all over the world interested in topics such as digital design technology, shell and membrane structures, deployable structures, and conceptual structural design.
From MIT, Nathan Brown first presented his research on how to use data analysis techniques to automate and simplify early-stage, performance-based design spaces. Next, in a session about inflatable structures, Prof. Caitlin Mueller gave a talk about her research with Valentina Sumini into formfinding for deep space habitats, which could eventually be used to house communities on the Moon or Mars. Finally, after patiently waiting until the last day of the conference, Paul Mayencourt presented his recent work on shape optimization of timber beams, which has the potential to reduce weight and environmental impact in what is perhaps the most commonly used structural member (although columns may have a thing or two to say about that).
The conference also gave Digital Structure members the opportunity to visit historic and contemporary structures in both Hamburg and Berlin. Highlights in Hamburg included the Philharmonie, a glass roof for the central bus station, and a tour of the Hamburg Grossmarkt, a historical concrete roof from 1962, which was organized by the conference. These tours, which often involved a crowd of people exiting a seemingly non-descript, 50-year-old concrete subway station, and then turning around and dodging traffic while trying to get a good picture, must have been curious sight to the locals.
The Philharmonie (left) and interior of the Hamburg Grossmarkt (right)
Berlin also contains many interesting buildings and structures to visit, such as the Sony Center roof, the House of World Cultures, the renovated Olympic Stadium, and the dome on top of the Reichstag building. It also offered the opportunity to visit in person the East Side Gallery, which was the site of a recent Digital Structures bridge design competition submission. As a result of an utter lack of planning, climbing the Reichstag dome was only possible due to a fortuitous, last minute visitation slot opening up at the perfect time. German security must have sensed two young, bright-eyed structural designers who would jump on the opportunity.
Sony Center roof (left) and glass dome of the Reichstag building (right)
Digital Structures members also spent much of the symposium gaining inspiration for how to best organize IASS 2018, which will be held in Boston next July. We are looking forward to hosting next year’s symposium at MIT, and welcome all who are interested in these topics to submit papers and consider participating in the workshops, talks, and other events that will take place next year!