Geometric Rationalization for Freeform Architecture

  • Caigui Jiang

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The emergence of freeform architecture provides interesting geometric challenges with regards to the design and manufacturing of large-scale structures. To design these architectural structures, we have to consider two types of constraints. First, aesthetic constraints are important because the buildings have to be visually impressive. Sec- ond, functional constraints are important for the performance of a building and its e cient construction. This thesis contributes to the area of architectural geometry. Specifically, we are interested in the geometric rationalization of freeform architec- ture with the goal of combining aesthetic and functional constraints and construction requirements. Aesthetic requirements typically come from designers and architects. To obtain visually pleasing structures, they favor smoothness of the building shape, but also smoothness of the visible patterns on the surface. Functional requirements typically come from the engineers involved in the construction process. For exam- ple, covering freeform structures using planar panels is much cheaper than using non-planar ones. Further, constructed buildings have to be stable and should not collapse. In this thesis, we explore the geometric rationalization of freeform archi- tecture using four specific example problems inspired by real life applications. We achieve our results by developing optimization algorithms and a theoretical study of the underlying geometrical structure of the problems. The four example problems are the following: (1) The design of shading and lighting systems which are torsion-free structures with planar beams based on quad meshes. They satisfy the functionality requirements of preventing light from going inside a building as shad- ing systems or reflecting light into a building as lighting systems. (2) The Design of freeform honeycomb structures that are constructed based on hex-dominant meshes with a planar beam mounted along each edge. The beams intersect without torsion at each node and create identical angles between any two neighbors. (3) The design of polyhedral patterns on freeform surfaces, which are aesthetic designs created by planar panels. (4) The design of space frame structures that are statically-sound and material-e cient structures constructed by connected beams. Rationalization of cross sections of beams aims at minimizing production cost and ensuring force equilibrium as a functional constraint.
Date of AwardJun 20 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Science and Engineering
SupervisorHelmut Pottmann (Supervisor)


  • geometric rationalization
  • shading systems
  • line congruences
  • honeycomb structures
  • Polyhedral patterns
  • space structures

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