ICD Aggregate Wall 2017

2017   ICD Research Buildings / Prototypes
Design Society, Shenzhen, China

K. Dierichs, A. Menges

Photographs by ICD University of Stuttgart

Development Process images by ICD University of Stuttgart

Project Video

Source: Vimeo


Inaugural Exhibition of the Design Society, Shenzhen, 2017

The ICD Aggregate Wall 2017 showcases a designed granular material. Granular materials are extremely large numbers of individual elements, which are not bound to each other, but between which only contact forces are acting. Natural examples of such granular systems include sand, gravel, rocks or even snow.

Granular materials are relevant as architectural construction materials due to their ability to form both liquid and solid states. They can be reconfigured and constantly recycled after use. Especially if the individual grain is geometrically designed, the behaviour of the overall material can be tuned to display characteristics, which are novel to granular systems. This latter aspect specifically enables granular materials to perform as an architectural system in their own right. These designed granular materials have been explored at the ICD since 2010.

The research at the ICD has on the one hand encompassed investigations into a wide range of particle geometries and their effects on the characteristics of the overall granular material. On the other hand relevant construction processes for these new material systems have been explored.

In this context the ICD Aggregate Wall 2017 investigates the formation of vertical structures made from highly non-convex particles. Vertical structures are not feasible with most naturally occurring granular materials, which have a sloped angle of repose. However the highly non-convex designed particles, used in this granular structure, allow a ninety degree angle and thus open up a new design spectrum.

The ICD Aggregate Wall 2017 is made of several thousand many-armed particles, which have been mass produced using injection moulding of recycled plastics. The overall curvature of the wall, both in horizontal and vertical direction, adds to its structural stability.

The construction process itself has been parametrized in order to enable fast and repeatable installation of the structure. For this purpose, the transportation boxes of the particles are turned into the formwork of the structure, using custom-made links to control the precise curvature of the wall.

The installation will be on show at the inaugural exhibition "Minding the Digital" of the Design Society, China's new leading design museum in Shenzhen.


ICD Institute for Computational Design and Construction
Karola Dierichs, Achim Menges
Research Assistants: Federico Forestiero, Leyla Yunis


Wilhelm Weber GmbH & Co. KG


Design Society China
ITASCA Education Partnership Program (IEP)

Contact information


Institute for Computational Design and Construction

University of Stuttgart, Keplerstraße 11, 70174 Stuttgart

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