2017 – 2020 | Research Projects
DFG - SFB 1244: Adaptive Building Skins and Structures (Funding Phase 1)

A02 | Development of Integrative Architectural Design Methods for Adaptive Structures

Institute for Computational Design and Construction (Prof. Menges, Mathias Maierhofer)

Development of integrative design methods and computational design tools for adaptive structures and their digital production

This project is part of the Collaborative Research Centre SFB 1244 "Adaptive Building Skins and Structures for the Built Environment of Tomorrow", funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

Existing design processes are linear and hierarchical. This makes it difficult to integrate the structural, constructive, building physics, mechanical engineering and mechatronic considerations required for adaptive structures and skins into early design decisions. The existing methods and procedures of architectural design can only be applied to adaptive structures to a limited extent, as they do not address their interdisciplinary character. The main challenge is therefore to enable integrative design from the very beginning through iterative feedback loops - through which, the findings and results of the disciplines involved can be fed back into architectural design explorations. An integrative design process thus provides the basis for the synthesis of architecture- and adaptivity-specific requirements to the essential decision phases of planning.

From Stability to Adaptability

ICD’s project A02 contributes to the interdisciplinary approach of the Collaborative Research Center 1244 by investigating the design of adaptive buildings from the perspective of computational architectural design. The aim is to transfer the research results of the overall project and the advantages of adaptivity to architectural practice. The focus is on the development of adequate methods and tools that enable architects to design adaptive buildings in such a way that the complex technical requirements can be incorporated with the greatest possible creativity – allowing them to explore the full architectural and constructive possibilities provided by adaptivity. A02 therefore deals with questions that complement the methodological and interdisciplinary approach in project A01 and the conceptual reflection and projection in project A03.  

Funding Period 1

The result of the first funding period is an integrative, computational design process for exploring the architectural solution space of adaptive structures. In view of the peculiarities and complexity of adaptive buildings, an agent-based modeling method was pursued, defined, and implemented for the design of adaptive truss structures. The resulting assistance-system supports architects in early design phases by incorporating the key design criteria for adaptive structures. In order to ensure the adaptability of structure and geometry throughout the entire process, the adaptability assessment method (A04/B01) developed within the SFB 1244 was implemented as a quantitative feedback loop. In addition, application-specific visualization strategies (B05) allow a close involvement of designers. These developments form an essential basis for the architectural design of adaptive structures and for the exploration of their architectural potentials beyond conventional structural typologies.


Project Team

Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD), University of Stuttgart

Prof. Achim Menges (Principal Investigator)
Mathias Maierhofer (Associated Researcher)

Project Funding

German Research Foundation (DFG)

External Links

Contact information


Institute for Computational Design and Construction

University of Stuttgart, Keplerstraße 11, 70174 Stuttgart

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