Deep Surface Membrane Morphologies

Winter Semester 2010 / 2011 | ICD Seminar
Diploma 2.2.2
Computational Design II

Prof. A. Menges, S. Ahlquist

Deep Surface Membrane Morphologies

Computational Methods for Generating the Behaviour of Tension-Active Systems

Materiality is a critical characteristic in defining an architecture as a system - a system in structural stability, energy modulation, and spatiality. It therefore stands that it should be pursued as an initial parameter of the process of design generation. The core of this seminar will look at the use of computation to simulate and visualize fundamental material and physical properties. This will be addressed int the experimentation with integrated tensionactive cable-net and membrane systems. The methods for experimentation will involve the use of purpose-built algorithms in Rhino and Processing, tuned to allow for rapid yet approximate form generation, in coordination with precisely constructed physical models.

Membrane and cable-net systems are exceptional for their capacity to span with minimal amounts of material, while defining the boundaries of a space through the delicate treatment of transmitted light. The seminar will look to accentuate these values while also experimenting with methods in which membrane systems can work as insulating and energy collecting devices. We will invoke the concept of a membrane "deep surface" by which the systems to be designed will be comprised of a series of cable-net meshes which are populated by intricate multi-layered membrane cells. This defines the two critical areas of study for this seminar: the definition of various cable-net meshes, and the parameterization of articulated membrane cells.

Seminar will be coordinated with both a RhinoScript and Processing workshop. It is not necessary that everyone utilize the programming skills learned in the workshops for the exercises in the seminar. The group exercises will focus on exacting work balanced between both the physical and computational domains. This course will be followed by a block seminar, entitled Deep Surface Prototype, in the Winter Semester break period to apply this knowledge to the construction of a large interior prototype.

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