MIAW: Granular Space

23.02.2015 - 06.03.2015 | ICD Workshop
Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy

A. Menges, K. Dierichs

Workshop Process and Result by ICD University of Stuttgart

The MIAW 2015 Workshop will research Granular Space. Aggregates, or Granulates are extremely large numbers of individual elements that are lying in frictional contact with each other. Natural examples include sand, gravel, rocks or even snow.

Especially if the individual grain is geometrically designed, the behaviour of the overall system can be tuned to perform as an independent architectural material system. Aggregate systems are relevant both due to their ability to form both liquid and solid states as well as their capacity to form functionally graded systems.

As opposed to conventional assembly systems, where local and global geometries are exactly defined, in an aggregate system only the individual part is developed by the designer – the overall aggregation however emerges as a results of the system’s behaviour under given boundary conditions. Computation – especially in this context – can be understood as information processing. It can happen both in the physical realm of experiments and the numerical realm of simulations. For the architect, who is working with designed aggregates, computation becomes both the observatory and the tool-box through which he interacts with the evolving granular formations.

Vertical cylinders - solid or hollow columns - will be the starting point for these spatial explorations. Cylinders being compression-structures only are the most basic and reliable structural types to be realized with designed aggregates. They thus allow for fast and vast exploration of possible morphological variations on local and global scales.

The workshop is split in two parts each culminating in a review. During Part 1 three teams will work to rapidly explore morphological variations of the cylinder and their effects, such as variants in height, thickness or aggregate combinations. Results from all groups are to be combined into three proposals for a final prototype.

Part 2 of the workshop will focus on the realization of one selected prototype by the entire group that is to be presented and exhibited at the Final Review on March 6.

A one-day workshop on numerical modelling of aggregates in cooperation with ITASCA Consulting, Inc. will give first-hand insights into modelling granular structures with the Distinct-Element Method.

MIAW 2015 Workshop


ICD Institute for Computational Design and Construction - Guest Professors

Prof. Achim Menges, Karola Dierichs


Luca Breseghello, Paolo Caselli, Francesco Castelli, Allessandro De Vita, Rebecca Felline, Francesca Girolami, Michael Iannaco, Anja Kunic, Kasui Leung, Liana Mandradzhieva, Davide Masserini, Sofia Toffano, Mariela Tsopanova, Alberto Velardi, Yunting Yang

Host Professor

Ingrid Paoletti


Roberto Naboni

Cooperation Partners

ITASCA Consulting, Inc.

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