Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Timber gridshell classrooms with Grasshopper: Design, optimization and construction

The students from UPC School MPDA Master's in Parametric Design Architecture 1, which is taught online and at the ETSAV architecture school, have accomplished during the Studio 2 course the design and construction of two timber structures for hosting open-air classrooms in two different schools.

The students followed a program of continuous reviews by international experts on structural design, timber construction, computational geometry, and membrane design. The international group of students solved all the design, structural analysis, numerical fabrication, and construction processes within the Rhinoceros/Grasshopper framework, and finally built it during the face-to-face phase in Barcelona.

Amid several toolsets, the students profusely used Kangaroo 2 for the form finding, and then Kiwi!3D, Karamba3D, and Beaver for the structural analysis.

The Master Parametric Design in Architecture provides a computational design framework for the creation and optimization of lightweight structures with a low ecological footprint. The construction of the classrooms is part of the subject of development of innovation projects in which it is sought to integrate computational geometry, technological efficiency, sustainability and economic viability in real projects that can have a positive impact.

The built classrooms are designed with digital tools aiming to reduce the energy and weight of structures by means of an intensive use of geometry, and are manufactured using numerically controlled machines that allow for fast, efficient and prefabricated production.

The Zollinger open classroom, built at the CanCuní, is a lightweight gridshell of short pieces of birch plywood. The system is loosely based on the traditional Zollinger system which consists of the reciprocal transfer of loads in a short beam system. The challenge is to design and calibrate the required stiffness of a simply manufactured joint to avoid the cost and time of a bracing system.

The 3way
 open classroom, built at the ETSAV, is an ultra-thin gridshell of long and wide birch plywood 12mm planks. The system is based on the coupling of three families of pseudo-geodesic curves on a common surface that can be built from completely straight and planar planks without any waste. The simple 1D manufacturing technology relies solely on the exact positioning of the holes.

Students: Jorge Adrian Martorell ,Christian Merhej, Rudy Riachy , Alberto Sadun , Marc Serra , Alex Solà, Aitor Vadillo , Luis Ángel Garcia, Khalifa Alkhazriji , Ángel Barrón, Dalia Ezzeddine, Danny Vallejo , Ehsan Naguib, Weston Porter.

International experts: Julian Lienhard , Bending-active, STR.ucture / Universität Kassel, Dragos Naicu, timber gridshells, Anna Bauer, Structural analysis, Kiwi!3D / TUM, Ángel Antequera, Load cases and Wind, CODA /Modularem, Alberto Pugnale, Timber construction, University Melbourne, Almudena Majano, Timber engineering, ETSAM, Antonio Lara, Timber Engineering, ETSAM, Ton Miserachs, Membrane patterning, TP Arquitectura i construcció textil

Academic direction: Gerard Bertomeu, Pep Tornabell, Ramon Sastre, Enrique Soriano (partners at CODA and teachers at Barcelonatech and UPC School)

Acknowledgments: Special thanks to Can Cuní and to ETSAV UPC Architecture school for their support and workshops, Somnis a mida, Camping el Llac, Serge Ferrari for sponsoring the material, Gabarró Hermanos (timber logistics using UPM plywood), Manxa Bricolatge (Hardware), and always thankful to Daniel Piker for the use of Kangaroo.

Photo Credit: Andres Flajszer 

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