Aim of the workshop is the application of the computational research for the materialisation of prototypes of different scales exploring the full capacities of the material and technological system in relation to the forecasted architectural applications. The principles of the graphic statics method have been explored in their three dimensional extent on the equilibrium of funicular polyhedral frames and convex polyhedral force diagrams. Computational tools have been utilised to generate compression only networks through a polyhedra packing strategy; through multiple iterations, different topologies have been explored with the aim of understanding the spatial features and opportunities given by the form finding method. Prototypes have been explored as a way to prove the theoretical principles in the physical world; small scale models have been realised first as test models which led to the fabrication of a 1:2 scale prototype. Scaling up the prototyping activities were meant to explore in detail the behaviour of the material system, the logistics and timing of the production, and the robot contribution in the design and assembly phase. Robotic technology has been considered as fundamental aspect of the fabrication process. The robotic arm Nachi MZ07 has been utilised as a design tool to enhance the design quality and expand the limited human capacities. The use of the latter has been exploited to spatially orient the structural members as first step of a human-robot collaborative process. An hybrid system of on site prefabrication and assembly is proposed as fabrication strategy. 1Bendsoe MP, Optimal shape design as a material distribution problem. Struct Optim 1(4):193–202, 1989.
LIghtweight structure (Compression Networks) Hybrid System (Structure + Membrane) robotic fabrication (Discrete Elements Assembly)
Architecture + geometry PROTOTYPING WORKSHOP
Core aspect of our research has been the interest in the use of geometrical principles to design complex lightweight structures. Vaults and arches are considered great expressions of lightweight structures not because their materiality but because the geometric assembly and configuration of the material itself which leads to a reduction of its usage compared to similar structures. Axial forces play a key role in this sense; manipulating the overall geometry and the material assembly is central to control the forces flow throughout the material. Geometries are manipulated in a way to have axial forces without bending moments in order to minimize the use of material required within the structure itself. Projects from the 16th and 15th century have been considered like the Chapelle du Palais in Paris (Image 1), the central nave of the Winchester Cathedral (Image 2) as well as the Cathedral Chruch of Christ in Oxford (Image 3) as great manifestations of lightweight structures. More contemporary projects have also been explored which share the use of the geometrical principles as main parameters as solving method for complex structural problems. Felix Candela’s restaurant in Xochimilco (Mexico), Pier Luigi Nervi’s Palazzetto dello Sport in Rome and Frei Otto’s tensile structures share the focus in the tight relationship between material and geometric control as main design parameters. Structural design becomes central for the differentiation of spaces in their programatic functions, as container of social activies, enabling communication and allowing a comfortable and clear space navigation.
 Image 1. Apse of the Saint Chapelle du Palais, Paris 1248.
 Image 2. Nave of the Winchester Cathedral, Winchester 1394-1450.
1Frei Otto, Lightweight Principle, Institut für leichte Flächentragwerke (IL), 1998.
 Image 3. Choir of the Cathedral Church of Christ, Oxford XI Century 1478-1503.
 Image 6. German pavilion at Expo Montreal 1967 designed by Frei Otto.
 Image 4. Los Manantiales restaurant in the Xochimilco area of Mexico City (1958).  Image 5. Palzzetto dello Sport in Rome (1956).