AI Architect Designs New Structure Types

Posted: August 1, 2008 in 2006, Articles
Tags:


Turning Buildings on Their Heads

By John Travis
ScienceNOW Daily News
19 February 2006
http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2006/219/1?etoc

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI–In the 19th century, architect Antoni Gaudi designed unusual and complex buildings by hanging weights from chains; considered upside-down, the results provided a blueprint. With such hanging chains as an inspiration, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor John Ochsendorf and his colleagues have recently developed a computer program to simulate new, stable, and efficient architectural shapes.

Picture of structure
Soaring structure.
An example of a design created by the new software.
Credit: Axel Kilian

The software, described here yesterday at an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (which publishes ScienceNOW), models the gravitational load on a building’s exterior by simulating particles attached to springs and letting those particles “fall” into a stable form. The flipped version illustrates the feasible shell of a structure. “The hope is to invent new forms,” says Ochsendorf, “The possibilities of architectures with more exciting spaces are starting to be realized.”

Similar particle-spring modeling is already used in computer animation, depicting, for example, clothes hanging on virtual characters such as Yoda in the last Star Wars movie.

Related site

  • Learn about the simulation tool
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