ARCH 4605/6605
The Physics of Form: Force-Based Design and Fabrication

A person weaving a large domed structure.

  • Instructor: Martin Miller
  • Time: F 7:30–9:25 p.m.
  • Location: 157 E. Sibley
  • Credits: 3

"Everything man is doing in architecture is to try to go against nature. Of course, we have to understand nature to know how far we have to go against nature. The secret, I think, of the future is not doing too much. All architects have the tendency to do too much." — Frei Otto


How does one evaluate the subjective natures of an emergent objective system? Through an examination of historical precedents, analog study models, and digital simulation tools, this course will push students to develop an understanding of how existing behaviors within the physical world can be utilized as a design tool, to inform design, and rationalize form. The course will also examine and develop an aesthetic attitude towards structurally driven design and form.

Aims and Objectives

Through rigorous analysis, simulation, and prototyping of physical material-based behaviors, students will develop an understanding of the forces behind physics-driven lightweight structures as well as gain access to structures. Initial studies will involve the examination and deployment of simple principles including bending active structures, wooly path, and bubble forms. The deployment of these physical forces will inform spatial design and be further realized through physical models utilizing digital fabrication to expedite construction and ensure precise geometric accuracy.

The students will explore:

  • Architectural lightweight structures and form found geometric precedents
  • Physics-based simulation digital tools
  • Finite Element and Structural analysis digital tools
  • Digital fabrication as a means of realizing complex form

View a PDF of this class description.


Close overlay