Philippe Block: Strength through Geometry

modern white domed structure with irregular brick shapes on the roof
Philippe Block: Beyond Bending | Armadillo Vault. photo / Iwan Baan
modern white domed structure with irregular brick shapes on the roof
Philippe Block: Beyond Bending | Armadillo Vault. photo / Iwan Baan
Philippe Block: Beyond Bending | Armadillo Vault. photo / Iwan Baan Philippe Block: Beyond Bending | Armadillo Vault. photo / Iwan Baan

Cornell in Rome Spring 2018 Lecture Series

Philippe Block, professor at the Institute of Technology in Architecture at ETH Zurich, studied architecture and structural engineering at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium and at MIT. The Block Research Group focuses on equilibrium design methods and computational form finding and fabrication of curved surface structures. Block is also the director of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research Digital Fabrication and partner of Ochsendorf DeJong and Block engineering.

Abstract:

Throughout history, master builders have discovered expressive forms through the constraints of economy, efficiency, and elegance. There is much to learn from the structural principles they developed. Novel structural design tools that extend traditional graphical methods to three dimensions allow designers to discover a vast range of possible shell forms. By better understanding the flow of forces in three dimensions, excess material can be eliminated, natural resources conserved, and humble materials like earth and stone reimagined.

Drawing from a revival of forgotten principles combined with the latest advances in the design, engineering, fabrication, and construction of doubly-curved shell structures, this lecture reveals the foundations upon which the award-winning Beyond Bending exhibition at the 2016 Venice Biennale of Architecture, and the thin, flexibly formed concrete shell of the NEST HiLo project were based.