Conic and Developable Surfaces

In terms of Differential Geometry, developable surfaces are defined as those with vanishing Gaussian curvature which can be unrolled to a plane without distortion. The advent of complex surfaces in recent architecture has necessitated the use of developables to post-rationalize surfaces of double curvature for increased economy and constructability. Although these surface classes only comprise a small subset of all surfaces, they are capable of producing a remarkable amount of complexity and continuity when deployed in specific and precise permutations.

In this seminar, students will engage in the mathematical description and behavior of tangential developables, generalized cones, and generalized cylinders as the a priori building blocks of a (periodic) architectural language. Also of interest will be the mathematically related doubly-ruled surfaces of the hyperbolic paraboloid and the hyperboloid of revolution. In depth analysis of historical precedents of form and construction methods will serve as the geometric and discursive springboard for a set of design exercises which will culminate in a final prototype fabrication. Design propositions exhibiting discrete aggregations of surfaces may challenge recent fascinations with the smooth and continuous.

Format. Each three-hour session will consist of theoretical and technical lectures, as well as pinups and intermediate presentations from students.

Prerequisites. Working knowledge of Rhino/Grasshopper or Digital Project.

Evaluation will be based on class engagement, design exercises, and the final prototype fabrication.