City Form Lab’s Grid Structures

Grid structure by Andres Sevtsuk and students in the City Form Lab, Gund Hall courtyard.

The City Form Lab’s research on grid structures has developed a novel building technology solution, which enables prefabricated double-curvature structures to be built with non-specialized labor at a very low cost. This is made possible by using standardized flat-sheet materials, limiting all fabrication to only two-dimensional cutting and relying on structural folding to achieve desired geometric forms.

Grid structureConstraining all structural elements to strictly flat material sheets, using shape outlines that are cut only at a perpendicular angle, reduces fabrication costs and makes complex spatial structures available to a wider audience. A custom RhinoPython library was developed to automate the generation of double-walled flat-panel structures from a user-provided line network. The geometries of all structural elements are jointly controlled by adjusting the underlying line-network and associated material parameters. The RhinoPython library regenerates the geometric solution when the network is altered, complete with fabrication-ready unfolded panel drawings, marked with unique IDs on each element. The developed solution allows full-scale grid structures to be generated from freeform line networks using very flexible structural patterns, ranging from triangles, quads, pentagons, hexagons or any regular or irregular n-gons.