Circular materials open-up new design and construction paradigms

Further research on Holcim Awards winning project published

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    Project entry 2014 Europe – Aggregate Structure: Reusable aggregates requiring no binding agent, Stuttgart, Germany

    An aggregate vault is made from a large number of designed particles, solidifying merely by frictional contact. The interlocking granules are poured over a formwork made of snow, ice, sand or a fluid designed aggregate. The load-bearing structure then makes up only 10-20% of the entire construction volume. Both structure and formwork are fully recyclable. The construction process itself is very rapid as the aggregate instantly stabilizes. (Image © ICD Stuttgart)

Designed granular materials that require no binding agents are fully recyclable building materials. HolcimAwards winners Karola Dierichs, Weißensee Academy of Art, Berlin and Achim Menges, Institute for Computational Design & Construction, University of Stuttgart have published a new book chapter on “Emergent Enclosures”.

Last updated: November 19, 2021 Stuttgart, Germany

The chapter extends their multi-disciplinary research at the forefront of architecture, engineering, and materials science. The chapter appears in “Digital Fabrication in Interior Design” by Routeledge, which expands dialogue about digital fabrication at the scale of interiors to inform design theory and practice.

Designed granular materials establish a radically new paradigm in architectural design and construction: Departing from the notion that the geometry of a spatial structure can be predefined by its designer, they embark on the unknown territory of self-organizational and emergent behaviour as design drivers. This shift in design thinking is embedded in the nature of these material systems: Granular materials, which are by definition consisting of large numbers of particles in loose contact, can assume both solid and liquid states.

By virtue of this property, designed granular materials can be discussed with respect to self-organization as well as emergence. In a designed granular material, the particles are defined in their materiality and geometry which additionally allows affecting the behaviour of the overall granular material and thus its self-organizational or emergent behaviour . Projects conducted in research and teaching point the way in the deployment and exploration of these two aspects. While novel design methods of observation, interaction and approximation need to be established, the core challenge is a shift in design thinking towards an architecture of emergent enclosures which ultimately allow the spontaneous formation of spatial structures either by its inhabitants or by a computationally driven machine.

Chapter overview (Routledge)