A study to come out of UIC Barcelona proposes using computational processes to reveal the structural laws behind architectural designs

This research, conducted by lecturers Diego Navarro-Mateu, Oriol Carrasco and Ana Cocho-Bermejo, has been published in the indexed journal Dearq

A study to come out of UIC Barcelona proposes using computational processes to reveal the structural laws behind architectural designs

Computational design methods allow architects to study complex geometry from new perspectives. This is the main conclusion outlined in the article “Inverse design for double-curved surfaces: A geometric study of the hypar in the Our Lady of the Valley church”, written by lecturers Diego Navarro-Mateu, Oriol Carrasco and Ana Cocho-Bermejo from UIC Barcelona School of Architecture and published recently in the indexed journal Dearq

“The use of computation in architecture has opened the door to understanding the complex surfaces involved in architectural designs in a more practical, experimental and intuitive way as it allows us to prioritise geometric features above theoretical and mathematical rules.  What’s more, the disciplines of drawing and geometry come much more naturally to architects”, stated the researchers.  

The study presents the practical case of the ‘hypar’ (hyperbolic paraboloid) reconstruction, which forms part of the Our Lady of the Valley church designed by Friar Coello de Portugal, one of Spanish-Mexican architect Félix Candela’s closest collaborators. Through reverse engineering/design based on genetic algorithms, the study reconstructs the missing elements of the roof of the temple, thus revealing the generative geometry that had been concealed due to a lack of documentation. 

“This case study represents the first step towards making substantial improvements in the rationalisation of surfaces through reverse design. The evident structural and constructive qualities of the regulated surfaces exhibited by architects such as Félix Candela can now be applied exponentially by using computation”, they concluded.  

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