Philippe Block – Novel Shell Structures: Learning from the Master Builders

Last week our guest lecturer Philippe Block, invited as part of the Fall Lecture Series 2016, inspired the audience with his lecture: Novel Shell Structures – Learning from the Master Builders.


Philippe Block – IAAC Lecture Series

Philippe’s lecture has presented new computational form-finding and optimisation approaches for exploring three-dimensional equilibrium shell structures based on the stability analysis of Gothic masonry vaults.

Thanks to intuitive graphical methods, the designer gains control over the exploration of form, which allows for the design of vaults with little or low-quality material or the design of efficient and expressive surface structures.


Philippe Block – IAAC Lecture Series

Several projects has been shown which demonstrate the power of these innovative methods for the safety assessment of historic masonry vaults with complex geometries and for the design, engineering and fabrication of novel masonry shells, which range from sustainable construction solutions for developing countries to unique, unreinforced vaults in tile or cut stone.

The last part of the lecture has demonstrated how we can learn from the Master Builders to design better – well beyond masonry.


Philippe Block – IAAC Lecture Series

Philippe Block is Associate Professor at the Institute of Technology in Architecture at ETH Zurich, where he directs the Block Research Group (BRG) together with Dr. Tom Van Mele.

The BRG focuses on equilibrium analysis, computational form finding, optimisation and fabrication of curved surface structures, specialising in unreinforced masonry vaults and thin concrete shells. Within the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) – Digital Fabrication, the BRG develops innovative structural design strategies using bespoke prefabrication.