def6dbb5b9120a04a807f5ab2a6f915a When designing a material system within the architectural field, the main purpose and the most basic analysis are about how the structure is able to transfer to the ground loads and forces and how efficient it can be in providing safe utilization by the users and achieving specific architectural solutions (they can be both structural and about aesthetic). Representing the first challenge in construction, structural behavior has always been needing experience, training and scientific studies.

According to these premises, it seems clear why during the last 500 years architectural practice moved from an holistic view that makes no distinction between structure, form and decoration, to a scenario in which the structure configuration comes mainly from an external professional that try to reach that specific architectural will. Nowadays we can detect currents that lead to a renewed vision of the design process, that takes advantage of all the disciplines available.


Computational techniques permit to change considerably the way in which the final shape and its performances will be influenced by modifying parameters as material, dimensions, supports, adding the possibility to create multiple structural relations within the same built environment. Needless to say, processing and scripting are only software and do not have to be considered as intelligent systems, but technical and artificial tools to reach a more productive and flexible working flow. Thanks to these it is possible to have a real time response of structural behaviors according to input parameters that can be modified in different configurations showing how the structure will work. What makes them really useful is the capacity of informing you in terms of data (stiffness, bending stresses, compression, tension, forces flows) that can be used to inform a new different analysis by the previous considerations. Simulating processes permits to save money, time and resources, while giving the freedom to focus on more complex relations.

In addition to the improvement of productivity and resilience of the process, computational techniques are used to create more and more complex relations between the parts of the system while making more tight and evident the connection between design and structure. In this situation, the two terms do not have different meaning or definition, but just the same motivation. That is why during the last years many studies have been developing regards the possibility to modify some material parameters in order to achieve better behaviors that are strictly related to the morphology and functionality of the design. One of the most competitive challenge is to decrease stress on the structural element thanks to its shape, position within the whole, material and self-weight, all of this features changing the approach to the construction.


For instance, the comparison between two structural approach as involving beams or bars in the project showed that, even if in both cases it is possible to conceive an intelligent material system, in absolute terms bars are more efficient. While beams host tension and compression, that merge in bending moments and shear actions, bars structure are conceived in order to present only axial stresses. Since these only moves in one direction we are able to lead the forces flow only in the pathway we want, toward to the ground, just connecting them through joints. From lightweight structures generated by this logic, it is also possible to reinterpret the classical beams through the utilization of bars that translate bending forces in tension and compression, reducing the overall behavior to a more efficient performance. Another strategy often used is exploiting the capacity of materials to be prestressed or preformed in particular shape that can be manipulate accordingly to the aim of the structure. In this sense, it is possible to play with the geometric pattern applied to the surface and directing forces and stresses along determined axis or curves that better fit the design goal.