MaCAD S.2 – Digital Tools for Structural Optimisation Strategies Seminar
Senior Faculty: Manja van de Worp
Faculty Assistant: Mathew Gabe

In the current climate emergency crisis, there are many calls for use of in the AEC industry to reduce carbon emissions. This course explores to reduce carbon emissions by using both (mass)timber reconstruction reducing the need for the use of concrete. We will evaluate and design alternative solutions following structural analysis in Karamba.

This year we continue the seminar with focussing on sustainable structural design strategies. Where last year’s focussed on Timber and Concrete Hybrid design to reduce carbon emissions, this year’s seminar focusses on REUSE, Design for Disassembly, and Amend and Extend strategies.  Future adaptation is key to understand sustainable approaches in structural design and linked to use of space, expansion and reuse of elements.

We will work with two structural design briefs; 1. A temporary mountain and 2. Design ” for free”. The first will focus on redesigning the temporary steel structure for the MVRDV mountain in London. We will rethink this structure by adding programme inside and explore different sectional structural typologies and explore further design for disassembly strategies beyond just dis-assembly.  The second brief will challenge two existing buildings, where we aim to reduce the material used, and amend & extend the building ”for free”. Here we look in more detail how to extend the unused structural capacity through both use of elements and materials.

We will evaluate and design alternative sustainable structural solutions following structural analysis in Karamba. The strategies will be explored from a full embodied energy scope (including methods of construction, lifespan and environmental properties of both materials) are explored rather than pure “material” optimisation.


Learning Objectives 

At course completion the student will:

  • Understand the basics of structural design through using Karamba plugin for grasshopper
  • Understand how to set up an analysis, strategically change parameters and understand and respond to structural analysis results. i.e. apply feedback loops
  • Relate structural design to construction and fabrication impacts. Translate digital analysis and structural performance to material design constructs
  • Combine vertical + horizontal loading principles (multi parameters “optimisation” / response
  • Understand the principles of carbon emissions in relation to structural design, manufacturing, timeframe of design, etc
  • Develop one detail where the concrete and timber system meets.