Reimagining Shell Structures: Philippe Block’s keynote at Tongji University

On 1 Dec. 2017, Prof. Philippe Block, Director of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication gave a keynote speech at the IStructE Asia-Pacific Forum at Tongji University.

With the research focus on equilibrium design methods and computational form finding and fabrication of curved surface structures, Prof. Block shared his learning from the structural principles that the master builders developed throughout history and also his research on shell structures with the attendants.

 Prof. Philippe Block giving a lecture at Tongji University

Prof. Philippe Block giving a lecture at Tongji University

 Prof. Philippe Block giving a lecture at Tongji University

Prof. Philippe Block giving a lecture at Tongji University

Drawing from a revival of forgotten principles combined with the latest advances in the design, engineering, fabrication and construction of doubly-curved shell structures, Prof. Block’s lecture reveals the foundations upon which the award-winning “Beyond Bending” exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2016 and the thin, flexibly formed concrete shell of the NEST HiLo project were based.

 Armadillo Vault, Venice, Italy, photo by Iwan Bann

Armadillo Vault, Venice, Italy, photo by Iwan Bann

 *Full-scale construction prototype of the NEST HiLo shell roof, photo by Michael Lyrenmann

*Full-scale construction prototype of the NEST HiLo shell roof, photo by Michael Lyrenmann

Prof. Philippe Block, is currently teaching at the Institute of Technology in Architecture at ETH Zurich. He has studied architecture and structural engineering at the VUB in Belgium and at MIT in USA. The Block Research Group focuses on equilibrium design methods and computational form finding and fabrication of curved surface structures. Prof. Block is also the director of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication.