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Form and Structure

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Mishael Nuh.

By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. Structural engineers envision, design and construct structures that those city dwellers depend on daily. The construction industry is one of most resource-intensive sectors, and yet our urban infrastructure continues to be built in the massive tradition in which strength is pursued through material mass. In contrast, we, at the Form Finding Lab at Princeton University, have focused our research on structural systems that derive their performance from their curved shape, dictated by the flow of forces. As a result, these structures can be extremely thin, cost-effective, and have a smaller carbon footprint. Our core research question is ‘What is the relationship between form and efficiency in civil-scale structures?’. Shells, membranes, and rod networks exhibit fascinating mechanical behaviors because geometric nonlinearities arise even when their material properties are linear. Their shape and topology give them properties beyond what is possible with conventional structural systems. In this talk, we outline how we discovered, studied, designed and even built large-scale structural surfaces that can efficiently carry extreme loading, self-assemble, adjust their stiffnesses, elastically shift from one shape to another, or amplify motion.

This talk is part of the Engineering Department Structures Research Seminars series.

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