Throughout history, mechanical limitations of construction materials and their prohibitive cost, have led master builders to rely on structural design to develop elegant and efficient structures. As structural engineers, we too attempt to span space with as little material as possible, and this endeavor naturally leads to lightweight structural systems such as shells, tensile roofs and inflatables as well as design methods such as form finding, graphic statics, topology optimization and genetic algorithms. We enjoy immersing ourselves in such topics whenever we are able.
Recent developments in computational design and digital fabrication hold a strong fascination. There is a clear movement towards generating data within well-informed parametric models, managing that data in collaborative building information models, and giving that data physical form through direct input to computer-controlled machinery such as robotic arms and 3D printers. Perhaps new forms of cooperation will follow suit, allowing us to break the value chain and shift towards seamless processes of design, construction and operation.
While technology may offer solutions to today’s problems, looking towards natural, circular and/or biobased construction materials, some used prehistorically, some only recently developed, may yield answers as well. While computational engineering and digital fabrication on one hand, and biodegradable, sustainable materials on the other, sometimes seem opposite ends of a spectrum, we are in fact interested in opportunities to combine both worlds.
Whatever the future holds, Summum is pleased to stand witness and keen to play a modest part in these ongoing developments. Our interests extend to historical and scientific research that help us to understand how we got here, and where we might be going.