GAM 12


Stefan Peters, Andreas Trummer

Architects, civil engineers, and building-industry representatives all come together in the field of structural engineering. In this area of architectural-static-structural knowledge, structural de- sign concepts are systematically developed in the context of architectural teaching, research, and practice, which has elevated the field to an integral and formative discipline in the realm of architectural design methods. Structural design as the classic configuration of structures fosters close interplay among tectonical shaping, structural planning, and technical fabrication, which is continually subjected to changes due to software development and also new materials and jointing technologies. Structural engineering thus reflects a highly innovative and strongly interdisciplinary field of development in architecture and the engineering sciences. GAM.12 – Structural Affairs explores the potentials and synergies of this development as applied to architectural practice and puts up for discussion current projects and theoretical positions.


Here, the conditions for design and contemporary architecture production are surveyed from the angle of three thematic categories. The first—Constellation—reflects on an expanded field of view and the diversity of reflections from which structural design draws its structural approaches and inspiration. This first section of GAM.12 thus includes contributions that place various theoretical, practical, or experimental research approaches into a new epistemological context for architecture. The dynamism of the architectural research field taps into various sources that hold highly innovative potential in terms of reassessment in the present day. Wolfgang Schäffner thematizes the paradigm shift arising through the emergence of a new structuralism. Informed by interdisciplinary structural issues, this structuralism is presently undergoing transformation from a linguistic to a material-technical research base, and it is also able to contribute to reflection and approximation of spatial and knowledge architecture with its “comprehensive material epistemology.” The ways in which this shift in architecture is presently playing out in terms of material innovations and computer-based methods, and the question of which new forms are evolving through related collaboration, are explored by Martin Bechthold, Sigrid Adriaenssens, Panagiotis Michalatos, Neri Oxman, and Andreas Trummer in a conversation discussing their current projects. Philippe Block, Tom Van Mele, and Matthias Rippmann, in their contribution “Geometry of Forces,” ascribe new meaning to graphic statics and analyze the relevance of creating form and force diagrams as to their potential for designing and optimizing load-bearing structures. Oliver Tessmann and Anton Savov focus on how the jointing of modules is currently changing thanks to digital methods and tools. Citing various case studies, they demonstrate how the processes of planning and building can be effectively interwoven. Research on alternative building forms and cooperative social relationships is likewise the focus of the artistic installations by Tomás Saraceno, whose complex spider net structures invite us to reflect on relations between humans and nature.


The second section of GAM.12Conversation—deals with forms of collaboration that necessitate a complex communications structure between design, planning, and production. In addition to conversations and negotiations involving different players on both personal and technical levels, collaborative planning tools and operative software innovations also form the backbone of many design-related decisions. Martin Knight and Bartlomiej Halaczek devote their contribution to the dialogues connecting structural engineers and architects in the context of bridge design. They advocate not only the use of shared design tools, but also the development of a common working language. Citing four projects, including the Austrian Pavilion at the EXPO in Milan, the contribution by Stephan Engelsmann and Stefan Peters demonstrates how this common language can be precisely articulated in the stages ranging from planning to execution. An entrepreneurial slant on the forms and perspectives of collaboration is given in two conversations with leading players from the building industry—the Max Bögl Corporate Group and the company seele—both of which have been success- fully uniting construction, research, and development for years now. In their text “Parametric Concrete,” Andreas Fuchs and Michael Pelzer prove that the close communicative networking of planning, production, and assembly parameters not only leads to more creative leeway in the production of prefabricated concrete elements, but also to a significant rise in efficiency in the related planning.


The third and last main section of GAM.12Configuration—explores the new structural developments that ultimately structurally evolve from the interplay of different involved parties and different design tools. Special attention is paid here to light- weight construction as one of the most innovative research fields in structural design when it comes to materials technology, structural considerations, and resource economics. Werner Sobek, in his contribution, illustrates by example of his “Smart Shell” how active control of deformation leads to a minimized need for resources and gives rise to ultra-lightweight structures. Christoph Gengnagel und Gregory Quinn’s study on strained grid shells that are designed and built according to the “active bending” principle demonstrates the potentials that arise from the integration of FEM simulation soft- ware in the process of design and assembly. Julian Lienhard likewise provides the parametric model with an essential interface for coordinating and mediating design factors in lightweight construction. His case study of a transformable membrane structure shows how functional, static, and aesthetic demands can be optimized in a parametric setup. Finally, Stefan Peters and Andreas Trummer illustrate how shell structures made of ultra-high performance concrete are geometrically capable of uniting individualized form-finding with materially sound construction methods and innovative production approaches.


All authors of this issue work in the context of teaching, research, planning, or execution. The diverse contributions are based on the authors’ different experiences and expertise, thus allowing GAM.12 to draft a contemporary picture of current tendencies and reflections from the field of structural design. Our warm gratitude is extended to these authors at this juncture for the work they have invested in the thematic focus of GAM.12 – Structural Affairs. The review section following the main contributions is devoted to select new releases from the area of specialist literature on architecture. The discussed publications draw a thematic arc from materials and fabrication technologies to urban research and also built biographies and the writing of architectural history. Finally, the Faculty News segment offers insight into the projects and events carried out by the Faculty of Architecture at Graz University of Technology. Indeed, our Faculty—with all its instructors, students, and staff—has for years now provided the basis for the annual release of GAM. As usual, we are presenting our plans for the next issue in our Call for Papers on the final pages of this volume. ■



Translation: Dawn Michelle d’Atri