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Form Follows Physics Khang Phuong

It is an exciting moment for me when architecture and structure have merged to form a new hybrid. Rem Koolhaas March, 2012 Lecture to Graduate School of Design Harvard

My thesis is about designing structures for Christchurch given an understanding of the physics of the local ground conditions and potential seismic forces. My objective is to go beyond engineering structures to designing them by integrating architecture and engineering to derive innovative structures. My thesis aims to challenge the standard post and beam construction, and open up a range of possible design directions. The designs will move away from the standard Cartesian systems, which are inherently rigid, and instead they will aim to achieve flexibility and resilience through elastic structures. While a structure based on a Cartesian grid may appear to be stable, ironically its performance in an earthquake causes great stresses to a building, which can lead to failure. A more flexible structure, while appearing less rigid, could perform better in an earthquake because it would be elastic rather then inelastic, which essentially means the structure could recenter following the forces induced by the grounds movement in an earthquake. Many Modern and Contemporary architects have explored structural design as an integrated component of the architectural design, for example Mies van de Rohes Farnsworth House and Le Cobusiers Domino House both achieved wide openings through the use of curtain wall construction, which at the time was a breakthrough in architecture. Other more contemporary architects have explored structure as a driver of design such as Shigeru Bans Wall Less House, Rem Koolhaass Maison Bordeaux, and Toyo Itos Sendai Mediatheque, to name a few. These architects are famous for their unique and innovative designs, and their creative integration of structure and architecture.

MAJOR ARCHITECTONIC IDEAS TO BE INVESTIGATED The title of my thesis is Form Follows Physics which for the sake of this thesis means the architect defines structural elements based on laws of physics and then generates a form. This is different from parametric design, which is approach where forms are generated and then the structure is a by product, this approach often requires additional structural members and complexity. In parametric designs form takes priority over structure and program, but in my thesis structure and program unify to create the form. The structures in Christchurch have to adjust to two conditions, one- a seismic force, which essentially demands the structure is designed to accommodate movement, and two- ground conditions, which in the worst case demands a certain agility or lightness due to the consequences of potential liquefaction. As a starting point my approach to designing structures has been to look to natural forms and find structures that move, such as the glass sponge, a dragon fly wing, and the tail of a seahorse to name a few. Such natural structures provide insights into efficient solutions for structural systems that move with minimum stress. We can learn from how these natural structures have adapted to the environment over millions of years of evolution and draw from them possible structural strategies to incorporate into innovative designed structures. I will endeavor to extract principles from these dynamic structural systems to create innovative structural forms specially designed for buildings in Christchurch. SITE : CHRISTCHURCH Due to the ground conditions and the recent earthquakes, Christchurch is an interesting challenge with complex constraints, I see this an opportunity for innovative design. And in this context an investigation into structure and construction methods can lead architects to create new spatial experiences.

Thesis Statement

AIMS - Prove that Christchurch can rebuild with a high standard innovative structural systems. - Approach design from the physics of structure. - Develop creative design solutions through understanding how structure responds to ground conditions and seismic forces. - Design structures to minimize damage in the event of a large scale earthquake. - Design structures that are efficient and cost effective. - Design structures that optimize the forces and work in accordance with laws of physics.

- increase the construction cost and maintenance cost; and - can negatively influence the architectures aesthetic. The engineers point of view is that these technologies: - are based on a Cartesian grid and therefore rational and practical standard construction is possible, - purpose is to minimize damage in the event of another earthquake, and - make repairs cheap, quick and easy. My thesis is about merging engineering and architecture to design innovative structures, my strategy will be to: - use Physics Follow Form to integrate the two design processes; - develop hybrid of architecture and structure informed by new technologies to create innovative design; - push beyond standard Cartesian grid structures to derive tailored and unique structural systems; - derive opportunities from new technologies that influence architectures aesthetic positively; - derive forms through the understanding of physics and minimize the structural elements; - use structural elements combined with new technologies according to where they are required; - reduce the cost by reducing unnecessary structural elements; - reduce self-weight in order to minimize the seismic effects on a structure and decreases foundation costs; - isolate damages in the event of an earthquake to a certain location; and - design structures so they are affordable to repair post earthquake.

APPROACH - Build up on my previous research from Advanced Design 2 in 2011 which included: seismic engineering methods and ground conditions. - Develop a catalogue of design options of elastic structures for different programs and building types. - Develop three structural/material case studies as examples (timber, concrete and steel). DESIGN PROJECT There is a demand for upgrading building technologies due to the Christchurch earthquakes such as: base isolation, damper, precast seismic system (PRESSS), etc. These technologies create friction between the architects and the engineers because they are not designed collaboratively but in isolation to the problematic nature of seismic loads. The architects point of view is that these technologies: - limit formal options because they are more suitable to conventional structural systems;

Thesis Statement