Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Computer (r)evolutionises architecture


For the first time, new types of complex load-bearing structures can now be both designed and calculated using a single computer programme. This has become possible thanks to the new software "GENTs", developed as part of a project sponsored by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).

The software combines evolutionary optimisation methods and computer-based calculation tools for the first time to create an intuitive tool for architects and engineers. This combination enables the conception of light, flexible and resource-efficient load-bearing structures out of irregular shapes. The innovative potential of the new software also impressed the jury of the Austrian Building Award and it was voted winner of the "Research and Development" category.

Beam structures support architectural masterpieces. Whether Calatrava, Foster or Coop Himmelb(l)au - those who aim high in the world of architecture inevitably need to rely on these for roofs, bridges or towers. Up to now, however, architectural creativity in this area has been subject to certain limitations, as it was deemed the more regular the structure´s design, the more stable it would be. The software "GENTs" now overturns this idea, allowing irregular structures to be created which still provide a high level of stability and efficiency. This FWF project has thereby laid the foundation for a whole new range of design processes and solutions. This development achievement was officially acknowledged when the software was honoured with the 2011 Austrian Building Award.

Thanks to its innovative combination, the software "GENTs - Generic Exploration and Navigation Tool for Structures" enables a completely new approach to designing load-bearing structures. "This means we can now calculate irregular structures and come up with designs without being bound to particular support structure types or schemes. GENTs combines countless variations of individual structural elements which can in turn be mutated and recombined until the most effective solution is identified. The quantity of material included in the calculation is precisely sufficient to ensure stability, enabling the creation of particularly light structures," explains project leader Prof. Klaus Bollinger of the Institute of Architecture at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. The key parameters that the programme takes into account during its calculations are the shape, position and function of each element of the support structure.
Until now, the design of beam structures only allowed for the channelling of forces applied by pressure and tensile load. This led to a conventional canon of various framework typologies which were all based on triangles as basic design units, which thereby all had a high degree of regularity in common. Thanks to GENTs, bending moments can now also be factored into the design process, together with pressure and tensile load. As a result, the design no longer starts out from a simplified systematisation, but can simulate the entire complex interaction of the individual beam elements, allowing an expansion of the design options previously limited to basic triangular units. How exactly this structural optimisation works was demonstrated in extensive series of tests with up to 2.5 million calculated structures. GENTs-generated support structures show the same load-bearing capacity and deformation as traditional ones, but are up to 15 percent lighter than their veteran "rivals".

The realisation of a design based on this optimisation can now be seen at the Airail Center Frankfurt. Here, a bridge is being built for a mini-metro based on a GENTs design, with the calculative possibilities for structural optimisation, allowing the creation of a dynamic appearance and function. The appearance of the irregular, sinuous design supports the movement of the train as it passes through the bridge. "This design process," says project collaborator DI Arne Hofmann, "would have been inconceivable without the automated calculation and analysis provided by GENTs."

All in all, the GENTs programme, developed within the framework of an FWF project, means closer collaboration between architects and structural planners. It is therefore hardly surprising that the project team headed by Prof. Bollinger, DI Hofmann and DIDr. Preisinger, recently won the Austrian Building Award for Research and Development. The prize money of EUR 10.000 might also be seen as recognition of the importance of investment in basic research, which in this case is contributing significantly to revolutionising building culture.

Scientific contact:
DI Arne Hofmann
University of Applied Arts Vienna
Oskar Kokoschka-Platz 2
1010 Vienna, Austria
T +43 / (0)1 / 955 54 54 14
Austrian Science Fund FWF:
Mag. Stefan Bernhardt
Haus der Forschung
Sensengasse 1
1090 Vienna, Austria
T +43 / (0)1 / 505 67 40 - 8111
Copy Editing & Distribution:
PR&D - Public Relations für
Forschung und Bildung
Mariannengasse 8
1090 Vienna, Austria
T +43 / (0)1 / 505 70 44

Katharina Schnell | PR&D
Further information:

More articles from Awards Funding:

nachricht Changing the Energy Landscape: Affordable Electricity for All
20.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE

nachricht Emmy Noether junior research group investigates new magnetic structures for spintronics applications
11.10.2016 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Awards Funding >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

First results of NSTX-U research operations

26.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

UCI and NASA document accelerated glacier melting in West Antarctica

26.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>