Philippe Block

Reimagining Shell Structures

Series: M.Arch Jury Week Keynote Lectures (EmTech)
Date: Wednesday 10 January 2018
Time: 18:30
Venue: AA Lecture Hall
Running time: 91 mins

Throughout history, master builders have discovered expressive forms through the constraints of economy, efficiency and elegance. There is much to learn from the structural principles they developed. Novel design tools that extend traditional graphic methods to three dimensions allow designers to discover a vast range of possible shell forms. By better understanding the flow of forces in three dimensions, excess material can be eliminated, natural resources conserved, and humble materials like earth and stone re-imagined. Drawing from a revival of forgotten principles combined with the latest advances in the design, engineering, fabrication and construction of doubly curved shell structures, this lecture reveals the foundations for the award-winning ‘Beyond Bending’ exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2016 and the thin, flexibly formed concrete shell of the NEST HiLo project.


Philippe Block is a professor at the Institute of Technology in Architecture at ETH Zurich. His practice, the Block Research Group, focuses on equilibrium design methods and computational form finding and fabrication of curved surface structures. He is also the director of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication.



All lectures are open to members of the public, staff and students unless otherwise stated.


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