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From Ruled Surfaces to Elastica-ruled Surfaces: New Possibilities for Creating Architectural Forms

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Ruled surfaces are widely used for architectural forms, as diverse 3D shapes can be conveniently generated by the movement of a straight ruling. There is vast potential to create a rich variety of new architectural forms by introducing curved rulings into ruled surfaces. This paper presents a new method to generate ruled surface variants by making a fundamental change to existing ruled surfaces through parametric reformulation and the use of curved rulings. A new type of ruled surface composed of curved rulings, the elastica-ruled surface, is proposed. An analytical geometric modelling method is developed based on the transformation of line-ruled surfaces, enabling convenient generation of elegant shapes and forms for architectural applications. In this paper, curved rulings are represented by elastica curves—large, elastic, bending deformations of a straight slender beam. We demonstrate that elastica curve design parameters can completely control the shape of an elastica-ruled surface and define a large set of transformation results. This study classifies elastica-ruled surfaces into five categories based on their shape characteristics. Potential applications of elastica-ruled surfaces that consider elastic bending behaviour are presented, including bending-active structures, robot-assisted manufacturing and kinetic architectural designs. By extension, this study shows that adopting higher-order elastica curves can further enhance the design diversity of novel architectural forms.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centre for Innovative Structures and Materials, School of Engineering, RMIT University, Melbourne, 3001, Australia

Publication date: December 1, 2021

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  • The Journal of the IASS is the peer-reviewed, quarterly journal of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures. The journal mainly presents technical papers and project reports submitted by members or nonmembers of the IASS. Typically, one issue per year focuses on a special topic arranged by guest editors. Additional articles annually include the four Hangai Prize winning papers and Tsuboi Proceedings Award contribution from the IASS annual symposium. Finally, additional content includes announcements of events and memorial statements of distinguished IASS members.
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