Repetitive Structures

Department: Architecture
Active Dates: December 2019 - ongoing
Principal Investigator: Eike Schling
Funding Body: Seed Fund for Basic Research for New Staff
Academic Advisor: Helmut Pottmann, KAUST, Applied Mathematics and Computational Science
Rainer Barthel, TUM, Chair of Structural Design
Project Team: Eike Schling, Wesley She, Muye Ma


Understanding the complexity of a spatial network not only offers simplification of the construction with substantial cost savings. Foremost, it gives the architect the control over their designs: It opens up a spectrum of solutions to choose from, rather than capitulate to the most advanced fabrication tool. Being aware of the dependencies of shape, segmentation and building part lets us decide what rationalizations are most effective, which topology might be beneficial, and which tool to use for fabrication.
Moreover, combining geometric expertise with the knowledge in material behaviour helps us find new fabrication-aware designs that display a symbiosis of form and structure.

 The research project “Repetitive Structures” builds off of previous research conducted by the Principal Investigator (PI) (Schling 2018). The novel theory combines both geometric and constructive criteria to define repetition within doubly curved grid structures based on ten simple parameters. It thus allows a comprehensible analysis of complexity, and a systematic development of design solutions for gridshell construction with repetitive parts.


The project aims to build up on existing research in the pursuit of four main objectives:

  1. Establish a research team at HKU and create a network of partners in academia and the industry.
  2. Establish an analytical research branch to investigate and compare existing structures and thus compile a comprehensive library of existing construction methods and their complexity. Such analyses are of great relevance in the restoration of gridshells.
  3. Establish an investigative research branch to further the collaboration with mathematicians and engineers at HKU and abroad in the field of construction-aware design. This branch aims to continue and broaden existing research projects.
  4. Establish a design-driven research branch by redeveloping the computational design method and constructional process of asymptotic gridshells at HKU with the objective of constructing and testing new prototypes.
  5. Successfully apply for a GRC/ECS grant and establish a research hub for construction-aware design solutions of highly-efficient, lightweight grid structures.

Establishing these research branches ultimately aims to initiate a long-term, international investigation of construction-aware design. Its goal is to simplify the construction of complex, double curved structures. The research is situated between the disciplines of geometry, engineering and architecture, combining insights from all disciplines within a digitally-driven architecture design process.


  • Jiang, Caigui; Wang, Cheng; Schling, Eike; Pottmann, Helmut (2020): Computational design and optimization of quad meshes based on diagonal meshes. In Olivier Baverel, Helmut Pottmann, Caitlin Mueller, Tomohiro Tachi (Eds.): Advances in Architectural Geometry 2021. Paris. (to be published)
  • Workshop and Exhibition ”Design and Construction of Asymptotic Gridshells” at the Advances in Architectural Geometry Conference in Paris 2021


Our research ultimately fosters a new way of thinking about structural design, embracing simple solutions without sacrificing the potential of free-form shapes. This will become a building block for sustainable and affordable structural solutions for the twenty-first century.

The research combines insights from mathematics and structural engineering within the architectural design process. This interdisciplinary research has proven highly relevant to all three fields and has thus also spurred further investigations in structural engineering and mathematics.

Inquiries have been received from universities all over the world. Workshops and design projects have adapted and contributed to the new construction method of asymptotic gridshells. The first commercial project, the Asymptotic Canopy for the Intergroup Hotel in Ingolstadt, was completed in October 2019.


Schling, E.: Repetitive Structures – Design and Construction of Curved Support Structures with Repetitive Parameters. Dissertation 2018. Chair of Structural Design, Technical University of Munich.

DOI: 10.14459/2018md1449869

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