Approach of Minimal Surfaces and Funicular Geometries to Their Structural Application in Architecture

The thesis consists of the form-finding modeling of three structures, inspired by minimal surfaces and funicular geometries: the Deitingen Service Station roofing by H. Isler; the Matadero footbridge covering by H. Corres, and one of the pillars of the Stuttgart Central Station by C. Ingenhoven. During the form-finding process, two fundamental aspects had to be taken into consideration: the shape which was started from, and the loads applied to it. This involved an iterative process of adjustments to the initial shape and loading. Once the shape was obtained, its self-weight behavior was analyzed.

Antonio Morales
Higher Technical School of Architecture (ETSA), University of Seville

The form-finding process of a minimal surface or a funicular geometry is basically identical. However, there is an important difference: the applied load. While funicular geometries are subjected to gravity load, the minimal surfaces are subjected to a prestressing force. As in this case, the objective was to approximate an already constructed shape; these loads were one more parameter to be adjusted until reaching the final shape.

In this study, which was recently a finalist in the 2023 EMA Building Structures Awards of the ACIES association, architect Antonio Morales used the Dlubal software RFEM and the RF-FORM-FINDING add-on module.