In his diploma thesis “Optimized Cell Morphologies“, a structurally optimized design proposal for a lookout tower at Stuttgart Zoo Wilhelma, Michael Pelzer investigates spatial features of foam-like cell configurations, optimizing their resulting complex geometries' gradient cross-sections with karamba3dʻs OptiCroSec module. Challenged by the complexity of geometrical dependencies occuring in cellular structures of human scale, real-life issues like minimum passage clearance or constant rise/run ratio for stairs are tackled by using advanced parametric design strategies within Rhino3dʻs programming environments PythonScript and Grasshopper, while maintaining an everchanging spatial experience for the towerʻs visitors on their way to the top. This is achieved by interlocking Plateauʻs Laws with the principles of dense sphere packing and cellular space division.
The resulting polygonal cell geometry is then converted into a node-beam model for analyis and optimization within Karamba3d, where each beam (or Plateau border, in foam terminology) is divided into several segments which, in turn, are being analyzed regarding their exposition to forces and moments under self- live- and windloads. This data was then used to identify each
memberʻs dimensional optimum from a list of available user-defined cross-sections. Lastly, the acquired dimension data was transformed and interpolated into developable nurbs geometry, giving the structure its distinctive appearance (resembling, to some extent, real-life occurences of cellular structures, e.g. metal foam). This way, it was possible to find the most lightweight yet structurally sufficient solution for the designed topology, which also directly reflects the structureʻs load bearing qualities to the viewer.
Architect: Michael Pelzer
Location: Stuttgart, Germany
Status: Diploma Thesis, ILEK (Prof. Werner Sobek), University of Stuttgart