Contemporary Architecture

Minimal Structures

Efficiency depends on the trinity of material, shape and the process of making. The lighter that constructions have to be, the more critical the balance between these three…… Beukers

Shaping forces originate in all natural spheres

  • in inanimate nature
  • in animate nature
  • in animal and human technology
  • in art
Examples of such natural forms are:
  • Basalt
  • Crystallization
  • Lead Sulphide
  • Clay
  • Berries
  • Radiolaria
  • Grasses
  • Coral
  • Termites
  • Spiders

Anticlastic Surfaces

The centers of curvature of the membrane are on opposite sides of the membrane e.g. hyperbolic parabaloid, torus

Synclastic Surfaces

The centers of curvature of the membrane are on the same side of the membrane.
e.g sphere or balloon

The Process of Making => Classes of Construction

  • Membranes
  • Nets
  • Pneumatics
  • Suspended
  • Arches, Vaults and Shells
  • Branched


The structural membrane acts also as the weathershield

Cable Nets

A separate grid of structural cables supports a non–structural weathershield


The tension force is created by an interior positive pressure and the membrane acts as the weathershield


These constructions are usually curved in one direction only and are stabilized by their own weight, by stiffening the surface or guying.

Arches, Vaults & Shells:

Arch and vault constructions use little material and small mass when the form is generated by the inverted catenary, or for shells, the inverted net.


These constructions are three dimensional supporting systems based on minimal path systems. They can be investigated with soap films between two parallel plates.

A simple paraboloid is defined by a minimum of four points w/ at least one out of plane.

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