Beyond Bending - Reimagining Compression Shells

Block P., Van Mele T., Rippmann M. and Paulson N.
Edition DETAIL

Throughout history, master builders have discovered expressive forms through the constraints of economy, efficiency and elegance. There is much to learn from the architectural and structural principles they developed. Novel structural design tools that extend traditional graphical methods to three dimensions allow designers to discover a vast range of possible forms in compression. By better understanding the flow of compressive forces in three dimensions, excess steel can be eliminated, natural resources can be conserved, and humble materials like earth and stone can be reimagined for the future.

By combining methods from the past with new technologies and fabrication techniques, this book advocates for the logic of compression-only forms. It offers possibilities to move beyond the slab, beyond the dome, beyond freeform, and ultimately beyond bending.

Drawing from a revival of forgotten principles combined with the latest advances in the design, engineering, fabrication and construction of compression-only shell structures, the book reveals the foundations upon which the award-winning “Beyond Bending” exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2016 was based. Through images, interviews, and analyses, it provides in-depth background on the theories and research that led to this remarkable achievement.

The book includes interviews with the Block Research Group, Ochsendorf DeJong & Block Engineering and the Escobedo Group, as well as contributions by John Ochsendorf, Alejandro Aravena and Gilles Retsin.


    author    = "Block, P. and Van Mele, T. and Rippmann, M. and Paulson, N.",
    title     = "Beyond Bending - Reimagining Compression Shells",
    publisher = "Edition DETAIL",
    year      = "2017",
    address   = "Munich",
    month     = "October",
    doi       = "",
    note      = "",

Related publications

Block P., Van Mele T., Rippmann M., DeJong M., Ochsendorf J., Escobedo M. and Escobedo D.Armadillo Vault - An extreme discrete stone shell,DETAIL,10: 940-942,2016 (October).Issue on 'Roof structures'.
Block P., Rippmann M. and Van Mele T.Structural Stone Surfaces: New compression shells inspired by the past,AD Architectural Design,85(5): 74 - 79,2015 (September/October).Special issue A. Menges (Ed.) - Material Synthesis: Fusing the Physical and the Computational.
Block P., Van Mele T. and Rippmann M.Geometry of Forces: Exploring the solution space of structural design,GAM,12: 28-37,2016 (April).Special issue S. Peters and A. Trummer (Eds.) - 'Structural Affairs'.
Ochsendorf J. and Block P.Exploring shell forms,Shell Structures for Architecture: Form Finding and Optimization,Adriaenssens, S., Block, P., Veenendaal, D. and Williams, C. (editors),Routledge,London,2014.
Block P., Rippmann M. and Van Mele T.Compressive assemblies: Bottom-up performance for a new form of construction,AD Architectural Design,87(4): 104-109,2017 (July/August).Special issue S. Tibbits (Ed.) - Autonomous Assembly: Designing for a new era of collective construction.


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