Structural Design I

The courses Structural Design I and II explain the fundamentals of how structures function. These courses put great emphasis on studying the relationship between the form of a structure and the internal forces within it by means of graphic statics.


The teaching materials shown in this platform are the result of a collaboration between the Chair of Architecture and Structure (Prof. Dr. Philippe Block) and the Chair of Structural Design (Prof. Dr. Joseph Schwartz) during the years 2015-2022. This platform is not updated since June 2023. If you are a bachelor or master student in Architecture at ETH Zürich, please follow the courses’ content in ETH’s Moodle learning platform in order to get the actualised course material.

Learning Goals

At the conclusion of the courses Structural Design I and II, students will be able to:

  1. visualize the internal forces within two-dimensional structural elements.
  2. understand the relationship between the form of a structure and the forces within it.
  3. modify the design of a structure in order to improve it.
  4. identify the most important structural typologies.
  5. use graphic statics for the form-finding and analysis of structures.
  6. carry out basic dimensioning of structural elements.
  7. respond to structural problems in a creative manner.


Structural Design I:

  • Fundamentals of static equilibrium
  • Introduction to graphic statics
  • Basic dimensioning of structural elements
  • Cables and stiffening schemes of cables
  • Arches and stiffening schemes of arches
  • Arch-cables structures

 Structural Design II:

  • Trusses
  • Beams
  • Frames
  • Plates
  • Buckling of compression elements 

General Information


Registration at is required.


"The art of structures, Introduction to the functioning of structures in architecture" (Aurelio Muttoni, EPFL Press, 2011, ISBN-13: 978-0415610292, ISBN-10: 041561029X)

"Faustformel Tragwerksentwurf" (Philippe Block, Christoph Gengangel, Stefan Peters, DVA Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt 2013, ISBN: 978-3-421-03904-0)

"Form and Forces: Designing Efficient, Expressive Structures" (Edward Allen, Waclaw Zalewski, October 2009, ISBN: 978-0-470-17465-4)

Exercise Afternoon

Alternating with the lecture, there is an exercise every other week. These exercises strengthen the understanding of the lecture content and serve as practical exam preparation. Support for the exercises, their solutions, and other course materials are available in digital form on eQUILIBRIUM: For this reason we recommend that you bring a laptop with internet access.

Active participation in the lessons is required. The lectures impart theoretical knowledge by means of practical examples and serve to prepare the respective exercise. These in turn include the practical application of basic knowledge of graphic statics as well as the implementation of what has been learned into the own design. It is therefore strongly recommended to hand in all exercises. In case of absence, it is mandatory to inform the course coordinator beforehand via e-mail at


Michele Capelli, Msc. arch. ETH, Teaching Assistant 
HIB E 47, Mail:

Pedro Tosatto Siedel, Msc. arch. ETH, Teaching Assistant 
HIB E 47, Mail:

Student Teaching Assistants
Aebi Elias, Fischer Sébastien, Franc Carmen, Füssler Beda, Gaia Martino, Imseng Rolf, Kissling Ludwig, Kunszt Talia, Liechti Antoine, Meier Florin, Meury Samuel, Möwes Hannah, Oetterli Ramon, Reisner Florian

Office Hours

During the semester, students can come by the chair to ask questions about the lecture and the exercises. The consultations take place every Friday between 12:45-13:45 at the chairs office in HIB E47.