Architectural Engineering (AELA)
The research within the ae-lab is focused on 'the use of engineering tools to create architecture'. This approach is applied on three topics which ask for interdisciplinary studies: the design of light-weight structures, the issue of re-use, and the incorporation of 4D-design. LIGHTWEIGHT STRUCTURES Architectural and structural engineering are subject to an ongoing process of optimization. The search for lighter, more efficient and more performing structural systems is and has always been an essential part of this process. Achieving lightness is a complex task which equally and simultaneously addresses the knowledge, ability and experience as well as the fantasy and intuition of a dedicated architect or engineer. Lightweight structures challenge the boundaries set by static and dynamic structural theories. Cutting-edge materials and complicated three-dimensional shapes dare our calculating and manufacturing procedures and put our technological capabilities to the test. Lightweight structures give expression to ingenious and efficient concepts and thereby contribute to the visualization of contemporary architectural space. The 'Lightweight Structures' research group contributes with a wide range of research topics to the further development of 'Tensile Surface Structures', 'Kinetic Structures', 'Morphological Indicators' and 'Graphical Analysis and Form Finding'. A number of topics are currently under investigation: the design and implementation of pneumatic components in structural systems, the comfort assessment of spaces enclosed by translucent membranes, the design and calculation of new typologies for fabric structures, the design and analysis of deployable bar structures for mobile architectural applications, the use of scissor structures in retractable roofs,... RE-USE The research group on 'Re-use' studies the modern industrial and architectural patrimony (1800-2000). The main objective is to reconcile the authenticity of the architectural heritage with the modern standards asking for more comfort and safety. The assessment of a building typically deals with the evaluation of historical, structural and architectural aspects. The starting point of the research is the construction history. Studying the used construction techniques, calculation methods and material characteristics offers information for the structural behavior. In combination with the structural assessment, the historical, architectural and esthetical qualities are evaluated to determine the cultural value of the building. On the basis of these findings proposals are formulated to retain, refurbish, strengthen or demolish the building. Supplementary, contemporary re-design strategies, applied by designers who rehabilitate and re-use buildings, are analyzed to help converting the historical and recent data into specific proposals and recommendations. Critical analyses of recent rehabilitation projects constantly question and indicate the historical, architectural, cultural and social significance. TRANSFORM The '4 Dimensional Design Strategy' (4D) includes a dynamic view on the built environment. By designing adaptable construction systems, which are compatible with each other, a dynamic - and by this sustainable - answer can be given to an unexpected and unpredictable future. These construction systems are made of a minimum number of basic elements and a set of combination rules. They allow the conversion of each artefact to a different configuration, by means of adding, removing or transforming the basic elements which it is made of. It offers a high potential of recycling and (direct) re-use. The outcome can be compared with the 'Meccano' building set, which, in this view, encloses all materials and techniques, and is applicable to all scales. A set of standardization rules, called a generating form and dimensioning system is the generating system and the central concept in the design strategy, in the sense that it ensures full compatibility of form and dimensions between all basic elements. Current research concentrates on the implementation of new 4D design principles and tools into the strategy. Feasibility studies made/make it possible to evaluate and tune 4D. A variety of applications are currently studied: temporary shelters after a disaster, temporary units for housing, social housing, refurbishment of social housing.