Project
structureFIT: Interactive Optimization of Architectural Geometry and Structural Performance

Integrated design is an important and salient goal in both the pedagogy and practice of architecture: the challenge of architecture is to synthesize widely varying priorities, including formal, spatial, cultural, social, technical, and physical, into a fresh, innovative, and performative solution.  This project, a new computational tool for conceptual architectural design, aims to promote this synthesis, with a special focus on the integration of architectural geometry and structural performance.  

Existing tools, such as architectural modeling and structural analysis software, tend to segregate functions along disciplinary boundaries.  In contrast, this new tool, called structureFIT (www.caitlinmueller.com/structurefit), is rooted in the critical relationship between form and forces.  Utilizing a new type of interactive evolutionary algorithm, structureFIT enables designers to explore a landscape of geometrical possibilities for the design of planar trusses.  A quantitative goal of material reduction, based on internal structural forces, is coupled with qualitative goals contributed by the designer.  Together, the designer and the algorithm choose the designs that meet these goals best, and based on these, a new population of design options is generated.  Over multiple generations, the designer discovers a diversity of alternatives that are high-performing structurally but also successful in other qualitative ways.

Traditional structural optimization often focuses on structural purity, idealism, and efficiency to the detriment of other architectural priorities. This tool offers a new way to synthesize architectural and structural goals while circumventing these drawbacks.  Between extreme structural rationalism and willful ignorance of performance, structureFIT reveals a fertile and unexplored middle ground of high-performing design possibilities.