Freeform unreinforced stone masonry vault

This project documents the design, engineering, fabrication and construction of an unreinforced stone masonry vault featuring new forms for compression-only structures. The project is a collaboration between Escobedo Construction and Prof. John Ochsendorf and Philippe Block from MIT. By combining the MIT team’s expertise in three-dimensional equilibrium of complex structures in unreinforced masonry and Escobedo Construction’s expertise in design and construction of stone buildings, we expect to produce a state-of-the-art pavilion.

The vault is being designed using Thrust Network Analysis, a new computational tool developed at MIT for exploring three-dimensional equilibrium structures. TNA is a new graphical formfinding tool for exploring three-dimensional compression-only shapes. This new analysis/form-finding method has been introduced, developed and implemented by Philippe Block, under the guidance of Prof. John Ochsendorf, as part of his PhD dissertation at MIT.

For details on the set-up and formulation of the method, we refer to the introductory paper “Thrust Network Analysis: A new methodology for [understanding and exploring] three-dimensional equilibrium”, or Block’s PhD dissertation “Thrust Network Analysis: Exploring three-dimensional equilibrium”.