Integrated Behaviour-Based Computational Design Strategies
Evolutionary computational framework and design methodologies for the generation, performance-based articulation and materialisation of complex form in force-active structural surface architectural systems

The introduction of computation to architecture has triggered a continually evolving shift from model as representation to model as depiction of processes. This can be further elaborated by defining the model as a container for both the generator and the generated. In this definition, from the model emerges form as a functioning system born of the negotiation of dynamic interrelations related to specific material, spatial, and contextual behaviours. This addresses two critical aspects of computational design. First, form is the realization of a system of systems – of material, structure, environment, spatiality, program etc. It is not simply static physicality, but hierarchical dynamic conditions in precise, constant, and intimate reciprocal exchange. Performance can then be classified as the measure of integration of these systems. In this approach, form is a unified morphological description, a gestalt. It is the ramification of interaction, in confluence and divergence, rather than an assembly of autonomous states. Second, generating form involves the computation of individual behaviours and translations of the resulting integrative systems. In light of performance, integration emerges through iterative evolutionary steps whereby effectiveness and detail develop simultaneously. Behaviour is defined as individual material phenomena occurring through reactions to external influences as constrained by its internal logics and morphological description. Translations, identifying the nature of the accumulated global behaviour, filter the whole of the emergent form (or model) to specify materialisation. This research looks critically at the framework of computational processes which evolve through computation of inter-related behaviour, and the fundamental approach which allows for new principles in architectural systems to be realized.

The study of force-active lightweight structures provides a most relevant application of a computational behaviour-based design approach. The synthesis of structure and surface serves as an immediate reciprocal state, where force, in equilibrium, describes the position of geometry whether it is in tension, compression, or variants of both. Considering a larger definition of form outside of geometric and structural conditions recognizes a more intensely integrative view of architectural design, as well as with this particular material-critical system. This research looks to solve the complex inter-relational nature of force-active systems in their structural, spatial and environmental capacity through an evolutionary computational framework in which geometry is formed of the negotiation of various principle behaviours related to materialisation.


ICD Institute for Computational Design – Prof. Achim Menges

Scientific Development

Sean Ahlquist

Research Assistants

Bum Suk Ko, Dicky Ferdiansyah


Selected Publications

Ahlquist, S., Menges, A.,: 2013, Frameworks for Computational Design of Textile Micro-architectures and Material Behavior in Forming Complex Force-active Structures, in Beesley, P., Del Barrio, A., Khan, O., Stacey, M., van Overbeeke, E. (eds.), Proceedings of the 33nd Annual Conference of the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) – Adaptive Architecture, Waterloo, pp. 281-292. (ISBN 978-1-926724-22-5)

Ahlquist, S., Lienhard, J., F., Knippers, J., Menges, A.: 2013, Exploring Materials Reciprocities for Textile-Hybrid Systems as Spatial Structures , in Stacey, M. (ed.), Prototyping Architecture: The Conference Papers, Building Centre Trust, London, 2013, pp 187-210. (ISBN 978-0-901919-17-5)

Lienhard, J., Ahlquist, S., Menges, A., Knippers, J.: 2013, Finite element modelling in integral design strategies of form- and bending-active hybrid structures, in Bletzinger, K.-U., Kröplin, B. and Onate, E. (eds.), Structural Membranes – Proceedings of the VI International Conference on Textile Composites and Inflatable Structures, Munich, 2013, pp 39-50. (ISBN 978-84-941686-0-4)

Lienhard, J., Ahlquist, S., Knippers, J., Menges, A.: 2013, Extending the Functional and Formal vocabulary of tensile membrane structures through the interaction with bending-active elements, in Bonger-Balz, H., Mollaert, M. and Pusa, E. (eds.), Proceedings of the TensiNet Symposium [Re]Thinking Lightweight Structures, Istanbul, 2013, pp 109-118. (ISBN 9789072325068)

Ahlquist, S. , Menges, A., Lienhard, J., F., Knippers, J.: 2013, Textile Hybrid M1 at La Tour de l’Architecte – Research on Hybrid Form- and Bending Active Systems, TensiNews Newsletter of the European Based Network for the Design and Realisation of Tensile Structures, No. 04/2013, pp. 6-9. (ISSN 1784-5688)

Ahlquist, S., Lienhard, J. Knippers, J., Menges, A.: 2013, M1 Textile Hybrid: Cumulative Physical and Numerical Prototyping for Integrated Bending- and Form-Active Structures, in: Gengnagel, C., Kilian, A., Nembrini, J., Scheurer, F. (eds.), Rethinking Prototyping, Proceedings of the Design Modelling Symposium Berlin 2013, Verlag der Universität der Künste Berlin. pp. 1-14. (ISBN 978-3-89462-243-5)

Ahlquist, S., Menges, A.: 2012, Physical Drivers: Synthesis of Evolutionary Developments and Force-Driven Design, Architectural Design, Vol. 82 No. 2, Wiley Academy, London. pp. 60-67. (ISBN: 978 0470973301)

Ahlquist, S. and Menges, A.: 2011, Articulated Behavior: Computational Methods for the Generation and Materialization of Complex Force-Active Textile Morphologies, Proceedings of the Ambience’11 International Conference, Boras (Sweden) 28-30 November 2011, pp. 13-19. (ISBN 987-91-975576-8-9)

Ahlquist, S. and Menges, A.: 2011, Behavior-based Computational Design Methodologies – Integrative Processes for Force Defined Material Structures, Integration through Computation, Proceedings of the 31th Conference of the Association For Computer Aided Design In Architecture (ACADIA), Banff (Canada) 13-16 October 2011, pp 82-89. (ISBN 978-1613645956)

Ahlquist, S. and Menges, A.: 2011, Integration of Behaviour-based Computational and Physical Models: Design Computation and Materialisation of Morphologically Complex Tension-Active Systems. In Gengnagel, C., Kilian, A., Palz, N. and Scheurer, F. (eds.), Computational Design Modeling, Proceedings of the Design Modeling Symposium Berlin, Springer-Verlag, Berlin/Heidelberg, pp. 259-266. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-23435-4_9 (ISBN: 978-3642234347)

Ahlquist, S. and Menges, A.: 2011, Methodological Approach for the Integration of Material Information and Performance in the Design Computation for Tension-Active Architectural Systems, Proceedings of the 29th eCAADE Conference, Ljubljana (Slovenia) 21-24 September 2011, pp. 799-807. (ISBN 978-9491207013)

Ahlquist, S. and Menges, A.: 2010, Realizing Formal and Functional Complexity for Structurally Dynamic Systems in Rapid Computational Means, in: Ceccato, C., Hesselgren, L., Pauly, M., Pottmann, H., Wallner, J. (eds.), Proceedings of Advances in Architectural Geometry Conference 2010, Vienna, Springer, Berlin, pp. 205-220. (ISBN: 978-3709103081)


Research Buildings / Prototypes

Textile Hybrid M1 – La Tour de l’Architecte
Material Equilibria Installation