Structural Typologies

I use these forms to introduce structural design. It sets up a really useful discussion in design on the link between materials and form.

If you want to design one of these forms in particular (e.g. structural frame), then you need to choose materials that allow you to create that form (timber can take compression and bending).

Or if you have a particular material available (e.g. stone), then you need to look at and design forms that can be achieved in that materials (compression structures).

A diagram with 6 images of different main structural typologies. The first are Structural Frames (also called section-active) which resists forces in section bending; beams, cantilevers, slabs. The next are Truss Structures (also called vector-active), using triangulated elements in tension and compression; trusses, space frames. The next are Compression Structures (also called surface-active), the shape is chosen to transfer forces in compression; arches, vaults, domes. Then Tension Structures (also called form-active), the shape changes to transfer forces in tension; membranes, nets, cables and ties. Then Bending Active Structures, sections bent with large deflections into position and fixed. Lastly Tower Structures (also called height-active), where the height of the structure is ten times the width and stability governs design.