Strategies for thickening

Now that we are happy with the shape of the equilibrium solution, we want to give volume to it. A possible strategy is to offset the thrust network/surface proportional to the forces in the branches.

The horizontal components of the branch forces can be measured directly from the force diagram.

The forces in the equilibrium network are here visualized by piping the branches proportional to the (square root of the) forces in them. This visualizes very well where forces need to be attracted in order to achieve this asymmetric vault.

By using this non-uniform offsetting strategy we achieve some interesting formal qualities such as the crater/volcano-like ridge around the oculus. In general, this thickening allows to read the structural better: the form follows the forces.

This is an initial step to suggest the thickness of the vault. Applying asymmetric loads will also influence the ultimate boundaries of the vault.


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Load-bearing stone, Unreinforced masonry vaulting, Stone form-finding, Structural masonry vault, Free-form masonry, Equilibrium shapes, Funicular design

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