Material, structure and form are integrated in nature, because in her inventions, as Leonardo explains, nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous. Birds’ eggs are an example of this kind. They are continuous thin shells, in which all the forces are transferred along the surface because of their specific form. They represent an efficient structural form. They are sustainable by nature. Steel or timber gridshells are the same thing, but transparent. Membrane action is preserved through a clear grid of beams and the amount of material implied for construction is reduced. Contemporary timber gridshells are sustainable by design. In both cases, double-curvature is the key. ‘Form-finding’ is the process to get it.

This is the theoretical framework of “How to make things lighter”, a 10-day design studio on parametric design, form-finding, optimisation, technology and fabrication of shells and gridshells, which was held in June 2015 at Nanjing University.

Studio Leaders: Dr Alberto Pugnale and Dr Sofia Colabella.

Studio Coordinators: Prof Tong Ziyu and the Dean Prof Ding Wowo.

Refer to this Blog post and for further information.

The final projects are also featured in the “Nanjing University Yearbook 2014-2015”, edited by Wang Dandan. You can purchase it here: (NJU SA 2014-2015) ISBN 978-7-5641-6170-5.