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Structural Reciprocity: Critical Overview and Promising Research/Design Issues

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Reciprocity is a structural principle that has fascinated designers and builders throughout the world since ancient times. Despite the topic's having been studied by various academics, designers and researchers, a critical overview of the references is still missing, as is an outline and discussion of the current and future promising research/design issues. Further, no single text provides an exhaustive definition of the principle of structural reciprocity and it must be critically recon-structed from several different sources. This paper aims to fill in these gaps, pro-viding a complete and annotated list of references, in which historical examples, as well as patents, research articles and terminological issues are discussed. A con-sistent definition of structural reciprocity is also proposed, and the promising developments of such a principle are outlined in order to guide designers and researchers in the future.
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RESEARCH
Structural Reciprocity: Critical Overview
and Promising Research/Design Issues
Alberto Pugnale Mario Sassone
Published online: 4 March 2014
ÓKim Williams Books, Turin 2014
Abstract Reciprocity is a structural principle that has fascinated designers and
builders throughout the world since ancient times. Despite the topic’s having been
studied by various academics, designers and researchers, a critical overview of the
references is still missing, as is an outline and discussion of the current and future
promising research/design issues. Further, no single text provides an exhaustive
definition of the principle of structural reciprocity and it must be critically recon-
structed from several different sources. This paper aims to fill in these gaps, pro-
viding a complete and annotated list of references, in which historical examples, as
well as patents, research articles and terminological issues are discussed. A con-
sistent definition of structural reciprocity is also proposed, and the promising
developments of such a principle are outlined in order to guide designers and
researchers in the future.
Keywords Structural reciprocity Reciprocal frames (RFs) Nexorades
Mutually supported elements (MSE) Leonardo da Vinci Leonardo
grids Spatial structures Timber constructions Form-finding
Morphogenesis History of construction
A. Pugnale (&)
Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, University of Melbourne,
757 Swanston St., Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia
e-mail: alberto.pugnale@unimelb.edu.au
M. Sassone
Department of Architecture and Design (DAD), Politecnico di Torino,
Castello del Valentino, Viale Pier Andrea Mattioli, 39, 10125 Torino, TO, Italy
e-mail: mario.sassone@polito.it
Nexus Netw J (2014) 16:9–35
DOI 10.1007/s00004-014-0174-z
Introduction
The principle of reciprocity is based on the use of load-bearing elements which,
supporting one another along their spans and never at the extremities, compose a
spatial configuration with no clear structural hierarchy.
An illustrative example will help the reader better understand the concept. Let us
consider three glasses, arranged on a table at the vertices of a hypothetical
equilateral triangle, and then imagine covering that area using just three kitchen
knives. Considering that the glasses are the only supports, the knife handles should
first be placed over the glass openings, and the blades should be made to overlap one
another, like a fan. The resulting configuration is the simplest reciprocal structure
made of three elements (Fig. 1).
Such a system has been used throughout the world since ancient times.
However, a comprehensive, annotated list of references regarding them has
not been developed yet. Furthermore, since designers and researchers works
frequently in independent ways, the current studies still need to be grouped
and compared systematically in order to outline the future promising design/
research activities. It is an explicit aim of this essay to respond to these needs
by proposing a critical overview of the topic supported by: (1) an annotated
list of references in both Western and Eastern cultures; (2) a complete lists of
patents on reciprocity; (3) a complete list of publications grouped by topic;
(4) a complete and annotated list of scientific terms coined and used by
different authors; (5) a consistent definition of structural reciprocity; (6)
several future research and design directions based on the current state of the
art.
Differences and Similarities of a Fragmented History
The first applications of structural reciprocity date back to Neolithic pit
dwellings, Eskimo tents and Indian tepees, as documented by Popovic Larsen
(2008). However, it was also present during the Roman Empire, when Julius
Caesar used it for the construction of a bridge over the Rhine: the structure was
made of interlocked timber elements, with the main purpose of simplifying the
joints. The project was described in Caesar’s ‘‘Commentaries on Gallic and
Civil Wars’’ and was later reconstructed by Palladio (Gros and Beltramini
2003). Apart from these ancient applications, independent from one another,
reciprocity has been independently studied and used in both Western and
Eastern cultures for centuries. The needs and purposes have been different, but
the structural outcomes have been similar. During the last few decades,
reciprocity has also become a research topic for academics, who have started to
study the mechanical, geometrical and construction aspects of reciprocal
structures.
10 A. Pugnale, M. Sassone
Reciprocity in Western Culture: Timber and Short-Beams
In Europe, structural reciprocity has mainly been used, at least until the twentieth
century, to span distances longer than the length of the available timber beams.
1
Several architects, builders, mathematicians and scientists all reasoned separately
about this problem, without evidence of being in contact with one another.
2
Between 1225 and 1250, Villard de Honnecourt drew some short-beam arrange-
ments in his sketchbook (Villard de Honnecourt 1959) for the construction of
reciprocal floors. Between 1220 and 1235, Alexander of Lincoln designed and built
Lincoln Cathedral using reciprocal supports, as reported by Hewett (1974).
Leonardo da Vinci explored at least six different spatial configurations based on the
principle of reciprocity, as can be seen from his sketches in the Codex Atlanticus,
folio 899v (Leonardo da Vinci 2000) (Fig. 2). To read the transcription of this page,
refer to Williams (2008).
After Leonardo, Sebastiano Serlio discussed the construction of planar floors
with short-beams in his first book on architecture, but unfortunately proposed an
unbuildable structure (Serlio 1566; Yeomans 1997). John Wallis wrote about
different types of floors made of reciprocal elements in his ‘‘Opera Mathematica’
(Wallis 1695), and this was the first scientific text to be supported with structural
calculations, as it has been described in detail by Houlsby (2014).
Amongst the treatises on carpentry, E
´my, who was professor of Fortification at
the Royal Military School in Saint-Cyr, included some reciprocal examples in his
‘Traite
´de l’art de la charpenterie’’ (E
´my 1837). Reciprocity was also present in the
Fig. 1 An illustrative example of a simple reciprocal structure. Image:authors
1
This problem was also solved using an alternative construction technique, based on the overlapping of
layers of short load-bearing elements. This technique can be found, for instance, in the roof structure of
the Square Hall building in the Old Nisa, Mesopotamia, as described by Pizzetti and Zorgno (1980). It
was also proposed by Guarini for his Chapel of the Holy Shroud in Turin, Italy.
2
A more detailed description of historical works on reciprocity can be found in Popovic Larsen (2008).
Instead, a complete list of historical treatises, dealing with reciprocal structure, has been provided by Vito
Bertin on his website: http://www.vitobertin.hk/lw/10-reference/02-studies/index.html.
Structural Reciprocity 11
so-called ‘flat-vaults’ described by Fre
´zier (1737), but which were invented by
Joseph Abeille and Se
´bastien Truchet. It was finally described by Rondelet (1810)
and Tredgold (1837).
As we mentioned before, reciprocal structures were used in Europe for
technological and construction reasons. Recent surveys and renovations of old
British buildings seem to confirm this statement. The layout of the sub-floor
structure of the Wollaton Hall (Fig. 3) shows an irregular pattern of timber short-
(a)
(b) (c)
Fig. 2 a Leonardo da Vinci, Codex Atlanticus, fol. 899v, with different concepts identified and
numbered. The reciprocal systems represented by Leonardo are redrawn in bh.Continuous lines are
used to represent the working parts of the arrangements, which are clearly drawn and reproducible with
physical models. Unclear potions of Leonardo’s sketches, as well as construction lines are reproduced
with hidden lines. Hatches are then used to identify parts of the structures which were meant to be clad.
Image elaboration: authors. bTranscription of drawings A1 and A2. cTranscription of drawing B1.
dTranscription of drawing B2. eTranscription of drawing B3. fTranscription of drawing C2.
gTranscription of drawing E1. hTranscription of drawing E2
12 A. Pugnale, M. Sassone
beams which are arranged in a reciprocal way. They were clearly conceived not to
be seen as the photograph of the finished ceiling does not refer anyhow to its
reciprocal nature (Fig. 4). The same happens at the home of William Morris,
Kelmscott Manor, where the presence of reciprocal beams in the sub-floor structure
was only revealed during the most recent works of restoration (Insall 1972,2008)
(d)
(e) (f)
Fig. 2 continued
Structural Reciprocity 13
(Fig. 5). A unique example that contradicts such logic can be found at Palazzo
Piccolomini in Pienza. The ceiling of its ‘‘Music room’’ presents a reciprocal
arrangement of timber beams which appears to be purely decorative: such a room is
one of the smallest of the Palazzo, but it is the only one using short-beams to span a
relatively short distance (Fig. 6).
Reciprocity in the East: Interwoven Structures and Symbolism
In Eastern culture, interest in reciprocal structures derives from two separate
concepts. On the one hand, especially in China, the use of interwoven strips of
bamboo for the realization of baskets is an old tradition that has been transferred to
objects of larger scale; the so-called ‘‘Rainbow Bridge’’ in Shandong is the main
example (Baverel 2000; Rizzuto et al. 2002; Di Carlo 2008). On the other hand, the
religious concept of Mandala, with its symbolic ‘magic circle’ shape (Gombrich
1979), has inspired the construction of circular reciprocal roofs in many Buddhist
temples all over Asia. Unfortunately, written documents concerning this practice are
only found after the year 1275, i.e., when Marco Polo arrived in China at the end of
the Song Dynasty.
A few contemporary Asian architects, such as Kazuhiro Ishii (Fig. 7), Yasufumi
Kijima and Yoichi Kan, still take advantage of structural reciprocity for their
constructions (Gutdeutsch 1996; Popovic Larsen 2008,2009).
The Basis of a Scientific Approach
Even though structural reciprocity has not had a linear history, and the evidence of
its use seems to be fragmented, a main point in common in both Western and
Eastern cultures is the use of timber as a construction material. In Europe, this
occurred for functional reasons, with the aim of developing flat configurations. In
(g) (h)
Fig. 2 continued
14 A. Pugnale, M. Sassone
Asia, designers were mainly guided by spiritual considerations in the construction of
3D structures, which recalled symbolic shapes.
In this historical framework, Leonardo da Vinci was the only one in the West to
study the potential of elaborating reciprocal structures as complex 3D geometries
Fig. 3 Wollaton Hall, sub-floor structure survey. This layout shows an irregular pattern of timber short-
beams which was clearly conceived not to be seen. Image: Ed Morton, The Morton Partnership LTD,
London, UK, reproduced by permission
Fig. 4 Wollaton Hall, ceiling. The reciprocal arrangement of sub-floor timber beams is not visible as it
was clearly conceived to solve a construction matter. Photo: Peter Langley, reproduced by permission
Structural Reciprocity 15
Fig. 5 Sub-floor structure of the William Morris house (Kelmscott Manor) during the most recent
renovation works. This reciprocal arrangement of timber beams was clearly due to structural and
construction reasons, as the carpentry was not designed to be exposed. Photo: Donald Insall, reproduced
by permission
Fig. 6 Palazzo Piccolomini, Ceiling of the ‘‘Music room’’. The reciprocal arrangement of timber beams
appears to be purely decorative and designed to be seen. Such a room is one of the smallest of the
Palazzo. However, it is the only one using short-beams to span a relatively short distance. Photo: Il
Cenacolo srl, Rome, reproduced by permission. Image elaboration:authors
16 A. Pugnale, M. Sassone
(Leonardo da Vinci 2000). It was John Wallis who first approached structural
reciprocity scientifically, like a modern research topic (Wallis 1695; Houlsby 2014).
The Years of Patents and Scientific Research
Over the last century, the principle of reciprocity has continued to stimulate the
interest of designers and, for the first time, has become a topic of interest in the field
of scientific research. As shown in ‘‘Appendix 1’, several patents were registered by
different authors between 1924 and 2012. The first was the lamella construction
system by Zollinger with reciprocal joints, which has been described in detail by
Popovic Larsen (2014). A foldable structure by Emilio Perez Pin
˜ero, which
proposed a kinematic roof structure with nodes based on the superimposition of
bars, was then registered in the USA and Canada in 1965 (Figs. 8,9). A detailed
description of this project can be found in the monograph about Pin
˜ero by Escrig
(1993).
The German engineers Erwin Walle and Sigurd Prinz patented a reinforced
concrete ceiling made of prefabricated units hinged together, which curiously
recalls the reciprocal slabs designed by Kahn for the Mill Creek public housing
project in Philadelphia, dated 1952–1953. The patent was filed in 1971 and then
published in three different parts. The building element for the construction of
interlocking grids patented by Gat is also worth mentioning. This was actually the
first work to be also published as an article in a scientific journal (Gat 1978).
3
However, it was the 3D closed circuit of sticks patented by Graham Brown that
Fig. 7 Seiwa Bunraku-Kan, Puppet theatre complex designed by Kazuhiro Ishii. Photo: Kentaro
Tsukuba, reproduced by permission
3
Even though Gat’s system was the first patent also published in a scientific journal, it was not the first
article ever to discuss reciprocity. A paper by Donald Dean about a ‘new’ structural system called
‘Lamella Grid’ had in fact already been published in 1964 (Dean 1964).
Structural Reciprocity 17
definitively inspired and kick-started academic research on structural reciprocity.
Brown established contact with the University of Nottingham, with the intention of
increasing his understanding of the mechanical behaviour of such a system, which
he called ‘‘Reciprocal Frame’’. This led John Chilton’s group to make several
publications during the 1990s (Chilton and Choo 1992,1994; Choo et al. 1994;
Chilton et al. Chilton 1995a,b), including the Ph.D. thesis by (Popovic 1996), which
has recently been revised and printed as a book (Popovic Larsen 2008). A complete
list of patents involving structural reciprocity is given in ‘‘Appendix 1’’.
Fig. 8 Emilio Perez Pin
˜ero’s
patent. Detail of the node
Images: United States Patent and
Trademark Office, reproduced
by permission
Fig. 9 Emilio Perez Pin
˜ero’s patent. Superimposition of bars allows and controls the kinematic
movement of the assembly Images: United States Patent and Trademark Office, reproduced by permission
18 A. Pugnale, M. Sassone
Even though John Chilton’s group was the first to use the term ‘Reciprocal
Frame’ in a scientific paper (it is here that a definition of the concept of closed
circuits of elements is found), other names by other academics and research groups
also exist (see ‘Appendix 2’ for further details). Such terminological heterogeneity
creates a certain level of confusion that has been avoided, in this text, by adopting
the most logical and generic term ‘structural reciprocity’, or simply ‘reciprocity’.
Structural reciprocity is a very extensive research topic, and has been approached
from very different points of view. Looking at the current publications, at least
fourteen different sub-topics can be defined: (1) morphology and geometry of
reciprocal spatial structures, including (2) polyhedrical configurations; (3) form-
finding and morphogenesis of such structures with computational tools, recently
also combined with (4) the rapid prototyping of timber elements; (5) the design of
joints and connections; (6) analysis of the structural behaviour; (7) the study of the
kinematic potential; (8) investigations on materials and sections for construction; (9)
the use of planar panels; (10) discussion/criticisms of projects and prototypes; (11)
teaching structural reciprocity; (12) history of reciprocal structures; (13) art and
sculpture, (14) reciprocal structures based on Leonardo’s grids. ‘‘Appendix 3’ lists
the main research works published in each category.
Reciprocity in Contemporary Architecture, Art and Industrial Design
Considering the works of architecture realized over the last century, we find several
unrelated examples that have implemented structural reciprocity. Long spaces were
spanned with short beams in the Mill Creek Public Housing project, designed by
Louis Kahn in 1952–1953, but also in the Berlin Philarmonie by Hans Scharoun,
which was built in 1960–1963, and in a salt storage building in Lausanne, built by
Atelier Gamme Architecture in 1989 (Natterer et al. 1991). In order to introduce
spiritual philosophies into shapes, reciprocity was used in the Casa Negre by Josep
Maria Jujol in 1915–1926, (Fig. 10) (Ligtelijn and Saariste 1996), as well as in all
the structures by Graham Brown and the Japanese constructions mentioned earlier.
Some experimental pavilions, with the Arup Group’s Advanced Geometry Unit
group as the engineering consultant, have also been constructed: the Forest Park by
Shigeru Ban (McQuaid 2003), the H-edge pavilion by Cecil Balmond, realized with
the students at Penn University (Balmond 2007), and the Serpentine Gallery 2005
by A
´lvaro Siza (Sakamoto et al. 2008). These examples clearly illustrate that the
architectural potential of structural reciprocity still needs to be explored—the use of
different materials, as well as the definition of element sections and joints, are some
of the possible research/design issues of the next few years.
In the field of industrial design, Pino Pizzigoni realized reciprocal chairs and
tables made of timber and marble elements. Two examples can be seen in Figs. 11
and 12 (Pizzigoni Archive: PIZ N, 1948; Pizzigoni 1982; Deregibus and Pugnale
2010). Shifting to art, the sculptor George Hart used reciprocity to create simple
geodesic domes. Rinus Roelofs, instead, focused on complex three-dimensional
sculptures based on Leonardo’s grids (Roelofs 2005,2008). Some of his projects are
actually impracticable and are therefore just rendered as drawings or prototyped
though 3D printing techniques.
Structural Reciprocity 19
Characteristics and Interesting Aspects
The term ‘reciprocity’ comes from the Latin reciprocus, a composite of recus,
backwards, and procus, forwards. The etymological significance of reciprocity is
therefore that of ‘back and forth’, evoking an exchange for mutual benefit. In the
world of construction, situations in which structural systems imply an exchange of
actions is frequent—the voussoirs of an arch, for instance, achieve equilibrium
through mutual action/reaction. However, reciprocity differs from mutuality
because a transitive relation between at least two elements occurs only if such a
relation is perfectly symmetric.
The concept of structural reciprocity therefore refers to a specific subset of
structures, which are characterized by two main properties.
First, in each and every element the functions of supporting and being supported
by other elements must be separated instead of being overlapped. For instance, in
simply supported beams constraints are placed at the extremities and loads act at the
midpoints—the functions correspond to different position on the element and no
inversion is possible. In contrast, constraints and loads both occur at the ends of
truss bars—so the functions overlap here and the definition of supporting and
supported ends becomes merely conventional. This first property also implies that
only beams and two-dimensional elements can form a reciprocal structure. The
forces are transferred through bending and shear with beams, both in-plane or out-
of-plane for 2D components.
Second, each and every element must be supported by the other one it supports.
As stated above, a perfectly symmetric relationship is needed to distinguish a
reciprocal structure from a simply mutual one.
Fig. 10 Casa Negre, by Josep Maria Jujol. One of the few European examples of a reciprocal structure
conceived for aesthetical purposes. Photo: Jaime Segura, reproduced by permission
20 A. Pugnale, M. Sassone
An example will be helpful here. Let us consider the beam arrangements shown in
Fig. 13. In Fig. 13a, each beam B is simultaneously supported by and supporting other
beams, while beam A directly takes the load and the beams C rest on the ground. This
system is not reciprocal because the supporters and those being supported are not the
same: beams B are supported by beams C, while they sustain, instead, beam A. In
Fig. 11 Chair for a Pedrini
collection, designed by Pino
Pizzigoni, 1948. Photo:
Pizzigoni Archive, PIZ N, card
3. Scanned by Carlo Deregibus
and Alberto Pugnale,
reproduced by permission
Fig. 12 Table prototype
designed by Pino Pizzigoni,
1948. Photo: Pizzigoni Archive,
PIZ N, card 4. Scanned by Carlo
Deregibus and Alberto Pugnale,
reproduced by permission
Structural Reciprocity 21
Fig. 13b, beam B is supported by beam A and supports beam C, while beam A is
supported by beam D, which is also supporting beam C. Such circularity allows us to
state that beam B is, at the same time, supported by and supporting beam A. This is also
visible from the actual arrangement, which does not organize the elements in a
sequence, but rather it forms a ‘loop’. In sequential systems, the positions and roles of
NON-RECIPROCAL RECIPROCAL
B
A
C
B
C
C
C
B
C
DA
A B CA B C D A
Fig. 13 The relationship between elements in mutual and reciprocal structures: aleft antisymmetric,
which can be found in the Sindone chapel by Guarini; bright symmetric, which corresponds to the
arrangement of the Puppet Theatre by Ishii (see Fig. 7). The drawings are schematic and not to scale.
Images: authors
S<0
N<0N>0
S>0
Fig. 14 Circularity of force flows in a reciprocal beam. Image: authors
22 A. Pugnale, M. Sassone
the members are related, while in loops the concepts of beginning and end do not exist,
and the positions of the elements are totally interchangeable.
4
Force Flows
Loops are not only related to the geometrical configurations, but are also
intrinsically present in the equilibrated force flows. This can demonstrated in the
simplest reciprocal system, i.e., the beam made of two aligned elements as shown in
Fig. 14. Let us assume that the structure is subject to a load condition of two forces
directed downward. A circular flow can be verified by following how shear (S) and
axial (N) forces act in the different parts of the system.
The same circularity occurs in the configuration shown in Fig. 15 (or in
Fig. 13b). Let us assume a generic load condition applied downward. The four
vertical links only transfer compression, while the inner parts of the elements
transmit shear with the same sign. This produces a circular force flow, or loop.
Neither force values nor the application points affect the presence of a force loop
in any of the examples mentioned above. However, the distribution of external loads
is closely related to it. The scheme shown in Fig. 16 demonstrates that at least one
exception exists, and that exception implies an antisymmetric load condition.
Reciprocity vs. Hierarchy
According to the second property mentioned above, each and every element of a
reciprocal structure must be simultaneously supported by and supporting other
components. It must generate, with the repetition of such a scheme, a pattern in
which all the members of the system play the same role, without differences in
terms of structural behaviour. This situation is clearly in contrast to that of other
structures in which the elements have distinct functions depending on their
respective positions and relationships. The difference between reciprocity and
hierarchy is exemplified by the schemes shown in Fig. 13.
In reciprocal structures, an intuitive understanding of the structural behaviour is
intrinsically lost. This was already clear in the seventeenth century, when, for the first
time, John Wallis attempted to calculate reciprocal grillages by following the load
paths within the structure in order to evaluate the internal forces acting in each element
(Wallis 1695; Houlsby 2014). However, the choice of a specific path (i.e., the sequence
of elements to use to compute the internal reactions) was totally arbitrary. Recent
research by (Kohlhammer and Kotnik 2011) also seems to confirm this.
Reciprocal structures have an intrinsic generative property, which can be
considered more as a reproduction of elementary/minimum patterns, or fans, rather
than instantiations of higher level abstract schemes. The absence of hierarchy
affects the architectural as well as the structural design of such systems. In the
4
Vito Bertin proposes an alternative description of how structural reciprocity works mechanically. He
states that a reciprocal configuration should present three characteristics: (1) a set of levers that form a
static system, (2) a set of elements that mutually support each other and (3) self-connected components,
i.e. which behave at the same time as elements, nodes and connectors. Visit Vito Bertin’s website for
further details: www.vitobertin.hk.
Structural Reciprocity 23
Western culture in particular, the presence of a hierarchical logic in composition has
always been an integral part of the building experience. Furthermore, many aspects
of the mechanical behaviour of a structure, such as redundancy and robustness, are
also related to hierarchy.
Form-Finding/Morphogenesis Techniques and Design Approaches
The form-finding of 2D and 3D configurations of reciprocal structures, as well as of
those based on regular polyhedra, can be performed through different computational
techniques. Illustrative case studies have been provided by Baverel (2004), Popovic
Larsen (2008) and Stacchetti (2005).
At present, three main families of such techniques can be identified. The first is
known as ‘iterative additions’. Starting from the basic configurations of three or four
elements, these techniques work by adding sets of new bars to the elementary frame
(Proll et al. 2010). The second is related to the use of optimization strategies, such as
genetic algorithms (Baverel et al. 2004) or relaxation (Douthe and Baverel 2009).
Such techniques find the frame geometry (the solution) by iteratively reducing a
measured value of the geometrical errors (the fitness function) from a set of non-
compatible configurations (the tentative solutions). The third models the behaviour
of kinematically undetermined configurations in order to define their final shapes.
However, in architecture, the use of physical models is probably still the most
diffused way of exploring reciprocal configurations, as designers can intrinsically
S>0 S>0
S>0
S>0
N<0
N<0
N<0
N<0
Fig. 15 Circularity of force
flows in a reciprocal grillage.
Image: authors
S<0
N>0N>0
S<0
Fig. 16 Two directional force flows in a reciprocal beam under an antisymmetric load condition. Image:
authors
24 A. Pugnale, M. Sassone
take advantage of the characteristics of reciprocity. With the aid of computation,
instead, a design process can only start from an over-arching reference geometry/
shape, a forced ‘top-down’ approach in which reciprocity does not inspire the
project but is just adapted to it.
In addition to these problems of structural and geometrical form-finding, a new set of
questions and fields of experimentation are emerging from the development of digital
fabrication techniques, mostly because the new way in which the components are
produced automatically requires a different approach to their design (Proll et al. 2010).
The Use of Timber: Members and Joints
In reciprocal systems made of elongated members, all the elements are beams
generally joined by simple overlapping. This naturally relates them to timber
construction, in which high flexural strength members are usually available, while
the realization of joints is a complex problem. Furthermore, working with raw
timbers without the need of iron keys or complex connections made reciprocal
construction fast and reliable, as shown by the application to military bridges, such
as the one described by Caesar (Gros and Beltramini 2003).
The idea of joining members by overlapping has also a conceptual relevance: the
overlaps do not require any specific device, such as bolts and pins which are made
of timber or steel, but they influence the shape and the organization of the whole
structure. The curvature of a reciprocal bridge made of raw timbers is ruled by the
size of the timbers themselves and by the position of overlaps. Hence, there is an
intrinsic relationship between members and joints (joints are in fact parts of the
members) and the design and detailing is an integral part of the whole conception. In
terms of mechanical behaviour, such as for the number of degrees of freedom, the
effect of friction and of local deformability, and displacement capability, joints
directly contribute to define the global behaviour of the structure.
Let us compare reciprocal structures in wood with the current industrial detailing
of timber structures, such as glulam. Glulam structures generally present connec-
tions based on the use of additional steel devices, plates, clamps or pins, which are
bolted to timber. Even though they are efficient in terms of constructability and
structural behaviour, steel joints do not appear to belong to the base material (see
Fig. 17). The conceptual and tectonic distance between the two materials is even
more emphasized when the timber members are replaced by composite or even
cardboard pipes, such as in the projects by Shigeru Ban (McQuaid 2003), and there
are no significant changes in the steel joint system (see Fig. 18).
Static and Kinematical Determination
According to the first property of reciprocity mentioned above, the supported
elements of reciprocal systems cannot come into contact with their supports at the
vertices. This allows the constraint between the supporting and supported members
to be defined in an extensive manner: sliding hinges and prismatic joints become
possible substitutes of rotation hinges, and this offers unique kinematic properties to
the obtained configurations, which are difficult to predict intuitively.
Structural Reciprocity 25
Preliminary research, carried out through the analysis of the kinematic matrix,
has shown how different constraint patterns can lead to unexpected kinematic
behaviour (Parigi et al. 2009; Parigi 2011; Parigi and Sassone 2011a). Recent
developments have proposed a kinetic system based on the concept of reciprocity,
which is called kinetic reciprocal system (KRS). Through a morphogenetic
procedure, suitable Kinetic Reciprocal Frames are generated with assigned overall
behaviour; the process starts from sets of kinematic parameters that create complex
Fig. 17 Scottish Parliament
designed by EMBT, detail of the
chamber roof structure. Photo:
Yeh-Lun Chou, reproduced by
permission
Fig. 18 Paper tower at the London Design Festival 09, designed by Shigeru Ban. Photo: Tom Parkin,
reproduced by permission
26 A. Pugnale, M. Sassone
geometries of intersecting curves and lines, and which cannot be predicted directly
from the input data (Parigi 2011; Parigi and Sassone 2011b). The latest results of
such a research activity led to the development of a form-finding tool which is
called the ‘Reciprocalizer’ (Parigi and Kirkegaard 2014; Parigi et al. 2012,2014).
Other conceptually similar research is found in Goto et al. (2011) and Kidokoro and
Goto (2011).
Use of Planar Elements
When a reciprocal system is designed with elongated elements (i.e., with a set of
components that behave like beams) design efforts are mainly focused on three
aspects: (1) the definition of the elementary fans that have to be assembled, (2) the
study of their composition possibilities and (3) the selection of the jointing systems.
However, as suggested by the rare natural example of the cocolith, planar
components of different shapes can also be used to transfer forces in a reciprocal
way. The cocolith features circular tiles, but also squares, triangles and more
articulated, or irregular, geometries could also be considered.
In order to guide future morphological research activities, we have distinguished
five main categories of reciprocal configurations based on planar components. The
first type uses planar elements as ‘thick’ elongated elements. This category includes
all those reciprocal structures in which the planar elements are approached in the
same way as elongated ones. For instance, Werner Blaser designed tables and chairs
made of fans, in which planar timber panels were reciprocally interlocked. A few
buildings have also been designed with thick linear elements; the Serpentine Gallery
2005 by A
´lvaro Siza and Cecil Balmond is probably the most relevant of all. A
second category considers planar elements as groups of elongated elements. This
includes all those reciprocal structures in which the planar elements can be
substituted by fans made of sticks. A simple example is that of triangular tiles that
replace fans of three linear elements each. The tiles can have three different
engagement lengths, whereas only two are possible for elongated elements. A third
family includes all those configurations in which the planar elements are part of a
truss. A forth category groups the reciprocal systems in which the members can
transmit bending moment via the notches, but are assembled differently than in the
previous three categories. The fifth and last category collects all the possible
remaining configurations (Baverel and Pugnale 2012,2013).
Conclusions
The research and experiments on reciprocal structures currently underway are the
heirs of an ancient tradition in both the East and West. We hope that the attempt at
synthesis of the state of the art (definition, terminology, methodologies of form-
finding and analysis) will allow those engaged in such research to view and present
their efforts in terms of a broad context, overcoming the fragmentation that has
prevented reciprocal structures from receiving the attention they deserve, and
fostering a fruitful exchange of information, resources and results.
Structural Reciprocity 27
Appendix 1
See Table 1.
Table 1 List of patents involving the principle of structural reciprocity, arranged according to the release
date
Author Title Patent No. Date issued Country
Friedrich Zollinger Means of manufacturing space-
covering structures such as
roofs, frame walls, and the
like
US 1483037 A 5 February 1924
(filed in 1922)
The USA
Emilio Pe
´rez
Pin
˜ero
Folding three-dimensional
reticular structure
CA 707069 6 April 1965
(no filing date)
Canada
Emilio Pe
´rez
Pin
˜ero
Three dimensional reticular
structure
3185164 25 May 1965
(filed in 1961)
USA
Guy Monteilhet Nouvelle structure pour la
couverture des ba
ˆtiments
FR 1560454 21 March 1969
(filed in 1968)
France
Erwin Walle,
Sigurd Prinz
Vorrichtung und Verfahren zur
Herstellung ebener
Fla
¨chentragwerke aus
vorgefertigten Einzelteilen
DE 2152580 A 3 May 1973
(filed in 1971)
Germany
Wilhelm Johannes
Silberkuhl
Tragwerk fu
¨rHa
¨user, Hallen
und a
¨hnliche Bauwerke
LU 72572 A1 9 May 1975
(filed in 1975)
Luxembourg
Wilhelm Johannes
Silberkuhl
Draagconstructie voor huizen,
hallen, en dergelijke
bouwwerken
NL 7507054 A 13 June 1975
(filed in 1975)
The
Netherlands
Erwin Walle,
Sigurd Prinz
Reinforced-concrete ceiling
carrier-grid beams as
prefabricated units hinged
together with zones covered
by prefabricated slabs
DE 2152580 B2 17 July 1975
(filed in 1971)
Germany
Wilhelm Johannes
Silberkuhl
Charpente pour maisons, halles
et e
´difices analogues
BE 835087 A1 16 February 1976
(filed in 1975)
Belgium
Wilhelm Johannes
Silberkuhl
Perfeccionamientos relativos a
estructuras de soporte para
casas, cobertizos y edificios
similares
ES 438831 A1 17 September
1976 (filed in
1975)
Spain
Wilhelm Johannes
Silberkuhl
Tragwerk fu
¨rHa
¨user, Hallen
und a
¨hnliche Bauwerke
DE 2514036 A1 30 September
1976 (filed in
1975)
Germany
Wilhelm Johannes
Silberkuhl
Charpente pour maisons, halles
et e
´difices analogues
FR 2306309 A1 29 October 1976
(filed in 1975)
France
Erwin Walle,
Sigurd Prinz
Suhlbetondecke mit als
Plattenbalken wirkenden
Tra
¨gerrostbalken
DE 2152580 C3 27 June 1977
(filed in 1971)
Germany
Anthonius
Henrikus
Johannus Maria
Bijnen
Een Geodetiese
Knoopkonstruktie
NL 7603046 A 27 September
1977 (filed in
1976)
The
Netherlands
Wilhelm Johannes
Silberkuhl
Tragwerk fu
¨r Bauwerke,
insbesondere Ha
¨user oder
Hallen
CH 594114 A5 30 December
1977 (filed in
1975)
Switzerland
28 A. Pugnale, M. Sassone
Appendix 2
See Table 2.
Table 1 continued
Author Title Patent No. Date issued Country
Melvin Crooks Building construction of
A-shaped elements
4182086 8 January 1980
(filed in 1978)
The USA
Daniel Gat
(Technion
Research and
Development
foundation Ltd)
A building Element for
construction of interlocking
grids
IL 55404 A 27 February 1981
(filed in 1978)
Israel
Graham Brown Three-dimensional structures WO 89/08172 8 September
1989
International
Graham Brown Three-dimensional structures GB 2235479 A 6 March 1991
(filed 1989)
The United
Kingdom
Graham Brown Three-dimensional structures CA 1320812 C 3 August 1993
(filed in 1989)
Canada
Christopher Allen,
Roderick Robbie
Stadium building US 5351449 A 4 October 1994
(filed in 1993)
The USA
Richard Dick
Fischbeck
Geodesic structure US 7389612 B1 24 June 2008
(filed in 2001)
The USA
Timothy William
Gerald Baddeley
Improvements relating to roof
truss structures (A bracket for
connecting roof joists in a
reciprocal frame)
GB 2483263 A 7
t
March 2012
(filed in 2010)
The United
Kingdom
Table 2 List of terms used in scientific literature to indicate structural reciprocity or those somehow
related to such a principle, sorted according to publication date (historical books, treatises, projects and
patents are not included)
Term and related terms Variants and related
terms
First use in
academic
context
Notes
Lamella beams 1D circular arrays of
lamella beams,
lamella beams in a
circular pattern
Dean et al.
(1964)
In 1997, Dean (1997)
published an article on
lamella beams arranged
in circular patterns
explicitly referring to the
RF studied in
Nottingham by Chilton
et al.
Selfsupporting interlocking grids
for multiple applications
(SIGMA)
Selfsupporting
interlocking grids
Gat at (1978) Coined by Daniel Gat at
the suggestion of A. Ben-
Arroyo, his colleague at
Technion, Israel Institute
of Technology
Structural Reciprocity 29
Table 2 continued
Term and related terms Variants and related
terms
First use in
academic
context
Notes
Mandala-Dach Mandala roof Chilton and
Choo
(1992)
Probably coined by
Graham Brown, together
with a German
colleague, and first cited
by Chilton and Choo in
1992. Later cited by
Olga Popovic Larsen and
Roland Schumacher
Reciprocal frame (RF) Reciprocal structure,
reciprocal system
Chilton and
Choo
(1992)
Coined by Graham Brown,
even though the term is
not used in the
descriptive text of his
patents
Serlio floor Serlio’s device,
Serlio’s prototype
Yeomans
(1997)
Used only by David
Yeomans in his article
Multi-reciprocal grid (MRG) Saidani et al.
(1998)
Proposed by John Chilton
to Olivier Baverel when
he showed him his early
research on reciprocal
structures
Nexorade Nexor, fan Baverel
(2000),
Baverel
et al. (2000)
Coined by Hoshyar
Nooshin to identify the
structures studied by
Olivier Baverel after he
moved to the University
of Surrey
Leverworks Mutually supported
stick structures,
lever beam
structures,
hebelstabwerke,
hebelwerke
Bertin and
Lonnman
(2001)
Coined by Vito Bertin to
explain his research on
reciprocal systems. Such
a name emphasizes the
lever principle involved
in structural reciprocity
Multi-reciprocal element (MRE) Rizzuto et al.
(2001a)
Used by Joe Rizzuto to
differentiate his research
from that on MRG
published by Messaoud
Saidani and colleagues
Mutually supported element
(MSE)
Reciprocally
supported elements
Rizzuto and
Chilton
(2003)
Used by Joe Rizzuto in an
attempt to generalize the
principle of reciprocity
Leonardo’s lattice Leonardo grid Roelofs
(2005)
First coined by Rinus
Roelofs. Also Used by
Duvernoy (2008) and
other authors in the
special issue of the
Nexus Network Journal
on Leonardo’s reciprocal
systems
Selfsupporting framework Proll et al.
(2010)
Only used by Mischa Proll
and Andreas Gu
¨nther in
their thesis and related
publications
30 A. Pugnale, M. Sassone
Appendix 3
See Table 3.
Table 3 The main publications on reciprocity, classified according to the topic
Topic Publication
Morphology and geometry Baverel and Saidani (1999), Baverel et al. (2000,2006), Baverel
and Popovic (2011), Se
´ne
´chal et al. (2011)
Polyhedrical reciprocal structures Rizzuto et al. (2001b), Baverel (2007), Rizzuto and Hulse (2007),
Di Carlo (2008), Rizzuto (2009)
Form-finding and morphogenesis
with computational tools
Baverel et al. (2004), Douthe and Baverel (2009), Brocato and
Morandini (2010), Goto et al. (2011), Parigi and Kirkegaard
(2012), Parigi et al. (2012), Parigi et al. (2014), Peng et al.
(2013)
Rapid prototyping Parigi and Kirkegaard (2014), Gu
¨nther and Proll (2013), Song-
Ching Tai (2012)
Joints and connections Rizzuto et al. (2001a), Rizzuto and Popovic Larsen (2010)
Structural behaviour Brocato (2011), Douthe and Baverel (2014), Gelez et al. (2011),
Kohlhammer and Kotnik (2011), Saidani and Rizzuto (2004),
Sa
´nchez and Escrig (2011)
Kinematic/adaptive reciprocal
structures
Parigi et al. (2009), Sassone and Parigi (2010), Goto et al. (2011),
Kidokoro and Goto (2011), Parigi (2011), Parigi and Sassone
(2011a,b), Parigi and Kirkegaard (2012), Parigi et al. (2012)
Materials Pizzigoni (2009), Brocato and Morandini (2010)
Use of planar panels Blaser (1992), Baverel and Pugnale (2012,2013)
Table 2 continued
Term and related terms Variants and related
terms
First use in
academic
context
Notes
Lamella flock Tamke and
Jungjohann
(2010)
Used as the title of a
research project by
CITA, based in
Copenhagen, in which
free-form lamella
structures, inspired by
Zollinger’s work, have
been studied
Interlocking frame Song-Ching
Tai (2012)
Used by Alan Song-Ching
Tai to identify short
members that span
across large surfaces and
lock to each other with
simple notches.
Reciprocal Frames are
considered as a structural
sub-family of IFs, which
are not necessarily
reciprocal
Structural Reciprocity 31
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Alberto Pugnale is a lecturer in Architectural design at the University of Melbourne, Australia. In 2007,
he won the fifth edition of the IASS HANGAI Prize, related to the study of complex architectural/
structural bodies. He has been a assistant professor at Aalborg University, Denmark (2010–2012), and an
invited lecturer in France and Italy. At present, he is member of the International Association for Shell
and Spatial Structures (IASS) and is a licensed architect in Europe. His research interests are in the
computational morphogenesis of free-form structures, reciprocal structures and history of construction.
Mario Sassone Ph.D. and Assistant Professor at Politecnico di Torino, is member of the 209 Committee
of American Concrete Institute and of the International Association of Spatial and Shell Structures
(IASS). His research field mainly concerns the computational analysis of time dependent effects
behaviour in concrete and steel concrete composite structures, and the structural and architectural
optimization of RC shells by means of artificial intelligence techniques. He is currently working on
bridging the gap between architectural issues and computational approaches to structural and physical
problems. Several members of his research group have been awarded with the IASS HANGAI prize.
Structural Reciprocity 35
... RFs are characterized by (1) their structural elements (nexors) and (2) the link between them. Nexors can be as simple as wood sticks or made of metal profiles or sawn timber, typically with circular, square or rectangular cross sections. ...
... Previous research conducted on the topic allowed us to gain a better understanding of RFs and their different types of connections. RF origins and development through history is presented by [1], while a critical overview has been conducted by [2]. Castriotto, Celani and Tavares [3] identified critical issues for the development of RF structures that still need to be addressed. ...
... According to Gustafsson, contractible clamps work by "increasing the friction grip to transfer load" (p.18), at the same time that they do not damage or reduce the bars cross section properties [2]. However, the type of clamp used by Gustafsson [7] (Fig. 1) only works for planar surfaces. ...
Article
Reciprocal frames (RFs) are complex structural systems based on mutual support between elements. One of the main challenges for these structures is achieving geometrical complexity with ease for assembly. This paper describes the development of a new type of connection for RF that uses a single bolt to fix a whole fan. The method used was the Research Through Design, using algorithmic modelling and virtual and physical prototyping. After the exploration of different alternatives, the connection selected was structurally evaluated with a 3D solid finite element analysis (FEM) software and a 2D bar parametric model. Finally, a full-scale pavilion was built as a proof-of-concept. A total of 47 connections were fabricated using four 3D-printed templates combined with a hand router. The construction allowed us to draw conclusions on the connection design and the assembly method, and the process as a whole can contribute to the development of new structural links and production methods.
... Structural reciprocity (SR) is a concept of self-supporting of load-bearing bars that together form larger mechanical resistant structures [1]. Dating back to the Neolithic, SR was found from native tepees and tents to old bridges like the one over the Rhine that was built in the Roman Empire by Julius Caesar. ...
... Commonly seen in Toors or roofs, SR is also present in art, religious symbols, and decorative objects. Although SR involves a mutual exchange of action and reaction between parts of the whole structure, it is also known to rely on a perfect symmetric relationship between them [1]. From now on, any structure having SR will be called a "reciprocal structure" and will be referred to as "RS". ...
... We also tested another possibility to obtain thermally stable RSs. As some of the RSs studied in the literature have "notches" [1,3], we generated a kind of "notch" by hydrogenating the regions around the contact regions between the graphene nanoribbons. Examples for 3-and 4-fold structures are shown in Fig. 3. Results for MD simulations of these RSs are shown in Fig. 7. ...
Article
A reciprocal structure (RS) is a mechanical resistant structure formed by a set of self-supporting elements satisfying certain conditions of structural reciprocity (SR). The first condition is that each element of the structure has to support and be supported by the others. The second condition is that these functions cannot occur in the same part of the element. These two properties make beams and two-dimensional materials very much appropriate to build RSs. Commonly seen in floors or roofs, SR is also present in art, religious symbols, and decorative objects. Da Vinci has drawn several examples of such RSs. Here, thermal stability and mechanical resistance against impacts of simple nano versions of da Vinci’s RSs based on graphene nanoribbons, were investigated through fully atomistic molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. We considered structures with three and four joins with and without RS topologies. Our MD results showed that 3-fold RSs are not thermally stable and that the 4-fold RSs can become thermally stable as long as the graphene nanoribbons have their external extremities fixed and either are not lengthy or have a kind of notch at the nanoribbons junctions. For these thermally stable structures, our results show that those with RS topologies are more impact resistant than those without SR, despite the fact that the used graphene nanoribbons are highly pliable. We discuss these results in terms of the number of joins, energy absorption, and stress on the structures. We discuss possible applications in nanoengineering.
... As ERs são datadas do período Neolítico, em cabanas primitivas (LARSEN, 2008) e também foram observadas durante o Império Romano, em uma ponte sobre o Rio Reno (LARSEN, 2014;SASSONE, 2014). No século XII elas foram encontradas na arquitetura oriental, em coberturas conhecidas como "mandala roofs" e no século XIII surgiram as primeiras ERs na Europa, projetadas por Villard de Honnecourt. ...
... No século XII elas foram encontradas na arquitetura oriental, em coberturas conhecidas como "mandala roofs" e no século XIII surgiram as primeiras ERs na Europa, projetadas por Villard de Honnecourt. No início do século XVI Leonardo da Vinci desenvolveu esquemas para construções de pontes (Figura 1) com esse sistema estrutural, enquanto Sebastiano Serlio explicitou a possibilidade de se obter vãos maiores com a utilização de ERs (KOHLHAMMER; KOTNIK, 2011;SASSONE, 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
Estruturas recíprocas (ERs) são datadas do período neolítico, produzidas originalmente em madeira e compostas por elementos de dimensões reduzidas. Trata-se de um sistema estrutural que apresenta a capacidade de se adaptar a formas livres, complexas e com grande potencial estético, como indicado por diversas pesquisas contemporâneas. No entanto, acredita-se que essas estruturas poderiam fazer melhor uso das tecnologias digitais disponíveis de projeto, análises, fabricação e montagem. Este artigo tem o objetivo de identificar as atuais lacunas em que se pode concentrar esforços de pesquisa no sentido de tornar a tecnologia das ERs mais viável. Foi feita uma revisão sistemática da literatura (RSL) em sete bases de dados diferentes. Encontrou-se um total de 180 artigos, dos quais 49 foram selecionados para análise. Dentre eles, 27 identificaram lacunas existentes, que foram compiladas em cinco categorias: (a) dificuldades na concepção geométrica/estrutural; (b) necessidade de aprimoramento de ferramentas digitais; (c) dificuldade no projeto, análise, fabricação e montagem de conexões; (d) dificuldade de compreensão da real contribuição dos protótipos para aplicações em grande escala; e (e) necessidade de incorporar o processo de montagem no projeto de ERs. Foi possível concluir que o desenvolvimento de novos mecanismos de análise estrutural aliados à criação de novos detalhes construtivos pode contribuir para a expansão do uso das ERs.
... The reciprocal frame structure was rediscovered and renamed by Graham Brown in 1987. Various studies have been conducted on such structures over the last three decades (Larsen 1996(Larsen , 2008(Larsen , 2009Douthe and Baverel 2009;Pizzigoni 2010;Larsen and Lee 2013;Pugnale and Sassone 2014;Anastas et al. 2016;Brancart et al. 2017;Gherardini and Leali 2017;Torghabehi 2018;Ramos-Jaime and Sánchez-Sánchez 2020;Pérez-Valcárcel et al. 2021;Hughes et al. 2021), and different terms have been used for this type of structure, such as mutually supporting beams [G. Brown, "Three-dimensional structures," UK Patent No. GB2235479B (1989)], nexorades (Baverel 2000), lever-beam structures (Bertin 2002), and mutually supported element systems (Rizzuto 2007). ...
Article
Consisting of linear elements, reciprocal frame structures are three-dimensional (3D) self-supported structures that can be rapidly assembled. This feature renders them suitable for both temporary and permanent uses. Considered as a type of deployable frame, such structures can be used in architectural and engineering applications. As a subset of reciprocal frame structures, rotegrity structures can be advantageous, owing to their structural form. In this work, a spherical rotegrity structure is constructed on a geodesic sphere through its transformation to a reciprocal structure with mutually supporting elements. Instead of the bolted connections commonly used in practice, a notched connection is proposed to facilitate the construction process of the self-supporting rotegrity structure. The parametric modeling of the rotegrity structure is created in Grasshopper, and two prototypes, having circular and rectangular cross sections, are built. In each prototype, two sets of elements, called Type A and Type B, are used, the linear member lengths and cross sections of which are identical. The cross sections of the members of the two prototypes are different. To assemble the prototypes, first, a number of elements are fabricated through 3D printing and tested in terms of their self-supporting capabilities and connections. Then, stainless steel pipes and wooden bars are used for Prototypes I and II, respectively. It is found that Prototype I, composed of circular hollow section profiles, is unstable, owing to the rotation of elements and because it requires the use of stabilizers. Conversely, Prototype II, which consists of rectangular cross-section elements, becomes stable when the last element is installed in the right place and did not require any additional attachment.
... A fan of RF structures as a basic static reciprocal unit (Asefi 2010;Wallis 1972;Anon 1956;Bowie 1959), as well as composed of multiple units as multireciprocal grid structures (Serlio 1970;Kohlhammer and Kotnik 2010;Douthe and Baverel 2014;Su et al. 2019), has a long history. The basic principles of RF structures have always been used worldwide throughout history, especially in the design of planar structures (Pugnale and Sassone 2014;Rizzuto et al. 2002;Rizzuto and Popovic Larsen 2010;Popovic Larsen 2007, 2014 to cover regular and irregular geometric surfaces without any interior columns (Asefi and Bahremandi-Tolou 2019). RF is a structure composed of bearing and supporting elements that mutually support each other (Anastas et al. 2016); it is used for both the roof and the floor (Popovic Larsen et al. 1996Chilton et al. 1995) in a variety of exhibitions and permanent or temporary protective structures with variable configuration (Asefi and Bahremandi-Tolou 2021). ...
Article
The use of timber allows reducing the environmental impact in the construction sector. However, as the demand for construction timber rises, the pressure on the world’s forest is increasing too. To maintain an adequate supply of timber from sustainable forests in the coming decades, the building industry must adopt practices that reduce the impact on forestry. Reuse is one of the principles of Circular Economy (CE). Among the technical challenges of reuse are the variability and the short size of the stock of elements coming either from demolition or from new construction, such as cut-offs and temporary scaffolding. This work presents a study for the design of structural configurations with short and non-regular sized elements that would normally be considered waste. The configurations are based on the principle of structural reciprocity and are generated by an optimization algorithm that allows minimizing the material waste and maximizing the stock elements use. A computational strategy based on the SPEA-II multi-objective method is employed for the investigation of optimal trade-offs between competing objective functions, such as structural lightness and optimal use of stock inventory. The goal of this work is demonstrating the feasibility of an industrial process, borrowing key elements from the Industry 4.0 paradigm, for a streamlined and economical production of standardized building components using non-standard reclaimed elements.
Article
Building with raw timber allows to reduce the price of construction and to make it more competitive with respect to concrete or steel construction. For a few years now, the combination of parametric design and robotic tools make possible the fast and precise milling of timber logs for their accurate connection. However, the spans are quickly limited by the logs length. In this context, reciprocal structures are relevant, since they allow to build large spans structures with short beams. Finally, the architectural interest of reciprocal structures is not to prove. However, the choice of the most efficient reciprocal frame, as well as its structural relevance in terms of mass and stiffness is, most of the time, ruled by subjective considerations. This paper focuses on rectangular floors composed of reciprocal moduli and has three objectives: (1) to develop a general mass and stiffness optimization method for reciprocal floors, which is not only necessary to limit the price, but also to reduce their thickness, (2) to define design rules for reciprocal floors, in particular for the choice of the best engagement ratio, and (3) to compare the structural efficiency of reciprocal floors with the one of “traditional” floors with parallel logs. Coming from a dimensionless transformation of the equilibrium equations, the results of this article will thus give the designers keys to better design reciprocal structures, evaluate their structural performances and relevance, and justify their choices.
Article
Full-text available
Barrel vaults are one of the most widely used forms in Persian architecture. While they are mainly built with heavy and compressive materials such as brick, today’s advances in construction techniques has led the architectural industry to utilize lightweight structural systems including reciprocal frame structures (RF). The purpose of this paper is to generate a barrel vault form using RFs through a revival of historical Persian ornamental and geometric patterns known as girih. This research was carried out in three phases. After extracting the essential criteria necessary to produce reciprocal configuration, four geometric girih that were compatible with those criteria were selected. The selected patterns were then modified to localize their reciprocal configurations following the Persian ornamental and geometric patterns. A structural analysis was performed using the Karamba Plugin in order to make a structural comparison between a barrel vault constructed with RFs and one made with bricks. The results showed that the use of RFs can significantly reduce the structural weight while using a minimum of material in covering the specified span. In addition, it was concluded that the vault with Hasht-e-moraba and Chahar-lenge ghenas patterns behaved in a more optimal way for the transmission of axial forces with less displacement and deformation.
Article
Reciprocal Frames (RF) are a type of structural system that can be used to build temporary structures with large spans. This is possible due their ease of assembly and the use of relatively short, light-weight elements. However, a challenge is presented when this kind of structure is applied to complex surfaces. In this case, the only way to figure out each connection is through an algorithmic geometric model. Only a few algorithms have already been developed for generating complex RF structures, but they still have some limitations. In this paper we present a new approach represent RF geometry, based on symmetry theory, combining pinwheel patterns with wallpaper symmetry groups. In future works, this will be combined with structural performance analysis and the use of digital fabrication methods for producing the structures’ connections.
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, we present a simple and intuitive approach for designing a new class of space-filling shapes that we call Generalized Abeille Tiles (GATs). GATs are generalizations of Abeille vaults, introduced by the French engineer and architect Joseph Abeille in late 1600s. Our approach is based on two principles. The first principle is the correspondence between structures proposed by Abeille and the symmetries exhibited by woven fabrics. We leverage this correspondence to develop a theoretical framework for GATs beginning with the theory of bi-axial 2-fold woven fabrics. The second principle is the use of Voronoi decomposition with higher dimensional Voronoi sites (curves and surfaces). By configuring these new Voronoi sites based on weave symmetries, we provide a method for constructing GATs. Subsequently, we conduct a comparative structural analysis of GATs as individual shapes as well as tiled assemblies for three different fabric patterns using plain and twill weave patterns. Our analysis reveals interesting relationship between the choice of fabric symmetries and the corresponding distribution of stresses under loads normal to the tiled assemblies.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The paper discusses some historical precedents for the Reciprocal Frame, which is a patented 3-dimensional beam grillage structural system. Realization of some environmentally-friendly, low-energy timber buildings, constructed in the UK. and using the Reciprocal Frame as the primary roof structure, is described. Small construction projects, such as garden pavilions and gazebos and a single-person dwelling are reported. A timber-framed house, decagonal in plan, built in 1993, a group of three timber-framed buildings, each octagonal in plan, and a decagonal house 13 metres in diameter are also described. Finally, some possibilities for the future development of Reciprocal Frame structures are outlined.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper is an introduction to the morphology of structures using the Reciprocal Frame (also known as Mandala Dach in Germany) which is a patented three-dimensional beam grillage structural system currently used primarily in roof construction. The principle of the Reciprocal Frame (RF) system is described and some of the varied geometries that are attainable using the principle are explored. Finally, some alternative methods of cladding the basic configuration are proposed and some architectural possibilities are discussed.
Conference Paper
ABSTRACT: This paper describes a structural system, known as the 'Reciprocal Frame' (RF). The planar and 3-dimensional geometry of RFs, which is described in the paper, is related to the physical parameters of the structure (the number of beams, the slope of the beams, the sizes of the inner and outer polygons that define the space filled by the structure, and the vertical spacing of the beams at their intersection points). Graphs are presented to show the inter-relationship between these parameters and the consequence of these variations on architectural design and construction are discussed. The possibility of creating irregular forms of RFs is demonstrated as is the possibility of forming assemblies of RFs constructed from basic units. Methods of covering buildings with RF roofs, such as panels between the beams, conical roof surfaces, hyperbolic paraboloid surfaces or membranes are described. Finally, considering the similarity of the structure, in plan, to the iris of the camera shutter, the possibility of creating kinetic (retractable) RFs outlined.
Article
The purpose of this paper is to consider the construction of polyhedric space structures using reciprocally supported structural elements of circular, rectangular, triangular and trapezoidal cross-section. Platonic and Archimedean polyhedral forms are considered for potential space structure construction. Several examples of these basic forms are investigated using elements that are variously aligned to thepolyhedra surface edges. The impact of element cross-section and orientation alternatives is also considered. A feature of structures constructed using reciprocally supported elements is the way the load bearing elements mutually support one another. The advantages and disadvantages associated with the use of trapezoidal and other element cross-sections suitable for polyhedric space structure construction is reviewed and discussed.
Article
Due to their small number of constituent parameters, reciprocal frame systems are ideally suited to help understand the relationship between form and structure. A project by the Chair of Professor Spiro and her students at the ETH Zurich undertook to develop and realize a number of minor constructions utilizing these systems, whilst simultaneously examining the varied role of the computer as a design and production tool.
Article
This paper investigates the different shapes that the Multi-Reciprocal Grid could have using regular and semi-regualr grids. The concept is to create forms using grids. The structure is generated by elements mutually supporting each other; it is the addition of elements that creates a 3-dimensional form. The new structure is demountable, transportable, and quick to re-assemble. It could have various types of different geometry, simply or doubly curved, which gives almost an endless possibility of different architecture. As the elements support one another, their connections create a slope between each element, thus 2d grid will not stay flat. They will be curved in one or two direction. It depends on the degree of freedom of the node of the grid. The form of the structure depends on the grid chosen. The new structure may be particularly useful in emergency situations where rapid construction of shelters is needed. The structures could have only one type of element and one type of connection