Earthy Honeycombs; Construction Design of Adobe Shell Structures by Topological Polyhedralization

IASS Symposium 2018, Boston

Authors: Karim Daw, Shervin Azadi, Pirouz Nourian, Hans Hoogenboom


Building optimal free-form compression-only adobe shells requires sophisticated molds, scaffolding, critical supervision and an expert labor force as pointed out in [1]; this is because the optimality of a compu-tationally designed shell depends on achieving the right geometric shape in construction. The objective of our research is to find ways to simplify the construction of compression-only adobe shell structures to be built as shelters. This paper presents a computational work-flow for approximating the shape of an adobe shell structure, with space filling polyhedral bricks[18], through a topological polyhedralization process. The work flow is devised to simplify the construction of an adobe structure with the prospect of participatory construction of adobe shelters. The process takes in a dynamically-relaxed optimized shape for an adobe thin shell structure as a manifold surface, approximates it with space-filling polyhedrons as a volumetric representation; forms a finite element mesh as the lattice dual to the polyhedrons; and analyzes the structures to validate their stability. We argue that the proposed approach simplifies the construction process for untrained labor forces and thus makes it possible to quickly build adobe shell structures as temporary shelters. A possible application of this method could be the participatory construction of adobe shelters for displaced communities with in-situ soil as an alternative to long-term stay in tents.