A Topology Optimization Process for Discrete Modular Design based on Discrete Element Modelling for generating reconfigurable funicular structures

Qinglu Chen

The complete thesis is under a temporary embargo until we publish the results of the research in a peer-reviewed journal article that is in preparation.

The project presents a generative design process based on topology optimization methodology for configuring masonry structures. In this approach, structures consisting of stackable interlocking blocks are modelled as discrete elements using the Discrete Element Method, approximating their mechanical behaviours. A process is devised to result in funicular structures that can be built using a limited set of modular masonry blocks with the aim to lower the environmental costs in terms of embodied carbon, monetary costs, and construction labour. Additionally, this process aims to increase the reuse and reconfigurability potential of the stackable blocks by seeking utmost modularity in the topological design of the underlying 3D tiling/tessellation.