Computational Shape Optimization

for Designing Compression-Only Masonry/Earthy Buildings

Background and aim:

Masonry/Earthy structures can be made with sustainable materials while offering strong structural properties, especially if designed as compression-only structures. Optimal masonry structures might take complex geometric shapes that present computational design and structural validation challenges. We aim to derive optimal shapes directly based on a gradient descent optimization procedure as a constructible structure.

Research question:

  • How to computationally find optimal catenary forms and approximate them with modular brick/block structures?

Design objective:

  • To design and prototype a computational finite element modeler for masonry structures.


  • Shape Optimization (req. Calculus, Linear Algebra, etc.)
  • Computational Geometry & Topology
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Computer Programming (Python or C#)