Computed Morphologies

A tectonic and methodological investigation of topology optimization in architectural design

A PhD project by Asbjørn Søndergaard

The project seeks to investigate new methods for computational design of architectural structures. The project centers on tectonic and methodological investigations of topology optimization, a method applied within aeronautic and automotive industries for design of material efficient components.

In preceding research, topological optimization of concrete structures has indicated possible reductions in material consumption of between 60-70%, while resulting in novel structural designs transcending current typological classifications.

This gives rise to the emergence of new, aesthetic properties, such as the traceability of force trajectories within the architectural body, and formation of structural patterns occurring in the context of global optimization conditions.


The geometrical complexities of the computed topologies call for the application and invention of new digital fabrication techniques in the construction of optimized architectural structures. The integration between optimization logics and fabrication constraints facilitates a diversification of material embodiments, giving rise to new languages of digital or machinic tectonics.

The project explores this interface between computation and machining in the context of morphological experimentation, directed towards an inquiry of the spatial potentials implied by such processes. The project will develop methodological extensions of the gradient based topology optimization methods targeted towards processes of architectural design.

The numerical experimentation will focus on the development of dynamic or self-evolving optimization configurations, incorporating deliberate open-endedness in regions of high-density specification. Developed methods will be explicated through experiments of robotic architectural fabrication.

Period: 1 August 2012 – 31 October 2018