Research to develop the Next Generation and Innovation Award prize-winning CASTonCAST system has continued at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich). Project author Lluis Enrique is completing a PhD that examines structural concerns in the fabrication system for the design of shell structures built from precast stackable components. His multidisciplinary research in the area of building technology brings together the fields of architectural geometry and manufacturing, with the aim of producing architectural freeform shapes in an economically efficient and sustainable manner.
The CASTonCAST system consists of two complementary parts. The first part is a novel manufacturing technique that relies on producing a series of building components in stacks by using the previous component as a mold for the next one. The second part is a new geometric method for the design of freeform shapes by the connection of stackable solid tiles. The system presents the following advantages: first, it eliminates the need for costly complex molds. This reduces significantly the use of building materials and reduces the material waste. Second, the method allows transporting the components to the construction site in stacks. This avoids the need to manufacture customized supporting structures for each component. Finally, the labor at the construction site is reduced to the assembly of the components using a reusable scaffolding and a post-tensioning system. This increases the speed of construction and reduces significantly the costs.
The research is currently being further developed by Lluis Enrique in a PhD at the Chair of Structural Design led by Joseph Schwartz at the ETH Zurich. The thesis focuses on integrating structural concerns in the system for the design and production of shell structures from precast concrete stackable components. The first step in this direction studies the way the components are assembled providing stiffness to the shell. The second step consists of developing a method that finds those shapes that fulfill both the characteristic manufacturing constraints of the system as well as structural constraints.
For conducting the research both physical prototypes and algorithmic design methods are being developed. Some of these results have been presented at the conference “Advances in Architectural Geometry 2016” (AAG16) held in Zurich in September 2016.