Published In

Proceedings of the IASS Annual Symposium 2020/21 and the 7th International Conference on Spatial Structures: Inspiring the Next Generation

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Structural design, Structural analysis, Mathematical models


This study addresses the relationship between the geometry and structural performance of branching columns using an example case based on a square grid shell supported by four branching columns. The branching columns are configured with three levels of members, bifurcating into four members as each member branches upwards. A range of solutions is parametrically generated using the concepts of formex algebra and its associated software system, Formian 2.0. The form exploration uses the GAbased method, ParaGen which incorporates both quantitative structural performance and qualitative architectural considerations in the exploration process. Certain design constraints, as well as multiple objectives, are established including minimizing structural weight and deflection, and increasing vibration stiffness, in addition to the designer’s satisfaction with the visual appearance of the columns. Within the iterative process of form generation, the structural performance of the branching columns under a combination of self-weight and snow load is evaluated using the Finite Element Analysis (FEA) software, STAAD.Pro. The branching members are sized based on the AISC LRFD steel code. ParaGen creates a database of suitable solutions, which can be explored by filtering and sorting based on a variety of performance parameters. Different techniques are demonstrated in the exploration of good solutions including scatter point graphs, Pareto front analysis, and images of the design alternatives.


Copyright © 2021 by Peter von Buelow and Anahita Khodadadi

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Architecture Commons