The development of material-adapted structural form

New structural materials can potentially change the technics and economics of the building and construction industry in a profound way. It is important to identify applications and develop forms that exploit a material's unique properties. The developer of a material can use the knowledge of how materials such as steel and reinforced concrete were first introduced to advance the development and application of new materials today. This project examines why structural forms have evolved as they have and what influences the process of creating form, or form-finding. The purpose of this analysis is to aid the development of structural forms that make the most efficient use of material and take advantage of a material's processing and constructive attributes. Such forms are called material-adapted. This thesis is based on the general history of structural materials used in construction. This research is summarized in six appended case studies that comprise the data of the thesis. The research has extended well beyond these case studies; some of this data is included in the main text. The research showed that the influences on form-finding are: Function; Material Properties; Processing Technologies; Connection Technology; Construction Process; Economics; Socio- Political Factors; Knowledge; and Technological Thought. A Form-Finding Influence Interaction Model summarizes the inter-relationships of these influences. It was first assumed that material-adapted form is determined by material properties alone. Further research showed this untrue. The hypothesis of this thesis is that material properties do not unilaterally determine material-adapted structural form. This statement is true because the nature of a material is a function of its properties and its processing and constructive attributes. A material's processing and constructive attributes are dependent on technology and organizational systems that are not specific to the material. It was further hypothesized that new materials are first used substitutionally in forms and applications of known materials. This concept was found to be misleading and untrue for a number of materials. The knowledge of this thesis was used to examine the current development of fiber reinforced polymer composite materials. It is shown that a material's development can be analyzed not only by the aforementioned influences, but also by characteristics of other material developments. This information is used to suggest how these materials might develop in the future.

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