deformable skin

Considering the project state from the last crit as form finding process, the aim for this crit was to optimize its structure. Several analysis show the strucutre’s weaknesses and strengths. One issue was the maximum span of my structural members and another one consists in the curvature analysis of the deformed surface.

To deal with this optimization idea I first did a quick research in general optimization strategies. Taking them rather as general inputs then as actual algorithms, I came up with my own strategy. The point grid from the form finding process generates several more or less horizontal curves which I first subdivide into segments with the same lenght, which gives a polyline as output. The length can be chosen and in addition there is an option to change the resolution of the polyline following the curve. When the curve’s curvature is higher than a certain value the structural length at that point is only equal the half of the other lengths. The subdivision starts at a given point which consists in the curve’s closest point to the stair attractor and ends by keeping a cerain cap to the starting point.
After the creation of these “horizontal” polylines the neighbours are linked at each point with the two minimal distances. These new “vertical” structural members sometimes have a way too long span to be taken as valuable output. For that reason another subdivision process runs through all of them and subdivides each element taking in account the input value as maximal length. These subdivision points are again linked between each other and sometimes supported by columns standing on the plinth.
Another process at the end consists in bringing the forces down to the ground at certain points.


To be sure about the homogeneity of the lengths I ran again an analysis of the structural length.
Image showing the length analysis before the “vertical” analysis:

And after all the optimization processes all is green:

Finally there are a few special moments in the structure. The first consists in the stair leading up to the dissolving top where the structure gives bigger openings at certain points and looks more dynamic.

The pedestrian bridge is suspended from the structure and crosses the road which today separats the port from the tower.

The columns which support the structure above the plinth create a possibility for a public space or restaurant’s outdoor space covered by steel tubes.

As the Piraeus Tower has quite big dimensions, there are many structural joints which hold up the new deformable skin and fix it to the existing concrete structure. But not all joints connect the same number of tubes and all of them come in with a different angle. To deal with this changes and having one system for all the tower the joints have to be adaptive and able to react to each situation. The following joint allows up to seven tubes coming in and each of them can be adapted with two rotation axis. Two steel plates hold the members together and have to be squeezed together. Where the structure is attached to the existing concrete the squeezing is done by the consoles, otherwise a simple screw can fix the joint.

Overview of the structure in elevations and plan:


  1. Error: Unable to create directory /var/www/html/piraeus/wp-content/uploads/2020/01. Is its parent directory writable by the server? Trevor Patt says:

    Some research being done by a faculty memeber at SCI-ARC on a universal joint for variable space frames.

  2. Error: Unable to create directory /var/www/html/piraeus/wp-content/uploads/2020/01. Is its parent directory writable by the server? Martin says:

    that looks interesting – thanks!! but unfortunately I’ve seen it just now…

  3. [...] post has to be seen as a continuation and completion of the overall process and especially of the last post. Its content doesn’t represent the intire project but has to bee seen in the context of the [...]

Leave a Reply