NET.SIM: Digital Simulation of Tension-Active Cable Nets for Design Investigation of Material Behaviours on Structure and Spatial Arrangement


Sean Ahlquist (M.Sc.)

Moritz Fleischmann (M.Sc.)



Tension active systems are compelling architectural structures having an intimate connection between structural performance and the arrangement of material. The direct flow of structural forces through the material makes these systems attractive and unique from an aesthetic point of view, but they are a challenge to develop from a design and an engineering perspective. Traditional methods for solving such structural systems rely on both analog modeling techniques and the use of highly advanced engineering software. The complexity and laborious nature of both processes presents a challenge for iterating through design variations. To experiment with the space-making capabilities of tension active systems, it is necessary to design methods that can actively couple the digital simulation with the analog methods for building the physical structure. What we propose is a designer-authored process that digitally simulates the behaviors of tension active systems using simple geometric components related to material and structural performance, activated and varied through elemental techniques of scripting. The logics for manufacturing and assembly are to be embedded in the digital generation of form. The intention is to transform what is a highly engineered system into an architectural system where investigation is as much about the determination of space and environment as it is about the arrangement of structure and material.