Rapid assembly of planar quadrangular, self-interlocking modules to anticlastically curved forms

G. H. Filz, S. Schiefer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Rapid assembly implies simple and fast fabrication as well as simple (archi-) tectonics enabled by simple or without joints. This paper presents preconditions and principles how planar quadrangular, self-interlocking modules can rapidly be assembled to self-supporting, anticlastically curved forms and focuses to minimal surfaces of catenoids. The rotationally symmetric shapes of catenoids can be panelized into quadrangular, planar modules, which again can be assembled from planar elements. Simultaneously self-interlocking behavior is guaranteed by module-geometry where - similar to reciprocal frame systems - angles of two opposite sidewalls are leaning in counter-wise directions. An additional guide and joint-elements are not necessary but could support simple and rapid assembly into larger spatial structures. Due to planarity and linear cuts small amounts of data are necessary for fabrication and assembly of industrially supplied sheet-elements. Following the above mentioned principles we can find various structurally efficient forms composed of one or more possibly also intersecting catenoids. The probably most interesting ones are those which can be rotated in space at will by keeping their structural performance and interlocking qualities. Our method allows for a high degree of customized solutions in shape and scale. Self-interlocking modules can easily be assembled to temporary/permanent structures or formwork, disassembled and reassembled to other customized forms or parts of new constellations. Ongoing investigations are dealing with possibilities and limits of forms, structural performance and on-purpose-manipulation of the sidewalls' angles of neighbored modules.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEco-Architecture V
Subtitle of host publicationHarmonisation Between Architecture and Nature
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventInternational Conference on Harmonisation Between Architecture and Nature - Siena, Italy
Duration: 24 Sep 201426 Sep 2014
Conference number: 5


ConferenceInternational Conference on Harmonisation Between Architecture and Nature
Abbreviated titleEco-Architecture


  • Anticlastically curved minimal surface
  • Catenoid
  • Panelization
  • Self-interlocking modules

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