This interview with Axel Kilian and Sigrid Adriaenssens addressed the idea of form-finding in architectural design.

  • “Form-finding […] cannot start at the geometric level, it starts actually at the conceptual level, so it’s a much harder challenge to translate that into algorithmic or any autonomous […] design algorithm.”

  • “Form finding has sort of been stuck to some degree in a stylistic sort of look-alike of the Frei Otto’s and Gaudi-esques…”

  • “I do think there’s something to the notion that a formal intent is just as important as a preoptimization thing.”

  • “For membrane structures, these techniques of incorporating the construction method […] have already been incorporated since the seventies in form-finding techniques.”

  • “…to find, sort of, common justice geometry has become currently the most dominant, sort of, extremed platform of design representation, which I think is powerful but also hugely problematic.”

  • “I think curved surfaces […] behave very different from beams and column systems and so people perceive them as being really difficult to understand how to work with.”

  • “In the 1960s it kind of started catching the attention of designers that maybe we could use these types of structural systems more to—not only for more utilitarian spaces but maybe also for […] more iconic spaces…”

  • “I refuse to say one is form-finding and one isn’t because you cannot exclude such things as the designer’s intent in the form-finding because then you find nothing.”

  • “The reason why I have my students look at precedents from the past is, first of all, I think it’s important to understand how these systems work. […] I think to be able to capture how they structurally work just with a few equations, I think, is very important.”

  • “There is some trend, but I think not a lot of engineers are comfortable going into that zone of […] looking at materials that exhibit certain characteristics, which might, for example, lead to very large deformations, and then doing something positive with that.”

  • “…Once you put the thing out in the world, it’s not over, right? It’s actually beginning. The design process begins because things happen that you may not have anticipated— conditions change, things degrade, things fail, new things are invented with it.”

  • “That link in engineering is completely gone. […] We do finite element modeling, you know, we calculate it, like, it’s built, and then there’s hardly ever any check, only on the, for example, suspension bridges.”



Hans Tursack

Issue Editor

Hans Tursack

Senior Editor

Joseph Bedford


Trudy Watt


Axel Kilian and Sigrid Adriaenssens


Yshai Yudekovitz