How to understand ' Structural Morphology'?

Qingpeng Li, Andrew Borgart, Y Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Due to its wide range of related research contents and diversified research approaches, the term ‘Structural Morphology’ has not been clearly defined by the Structural Morphology Group (SMG) of the International Association for Shells and Spatial Structures (IASS), founded in 1991, although some scholars have given their own viewpoints. This paper presents a different way to understand the meaning of “Structural Morphology” and its connotations. Nowadays, numerical techniques have become the most important means to do research in the field of structural engineering, and they can assist in the design, analysis and optimization of structures by handling a large number of parameters. In this paper, we present a common conceptual scheme for these numerical analysis methods. The scheme classifies the parameters of the initial structural system into five categories and, with the aid of numerical analysis methods, leads to the structural performance of the final structure. Two simple numerical examples are shown to verify the rationality of the scheme. On this basis, a conceptual formula to describe 'Structural Morphology' is proposed, which contains the whole numerical analysis process, shows the goal of structural morphology and also suggests a suitable methodology. Moreover, since numerical form-finding and computational morphogenesis have become two main research foci of structural morphology, a basic introduction, methodology and some achievements related to each research focus are presented in this paper.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-158
JournalJournal of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • structural morphology
  • parameters
  • structural performance
  • structural form
  • mechanical behavior
  • numerical form-finding
  • computational morphogenesis

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