By means of appropriate computer software, freeform surfaces (also called freeforms) can be digitally generated, discretized, structurally optimized and prepared for CNC fabrication. Designers and architects are highly attracted by freeform surfaces, because their digital generation seems very simple. However, the design of freeform surfaces in fact remains an immense challenge. Many aspects of the complex interrelations between geometry, construction, materiality and structural properties have not been properly addressed in current geometrical research. Most notably, more research is required to study the limitations that arise from different materials and the links between the freeform geometry and finding efficient ways to develop the formwork, starting with fabrication, ranging over logistics up to assembly. The complexity of designing an appropriate surface and/or formwork for freeforms occurs at all scales, ranging from furniture to objects in the building scale. The formwork for a general freeform object consists of discretized custom molds, which are often milled, very expensive and only used for one particular form. Additionally, every different building material like concrete, glass, ceramic, carbon or wood demands a specific building strategy, including a tailored geometrical approach.
The major scientific contributions in this project will be: (1) The development of new geometrical definitions of freeform surfaces based on their material and functional properties in order to develop strategies to find cost-efficient freeform structures with stay-in-place and/or reusable formwork; (2) the enrichment of computational geometrical models with material and structural information.