FORM FOLLOWS FORCES. BUILDING FUNICULAR MODELS TO SHOW HOW GRAVITY SHAPES FORM

J.M. Songel

Universitat Politècnica de València (SPAIN)
The method used by the great architect Antoni Gaudí to design his structures, based on hanging models made up by strings and sandbags, led to innovative works like the Sagrada Familia Temple or the Colonia Güell Church, whose forms follow the logic of funicular geometry.

This technique relies on a physical phenomenon governed by a self-forming process, whereby the hanging material finds the most suitable form to support and transmit loads. The resulting form is shaped by gravity, and makes visible the flow of forces going through the material.

Based on this method, we have carried out several workshops to build funicular models with hanging cotton-gauze fabric, soaked in plaster, dried and inverted, to explore the possibilities to produce a wide variety of new forms.

This paper intends to present the didactic value of such experiments, based on our experience with architectural and civil engineering students, and shows the enormous potential they have to stimulate their creativity and to develop a physical and visual sense of the close link between form and forces.