• Department of Architecture, Monash Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture
  • MESNE Design Studio, Melbourne
  • BLOCK Research Group at ETH Zurich
  • Re-Vault
  • Grimshaw Architects


Designed as a small meeting room and reception desk for the ground floor space of the  Melbourne office of Grimshaw Architects, this unreinforced masonry vault was developed as part of a one-week intensive experimental design-make workshop held June 2013. Involving a team of architecture students, this project investigated how a new digital practice can lead to the reintroduction of material, tectonic and constructional thinking into architectural design practice. The design of the global geometry was developed employing bespoke computational design tools that allows for the digital form-finding of novel funicular structures.

Key Features


Traditional tile vaulting is typically constructed from straight arches, built on falsework, from support to support, or springing of walls from which the vault’s surface then could be built in space with minimal guidework. This project explores the potential of fully 3D networks of structural ribs, possible thanks to new funicular form-finding approaches. Unreinforced masonry has negligible tensile capacity; the shape of vaults in masonry thus needs to result in a state of compression only. These can be obtained through form finding. Recent developments in funicular form-finding approaches allow a controlled exploration of compression-only form.


Thrust Network Analysis (TNA) uses geometrically linked form and force diagrams, representing the force flow and its force equilibrium, which give the designer explicit control over the distribution of forces in order to shape three-dimensional compression-only shells

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