Structural engineering prompted by sustainability and resilience, as well as advances in other fields such as architecture, mechanics, computing and manufacturing, is evolving towards complex design solutions that often question our traditional design strategies. Structural morphology refers to the study of the relation between a structure, its function, form, material, and forces. In an analogy with biology, structural morphogenesis represents the processes that control the organized spatial distribution of material and modules in a structure. In Computer-Aided Structural Engineering (CASE) Lab, we focus on the structural morphology and morphogenesis of tomorrow's structures using a holistic and integrated framework of numerical and physical modeling. Our applications and interests span from marine and coastal structures to building and infrastructure systems to space structures. We also seek and support artistic and educational STEAM projects.
Landolf Rhode-Barbarigos, PhD
News / Highlights
Our project, Engineering Coastal Resilience Through Hybrid Reef Restoration, or ECoREEF, which combines cement- and nature-based strategies to foster coastal resilience is now live! Supported by the University’s Laboratory for Integrative Knowledge (U-LINK) and the City of Miami Beach, the project includes the deployment of two 18-foot-long structures that aim to help restore damaged coral reefs and protect coastal environments. One of the hollow structures is shaped like a trapezoid, while the other one is based on SEAHIVE units.
Excited to be part of the inaugural Planetary Stewardship Event that will elevate transformative ideas on climate and establish Boston as a hub for driving powerful ideas toward global climate and sustainability solutions. The event is designed to spotlight actionable ideas for human activity to achieve a sustainable relationship with the planet’s natural systems. 100 talks from a broad range of experts will explore how research and scaling of technologies and practices can bring us closer toward planetary stewardship goals.
NSF PROJECT ANNOUNCEMENT
Our proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF) Coastlines and People Hubs for Research and Broadening Participation (CoPe) program was selected for funding. The project is led by a team of interdisciplinary experts and will focus on three sites - Miami, Belize, and the U.S. Virgin Islands - using nature-based solutions such as coral reef and mangrove restoration in combination with engineering practices to mitigate sea level rise, storm surge, and flooding.
DARPA PROJECT ANNOUNCEMENT
Our Reefense proposal named X-REEFS (Reef Engineering to Enhance Future Structures) to the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was selected for funding. The Reefense program aims at the development of hybrid biological and engineered reef-mimicking structures to mitigate coastal flooding, erosion, and storm damages.
Congratulations to Mohammad Ghiasian for his Ph.D. defense! Mohammad thesis entitled “Structural Morphogenesis of Green/Gray Coastal Infrastructure: Paradigms for Shoreline Protection” focused on the morphogenesis of efficient and ecofriendly coastal structures, as well as the role of green infrastructure such as coral reefs on storm surge and waves. His research on the design of hybrid protective structures paves the way for more sustainable and resilient coastal communities.
NIST PROJECT ANNOUNCEMENT
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have awarded more than $7.6 million in grants to fund research that will improve the ability of buildings, infrastructure and communities to hold strong against natural hazards. We will be leading one of the projects focusing on the simultaneous wind, waves and storm surges have on coastal structures, as a well as being part of the team for a second one on the evaluation of glass-fiber-polymer-reinforced, ultra-high-performance concrete as a sea wall material alternative to conventional steel-reinforced concrete.
In this article at The Conversation co-authored with Dr. Brian Haus from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS), we discuss how USACE proposal for a 20-foot seawall won’t save Miami and how living structures can help protect the coast and keep the paradise vibe. The article reflects our ideas regarding investing more on the research and development of green/gray solutions.
Congratulations to Piermaria Caponi for his Ph.D. defense! Piermaria worked with us in the context of his thesis entitled “Forma ed equilibrio nell ’Architettura computazionale” at the University of Rome "La Sapienza" in the program of Engineering - Architecture and Urban Planning. His research focused on the dialectic form finding of structures, a topic at the intersection between architecture and engineering for which he received the highest grade!
Our NCHRP IDEA project on the development of a sustainable and efficient marine and estuarine protection system featured in this year's NBC6 First Alert Weather Hurricane Special and The Weather Channel. The project, also known as SEAHIVE, focuses on the research and development of a novel modular versatile protection system through testing in the UM SUSTAIN Facility.
Tencylinder is a tensegrity structure that we are proud to report we worked on in collaboration with French artist Clément Vieille and Swiss architect Filippo Broggini from AEA (Applied Engineering Architecture). The structure is the centerpiece of the scenography by Hermès for watches & wonders 2021. Explore the links (click on the photo above and buttons below) to learn more about the structure including its assembly and erection.