‘A new “graphical statics” has appeared, not in the sense of the automation and visual
presentation of Culmann’s graphical statics, but rather in the form of graphic displays and animated simulations of mechanical relationships and processes. This is a decisive step towards the evolution of constructions and to loadbearing structure synthesis, to a new type of structural doctrine.’ (Kurrer 2008)
Graphic statics is a graphical technique of calculating the internal forces of axially-loaded structures such as trusses, cables, and arches, using equilibrium-based vector calculus drawn to scale. The method was developed in the early 1800s however its demise began in the 1900s with the advent of computing power and the algebraic approach to structural calculations. Computing power has continued to grow exponentially since and 3D parametric modelling tools such as Grasshopper, a graphical algorithm editor for the 3D computer-aided design programme Rhino, have gained increasingly popularity amongst architects and engineers. The industry has reverted to a very graphical way of designing structures which has regenerated interest in graphical solutions to provide a greater understanding of the forces within a structure (Van Mele et al. 2012; Beghini et al. 2014; Fivet & Zastavni 2013).
This research investigates the place of graphic statics in this computational landscape and presents a tool which has the aim of increasing graphic statics applicability and appeal in today’s world of 3D graphical designing. Visual Basic Scripting is used within Grasshopper to script the basic steps of graphic statics and assess its applicability with the latest 3D modelling techniques to aid the understanding of structures. Despite some limitations associated with reading the results this method presents the potential to offer a quicker, adaptable, workflow compared to the use of structural analysis software for concept truss design.
It is hoped this discussion adds to the growing body of research in which computation and parametric modelling can resurrect the graphical technique.