Topic Title

Computational Design of Timber Structures - Linking Form and Mechanics 

Topic Description

Due to the layered structure of wood-based products and the ever-ongoing modernization of processing technologies (like CNC mills), complex shapes of such products can be realized. Together with their excellent mechanical properties, wood-based products are ideally suited for the use in geometrically complex two- and three-dimensional building structures. Nevertheless, wood is not used as extensively as these very good material characteristics would suggest. The main cause is its quite complex material behavior, the huge variety due to hundreds of species and the mechanical characteristics of wood connections, often significantly influencing the overall structural behavior.
In this sense, the main contribution of this PhD project will be to establish a link between computational mechanical modeling of wood-based products and computational geometric design of timber structures (see Figure below). Based on advanced numerical models for the prediction of the mechanical behavior of wood and on our expertise in architectural geometry, simple application criteria should be derived for selected wooden components and connections, and implemented into computational geometric design tools. Information about the mechanical feasibility of a structure will then be available already in the geometric optimization phase of structural forms.

Qualification Profile

A strong background in mechanical modeling, including some basic knowledge about numerical simulation tools (e.g. finite element modeling) is required. In addition, a passion for programming and interest in computational design of wooden structures should be brought along. A graduation with distinction in a field of study related to engineering science or computational modeling/design is advantageous.


This topic is supervised by a team of 3 supervisors. Lead supervisor is Josef Füssl (Institute for Mechanics of Materials and Structures). Additional supervisors are Helmut Pottmann (Institute of Discrete Mathematics and Geometry) and Przemyslaw Musialski (Institute of Computer Graphics and Algorithms).

6.5: Illustrative simulation and design tools for wood at different scales of observation, from the wood cell level up to the structural scale. The missing (weakest) link exists between mechanical and geometrical design, and will be the main focus of this PhD project.