Prestressed Membranes as Formwork for Material Efficient Hollow Concrete Building Elements
  • Oliver Tessmann
  • Samim MehdizadehEmail author
Conference paper


This paper presents a procedure for the production of individualized form-active, hollow concrete building elements through a rotational casting technique (Rotoforming), computational design and robot-aided fabrication. To rotoform an object, a small quantity of liquid material is cast into a mould that is then slowly rotated so that the material disperses along the mould surface. The material adheres to the formwork; an inner cavity emerges. This research exploits the significantly reduced hydrostatic pressure of the low amount of liquid material to unlock a new range of lightweight hyperelastic membranes as concrete formwork. The research yields a novel material system that consumes significantly less formwork material and less concrete. The research furthermore explores the morphological, visual and tactile performance provided by the minimal surfaces that emerge through prestressing (and not tailoring) the membranes as a concrete formwork (see Fig. 1).
Fig. 1.

Rotoformed hollow concrete demonstrators for columns, beam, nodes, panels

Fig. 2.

Demonstrator of a space frame structure with rotoformed nodes (Dimensions: 1.4 * 1.4 * 2.3 m).

Fig. 3.

The morphological categories of emerging forms and the building element typologies.

Fig. 4.

Top left: falsework made from 3d printed nodes and aluminum profiles. Top middle: adaptable spherical falsework. Top right: precise robotic placement of tension rods. Bottom right: Falsework for columns with changing cross section. Bottom middle: box with rasterized faces for the adaptable placement of tension elements. The prestressed membrane is placed in a rock and roll rotomoulding machine. Bottom right: frame with two layers of prestressed membranes for the production of hollow panels.


New materials Fabrication and assembly Methods Rotoform Membrane formwork Digital concrete Dynamic concrete casting 



This research greatly benefited from a design studio at DDU, TU Darmstadt, which participants tested and prototyped. Special thanks to the participants Anna Myctal, Daniel Ahmad, Ece Ulu, Janine Junen, Jianpeng Chen, Léonard Fatio, Shakeu Abdallah, Yijun Wang. The First tests with rotoforming concrete have been conducted with the support of G.tecz/Gregor Zimmermann. The Machines has been built with the technical supports of Mirko Feick/PTU, Marecel Bicolay/VKM, TU Darmstadt, Alexander Stefas, Andrea Rossi and Felix Graf by DDU of TU Darmstadt.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Digital Design UnitTechnische Universität DarmstadtDarmstadtGermany

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