Limited geometric individuality allows for double curvature

The ZoLinkR.Wave is a doubly curved wooden support grid construction. It represents the analogous result of a successful digital experiment. In this case, the originally singly curved Zollinger structure principle was transferred to a spatially curved surface. The project was presented in September 2015 at an international competition of young architects and engineers in Amsterdam.

Keywords: timber, timber construction, pavilion, competition, Zollinger principle, doubly curved, complex geometry, components, parametric, digital process, NC-fabrication, algorithm, IASS, formfinding

Design idea

The formally inspired, creative core motif of the project plays with the juxtaposition of two basic principles of load transfer. A tensioned rope and a pressure-loaded arch form the basic elements of the form finding as opposite edge curves. Between these a "mediating" surface is spanned, which in turn has a spatially variable curvature. By "applying" the Zollinger structure to this doubly curved surface, the constructive principle is finally made usable in a formally much larger and more variable field of application.

Simple curvature and standardization

The constructive principle developed by Friedrich Zollinger and patented in 1923 is essentially based on the idea of increasing economic efficiency (architectural constructions) by reducing the variety of elements or increasing the "repetition factor”. The "system-immanent", simply curved surface is created by a constant combination of two geometrically mirrored lamellae. The principle is thus symbolic of the core idea of the industrialization of construction through the standardization of components. This was propagated by protagonists such as Ernst Neufert, Konrad Wachsmann, Mies van der Rohe or Max Mengeringhausen since the 1920s, but reached in practice because of the significant limitation of design means only a limited acceptance.

Double curvature and parameterization

Doubly curved surfaces usually have variable curvatures. They represent a sheer endless variety of shapes and geometries. When used as a "load-bearing construction" they have an enormous potential for lightweight construction. With a minimum of material, it is possible to realize designs with enormous load-bearing quality in „load-oriented design”.

Applying the Zollinger structural principle to a variably curved surface involves a fundamental transformation of the character of the construction principle. All lamellae in this system must have an individual geometry in order to be able to "shape" such a surface in their "constructive addition”. The prerequisite for the feasibility of such structures under economic conditions is the production of the elements with the aid of NC-controlled machines. The necessary manufacturing information can only be determined as a result of a fully parameterized design and planning process. This frees construction from the limitations of the standardization approach and forms the basis of the digitization of construction in the form of intelligent process chains.


The execution of the design concept of ZoLinkR.Wave is based on the consistent application of digital parametric design methods and planning tools. In an intensive and creative planning process, the drilling and cutting geometries of the individual lamellae were first generated, analyzed and optimized on the basis of a self-developed algorithm. After multiple plausibility checks, the transformation of the geometry data into a machine-readable G-code took place. This was specifically tuned to the NC-controlled joinery machine and transferred digitally to the cooperation partner in Wangen (Allgäu). There, finally, the production of the lamellae made of a commercially available three-layer ply wood, with a thickness of 19 mm, took place.

Contrary to the traditional connection of the Zollinger systems, the "double-bolt connection" ensures the "structural integrity" of the structure. The resulting (partially) rigid connection of the lamellae is the prerequisite for the suspended installation of the ZoLinkR.Wave during the competition presentation described below. The modified connection is a prerequisite to limit the deformations of the stressed, curved support grid on a visually and structurally compatible level.


Das Projekt repräsentiert den Wettbewerbsbeitrag der HTWK Leipzig zum „2015 IASS Symposium Contest“. Der im Rahmen der Jahrestagung 2015 unter dem Titel »Future Visions« in Amsterdam ausgelobte offene Wettbewerb richtete sich an Künstler, Architekten, Ingenieure, Studenten, Professoren und Forschungsgruppen. Die Aufgabe beinhaltete den Entwurf, die Planung und Realisierung einer innovativer Pavillonstruktur und Präsentation derselben während der Konferenz im „Muziekgebouw“ von Amsterdam (vgl. Abb. 13). An dem Wettbewerb nahmen 34 Teams aus 19 Ländern teil.

Die „International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures“ (IASS) ist eine weltweit agierende und anerkannte Vereinigung, die sich dem wissenschaftlichen Austausch rund um die Gestaltung, Analyse und Konstruktion von leichten Gitter-, Membran- und Schalenstrukturen widmet. Ein jährlich an verschiedensten Orten stattfindendes, mehrtägiges Symposium ermöglicht Wissenschaftlern, Architekten und Ingenieuren einen Wissens- und Gedankentransfer im Forschungsbereich.

The project represents the competition entry of the HTWK Leipzig for the "2015 IASS Symposium Contest”. The open competition, which took place in Amsterdam under the title »Future Visions« in 2015, was aimed at artists, architects, engineers, students, professors and research groups. The task included the design, planning and implementation of an innovative pavilion structure and its presentation during the conference at the "Muziekgebouw" in Amsterdam (see Fig. 13). The competition was attended by 34 teams from 19 countries.

The International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS) is a globally active and recognized association dedicated to the scientific exchange around the design, analysis and construction of light lattice, membrane and shell structures. The multi-day symposium, takes place annually in various locations, enables scientists, architects and engineers to transfer knowledge and ideas in the field of research.


processed by:

Andrea Backenköhler, B.Eng.

Cristoph Dijoux, M.Sc

Lukas Franke, B.Eng.

Marius Götzinger, B.A.

Florian Krieg, B.A.

Christine Krohne, B.A.

Manuel Pietzsch, M.Sc.

Dipl.-Päd. Christian Soyk

Marius Zwigart, B.A.

Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Henry Schulz

supervised by:

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Alexander Stahr

Dipl.-Ing. Hannes Löschke, M.A.

Martin Dembski, M.Sc.