Philippe Block is Associate Professor at the Institute of Technology in Architecture, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, where he directs the BLOCK Research Group (BRG) together with Dr. Tom Van Mele. The BRG focuses on equilibrium analysis of masonry vaults and computational form finding and fabrication of curved surface structures. Dr. Block studied architecture and structural engineering at the VUB, Belgium and MIT, USA, and earned his PhD from MIT in 2009. As partner of Ochsendorf, DeJong & Block, LLC, he applies his research to practice on the structural assessment of historic monuments and the design and engineering of unique compression structures. He has has consulted for Zaha Hadid Architects, Herzog & de Meuron and SOM Structures, and Studio Olafur Eliasson, and lectured at top universities. His work has been exhibited at the Design Triennial 2009 in NYC, USA and the Architecture.


Workshop: Designing lightweight thin shell structures with RhinoVAULT
16-17 March 2015 - @ the Lasserre Building - 6333 Memorial Road, Vancouver.

This special two-day workshop covered the design of hyper-efficient lightweight compressive shell structures. Participants worked in teams to design a temporary pavilion for the UBC campus using RhinoVAULT, a specialized software plugin for Rhinoceros developed at ETH Zurich by the BLOCK Research Group. RhinoVAULT is an intuitive, rapid and robust funicular design tool, enabling architects to design efficient three-dimensional shell structures in accordance with the flow of forces. Based on new research on the underlying structural principles of complex 3D equilibrium surface structures, RhinoVAULT is an intuitive design tool that opens new territories of expressive form to architects. 

Monday, March 16
Morning session LASSERRE ROOM 301

  • 9:00 am Welcome, introduction, form teams
  • 9:15 am Introduction to thrust network analysis form finding with RhinoVAULT
  • 11:15 am Student independent tutorial session
  • 12:00pm Break for lunch in LASR Room 202 (lunch will be provided)

Afternoon: LASSERRE ROOM 202

  • 1:00pm Student independent tutorial sessions
  • 2:00pm Introduce pavilion project
  • 2:15pm Teams work on pavilion in 202
  • 4pm Wrap up and comments

Evening: UBC Robson Square

  • 6:30pm Public lecture by Philippe Block
  • 8:00pm Teams work independently on pavilion designs

Tuesday, March 17
Morning: LASSERRE ROOM 301

  • 8:00am Teams upload short presentation documents as PDFs to dropbox
  • 9:00 5 minute presentations of pavilion design by teams
  • 10:45 Wrap up, prizes for top three projects
  • 10:55 Farewell