Designing Unreinforced Masonry Models

Daniele Panozzo, Philippe Block, Olga Sorkine-Hornung


An input surface is automatically transformed into a masonry 3D model using our algorithm. The equilibrium of the surface is represented by two planar graphs that encode the directions and magnitudes of all forces. The generated blocks are 3D-printed and assembled into a physical model of the surface that stands in compression without using glue or reinforcements.


We present a complete design pipeline that allows non-expert users to design and analyze masonry structures, without any structural knowledge. We optimize the force layouts both geometrically and topologically, finding a self-supported structure that is as close as possible to a given target surface. The generated structures are tessellated into hexagonal blocks, with a pattern that prevents sliding failure. The model can be used in physically plausible virtual environments or 3D printed and assembled without reinforcements.


accompanying video


We thank Etienne Vouga for consulting us on the reimplementation of [Vouga et al. 2012]. We are grateful to Matthias Rippmann, Ramon Elias Weber and Paul-Emmanuel Sornette for helping with the fabrication and construction of the physical masonry models, to Masoud Akbarzadeh for designing the models in Figures 3 and 9 and to Emily Whiting for narrating the accompanying video. This work was supported in part by an SNF award 200021_137879, ERC grant iModel (StG-2012-306877) and a gift from Adobe Research.