Konstantinos Gavriil

Talk at the SIAM Conference on Industrial and Applied Geometry 2017

During Emily Shuckburgh's lecture at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Last month, I had the chance to visit the US for the SIAM Conference on Industrial and Applied Geometry 2017 (GD17), which took place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from Monday, July 10 to Wednesday, July 12. Crossing the Atlantic and visiting America for the first time, presenting my current work, exploring the US East Coast, spending time with an old friend; all this and more makes this trip clearly the highlight of my PhD thus far.

My talk was on Wednesday, the last day of the conference. The title was Architectural Geometry in Practice and it was part of the Architectural Geometry minisymposium, organized by my advisor, Helmut Pottmann.

My talk was in two parts. The first part was presenting some selected projects from Evolute’s portfolio. For anyone unfamiliar with Evolute GmbH, I think the following quote from the company’s website is a rather nice introduction.

Evolute GmbH is a high-tech company founded as a spin-off from Vienna University of Technology in 2008. Since its foundation, Evolute has gained a wealth of practical expertise in enabling building projects featuring complex geometry and in solving geometric problems in automation and production technology. Evolute has built up a dedicated and experienced team of mathematicians, computer scientists, and engineers. We offer creativity and are at the same time grounded in practical competence. Our references include projects from highly technical to highly spectacular.

And spectacular they are. I have been part of Evolute for almost a year now so I had time to familiarize myself with many of the past projects, as well as the techniques and methods used in each one. I remember how amazed I was at many of these projects the first time I saw them. That first impression had a huge influence in my decision to follow this PhD and work on exactly these kinds of problems. Presenting these projects was therefore a joy and I hope some of this initial amazement was passed on in my talk.

These projects include the Eiffel Tower pavilions (Paris, France), the Corinthians Arena (São Paulo, Brazil), the EXPO 2017 Astana, (Astana, Kazakhstan), the Investcorp Building (Oxford, UK), the Yas Island Marina Hotel (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) and the Department of Islamic Art at the Louvre (Paris, France). All are perfect examples of geometric problems commonly faced in architecture. I presented some of these problems in my talk; mesh generation to achieve certain patterns on arbitrary surfaces, mesh optimization for different properties such as minimization of node complexity, panel fitting with various panel types to minimize cost of production, and others. Here you can find all of Evolute’s references, including the above.

The second part of my talk was about my ongoing research on developable surfaces and in particular, optimizing an arbitrary surface to be developable by using the Gauss map of the surface. I will most likely have a more detailed future post dedicated to this part.

An arbitrary surface (left) and the resulting surface from the developability optimization (right).

The topic of developable surfaces has been a lively one for quite some time due to its applications in various fields, such as architecture, graphics and design. The importance of the topic could also be seen by some of the keynote presentations at the conference, such as Etienne Vouga’s (UT Austin) talk on thin shell simulation, where the developability constraint comes up in cloth and paper simulation and in origami design, and Damien Rohmer’s (Inria, CPE Lyon, University of Grenoble & Lyon) talk on efficiently modeling developable surfaces for garment design and paper animation. In a brief meeting I had with Justin Solomon (MIT), we discussed the difficulty of formulating developability constraints in a numerically stable way as well as some relevant interesting problems such as approximating an arbitrary surface with developable patches.

The other speakers of the Architectural Geometry minisymposium were Mark Pauly (EPFL), David Brander (Technical University of Denmark) and Helmut Pottmann (TU Wien, KAUST). All presentations (1, 2, 3) worked very well together as a cohesive thematic unit, presenting new methods and mathematical insight in design and fabrication, not only in architecture but also in fashion and art.

A walk through Central Park.

This being my first time in the US, I pushed my flight back to Vienna to the week after the conference. This way I would have some time to explore and visit an old friend. Maybe I will find some time in the near future to write about some of the highlights of the trip. One thing is certain though; visiting New York City, Boston, Washington DC and Philadelphia in a span of four days might not have been the easiest trip I have done, but it was absolutely worthwhile.