Inés Ariza

Decoding details

Jan 2016 – May 2016
Master's thesis, Design and Computation, Department of Architecture, MIT
gypsum-based powder and FDM 3D printing
Inés Ariza
Advisor: Prof. Caitlin Mueller, Digital Structures, MIT. Readers: Prof. Brandon Clifford, Prof. Larry Sass, MIT. Film direction and editing by Manuel Barenboim. Film art direction by Marilina Martignone. Art and assembly support by Lucía Galeano. Fabrication support by Zain Karsan and Jennifer O'Brien.
Decoding details

Between technical and perceptual constraints, details are geometrical solutions and organizational devices that negotiate physics, construction, assembly, materials, fabrication, economy, and aesthetics, all at once.

This thesis introduces the concept of synced detailing, where conflicting constraints are resolved in the details. As a case study, stability and assemblability are studied on a structurally challenging discretized funicular funnel shell. The goal is to eliminate scaffolding during assembly using only joint details.

Over centuries, detail formulas have been created, tested, and revised by builders, designers, engineers, and fabricators; collected in catalogs and magazines, they have been usually documented in two-dimensional sections that silence all intervening forces.

While masters with knowledge in construction and materials are able to iterate through different possibilities creating novel details, usually less experienced designers can only reproduce standard solutions. In the era of digital design and fabrication, where material and building information can be parametrically linked and massively computed, can we challenge what we can build with a new way of looking at details?

Method: (1) Finite element (FE) analysis is performed at every step of the assembly sequence to show global and local instability. (2) Local translation freedom (LTF) analysis shows the range of feasible assembly directions. (3) Detailing knowledge is studied and encoded in shape rules to create a detail grammar. (4) Real-time visual feedback of the constraints informs the designer to apply these rules to create joints that satisfy needs across a range of priorities.

This method is generalizable for other constraints, allowing designers to create novel solutions informed by quantifiable analysis and encoded knowledge.


Decoding details: integrating physics of assembly in discrete element structures
Ariza, I., 2016. Decoding Details: Integrating Physics of Assembly in Discrete Element Structures. Master’s thesis. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

More projects

Adaptive detailing


Detail grammar

High-low tech assembly