Adaptable Slab

Kenneth Cheng + Timothy Do



Tsz Yan Ng


Adaptable Slab examines new ways to rethink the manufacturing of waffle slabs using robotic hot-wire cutting processes for mold production. Computational design methods are introduced to offer varied geometric consideration of ribs for the waffle as well as efficiency in molding and casting process. The issue with modular concrete slab construction lies in a rigid (often orthogonal) structural placement and arrangement of spaces. To counteract this issue, the project uses computational analysis of principal stress lines as a form generation tool for various load bearing scenarios that allows for optimization of concrete usage while generating varied formal and spatial compositions.

The exploration with hot-wire cutting for formwork fabrication leverages geometric flexibility and cutting speed, translating to cost reduction for formwork manufacturing. Working with ruled geometries and tolerances inherent in the process, EPS foam cutting is explored to create alternative waffle slabs using contemporary digital processes. The formwork system incorporates a tiling design methodology that breaks down individual formwork modules to bracket geometric complexity into more manageable sets, allowing for reduction in unique formwork configurations. Considered as a system, the tiling compositions are analyzed in terms of structural hierarchies, scale, and ease in mass-manufacturing.

The design proposals demonstrate not only the reduced time and labor toward manufacturing, but also the prospect of flexible spatial compositions for different types of programmatic needs, instead of one-size-fits-all of conventional waffle slabs. As such, waffle slabs could be considered for use for different building typologies previously prohibitive due to associated scale and cost of construction.