Research project

Adaptive structures

Modelling and simulation of adaptive systems in the Collaborative research center SFB 1244.


  • Background
  • Characterization of adaptive structures
  • Modelling of the actuation

Project description


Since the early 1970s, structures that can react automatically to a change in external loads or boundary conditions have been investigated in the USA. Mainly the aerospace industry was interested in these developments, as they lead to economic lightweight structures. In the last few years, sustainability and economical lightweight structures have played a major role in construction, which is why adaptive systems are becoming the focus of research. There are various application fields where adaptive systems offer efficient solutions. Mainly the aims are to influence design-decisive peak loads, to homogenize stress states and to reduce deformations.

Adaptivity of structures describes the ability to react automatically to a change in external loads or boundary conditions. This reaction can be carried out in various ways, e.g. changes of geometry, forces or material properties, which can be made by actuators. The control of the actuators requires a sensor system, which is able to detect the effects of the changes on the load-bearing structure. Thereupon a controlled reaction of the actuator system can be executed in order to configure the load-bearing structure optimally for the prevailing situation.

Stuttgarter Träger Adaptivity (c)
Simulation of the "Stuttgarter Träger" (ILEK): Reduction of the vertical deformation under the single load by horizontal actuation of the right support. Passive state above, active state below.

Characterization of adaptive structures

Crucial for the work with adaptive systems is the definition of what an adaptive system exactly is. The required terminology, which is quite different in the fields of mechanical-, control- and civil-engineering, has to be brought together. In order to compare different designs, objective measures to value an adaptive system are needed. They can be calculated using redundancy contributions, gramian controllability matrices or similar.

Modelling of the actuation

The focus in this research area is the modelling and simulation of adaptive systems. To carry out an exact analysis, which represents the behaviour of the adaptive structure realistically, the actuators, sensors and control technology must be integrated into the model. This is also beneficial in the development of algorithms that control the system.

Project data

Project titel:
Formfindung, Strukturoptimierung und Systemoptimierung (A04)
Charakterisierung, Modellierung und Reduktion (B01)

German Research Foundation (DFG), Collaborative Research Centre SFB 1244 "Adaptive Hüllen und Strukturen für die gebaute Umwelt von morgen", GEPRIS project numbers 324661605 and 324663295
Project partners:
Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design (ILEK), University of Stuttgart
Institute of Engineering and Computational Mechanics (ITM), University of Stuttgart


  1. Benjamin Fröhlich, Jan Gade, Florian Geiger, Manfred Bischoff, Peter Eberhard. Geometric element parameterization and parametric model order reduction in finite element based shape optimization. Computational Mechanics, 63. 2019. DOI: 10.1007/s00466-018-1626-1
  2. Stefanie Weidner, Christian Kelleter, Paula Sternberg, Walter Haase, Florian Geiger, Timon Burghardt, Clemens Honold, Julia Wagner, Michael Böhm, Manfred Bischoff, Oliver Sawodny, Hansgeorg Binz. The implementation of adaptive elements into an experimental high-rise building. Steel Construction, 11. 2018. DOI: 10.1002/stco.201810019
  3. Julia Laura Wagner, Jan Gade, Michael Heidingsfeld, Florian Geiger, Malte von Scheven, Michael Böhm, Manfred Bischoff and Oliver Sawodny. On steady-state disturbance compensability for actuator placement in adaptive structures. at – Automatisierungstechnik, 66. 2018. DOI: 10.1515/auto-2017-0099


Malte von Scheven

Malte von Scheven

Deputy Head of Institute

Jan Gade
M.Sc., B.Sc.

Jan Gade

Scientific Staff

Florian Geiger

Florian Geiger

Scientific Staff

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