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Professor Wanda Lewis

Professor Wanda Lewis near the Millennium Bridge London

Professor Wanda Lewis

Emeritus Professor in Civil Engineering

W dot J dot Lewis at warwick dot ac dot uk
+44 (0) 24 7652 3138

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Dip.Econ (Opole, Poland), Dipl.Inz (Opole, Poland), MSc (Birmingham), PhD Wolverhampton), CEng, FICE, FRSA

Honours and Distinctions

2020 - Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts

2020 - Emeritus Fellowship, The Leverhulme Trust


After a short spell in industry, I joined the University of Warwick in 1986, where I am based to this day. I am a Professor in the School of Engineering, University of Warwick, a chartered engineer, and a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers. My 30+ years of research experience is reflected in the monograph 'Tension Structures: Form and Behaviour' (review), numerous research articles and technical press. Having studied tension structures extensively, I learnt about the importance of structural form and a process of form-finding in which a structure is shaped by forces applied to it. This ‘form follows force’ feature is observed in the formation of natural objects. Aspects of my work on structural form and biomimicry in form-finding are reflected in documentaries (listed under Public Engagement), podcasts, and press releases.

My work on computational form-finding of flexible fabric structures progressed to analytical form-finding that predicts optimal shapes of rigid structures, such as arch bridges, for example. This work challenges conventional design approaches that use imposed structural forms and rely on the limit state design philosophy alone.

I have led a number of national and European research projects in collaboration with industry (Arup, Jaguar, Roll-Royce, SL-Rach, Canobbio) as well as multi-disciplinary projects, such as 'Designing for the 21st Century' - in collaboration with the Courtauld Institute of Art, London.

Research Activities

Tension Structures: Form and Behaviour book cover

General research is concerned with FORM-FINDING: Conceptual Design of Fabric Structures, Minimal Structures and Nature, Structural Form in Engineering, Nature and Art. The essence here is to achieve an optimums structural forms by using nature’s own design principle that ensures minimal minimal response to statistically prevalent loading. As stated in the Background, work on the design of natural structural forms goes beyond flexible tension structures and includes rigid-type objects, such as arch bridges (Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 2016, 472 (2190)). Biomedical engineering work on minimal scaffolds for bone replacement awaits funding.

Past research relevant to the automotive and aerospace industries included the convertible roof for the Jaguar XK8, and, at a feasibility level, compressor blades (Engineering Structures 2011, 33, 9, 2612–2620).

Public Engagement

Journal Publications

  • Li, T.Q., Ward, T., Lewis, W. J. (Wanda J.). 2018. In-plane torsional stiffness in a macro-panel element for practical finite element modelling. Advances in Engineering Software, 122, pp. 93-105, View
  • Lewis, W. J. (Wanda J.). 2016. Mathematical model of a moment-less arch. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 472 (2190), View
  • Gale, Stuart M., Lewis, W. J. (Wanda J.). 2016. Patterning of tensile fabric structures with a discrete element model using dynamic relaxation. Computers & Structures, 169, pp. 112-121, View
  • Lewis, W. J. (Wanda J.). 2015. Form-finding : an alternative to structural optimisation. Computational Technology Reviews, 11, pp. 121-149, View
  • Lewis, W. J. (Wanda J.), Chen, S., Corcoran, A. J., Connel, J., Flew, R. D., Hill, R., Kashef Alghata, M., Rameez, R., Abi Sofian, A. S.. 2015. Design of a tension fabric structure with analogy to nature. Polska Energetyka Sloneczna (I-IV), pp. 5-10, View
  • Lewis, W. J. (Wanda J.), Smith, James R.. 2014. The effect of string tension variation on the perceived pitch of a classical guitar. Exchanges: the Warwick Research Journal, Volume 2 (Number 1), pp. 53-81, View
  • Brew, John S., Lewis, W. J. (Wanda J.). 2013. Spline-based and stress-monitored patterning of fabric structures. Computers & Structures, Vol.119, pp. 203-214, View
  • Gosling, Paul, Bridgens, B. N., Albrecht, A., Alpermann, H., Angeleri, A., Barnes, M., Bartle, N., Canobbio, R., Dieringer, F., Gellin, S., Lewis, W. J. (Wanda J.), Mageau, N., Mahadevan, R., Marion, J. -M., Marsden, P., Milligan, E., Phang, Y. P., Sahlin, K., Stimpfle, B., Suire, O., Uhlemann, J.. 2013. Analysis and design of membrane structures : results of a round robin exercise. Engineering Structures, Volume 48, pp. 313-328, View
  • Lewis, W. J. (Wanda J.). 2012. A mathematical model for assessment of material requirements for cable supported bridges: implications for conceptual design. Engineering Structures, Vol.42, pp. 266-277, View
  • Lewis, W. J. (Wanda J.). 2012. Modelling of fabric structures and associated design issues. Journal of Architectural Engineering, Volume 19 (Number 2), pp. 81-88, View
  • Lewis, W. J. (Wanda J.). 2012. The question of structural form : educational aspects. Proceedings of the ICE - Forensic Engineering, Volume 165 (Number 3), pp. 131-141, View
  • Lewis, W. J. (Wanda J.), Warburton, H. B. 2012. Discussion : the question of structural form : educational aspects. Proceedings of the ICE - Forensic Engineering, 165 (4), pp. 199-200, View
  • Lewis, W. J., Brew, J. S., Bryanston-Cross, P., Nawasra, J. S.. 2011. Form-finding as a modelling tool for shaping mechanical components: a feasibility case study of an axial-flow compressor blade. Engineering Structures, Vol.33 (No.9), pp. 2612-2620, View
  • Lewis, W. J. (Wanda J.). 2008. Computational form-finding methods for fabric structures. Proceedings of the ICE - Engineering and Computational Mechanics, Vol.161 (No.3), pp. 139-149, View
  • Brew, J. S., Lewis, W. J. (Wanda J.). 2007. Tension membranes modelled by curvi-linear bicubic splines. International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering, Vol.72 (No.1), pp. 1-21, View
  • Brew, J. S., Lewis, W. J. (Wanda J.). 2007. Free hanging membrane model for shell structures. International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering, Vol.71 (No.13), pp. 1513-1533, View

Books and Chapters

  • Lewis, W. J. (Wanda J). 2018. Tension structures. Form and behaviour. ICE Publishing, London.
  • Lewis, W. J. (Wanda J.), Brew, J. S.. 2009. Stress computation, visualisation, and measurement in: 1. design of minimum energy forms of fabric enclosures and 2. painting conservation and novel artist materials. In: Inns, Thomas; (ed.), Designing for the 21st Century Volume 2: interdisciplinary methods and findings, Farnham, U.K., Gower Publishing, pp. 322-341, View
  • Lewis, W. J. (Wanda J.). 2009. Architectural fabrics. In: Forde, Michael C.; (ed.), ICE Manual of Construction Materials, London, U.K., Thomas Telford Ltd., pp. 873-886, View
  • Lewis, W. J. (Wanda J.), Kowalinska, Danuta W.. 2008, Konstrukcje napiete : ich forma i praca, Opole, Poland, Wydawnictwo Instytut Slaski Sp. z. o.o., View

Conference Publications

  • Lewis, Wanda. 2016. Form-finding approach to modelling minimal structural forms, with analogy to nature. Innovative Structural Systems in Architecture 2016 (ISSA2016), Wroclaw, Poland, 3-5 Nov 2016, Published in Proceedings ISSA 2016 : Innovative Structural Systems in Architecture, pp. 39-42, View