Finite Element allows one to divide a continuous medium into a mesh and compute structural properties of it. Instead of discretizing the continuous, why not start with a discrete method to begin with? Could we not see the entire structure as a space grid, whose equations are known and test the structure accordingly?
I ask because I saw research that implements fracture mechanics through a plane frame (2D), remove links that are too stressed and re-runs, and obtains realistic fracture results with it. In 3D could we not do the same with space frames?