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Previous Work


Architecture as Discourse 7-11 Milstein Hall, Rem Koolhaas Mokuzai Kaikan, Tomohiko Yamanashi and Nikken Sekkei Computation in Architecture 13-17 London City hall, Foster and Partners Media-Tic, Cloud 9 Parametric Design 18-21 Guangzhou Opera House, Zaha Hadid Algorithmic exploration








INTRODUCTION My name is Adam Moor, I’m a third year environments student majoring in Architecture. My favourite aspect of architecture is function and how a building can create its own distinct feeling and environment. The beauty of design is for me in the emotion and feeling that great designs can facilitate and create. Having steered clear from computers as a design tool since completing virtual environments I am a little apprehensive about using Rhino and Grasshopper. However I am also looking forward to exploring new possibilities and forms that might result from any experimentation with these tools. The role that computers will play in design and indeed everyday life continues to grow in importance. I think that learning how to harness the great improvements and abilities that are offered by the computer age will prove such a great asset that design without the use of such tools will become an increasingly minoritised niche. Hopefully I will be able to begin to learn how to use some of these tools to inhance my designs throughout the length of studio: Air.


PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE IN DIGITAL DESIGN My only real experience in digital design comes from my participation in the virtual environments course in 1st year at the University of Melbourne. Here I got my first glimpse into what designing using Rhino as a tool was like. It was interesting to learn how to use the software and extremely rewarding producing a model in the real world from my models produced in Rhino.

The brief called for the design of wearable paper lantern. I decided that I would create a few different models and molded them around the curvture of my torso so that they could be connected to my body seperately of each other. I found that I could do this using Rhino quite easily and I could create an endless amount of changes to my designs so long as the underlying curve which I contoured against my bust stayed the same, this wouldn’t have been possible without using the software. What really impressed me about using the software was the complex shapes that I could integrate with ease into my design as you can see pictured above and to the left I turned some loose forms that I had drawn into sharp straight lines that could be managed in the real world. Although I had a lot of trouble using and learning the software the process of creating a real life object from nothing and something which I couldn’t 77 of have created without a computer was one my most rewarding university experiences.

ARCHITECTURE AS A DISCOURSE What is architecture as a discourse? In the context of studio: Air, our Wyndham city project and the use of computer aided design I think that we can define this term to mean that “architecture is communication” but not only does it communicate outwardly its inception in itself is communication. As architect Patrik Schumacher expresses in ‘Introduction: Architecture as Autopoietic System’ information on the subject of architecture is never just on about the subject of architecture, it is about communication between all the different aspects of design, engineering, availible tools, etc, that constitute what can be defined as architecture [1]. When we talk about architecture as a discourse really what we talking about are the elements that comprise architecture and in the context of Studio:Air this relies heavily on the impact of computers on design. Others such as Richard Williams express architecture in more practical terms but again comes out with the statement that “architecture ought to be seen as discourse” [2]. To Williams architecture is the culmination of all that society makes of it. It is not just the built environment it is art, it is urban experience and it is social experience. Such dialogue doesn’t necessarily define our understanding or architecture but rather it gives us a few tools which we can use when we examine it as a subject. It helps us to understand that when we look and experience architecture we need to take many aspects of the design into considerations, we couldn’t confine a design into one realm of experience.



MILSTEIN HALL, CORNELL UNIVERSITY, NEW YORK, USA, 2011 Rem Koolhaas Asked to add onto the pre-existing architecture facuty at Cornell university, OMA had to decide what to keep and what to get rid of, they decided to keep the existing buildings and create a horizontal structure that would connect the existing structures. The four surrounding buildings Rand, Sibley, the Foundry, and Tjaden Hall are comprised of varying styles but they share a common trait of closed rooms and dead ends [3]. What seperates Milstein hall from it’s contemporaries at the university is it’s openess and expanse. With it’s huge floor to ceiling windows and well thought out skylights it is anything but closed off. For me this is what makes the project so interesting not only does the building look spectacular it does so without standing by itself, it was designed to both conflict and integrate with it’s surroundings. It sounds odd but that’s what this design does it supports the surrounding environment by being different it stands out and yet it doesn’t overpower. Considering this building in the context of architecture as discourse seems appropriate as it acts as an intermediary between different schools of architectural thought both from the joining of the local campus and in the building itself which features minimalist grandeaur but revels in subtle details from uncladded and detailed ceilings.



MOKUZAI KAIKAN TOKYO, JAPAN, 2009 Tomohiko Yamanashi and Nikken Sekkei This project serves as an example of the possiblities of wood as a construction material in an urban environment. Built for the Tokyo Lumber Wholesalers Assosciation the building features traditional Japanese terraces, Engawa, which allow natural breeze in but shut out strong sunlight creating a comfortable environment in the face of harsh exterior conditions. The building is supported by a reinforced concrete frame and where concrete is visible it was cast in slender cedar formwork maintaining the appearance. As so much of the project was composed of timber fire safety issues were a major concern, they are addressed by raising the ceiling height which allows smoke to accumulate [4]. What makes such a large scale timber project possible is the use of a computer numerical controlled cutting machine which allows highly accurate cuts on a larger and faster scale than traditional craftmanship. After all the timber has been cut they are joined together using a traditional Japanese interlocking technique known as the tsugite technique. Using the tsugite technique vertical oak plugs and hidden steel bolts, 4m lengths of timber can be connected together to span large distances while given the appearance of a single member [5]. The Mokuzai Kaikan showcases an intergration of traditional and modern architectural thoughts on a deliberate and obvious level. Using modern methods the project showcases how traditional architectural thought can be modernised, modern processes were used in the construction process and the result is a building which perhaps gives us a look into what the future of architecture might hold.








COMPUTATION IN ARCHITECTURE As a pursuit and profession architecture is in the midst of a great transformational process. Traditional methods of design and drafting are being replaced with computer aided methods. The argument which arises from the growing use of these electronic tools is based around a simple question. Does the use of computers in design increase creativity or limit it? To me I still feel limited in some aspects of my initial design by using a computer, but increasingly I can see the constant improvements in the field getting better and better and eventually I think the software will become so good that not using it will limit creative output. I suppose I should clarfy further, I understand that computer aided design allows the designer to explore possibilities which otherwise would have been impossible but I guess I’m just less interested in some of these possibilities than I am with other aspects of architecture mainly functionality and material. “It is possible to claim that a designer’s creativity is limited by the very programs that are supposed to free their imagination.” Terzidis, Kostas (2009). Algorithms for Visual design using the processing Language (Indianapolis, In: Wiley), p. xx

I thought the above quote from the architect Kostas Terzidis was a very important point that was brought up in the lecture. As it highlights some of the shortcomings of computation in architecture because the designer is inherintly confined to the parameters of any given program. However that isn’t to say that a designer would be able to express all of their original intent without the use of software anyway. One heavily impacted aspect of the design process which is brought up by Yehuda Kalay in ‘Architecture’s New Media...’ is the communication process. The ease with which comunication can be shared has opened up all kinds of possibilities within the field. As Kalay iterates it was the advent of constructional drawings which allowed for the seperation of design from the construction process. The new media with which designers can now use and communicate with has “opened up the design process for more people to become involved”[6].


CITY HALL LONDON, UK 2002 Foster and Partners Designed using computer modelling techniques this building examplifies the possibilites that computer aided drawing can have on the built environment. The building is designed so that it has no front or back and its shape was derived from a geometrically modified sphere using computer modelling techniques. Indeed this process is highlighted to the left by a series of digital modelling iterations showcasing the initial process [7]. Two of the main aspects of the design are its environmental credentials and it’s incorporation of such a powerful staircase. Environmentally, It’s shape achieves optimum energy performance by maximising shade and minimising direct sunlight. The building also utilises natural ventilation, photovaltaic cells and natural groundwater for cooling. The huge interior staircase which dominates the interior conjures powerful symbolism as it gives people the ability to walk above the debating chamber of their elected officials. Through the use of digital design techniques Foster and Shuttleworth were able to play with the form as pictured below to produce the end product. Such detail in design [7] would have been impossible without the use of digital modelling. The use of digital modelling technology also allowed for an ongoing process of optimisation which without its use wouldn’t have been possible.



[9] [10]


[11] [12]



MEDIA-TIC BARCELONA, SPAIN 2011 Cloud 9 / Enric Ruiz-Gel The Media-Tic building sits within 22@Barcelona an experimental district whereby the powers that be are turning an old industrial district into a new and exciting “knowledge based economy�. Indeed the Media-tic building is designed to be a the forefront and center of this movement within the city as both a meeting point for local companies and professionals and as a hub of innovation. Further examplifying the pursuit of a new age the building boasts a 95% reduction in CO^2 operating emissions [8]. The exterior of the structure consists of a 40 metre high transparent cube and Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) bubbles that have been been reduced and played with using digital technologies. The use of these ETFE bubbles gives the building an interesting external facade but they also serve another environmental purpose and how Cloud 9 has utilised the material is what makes this building so innovative. Solar shading is a big issue when the external facade of your building is transparent especially when one of the key aims of your brief is environmental sustainability but Cloud 9 have overcome this problem by experimenting and creating an adjustable system within the ETFE membrane. The system works by connecting EFTE skin system with light sensors which can automatically activate systems in place to change the transparency of a given patch of EFTE. This works because inside of each EFTE diaphragm contain three layers of EFTE, the first layer is transparent but the second and third layers are comprised of a polka dot pattern which when inflaten can make the facade opaque thus reducing energy transference from the sun into the building [9].


PARAMETRIC DESIGN “Initially, a parametric definition was simply a mathematical formula that required values to be substituted for a few parameters in order to generate variations from within a family of entities. Today it is used to imply that the entity once generated can easily be changed.” Yessios 2003, 263

Essentially parametric design is a more specific definition for the form of computational design whereby the design is formed and altered through the use of mathematical formula. By using computers to generate objects from such formula the effort needed to create and test variants of the design become minimised. Parametric design represents a shift from using computers as a drafting tool to using compters as a design tool. But what does using such a process really result in? What is the design outcome when using parametric design tools? In lecture 3 a few key points about parametric design are discussed which explore some basic principles behind the physical form of parametric design, these are: Positive Principles: - All forms must be soft. - All systems must be differentiated (gradients) and interdependant. - All functions are parametric activity scenarios. - All activities communicate with each other. Negative Principles: - Avoid rigid forms (lack of malleability). - Avoid simple repetition (lack of variety). - Avoid collage of isolated, unrelated elements (lack of order). - Avoid rigid functional stereotypes. - Avoid segregative functional zoning. Another expression of parametric design is explored by Robert Woodbury in Elements of Parametric Design. In his writing Robert Woodbury expresses that parametric modelling represents a fundamental change in the process of design. It is no longer the case that designers are limited to adding and erasing with a pencil and paper. Now a designer can “add, erase, relate and repair” making the design process more fluid and changing the very nature of the process [10].


Interior Guangzhou Opera House Zaha Hadid


[14] [15]


GUANGZHOU OPERA HOUSE GUANGZHOU, CHINA 2010 Zaha Hadid The guangzhou Opera House project, headed by Zaha Hadid, Patrik Schumacher, Woody Yao and Simon Yu examplifies what is possible using parametric design. As Schumacher states, “we used several different programs. We worked the outer crystalline form in Rhino and the inner, more complex and fluid surfaces inside the auditorium in Maya”[11]. It is clear that through the use of such programs facilitates a form which is crystalline and sharp on the outside becomes curves and fluid in the interior. Another design aspect which was heavily influenced by the use of parametric tools is the approach to the building which varies from many different directions and angles. Which was possible to design because of 3D modelling.

The exterior of the building is covered by a structural skin of triangular tiles composed of glass and granite adding to the already present parametric geometry of the building. In a way it is in keeping with the notion that the building is a “volume within a volume” as it explores the interaction between smooth and sharp geometry in a progressively smoother manner into the interior of the structure [12]. [16] [17]



Transform Menu



Week 2: Sketch Assignment Vase

I found this task quite difficult and I took me some time to get it to work. One problem that I didn’t know how to fix was sealing off the bottom of the vase. Obviously I could just plug something into the bottom but I didn’t know how to create one object to slice which 23 would have already been enclosed.

CONCLUSION Over these first few weeks of the course I have begun to develop a better understanding of what it means to design using digital technology specifically Rhino and grasshopper. Using these programs as tools I am finding that I can create models/design which I wouldn’t be able to create otherwise. I am still fairly limited in what I can do but I am still learning and am getting better all the time. From looking into some of my favourite architecture over the weeks which employ digital tools the variety and scope of projects that can be developed using these new age technologies is astounding. I specifically like buildings such as the Mokuzai Kaikan which combine traditional ideas with modern technology to create a new form of the old. For me the things that I will take from these first few weeks are a better understanding of the discourse around digital design methods, what these design methods can lead to, a better understanding of how the programs themselves work and discourse on the future of the architectural design process.


REFERENCES Images: [1] [2] OMA, Milstein Hall,, date accessed 27/03/2013 [3] [4], Mokuzai Kaikan,, date accessed 27/03/201 [5] WAA, Mokuzai Kaikan, Kaikan.jpg, date accessed 27/03/2013 [6] Quintana, Angel, 3DMETRICA, [7] [8][9][10] Foster and Partners, Project: City Hall, http://www.fosterandpartners. com/projects/city-hall/ date accessed 29/03/2013 [11][12][13] Bennetts, Peter, Projects: Media-Tic building Barcelona, http://www., date accessed 2/04/2013 [14][15][16][17] Zaha Hadid Architects, Guangzhou Opera House,, date accessed 4/04/2013

Text: [1] De Zeen Magazine, Milstein Hall by OMA, milstein-hall-by-oma/, date accessed 27/03/2013 [2] Richard Williams, ‘Architecture and Visual Culture’, in Exploring Visual Culture : Definitions, Concepts, Contexts, ed. by Matthew Rampley (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005) [3] Pearson, Clifford A., Architectural Record, projects/Building_types_study/adaptive_reuse/2012/milstein-hall-cornell-university. asp, date accessed 27/03/2013 [4], Mokuzai Kaikan, mokuzai-kaikan.html, date accessed 27/03/2013


[5] Gregory, Rob,. Architectural Review, mokuzai-kaikan-office-by-tomohiko-yamanashi-and-takeyuki-katsuya-nikken-sekkeishinkiba-tokyo-japan/5218274.article, date accessed 27/03/2013 [6] Yehuda E. Kalay, Architecture’s New Media : Principles, Theories, and Methods of Computer-Aided Design (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004), pp. 5 - 25 [7] Foster and Partners, Project: City Hall, city-hall/, date accessed 29/03/2013 [8] World Building Directory, Project in detail: Medi-ICT,, date accessed 2/04/2013 [9] Ward, Maitiu., Australian Design Review, architecture/1538-media-tic, date accessed 2/04/2013 [10] Woodbury, Robert (2010). Elements of Parametric Design (London: Routledge) pp. 7-48



Studio:Air design Journal, Adam Moor

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