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week 02

4 week 02

contemporary computational design


ontemporary computational design for architecture today is an important medium in generating design ideas to clients and other professions. There is a wide range of computational techniques which are used to generate these ideas, for example AutoCAD probably one of the most widely used architectural modeling tools uses predominately 2D modeling to communicate plans, sections and elevations. This type of computation modeling is not unlike what was used by early architects such as Leon Battista Alberti, whom were some of the first to generate this type of communication so the plans for buildings could be understood by master builders and craftsmen, and eliminating the need for the architect to be on site every day to supervise construction.

However more sophisticated design programs have been developed like Rhino and Grasshopper which integrate parametric and algorithmic based software to develop design. These programs can push boundaries of what can be created with the human mind and hand creating increasingly complex structures pushing towards revolution in design and ‘becoming in part an experimental investigation of topological geometries’ ( Zellner). Buildings such as the Wanangkura Stadium, Port Headland have been digitally modeled off isobars on weather maps where their forms have been extracted mathematically to form the basis of the design (architectural review).

This type of design then leads to the debate of what is actually creating the architecture humans or computers? When posed with the issue I contemplated how an actual building is conceived, I surmised that although these programs help to push the boundaries of what can be designed, they are all constrained to algorithms which cannot be altered unless a human mind conceives them. Therefore digital design tools are tools, they are things used by humans to help communicate a design created in the mind by expressing them in a medium that all can comprehend.

4 week 02

Webb Bridge 2003 Denton, Corker & Marshall with Owen


ebb Bridge created in 2003 by architects Denton, Corker and Marshall in collaboration with artist Robert Owen is parametrically modeled bridge created to resemble a traditional aboriginal Eel net. It was conceived as a connection from the north side of docklands to new residential developments on the southern side of the Yarra River. It incorporates the older Web Dock Rail Bridge with a new steel ring structure which acts as ‘a transition between old and new, past and future’.

The design aided by parametric modeling programs helped to incorporate the varying graduation of levels towards the southern bank. A combination of art and architecture and computer programs have been used to allow this transitional space to become a work of useable art encompassing history, function and beauty to ensure the ‘feel’ of the space is right.

4 week 02

The Shard - Renzo Piano 2012


he Shard or London Bridge Tower located on the banks of the Thames River London is a vision of architect Renzo Piano creating the tallest skyscraper in Western Europe. The Shard which is modeled on the concept of an iceberg protruding from the Thames helps to also encapsulate the city’s rich religious history by emulating that of a church spire. The parametric modeling techniques used helped to express Piano’s vision of a building that looked different, in different seasons. Using computers Piano computed what angle the individual glass facades would have to be to achieve this affect. Another computational technique used for safety purposes rather than design was implemented after the World Trade Centre Attacks 2001. The National Institute of Standards and Technology assessed the safety rating of the building using computer simulated attack events to assess whether the building would collapse under extreme duress. This led to design changes to ensure maximum safety for its occupants if an event like this occurs again. The Shard was one of the first buildings in the UK to be subjected to this type of computer generated modeling, which helps to highlight the importance of computer aided design in the safety of large public structures. In terms of the Gateway Project this building creates an iconic feature which incorporates the idea of sculpture to compose a skyscraper by composing an abstracted version of the church spire within central London. This building created an ample amount of discourse amongst interest groups such as English Heritage by creating a controversy that it ‘will stick out of the Thames like a shard of glass’ which ironically helped to create the icon status it now has.

Section of The Shard Image Š renzo piano building workshop

Week 2