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DESIGN STUDIO: Bonnie Williams, 391546


CONTENT 1. CASE FOR INNOVATION 1.0 Introduction 1.1 Architecture as a discourse 1.2 Computational Design 1.3 Parametric modelling




Hey there. i’m Bonnie Williams, a 3rd year Architecture student from the University of Melbourne. I have been interested in architecture and design for as long as i can remember and I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of manipulating space to create or change experiential qualities. I favor traditional design methods such as pencil and paper and therefore I have limited experience in 3D modeling. Nevertheless i am exciting to experiment with this technique and to engage in a new architectural dialogue.


My first exposure to 3D modelling was in first year Virtual Environments in which i was required to use the panelling tools functions within Rhino to design and construct a lantern. Since then i have had a small amount of experience using SketchUp and other basic modeling programs.

1.2 ARCHITECTURE AS A DISCOURSE As the architectural profession evolves the possibilities of design become ever increasingly more infinite. Things which once seemed impossible are seemingly simple now due to the evolution of software and technology. However as technological capabilities increase, the architectural community must also develop in order to keep up with this snowball of new information and ideas. As designers one of the biggest challenges faced is to become educated in the latest software programs before the next technological development is initiated. It is through an architectural

discourse that concepts can be circulated back and forth through architectural communities worldwide; educating, inspiring and chal lenging one another to push the boundaries and extended the limits of what is possible. It is most crucial in design professions to be aware of what is going on around us in both a local and global scale and to always question what our role is as shapers of our physical environment. Good design is no longer characterized by buildings of appealing aesthetics, functionality and sustainability but how a structure contributes socially, culturally, politically or innovatively is becoming more relevant. (1)



“Forest Spirits” is a project created by HHD_FUN Architects, Beijing. Constructed in 2010, it is located in the woodland area of Beijing’s DiTan park and it is a collection of entities designed to be responsive and interactive with itself, its context and the viewer. The projects intention is to explore the idea of passive human impact on natural ecosystems. The “spirits” are interconnected via wireless technology and each entity reacts to its immediate environment and surrounding spirits. Swarm intelligence allows each entity to analyse and exchange data with its neighbours similar to decentralized and self-organizing systems in nature. The design of each spirit was based on bio-mimicry, mimicking the structure of the bamboo of the site, which alongside the translucent material allows for integration and camouflage. They have the ability to respond to external factors such as spectators which creates a digital visual playground. I have chosen this precedent because visually these designs are not very different from what we as students have completed in previous years at University. This highlights for me how projects can extend across the architectural discourse between all skill levels. This project also demonstrates how conceptual projects are becoming more realistic and possible due to advancements in technology. This incredible project, small as it is, opens the doors for future ideas and changes what will become possible in design. (2)

THE NATIONAL FILM ARCHIVE The National Film Archive, by Rojkind Arquitectos was a project aiming to refurbish a structure which was a cultural hub for Mexico City. As moving picture has evolved, the design had to acknowledge this and achieved this through designing a space which promoted communication and common spaces and to remove cinema from the screen and to allow them to become part of an entire experience for viewers. Rather than designing a space for the masses it envisions a space where the movies reach you wherever you are. It encourages physical and visual connections between people and media through the continual ground that connects to the roof of the NFA. This ensures the wealth of Mexico’s moving picture by making them accessible to the general public and the world. The system was designed using parametric models that were then imported into REVIT and analysed in two separate structural design platforms. As discussed earlier, this design addresses social matters and in doing so is contributing to the cultural productivity of civilization. (3)




Like all design practices, architecture is limited by the capacities of the respective science and technology of the time. Contemporary architecture is no longer characterised by a ‘style’ in the tradition sense of the word relating to its physical appearance, the current style is more of an active attempt to be experimental, innovative and revolutionary, taking advantage of current technologies. A debatable evolution in architecture is the change in aesthetics values from rectilinear forms to curvilinear organic shapes as a result of computer aided design techniques. While consumer goods, automotive, aerospace and ship building industries are among many practices which implemented digital design software long ago, it is only within the last decade or two that such computer aided design and manufacturing technologies have impacted on the design and construction industries. “These new smooth architectures are tied intrinsically to a broader cultural discourse…from toothbrushes, toasters, computers and cars…”


Forms that were until recently very difficult and expensive to design are now easily represented communicated and manufactured using similar principles and materials used in the consumer and engineering design world. However, more important than this physical transition is the change to the entire design process as a consequence of new technologies. Computational approaches to design influence the entire building industry but most importantly, the role of the architect. It is now less common for architects to design the shape of buildings, but instead a set of rules or equations by which multiple designs can be generated. Converse to traditional design approaches in which a single design solution was sought through established phases, computational approaches encourage an exploration of infinite possibilities and often the most creative forms result from unpredictable factors along the way. (4

The Centre for Sustainable Energy Technologies at Nottingham University, designed by Mario Cucinella architects is China’s first zero-carbon university building. The façade is based on the design of Chinese paper lanterns folded into patterns using computational design methods. It’s dynamic form offers an astounding amount of structure and stability which is independent of the internal structural frame. The double glass skin achieves its zero carbon status via the roof opening in which natural light shines through and establishes a ventilation system. The building and surrounding structures used state-ofthe-art techniques for environmentally friendly construction practices. (5)

BASQUE HEALTH DEPARTMENT HEADQUARTERS Design by COLL-BARREU ARQUITECTOS, the new Basque health Department aims to bring together staff in a unified location in order to increase efficiency of services and to increase comfort for users and technicians. Visual directions from the inside to outside are generate from the folded façade which encourages urban vitality and interaction. Additionally the façade addresses fire, acoustic, heat gain, ventilation and insulation issues as well as utilising the “wrapping” system a modern construction method. This construction took four years to complete due to its complicated faced which has the appearance of being disconnected and unstable. Originally the facade was a response to the city’s restrictive building code which calls for stepped setbacks for multistorey buildings. (6)


1.3 PARAMETRIC MODELLING Parametric modelling refers to a form of digital representation in relation to 3D architectural design. Designers use mathematical algorithms to set rules or constraints on parameters in order to manipulate form. One of the strongest arguments for parametric modelling is it’s ability to allow designers to not only design a structure, but also to design how it can change and adapt. Traditionally, making changes to designs could be difficult. Simply changing even one dimension could mean adjusting the entire project, an expensive and timely process. This in effect would place limitations on designers throughout the design process and increase pressure to reach a perfect singular outcome early. Parametric modelling however, allows designers to have the freedom to make “mistakes” and reach alternative outcomes.


“No longer must designers simply add and erase. They now add, erase, relate and repair”. A concern of architectural parametric modelling is that programs are not always capable of supporting architectural thinking and creativity. Parametric modelling aims to free architects from the constraints of CAD programs. But many modelling tools are prescriptive in their geometric functioning and therefore may limit the natural intuitive design process. Parametric modelling alters the traditional design process by “requiring the designer to take one step back from the direct activity of design and focus on the logic that binds the design together.” They must consider how to digitally construct their design using parameters and algorithms. (7)

ENGAGE This installation designed by HHD_FUN challenges the traditional top-down design method due to it’s algorithmic design process in which the result is unexpected. The façade of the structure was designed using triangular fractal pattern within a recursive algorithm. Each entity was fractured again and again to create smaller triangles. This precedent is interesting because it addresses the concept of permanence. It is a temporary structure which encourages interaction from users and aims to question observation, perception of society and biology. Within the structure are projections of virtual architecture onto google maps which can be altered by spectators displacing their body weight on top of the motion sensors. Similar to “Forest Spirits” this project shows how it does not always have to be the biggest most visually dramatic buildings which are constructed but also those with strong conceptual and theoretical purposes as a result of or aided by parametric modelling. (8)


TENT This 150m2 structure by HHD_FUN architects in is a transformable temporary structure built for a Shanghai fashion show, among other events. It has an ability change its form depending on the purpose of its use as well as easily being deconstructed and transported. It’s design is based on the concept of origami triangles and consists of 6 interlocking components which resulted from the deformation of one triangular surface. The tent


itself is created from a steel structure with waterproof elastic translucent material which as well as being a low carbon footprint product, also makes it easy to move and re-install. This precedent is interesting in its addressing of material properties in association with parametric modelling. A building which is capable of quickly and economically adapting based on public demands demonstrates a highly innovative and intelligent contribution to modern architecture. (9)

LEARNING OBJECTIVES Since beginning this part of the assignment my understanding of computational designing including parametric modelling has greatly improved. Through the readings, lectures and tutorials so far I have gained a basic understanding of how technological advancements are changing the architectural industry by allowing for the design and construction of concepts which were once only that, concepts. As technology changes as do the economic, social and aesthetic values of the architectural discourse. One thing I have greatly noticed is the change in the design process from a traditional linear process to a more open and undetermined mindset.

CONCLUSION In tackling the next stage of the assignment my approach will be different after what i have recently learnt. I am interested in the idea of permanance vs. temporary structures and will be exploring material properties within my group. I will be utilizing computation design methods such as parametric modelling and taking advantages of what this process has to offer while continueing to learn skills along the way. It will be significant to design this way as it allows for a more open ended design otucome. Something which in the future can be changed and manipulated, something which i have recently become interested in.

REFERENCES: 1. Richard Williams, ‘Architecture and Visual Culture’, in Exploring Visual Culture : Definitions, Concepts, Contexts, ed. by Matthew Rampley (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005), pp. 108. 2. Architizer (2010) Forest Spirits, Available at: forest-spirits/20579/#.UV5lpFdYnGI (Accessed: 20/03/2013). 3. Rojkind Arquitectos (2013) Rojkind Arquitectos Awarded the project for Mexico’s “Cineteca Nacional del Siglo XXI”., Available at: (Accessed: 20/03/2013).

4. Patrik Schumacher, ‘Introduction : Architecture as Autopoietic System’, in The Autopoiesis of Architecture (Chichester: J. Wiley, 2011) 5. The University of Nottingham Ningbo China (2013) Centre for Sustainable Energy Technologies (CSET), Available at: (Accessed: 28/03/2013). 6. Archdaily (2011) Basque Health Department Headquarters in Bilbao / Coll-Barreu Arquitectos , Available at: (Accessed: 01/04/2013). 7.

Woodbury, Robert (2010). Elements of Parametric Design (London: Routledge) pp. 7-48

8. Architizer (2013) Embedded Project, Available at: embedded-project/17726/#.UV5qR1dYnGI (Accessed: 01/04/2013). 9. Archdaily (2013) JNBY / HHD_FUN Architects, Available at: (Accessed: 03/04/2013).

bonnie williams case for innovation  

bonnie williams

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