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Design Journal of Studio Air of Semester 1 2013 Student: Chau Hei Tong Hilton 383768 Studio 12-13 Tutor: Tom & Finn

ABPL30048_2013_SM1 Architecture Design Studio Air





PART A: EXPRESSION OF INTEREST CASE OF INNOVATION ARCHITECTURE as a discourse Bruder Klaus Field Chapel Phaeno Science Center

COMPUTATION in architecture Messe Basel New Hall O-14

PARAMETRIC modelling International Terminal Waterloo Aviva Stadium

ALGORITHMIC explorations

8-9 10-11 12-13 14-15 16-17 18-19

22-23 24-25 26-27



LEARNING outcomes



Hi guys, I am Hilton Chau. I am a third year student of The University of Melbourne, currently undertaking an Architecture Major in the Bachelor of Environments. I am an international student from Hong Kong and I have been living in Melbourne for four years. My interest to architecture is due to where I came from. Hong Kong is a metropolitan city where full of skyscrapers and contemporary architectures. However, within the contemporary urnban context, a lot of traditional and characteristic architectures can be found around in the old district. By contrasting both old and modern building, you can see how digital designing tools change the way of designing buildings.


From sketches, digitisation and fabrication


Two years before, I have done Virtual Environments during my first year architecture studies. During that course, I was asked to construct a paper lantern. Firstly, I designed it with sketches and made sketch models. Then I used Rhino to digitise my model and used paneling tools to test different geometric pattern on the surface of the lantern.Lastly, I fabricated it with paper.

Loft diagram of the digital model

During the time of digitising, I fimilarized myself with Rhino, apart from that I also think digital tools actually help creating some interesting form and structure.

Box panels on the surface of the model


“Nearly everything that encloses space on a scale sufficient for a human being to move in is a building; the term architecture applies only to building designed with a view to aesthetic appeal� By Nikolaus Pevsner

Architecture as discourse According to Nikolaus Pevsner, an art historian and critic, building is simply an enclosed space where human being is able to move inside while architecture is building with consideration of aesthetics. However, is that what architecture means? Richard William suggested that, architecture as art since it requires beholder to have the same view of other visual arts. In architecture as art, people are led to think architecture as an individual art work and expect them to be an unique expressions of creative mind which similar to paintings and sculptures.1 Moreover, he added that architecture will be incomplete by simply defined as art. Unlike poems, stories, music or literatures, architecture is restricted. It is because architects can have innovative design, but they are all restricted by elements such as the users, location, urban context, cost and above all the client.2 Architects are hired by the client to execute designs instead of create what they want. Poets, writers, and composers, they all have complete control of their work, they are able put their thought within words and music freely. However, architects do not have such a free will, I am not saying that they cannot embed their thoughts and ohilosophies in the building, but ten out of ten, the finally decision is fallen on the client’s hand. Therefore even we can see architecture as an enclosed skin of the structure or a composition of different materials, it is not a complete Art.

nications, users, architect, clients, practices, media, local government and other related parties involve in the architecture field can communicate through architecture. It may not be a verbal communication, but the users can get the ideas and concepts what the designers want to convey. The design is also harmonise with the urban context. This kind of interactive is what I think as the discourse of architecture. Nowadays, people are still talking about or visit some historical monuments, why?. Is it because they are old? because they monumental? Maybe, but the most important is they are communicating with people over centuries. As a result, the key for a good architecture is to and to be communicated. That is how I define architecture as discourse.

Apart from that the incomplete definition of architecture as art, architecture also defines as discourse which also known as system of communication. Systems of communications “generates their own components and structures within the ongoing flow of communications� according to Patrik Schumacher.3 Architecture is not only a piece of massive sculpture or a structure but it is an ongoing communication process. By means of commu-


“To me, buildings can have a beautiful silence that I associate with attributes such as composure, self-evidence, durability, presence, and integrity, and with warmth and sensuousness as well; a building that is being itself, being a building, not representing anything, just being.� by Peter Zumthor

Architecture as discourse Blacken cavity of the chapel

Bruder Klaus Field Chapel Architect: Peter Zumthor Location: Mechernich, Germany Completion: 2007

People may think its a gaint block of stone standing freely in the middle of a farm in Germany, but it is actually an elegant chapel designed by Peter Zumthor , a swiss architect. They way the architect built this chapel is full of humanity. To build the chapel, 112 three trunks were firstly formed a wigwam. Then form work was set around the trunks and local farmers and residents pour 50cm-thick concrete each time. In total of 24 layers, a solid concrete facade is formed.4

View of the Chapel when approaching

However, the most mystericous part of the chapel is, the tree wigwam end up set on fire and leave the interior a blacken cavity and charred wall. From the way of the construction, I can understand Zumthor’s minimalist concept. The use of local materials such as timber and hand mixed concrete, firmly rooted the building in the landscape.5 The chapel acts as a discourses to the visitors, the black cavity of the interior forms a sanctified which bring the peace and calm to them.


Phaeno Science Center Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects Location: Wolfsburg, Germany Completion: 2005

Apart from the previous building by Peter Zumthor, the Phaeno Science Center is designed by the digital designing master Zaha Haddid. The mysterious appearance of the science center drives curiosity and discovery of the visitor to a world of future. I would say simply by looking of the building structure, visitors will be attracted and also got excited to explore what happen inside. The science center located close to many significant buildings of the city of Wolfsburg such as the railway station and Autostadt (tourist attraction built by Volkswagen). Therefore in order to allow visitors walk toward these attractions under a sheltered area, Zaha designed funnel-shaped columns to support the structure which meanwhile create spacious sheltered area for

people to walk pass. The big concrete columns and some glass windows on the top of the ground floor produced a mysterious atmosphere for visitors. These columns are not only worked as a structural support but also have individual function such as book shop, speaker hall and exhibition hall.6 Zaha explained the idea of its layout is generated by particle explosion. Therefore we can see how Zaha incoporates the different funtional components into the building structures which is rational.7 Besides, from the use of materials, lighting system, positioning, all the design components of the building are designed for the users and visitors. Visitors are able to experience the feel of cyber and future when approaching thei building which again the building itself is conveying message to people.

Top: Interior of the science center Bottom: Rendering

External view of the science center View at the bottom of the first floor


“the processing of information and interactions between elements which constitute a specific environment; it provides a framework for negotiating and influencing the interrelation of datasets of information, with the capacity to generate complex order, form, and structure.� By Sean Ahlquist and Achim Menges

COMPUTATION IN ARCHITECTURE How does computation affect the design process? What are the ongoing and incoming changes within design and construction industries?

Computer can be regarded as one of the most

important invention of the last few decades. It is a superb analytical machine which can perform accurately according to the program without any arithmetical mistakes. Therefore, with the ability of have quick response and work accurately, computer is in a prominent role of in contemporary design process. At the same time, architects need precise data of the site condition, climate, functionality, building codes, cost and drawing inspirations etc in order to develop the design, as a result the design process of architecture have certain impacts with the aid of computer. 8

First of all, before defining Computation, we have to understand what is computerisation. For example, architects use computer as a virtual drafting board to help himself editing his drawing. We call them computerisation instead of computation, so does scanning a 3D sketch model into computer in order to analysis the model. Computerisation is to make thing easier, quicker and more precise for architects and other parties involve in the design process. On the other hand, Computation allows designers to extend their abilities to handle highly complex situations and also provide a way to explore new forms and structures.9 It can also be explained as computer process information through an understood model which can be express as an algorithm.

Apart from that, computation allows architects can do experiments of the structures and materials in order to test their limit in a virtual environment. They can get the data from the computer and try build it in reality which again introduce new form of digitally- denerated form. Digitally- generated forms are the current trend of modern architecture, such models are consistent, continual and dynamic transformation are replacing the static and conventional design process, which explains the contemporary design of architecture is going into a dynamic form. Most of the dynamic design such as topology, NURBS and parametric are based on mathematical definition, so as to form a series of pattern and shape. In my opinion, I do think computerisation set a great foundation for computation. With software such as AutoCad, which increase the efficient of design and documentation and at the same time imporve the communication between different parties in the design industry. Therefore later when the more advance digital design tools such as Rhino, Revit and alot other software come out, designer can use them while designing. During the design process, they will try explore new form and structure in computer. But one important thing is that, Architects and designers have to always believe themselves as they have the creativity and imagination. They should be restricted by computer and there should not be any boundary in design. Computer should always help you in design but not hinder your design.

What is the impact of computation to architecture? As mentioned before, computation can help generate new ideas and forms. For instance, when architects write a program to solve a design problem, they may come up with something new through the process of modification in the software. This situation will end up produce a new form of structures and forms which diverse the design industry.



Messe Basel New Hall Architect: Herzog & de Meuron Location: Basel, Switzerland

The Herzog & de Meuron is firm that driven by conceptual design. In order to accomodate their innovative concept, they use computational tools to help achieving the goal. Kai Strehlke, Head of the Digital Technology Group at Herzog & de Meuron, claimed that they are not trying to do something with technology, but focus more on the design intent and architectural idea and concept. They are developing their own tools to find their conceptual forms.10 This project, Messe Basel New Hall is located in the exhibition square in Basel. The concept of the exhibition hall came from two overlaying boxes with slightly twisted to produce a hyperbolic surface. In order to stand out from the simple form, the architects put lots of effort to generate an interesting skin of the building.

Top: 3D pattern facade Bottom: circular structure in the hall

The architect used aluminum as a fabric, to produce a two portion of the project. Using the malleability of aluminum to from a visual interest of the building. The digital technology group assembled the 2D CNC-milled components into a complex 3D structure. Therefore the facade strategy has both double curvature and variably size openings.11

What are the ongoing and incoming changes within design and construction industries? The current way of the architectural design is computation as mentioned before, and it will be an ongoing trend in the architecture industry. Since the development of Computer programming will never stop, new digital design software will appear to help generate new form and structures, therefore people who are in the architecture and construction field have to be prepared.12 In the coming future, architects may have to involve more into fabrication process and construction process because of there are building components which can be export to the manufacturer straight from computer. Take the examples from Frank Gehry, the irregular-shjaped glass windows

of the Nationale Nederlanden are fully manufactured by digital-driven cutting machine while a metal fish sculpture in spain is Frank Gehry’s paperless project, which means the whole design process is fully digital from design to fabrication. However, how will computation affect the construction industry? Due to the emergence of digital design program, the time of fabrication and construction can be reduced since designers can export their digital files direct to the manufacturers and the outcome is usually very precise and accurately. Besides, 3D laser scanning is also increasingly used during design and construction to help importing a 3-dimensional sketch model into computer so as to generate a digital model.



Architect: Reiser + Umemoto Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The O-14 is a twenty-two story tall commercial building in the heart of Dubai’s Business Bay which turned itself inside out with its structural skin flipped to offer a new economy tectonics and space. The structural skin is actually a concrete shell which acts as an efficient structural exoskeleton. The idea of the exoskeleton is to bare primary vertical and lateral structural load so as to allow a column free offic slabs to span between the building. By doing this, the office will be more flexible as the building minises the core of the building. 13 Apart from that, the shell does not only act as the primary structure but a sunscreen open to light, air, and views. Designing this sunscreen involves lots of caltuation such as wind speed, sun exposure, luminosity and other thing. Therefore regarding this, architects have to do research and some

simulation in computer in order to determine how to position the openings of the shell. The sunscreen of the building made this building to be a sustainable building. It is because there is a “chimney effect” in the building where hot air rise and effectively cools the surface of the glass windows within the one metre gap between the concrete shell and the glass window.14 In construction, super liquid concrete and tons of steel reinforcement were required to maintain its rigidity and stability. To make those holes on the concrete shell, Computer Numerically Cut (CNC) polystyrene were placed into the reinforcement matrix of the shell in specific position. In order to have the same shape of the foam, the architect worked with subconcractors ro systematize the production of foam pills on site.15

Top right: typical floor plan Middle right: reinforcement between the opening Bottom right: the position of the openings on the concrete shell Bottom left: “Chimney Effect”

The concrete shell of O-14


PARAMETRIC MODELLING Critique the use of parametric modelling in the architectural design process. Advangage Vs Disadvantage Parametricism is the finally answer of architectural design after 25 years of stylistic searching, according to Patrik Schumacher, do you agree? He suggested that parametricism implies “all architectural elements and complexes are parametrically malleable.”15 The geometry of parametricism is changed from rigid figures such as retangles, cubes and cylinders to a dynamic form like ‘hair’, ‘cloth’ and ‘blobs’. Those dynamic forms are able to react with ‘attractors’ in the program when designer vary the scripts. He also proposed that the principle of parametricism is to avoid rigid form, simply repetition, collage of unrelated elements, rigid functional stereotyes and segregative functional zoning. Yet the parametric design should generate soft form, differentiate systems with correlations and be able to communicate with each other.16

Furthermore, we have to aware that parametric design is not the only design method in the current world. Architects such as Peter Zumthor, Tadao Ando, Kengo Kuma and David Chipperfield are called the minimalist which design formal building enriched with materiality and spatial experience. These are another way of design which the buildings are respond to context and not simply follow what the software drives you. Moreover, I am not disagree the design of parametricism, I think with the aid of computer software, architect can explore more complex and interesting form and structures which diverse the style of architectures.

However, some scholars disagree with his idea and claimed that the parametricism is not the mainstream of architectural style. Adam Nathaniel Mayer argued that parametric design is only designed for wealthy developers who are looking for public unconventional buildings. They wanted to create some eye catching building with new and complex structure which sometimes ignored the surrounded context. Usually, after the initial shock, people may find the parametric skin of the architecture is hideous and not user-friendly. He added, even people have the software and skill in parametric and digital design, it does not mean that they can build anything in the free form. As an architect, we have to consider the urban context, scale, proportion and users so that the building will not disturb the current site and inerupt the harmonious of the cities, building everything in parametricism is not necessary.17


International Terminal Waterloo Architect: Nicholas Grimshaw and Partner Location: London, UK Completion: 1993

Nicholas Grimshaw was commissioned to renew and extend one of the most siginificant international railway station in London, the International Terminal Waterloo. The brief of this building is to build a ‘streamlined terminal’ where passengers could pass with minimal disturbance with maxium speed . Since it is terminal is to provide international services, full security, immigration and customs border control have to be placed with a constrained London site. The allocated site, adjacent to the existing national rail station, was only wide enough to accommodate the necessary five tracks. Limitation such as love electric rails on one side and shallow London Underground tunnels beneath, the challenge of building a streamlined structure was risen.18 This building was built in 1993, by the time parametric design was still relative new. However, it is a good example for how architects used the aid of digital software to design a parametric roof form. The 400m long roof with asymmetric shape in the acute

Top right: over view of the station Bottom right: Structure of the parametric roof Bottom left: section of the roof

profile was designed to show the expression of flow as a new way of transportation. On eastern side, the roof rises up progressively to fit the height of the trains with a glass cladding.19 In tems of its structure, the roof consists of pairs of three-pinned bow strings arches; the central point located off the center towards one of the sides to allow a bow shaoe in the higher area from West to East. The roof covers an area reduces from 50m at the entrance to 35m at the end. Furthermore, glass tiles of different sizes are overlapping on the flexible roof which can shrink and expand according to different spins of the roof.20

What parametric design is used in this building? In this early designed parametric roof form, architects set two dissimilar curved with trusses, where the larger one stretched in the inner side and the smaller curved strectched from the top to the bottom. The 35 modules of structural beams vary in dimensions. In terms of digital modelling, architects used I_EMS which usually used to design ships and automoble and Microstation Generative Components for digital modelling. The trusses of the roof can be modified according to the proportional scale factor by the program. However, base on the script, the width of the structure is changable but maintain the central profile.21


Top: Interior of the roof structure Bottom: Glass glazing of the roof


Top: Overview of the stadium Bottom: parametric roof structure

Aviva Stadium

Architect: Populous Architects Location: Dublin, Ireland Completion: 2010

This parametric approach of the Aviva Stadium made use of a centralized method of coordinating communication in order to deliver high quality results on budget on time. This example also showed that the “design conversation� can take place between parties involved and to form a better building. The Avia Stadium has been used commercially available parametric modelling software from beginning to end. In this project, architects and engineers were shared a single digital model in a digital software, Bentley’s GenerativeComponents (GC), in order to optumize the form of design, structure and facade. The succeed of this project showed to the public that with parametric moedl, the interdisciplinary communication can help different parties of the project to work effieciently.22

Left: Variation of the Parametric form of the roo Top right: Fine tone of the fillet of the roof Bottom right: Workflow of the project

The geometric definition of the Aviva Stadium was further fragmented in to a set of control devices which provided the architectural team information to its design department and also to client and local planner.23 Meanwhile, the same model was shared to the structural engineering team to figure out the structural component of the roof. With the same sourse of digital model, it speed up the whole design process as changes can be assessed quickly by the engineers. One of the advantage of parametric design is we can produce varies of models within a set of parameter then pick the best one among all. In this case, the arhitects are able to fine-tune the geometry as parametric modelling provide visual optimization. Besides, the use of parametric platforms allowed design to be tested an driven to a high level of detail from which each subcontractor could work independently.


ALGORITHMIC THINKING By exploring the Grasshopper 3d, a graphical algorithm editor, in Rhino 3D, we can easily generate parametric designs. As Grasshopper is an algorithmic-based program, every components can be broken down into scientific and mathematic explanation. Therefore, we will know the limit of the design but analysis the scripts. The algorithmic sketches on the left page were a demonstrate of making a basket like structure. By building up simple curves structures and two guidline for the pipeline, Basket-like structure will be formed. We can also change the input from the algorithem in order to get varies of structures based on the same parameter.


CONCLUSION In the section of Expression of Interest, we are asked to argue the topics of Architecture as discourse, Computation in Architecture and Parametric modelling. As mentioned above, architecture as a discourse as a communication system but not an art due to the restriction of architects. In reality, client have to right to make the decision since they are the true owner of the building. However, architects are very important because they have to strike the balance between client’s requirements, urban contexts, users and a lot of other elements in the building industry, they are the media of communication. In terms of computation in architecture, due to the rise of hi-tech digital software and computer-aid calculation, the efficiency of design increased and at the same time more innovative forms and structures are brought to reality. Things that we only appear in our imagination before comes true, for instance the Phaeno Science Centre by Zaha Hadid. With the aid of computer, architects no longer a building designer but also a programmer. In the modern trend, architects not only have to be able to use digital design tools but also develop their own tools which helps in their design such as the Herzeg de Meuron and Foster + Partners, they have their own digital technology group to develop digital tools. Last but not least, as an architecture student, I hope designers will not overrely on computation. They have to know that, they are the one that control comptuter but not being driven by the computer. They have to achieve the cooporation between rational and creative abilities.

LEARNING OUTCOMES Computer is your design tools or your brain? After doing research in the pass few weeks, I think computer is a tool which can achieve innovative ideas. It is no doubt that with the help of computer, architects and designers can work faster and while computation in design process, innovative designs always come out. However, we have to be aware that our creativities are not limited by computation. The different between Human and computer is human being is capable to think while computer cannot. As a result, the mind of designers should not be driven by digital software but rather make good use of its ability to optimise the design.


REFERENCES Alvarado, R G., Munoz, J J., 2012, The control of shape: origins of parametric design in architecture in Xenakis, Gehry and Grimshaw, METU.JFA Architectural Design, Computation Works- The Building of Algorithmic Thought, ed. John Wiley and Sons Ltd., Issue 2, Vol 83 2013, ‘Phaeno Science Center’, ( phaeno-science-center-/) [2013, April 2] Kalay, Y., 2004, Architecture’s New Media: Principles, Theories, and Methods of Compute-Aided Design, MIT Press, Cambridge, pp. 5-24 Kolarevic, Branko, Architecture in the Digital Age: Design and Manufacturing (New York; London: Spon Press, 2003), pp. 3 - 28 Mayer, A N., ‘Style and the Pretense of ‘Parametric’ Architecture’. (http://adamnathanielmayer.blogspot. com/2010/06/style-and-pretense-of-parametric.html) [2013, April 2] Nicolai Ouroussoff, ‘Science Center Celebrates an Industrial Cityscape’, The New York Times, 28th November, 2005 Roly Hudson, Paul Shepherd and David Hines, ‘Aviva Stadium:A case study in integrated parametric design’, international journal of architectural computing, issue 02, Vol 09, 2011 Reiser, J., Umemoto, N. & Ocampo, J., Case Study: O-14 Folded Exoskeleton, CTBUH Journal, Issue 3, 2010 Schumacher, P., 2010, Patrik Schumacher on parametricis m - ‘Let the style wars begin’ [Online]. (http:// [2013, April 3] Williams, Richard, ‘Architecture and Visual Culture’, in Exploring Visual Culture: Definitions, Concepts and Contexts, ed. Matthew Rampley [Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005], p. 102-116 Reiser, J., Umemoto, N. & Ocampo, J., Case Study: O-14 Folded Exoskeleton, CTBUH Journal, Issue 3, November, 2010


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