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Architecture Studio. Semester 1. 2015 Tutor: Canhui Chen

CHAN JOSHUA TIG HAY Bachelor of Environments 638994

TABLE OF CONTENTS ABOUT 04 PART A: CONCEPTUALIZATION A.0. Design Futuring 08 A.1. Design Computation 10 A.2. Composition/Generation 12 A.3. Conclusion 14 A.4. Learning Outcomes 15

PART B: CRITERIA DESIGN B.1. Research Field 18 B.2. Case Study 1.0 26 B.3. Case Study 2.0 30 B.4. Technique: Development 40 B.5. Technique: Prototypes 46 B.6. Technique: Proposal 58 B.7. Learning Objectives and Outcomes 62 B.8. Appendix - Algorithmic Sketches 64

PART C: DETAIL DESIGN C.1. Design Concept 72 C.2. Tectonic Elements & Prototypes 88 C.3. Final Detail Model 126 C.4. Learning Objectives and Outcomes 146



ello my name is Joshua and I am currently a third year architecture student. I am from the fascinating world-class city of Hong Kong and it is my hometown where my seeds of interests in architectural design were nurtured. Growing up in such a fast growing city, I have always been intrigued by the dense building environment that houses its aging population. I believe architecture should be sociable and too often we forget that a real city is composed of flesh and not concrete. My interest within the realm of design lies within renewing social cohesion to building a sustainable urban future. I have been exploring green building technology and ways to integrate sustainable features within my previous projects, and I am hoping to further visualize complex ideas using parametric software.


Virtual Environments is a subject I completed which acts as a stepping stone to my knowledge of digital architecture. I have made use of Rhino3D to design a second skin as means of exploring the idea of personal space. My project was based on the research on a section and profile system, having the Dragon Skin Pavilion project as a precedent. Digital design software had always been a great tool for me when dealing with design visualization. I have been using Revit for my past projects and have learnt to appreciate the significance of building information modelling in terms of documentation and crossdiscipline collaboration. My modelling skills in Rhino3D is still of foundation level but I am looking forward to explore rather unusual geometries and organic forms with this parametric design tool.

Second Skin Project Virtual Environments 2013

Designing Environments 2013

Virtual Environments 2013

Studio Earth 2014

Studio Water 2014


Part A:


Design Futuring Blooming Bamboo Home Vietnam H&P Architects

Fig 1a(Left), 1b(Top right), 1c(Bottom right): Interior living space, Exterior structure, Bamboo planted wall

Hazard-prone regions such as Vietnam and Japan experience probably not frequent, but regular flood and earthquake attacks. In contrast to Japan’s use of cutting-edge technology, the Blooming Bamboo house looks into vernacular architecture, basing its construction on locally sourced materials.

ill-flooded district. The architects looked into the construction of modern prefabricated houses and manifested the idea within a more rural setting. The solution to a rather simple problem is an elegant one, showing courtesy towards locally sourced materials which are renewable and cost-effective.

Entirely constructed of Bamboo, the multifunctional house is an interesting investigation into how a single type of material can be applied to various manners to provide both structural support, and aesthetic appeal to an elevated prototype.

This project has not only taken into consideration Vietnam’s climate and resources, more importantly it has responded to the wider context of sustainability regarding the use of materials and their embodied energy. It will evoke change in future projects where housing prototypes will pave the way for more energyefficient solutions that can be applied on a larger scale.

The blooming bamboo home can be constructed within 25 days.[1] It is an example of a cost-effective yet sustainable solution in an



Prototype in Oslo, Norway Rintala Eggertsson Architects

Fig 2a(Left), 1b(Middle), 1c(Right): Box exterior, Ghosted space layout diagram, Built interior finishing

The Boxhome is a residential housing project produced by Norwegian architects, which while elegant in its form, could probably raise controversial environmental issues and challenge Western social ideals. The prefabricated house strips down to the utmost minimal in residential living, providing merely a living space, a bathroom, a bedroom and a kitchen within such a small space. [2] Undoubtedly its minimalist ideas support the reduced use of construction material compared to spacious housing, raising awareness over humans’ ignorance towards the ever depleting resources in our environment.

The project however gets people questioning as well whether such an extreme strip-down to the essentials would mean a forfeit in sensuality. It has always been the aim to provide comfort in an urban home, but whether a balance could be found between spaciousness and sustainability is still a hot dish on the table. The social ideal of “big house means big wealth” is definitely challenged in this prototype. Its prefabricated nature advocates more economical mass production. Claimed to be a “place of withdrawal from urban intensity”, it evokes concern over whether the Boxhouse is merely a ‘getaway place’ or a place to ‘live in for the time being’. In that sense it may not be an alternative to extravagant living, but instead an advocate.


A.1. Design Computation Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza Seoul Zaha Hadid

Fig 3a(Left), 3b(Top right), 3c(Bottom right): Exterior panel tessellation, Exterior entrance, Aerial view render

Since the emergence of computers, countless realms of possibilities have been opened up to the architectural profession. In Zaha’s project, its façade exploration has shown how technology is able to bring revolution to traditional formal ideas. The project’s tessellated façade was made possible by digital software, where the Aluminium façade followed a script that converts smooth curvatures into meshed subdivisions. [3] Such ruled-based technology allows complex geometries to be explored and constructed, where sizes of panels vary along the degree of curvature. It is therefore not hard to anticipate futuristic architecture in fluid forms, as well as more explicit use of tectonic articulation with material.


It is prevalent that architects are no longer mere articulators of form and space, but with software they are involved with other disciplines as well during the design phase. No matter it is façade treatment or structural design, engineering investigations via software will open up spatio-morphological opportunities. In Zaha’s project, the need for visual light was minimal, thus each piece of panel were perforated to allow sunlight into the building in a subtle manner. [3] Zaha’s fluid form and interest in continuous-line geometries allowed us to view architecture in a rather different way. Walls are no longer wall and slabs are not merely slabs. Fluid geometries have blurred the lines between architectural components in such a sense that buildings can be more ‘sculptural’. Ultimately, how architects visualize design will indefinitely be revolutionized and transcend to a whole new level.

Zero carbon building

Kowloon Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong Ronald Lu and Partners

Fig 4a(Top left), 4b(Bottom left), 4c(Right): Section, Built interior, Aerial built view

Environmental consciousness in design is becoming increasingly pivotal where green walls are becoming ‘the new marble’. The Zero Carbon building in Hong Kong not only showcases cutting edge green building technology, but it also serves as a precursor to practical green living in a densely populated city. The green pioneer project in Hong Kong operates with zero net carbon emissions annually. [4] The building’s energy generation systems realize the potential of computerized analysis. Geographical data has provided the building industry with invaluable information beforehand such that design decisions can be made to maximize performance. Such technology has challenged, and at the same time invited, performance-based design over visual manifestation. Analytical data may evoke a new drive towards design, where the prime importance in design will shifts from form to performance.

Active systems such as underfloor displacement cooling and chilled beam systems are key players in creating a comfortable indoor environment. [4] These systems have been cautiously planned via building information modelling. Unlike conventional drafting, BIM enables disciplines to speak to one another. Architects are able to collaborate with engineers and construction managers long before actual construction. The technology made crossdiscipline planning possible, minimizing the risk of resource wastage. Computerized analysis software is being utilized far beyond “as a replacement of pen and paper”, instead it has evolved to be an essential tool in foreseeing the effects of a finished product. The indispensable technology will bring about an ever-increasing practicality to green building design, adding to the list of tools that move architecture towards sustainability.


A.2. Composition/Generation Kartal Masterplan Installation in New York Zaha Hadid

As a winning competition proposal, the Kartal master plan was built as a life-sized installation that showcases the architect’s futuristic visions about Istanbul’s urban design.

The master plan was derived from ‘an urban script’ that was claimed to be adaptable and generates various building typologies in response to different social demands. [5] The process involved numerous design iterations with the ‘morphing’ abilities provided by parametric software. The project is certainly a pioneer in the use of algorithmic thinking applied on the urban scale. The architects utilized very well the quick ‘feedback’ ability of parametric modelling in making design decisions and iteration. Architectural ‘morphing’ has


become the driving force towards generative design where preconceived visual ideals will no longer become the starting point of a project. This on one hand this has opened up opportunities towards unknown spatial design, but on the other it has instigated a shift in focus preconceived concepts towards changeable and dynamic forms. It is the only drawback from parametric design is that futuristic ideals will begin to override history. The often curvilinear solutions that result seldom pay courtesy towards the historical context and its existing social environment. While satisfying the brief in rejuvenating an obsolete site, the Kartal master plan should be questioned over whether it fits in within the built environment. No doubt will parametric and algorithmic thinking envision practical and innovative solutions, but never shall the context of a design be detached in such a way that separates urbanity and architecture.

REN Peoples Tower

Buidling competition proposal, Shanghai BIG and AKT

Above: Night perspective render, Below left: Original concept diagram, Below right: Scaled tessellation diagram

The REN tower is a competition proposal that is conceived as two buildings merging into one. [6] Aside from its peculiar form, the building envelop provides architects an insight in the power of pattern generation with parametric tools. The tower incorporated pattern engineering during the design process and has generated a series of structurally sound scaled circles to populate the façade. [6] The projects’ pursuit in the use of elemental shapes has been pushed forward with the utilization of algorithms. A simple rule of scaling allows the original concept to evolve from a series of uniform circles to a series of scaled circles. The change not only allowed complex aesthetic exploration, but the result brought about to the building was a structurally sound exterior bracing system.

It is inevitable that the era of scripting will bring about a whole new genre in architectural design. Simulation of abstract forms such as “force fields” and sorts of intangible connections mimicking nature will be made possible and constructible as structurally sound objects. However, it is still yet to be known whether such technology will cause hindrance to the traditional design mindset. The overuse of mathematical data in ‘scripting’ freeform design may result in overly ‘sculptural design’. Parametric technology enabled exploration of materiality merely through the construction of sculptures and pavilions. Currently limited to surface patterning and tessellation in building facades, algorithmic thinking is still on its way to influencing architecture on the larger scale in the form of high rise housing.


A.3. Conclusion

A change in thinking Ever since computational tools evolved from its bare replacement of pen to become a generative platform, the perception of architectural design has been totally transformed and can be reimagined in completely different ways. The ability to integrate mathematical data in the design process has linked architecture to the intertwined web of seemingly irrelevant disciplines, which will eventually transcend the architectural discourse to a whole new level. I intend to approach the project without any preconceived ideas in mind, and instead allow the computational environment to stimulate intriguing formations, structures as well as abstract ideas. Sustainability and the social environment as my fields of interest will inform my design decisions. The ultimate goal is to not place prime emphasis on the design outcome, but to explore the countless opportunities parametric modelling offers during the development and how it will impact on future projects. A crude research over global environmental issues will be my starting point. I believe the idea of “think global, act local� is a tangible and interesting response to the brief. It allows the design project to take on a rather sophisticated problem, but tackle it with a simplistic approach. I believe that when the most peculiar problems are dealt with in a humanistic manner, both the designer and the user will understand the clearly the rationale behind design decision and be able to influence the future in a similar way.


A.4. Learning Outcomes

Towards a new media As a novice user of design software it has always occurred to me that hand drawing is irreplaceable and that computers are merely rigid tools that does no more than speeding up the process of documentation. I admit the fact that my undertrained skills shaped me into thinking that working in a digital medium would become a limit rather than an opportunity. However the research on various generative designs allowed me to acknowledge the power of accuracy and changeability in the digital era. I feel that computation has brought me from the manifestation of virtual ideals closer to actual fabrication. This type of thinking would have provided elements of iterations such as free-formed geometry, constructability and even a touch on structural dynamism to my previous compositional projects.


Part B:


Strips and Folding


he computational utilization of strips and folds in the exploration of volumetric space is most probably inspired by origami. The Japanese originated art form does not simply exist as the mere act of recreating daily objects, but instead seamlessly exert rather simple and influential form-finding principles in the discourse of architecture.

Paper Sky Installation

Pop up Pavilion -- BOWOOS Research

Pushing materials to the extreme


n the era of parametric design, generative architecture takes on the explicit approach. The bottom up method deals with the nature of materials and how they come together, before even looking into the possibilities of design. It is not unusual that in such environments designers would be trying to push materials to their limits. No matter they are timber, glass or plastic, they would find themselves attempting to break, crack, flex, or even melt materials such that the materials change state and transform into another form.




ommonly defined by their lengths, strips are typically used to define volumetric space itself by wrapping around virtual blank space, or give a sense of enclosure by cladding itself around bare structural elements. Long strips of sheet material are warped, bended, twisted and curved to explore how it can define space. The nature of material therefore plays a huge role in altering the degree to these deformations. Especially when designing in a parametric sense, a varying nature of materials in terms of internal strength, elasticity and thickness will be crucial in achieving a certain design outcome.


The Archipelago pavilion

The Double Agent White

The project explores how the simple act of curving steel sheets can result in a structurally sound seating area and shelter. It is interesting to notice that instead of using strips of uniform lengths, the strips were profiled in a certain manner and curved to form the organic shape. The project brings up the issue of fabrication as well. In this case the sheet metals were joint together by bolts, which is a rather direct solution to the issue when working with strips of such strength.

The project looks at the opportunity that strips allow in morphological geometries. The project is an example showing how strips can recreate elemental forms such as spheres to a high degree of complexity. The technique lends itself to meshing process as well. In this case, its double curvature shell has attempted to incorporate tessellation on the skin as well, pushing the design to achieve an ornamental outcome.

The Archipelago pavilion

The Double Agent White




he subtle interaction between a crease and two facets of the same material is an intriguing one. Rather than connecting discrete strips together to form a face, folding enables the material to define volume as an entity. By folding seemingly unique panels, complex geometries can be explored in a 3-dimensional sense, providing once again opportunities in surface tessellation and patterning. Folding pushes the homogeneity of one type material to the point of really extreme. It is no simple task to populate a surface with fold patterns that are geometrically structural, especially when working with material that has strength and thickness larger than paper. Creases, folds, and joints become the major elements in a folding structure, it relates not only to the elasticity of material, but also the ability of the machine on whether it is capable of cutting through or even perforating a surface.


Curved folding Pavilion

ICD Research Pavilion 2010

Curve folding process of Aluminium sheets reveals the potential of bending metal. It looks at the possibilities of machines in generating the creases for the folds as well as assembly details including ‘teeth’ and ‘male and female’ joints.

As a lightweight self-supporting structure , the ICD research pavilion puts the birch plywood strips at the test of elasticity. The tension that is generated between the strips is maintained by intersecting one piece with another such that the whole can be structurally sound.

Curved Folding Pavilion -- In Silico Building

ICD Research Pavilion 2010



All about detail and intricacy


arametric design outcomes resulting from strips and folding methods are largely driven by material elasticity and joint details. Emphasis is placed in assembly and visual effects are subtle but intricate. Due to the fact that they are planar in nature, fabrication processes excel in terms of ease and transportability, especially during nesting. Comparing such technique in construction to the more traditional ‘skin and bone’ system, it presents itself rather in the form or a composite shell structure, where fold panels or strips themselves are light-weight and self-supporting. The only limitation to it is probably scale. The homogeneity in material makes it undeniably impossible to expand in size, but at the same time may unravel hidden possibilities when combined with another type of material.


B.2. Case Study 1.0

Biothing - Seroussi Pavilion


Point Charge (Repel)

Point Charge (Attract)

Spin Force (Clockwise)

Spin Force (Anti-clockwise)






Point Grid


B.2. Case Study 2.0 Reverse Engineering

Al Bahr Towers

A respond to climate


he hot desert sun in Abu Dhabi is probably the culprit when it comes to uncomfortable indoor qualities. Having the weather as its prime concern, Aedas Architects have discovered a clever method that deals with the problem in the most beautiful and technologically advanced manner.

The concept for the design was a responsive façade that would react according to the angle of the sun as a way to reduce solar gain and prevent glare. The architects not only looked into Islamic vernacular architecture for aesthetic inspiration [1], but even explored the dynamic qualities from Japanese paper-folding art form – Origami.

The design resulted in a façade structure that accommodated fibre-glass panels with openable apertures. [1] Parametric algorithms were utilized to explore how a triangular shaped foldable module can be programmed to respond to the environment. The folding technique here has be extensively speculated and it is tessellated on the façade in a very material-efficient manner. Geometric exploration with folding is certainly a worthwhile investment when it comes to space and material efficiency. While tessellation finds its form on the two-dimensional plane, the folding process transcends the aesthetic product in a more dynamic sense. Spinning forces, tensile and compressional strengths can be inherently existent within different fold patterns, which when combined with structures, enables architects to design structurally sound systems.

‘Opening’ and ‘closing’ the fold panels


he joint system for the panels include a triangular braced structure with a movable strut at the centroid truss system. The moveable strut is the core component to which the shade panels would be folded. As it the strut moves upwards, the ‘mountain’ hinges of the panels crease upwards, causing the apertures to ‘open’. Similarly as the strut moves downwards, ‘valley’ hinges fold upwards and the apertures would ‘close’.

Simulating folding movement

Step 1

Step 2

Initial Curves for triangular panel

Step 4

Mesh Creation

Triangulating the exploded mesh an



Mesh Brep

Mesh Join

Weld Mesh




Evaluate Curve

Step 3 Referencing in mountain fold creases


Evaluate Curve

Referencing in valley fold creases


Evaluate Curve

Step 5

nd adding in springs to the edges to make the panel foldable

Simulating fold movement





Kangaroo Physics Engine

Force Objects



Springs From Mesh



Closest Point

Larger Than



Closest Point Slider

Cull Pattern

Larger Than -ve


Merged Cull Pattern

Appling on a larger scale

Strength: 8

The original script operates as a single fold-able module. However, when a similar logic is applied on a larger scale, a more complex relationship between the panel is formed. The edges of the triangular panels were no longer freely movable, but instead are associated with mountain folds. To allow each panel to operate on its own, a slight deviation between the triangle edges had to be applied such that the entire structure will not crumple.

In the Al Bahr Towers, an octagonal grid exoskeleton acts as the substructure to the shading system. To replicate the structural system, the Lunchbox plug-in was used to generate a triangular grid onto an extruded surface as a base for the fold panels.

Strength: 30

Strength: 100

Grasshopper workflow diagram

Triangular Grid Creation

Lunch Box plug-in

Evaluating folding pattern

Edge separation

Curve Deviation

Fold movement simulation

Kangaroo plug-in


Outcome and limitations


he outcome of this study is a straightforward and workable one, with the folding movement being exactly replicated. Facing a rather simple problem, the use of the rigid triangular origami movement is certainly a highly intelligent use of seemly latent mathematical relationships. The achievement in this exercise is however limited barely to the movement of the shading device. The movable strut at the middle of the triangular panels as well as the octagonal grid substructure for the facade have not be considered.


In addition, the adaptive component of the shading device, which is rather the core part in the design have also not be able to be incorporated. To make the shading panels truly “responsive� will require further incorporation of climatic data such as the sun angle and exposure values. Aperture openings vary along different faces of the facade at different times of the day, which suggests the element of time as well in the responsive aspect of the design.



ariable openings among a grid of triangular panels is probably the next step to look into. Taking the idea of variable openings as a shading device to an aesthetic solution is an intriguing one. These rigid and fold-able module will have the ability to tessellate itself on rather unusual geometries. I will be looking into how a single module can populate itself on a morphed surface but remain as a structural integrity with variable openings.


B.4. Technique Development Design Iterations

Form-generation Morphing and folding Patterns Surfaces Morphing

Origami Study

Triangulated Surface

Curved Surface




Morphed Surface


Fold Strength = 10

Fold Strength = 100

B.5. Prototypes Testing material


he aim of prototyping triangulated panels as individual modules is to speculate potential connection detail between them. This will pave the way for future panelisation of fold modules when they are applied to a larger architectural context.

Connection Exploration

The idea of rigid orgiami enables tessellated fold joints to work as a whole to create unusal geometry

Envisioning the triangulated panels as a suspended architectural form


Connection Joint explored with pins


Fold pattern study Materials 1. Ivory card 2. Mountboard 3. Plywood

Personal Thoughts A folded rigid origami might at its most act as a skin to a building facade, but when applied structurally may require a more sophisticated joint movement system.


Technique and fabrication


he process of prototyping fold panels was more or less similar to that of typical mass production. As fold modules of the exact same size and shape can be produced simply by 2D laser cutting, batches of modules can be made in a short period of time. Experimentation concluded the fact that fold strength is largely affected by the thickness of material. Thicker the material, harder it folds and the more likely it will be torn apart during the fold process. It is obvious that the fold technique to a large extent is limited to thin working material, especially paper. Origami tessellation may thus become a challenge when it comes to application in real-world self-supporting structures. The pin-connected joints deemed successful when joining two or more triangulated panels together. They allowed movement between the panels and generated a compressive-tensile relationship between them. By pushing and pulling a tri-group module allowed the structure to have variations in fold angles and thus geometry. The next step in the design process would be to begin generating a larger number of panels together to form a more vast fold-able plane for form exploration. It will then allow the project to move into the context of the environment, and to begin using the fold technique as an architectural syntax.

B.6. Technique Proposal Consider context

Aquatic ecology Folding


Living Systems Merri Creek

The statement of alternative


erri Creek is one Melbourne’s most threatened ecological corridor. Although revegetation works and parkland development has been made to protect its ecosystem, the creek’s continues to take its toll from the ever-extending urban encroachment. Urban development clashes with environmental conservation in almost every scenario, especially in this century where preservation of the smallest bit of grass becomes a concern. To make known the effect of urban encroachment is to evoke food for thought to the people in its most vulnerable state, in this case an exposed and penetrated site.


Abracted Site Diagram

Urban Encroachment

Site Location The ideal location for the architectural intervention finds itself at the exposed area around Rushall Crescent Community Garden, with the train line penetrating it directly from the centre. With residential land at its periphery, the area faces pressure of being encroached upon.

Folding as an inspiration


Architectural vision

ith the aim of evoking change and ponder thought, the design proposes a pavilion-like canopy as an organic extension to the Rushall Crescent community garden for both leisure and agricultural use. The folding of the triangulated mesh encapsulates the idea of urban expansion. Modules of triangulated mesh can fold upwards and create different form, which in terms of material usage is highly efficient. Similarly, with the same amount of land, urban development can takes its form in more environmental friendly ways in replacement of sprawling, thereby minimizing the impact urbanity has on its natural ecosystem.


Learning Outcomes

Graphic Scripting as a language


s a parametric tool, I’d like to think that grasshopper is a graphic scripting software that requires clear logical thinkings skills to be able to operate efficiently. Breaking up the geometrical components from their finished state is not an easy one especially when implicit mathematical relationships are involved. I’ve found myself constantly shifting between rapid prototyping and digital modelling in order to fine-tune a script. The folding technique was an extremely complex one to model and even harder to iterate. Unlike other research fields such as geometry and biomimicry, folding focuses on patterning of module which are identical to each other. It is strictly limited in its movement and its structural integrity is highly dictated by material thickness. Despite its


shortcomings, I believe new realms of possibilities may evolve if the fold technique is combined with another field, most probably structure or even biomimicry. The prototyping process was a very intuitive one in terms of investigating visual effects of the fold technique. It is too easy to get caught up in writing up a script and neglecting scale. Too often I have been working on making a fold work in a small scale on the computer and have almost forgotten about construction materials and the overall effect when modules come together at large. Digital fabrication definitely bridges the gap between implicit computer modelling and real life construction, which I believe has at its best emphasised the power of making.

Mid-semester feedback


he first and foremost critique of my design process was the design concept. Little work was put into thinking about the site, which resulted in a clunky proposal slightly out of context.

and begin to delve into what folding might mean to the site, and how it creates various architectural atmospheres that are specific to users and the environment.

more explicitly, an idea of the architectural form.

The prototypes produced were too small, and basically not applicable in the real world. I believe i have focused to conceptually on I was reminded of the utmost importance of thinking the joint connections and have failed to think in conPlacing too much emphasis about scale. Although I on technical development made an effort to produce text once again. Indeed the project will not be able site diagrams that linked is probably the last thing to move forward without to the fold technique, the I should have done as a thinking about actually design student. Time should proposal was largely out of scale and the proposed construction material at definitely be prioritized to 1 to 1 scale, which has to design is either too big or the conceptual develincorporate structural qualtoo small. This may be the opment of ideas and the poetic thinking of a design. cause of the severe lack of ities. Paper and cardboard iterations during the reverse will simply not work and I was questioned on the most likely stronger materiengineering exercise. Failchoice of my technique als such as steel would be ing to produce a 50-iteraand whether it fitted on site. Indeed I will need start tion matrix study has took its more applicable. toll by not giving the project putting the fold technique in the architectural context, a sense of direction and

Insights to the next step A rethinking of the site and the establishment of a clear relationship with the design is the essential pathway forward. The aim will be to investigate deeply into the conceptual side of the project, to ultimately achieve a solution that is not crude but beautiful and workable.

In addition, more form-finding work will have to be done due to the lack of iterations during the process of creating the fold script. Different patterns and various morphed surfaces will be attempted to speculate more exquisite formalities.


B.8. Algorithmic Sketches

Graph Type Variation






Part C:


C.1 Design Proposal


Education CERES

Environmental Systems

Collaborative Design Team Joshua Chan Kim Nguyen Naila Rahman

Merri Creek


ccording to the Merri Creek Environs Stratey (2009-2014) published by the city of Barebin, Victoria, 2 major problems were identified that as potential threats to Merri Creek’s natural ecosystem. 1. Significant decline in diversity of waterway ecosystem: a loss of riparian vegetation due to increased urbanization and stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces. 2. Deterioration in water quality due to sewage overflows during high rainfall events and illegal connections or leaks from sewerage system, which is mostly caused by a factory located upstream in Craigieburn. One of the riparian species at major threat is the eucalyptus camaldelensis – also know as Australian Red Gum. They often grow on riverbanks and tend to drop their branches in order to conserve water during periods of drought. These branches can eventually become home to various bird species.


The problem The germination of Red Gum is incredibly reliant on flooding seasons during winter – as Red Gum usually drops seed during spring and summer, winter floods are crucial in moving these seeds downstream to other parts of the riverbank. The poor water quality thus becomes the deterring agent to the germination process, creating an inferior environment for seed growth.


The Concept

“To protect red gum seeds through the process of timed collection and release”

It proposes a installation that would capture the seeds of the Red Gum along Merri Creek during spring and summer time and be manually released into the river during winter such that germination rate can be increased. The concept explores the idea of facilitating natural processes by human intervention. Nature has been modified radically by mankind to a point that the damage caused is irreversible. It is therefore we propose to return and “help” the natural environment with the aspiring digital technologies. The installation looks into a suspended canopy that hangs loosely under the Red Gum.


3 major functions 1. Increase Red gum seed germination rate 2. Act as an installation to promote communal activities in line with the CERES community 3. Act an educational tool


Red Gum Mapping The target site for the project finds itself along a river-section north-east from the CERES Community. It is a section along the river that faces an exposed floodplain and the Merri Creek Trail. A series of Red Gum populates around the area and faces a constant flow of pedestrian traffic. As an installation that involves human interaction, the project location is ideal at this section where there is visual access to a Red Gum tree-line. Various species of bushes and trees were mapped out in order to identify specific locations of the Red Gum. The green circles denote the canopy sizes of the trees from plan view and explores at the same time the tree density and spacing on a larger scale.

Mapping the ‘seed’-scape By connecting the trunks of the identified trees, these connection lines begin to form abstract tree niches that are seemingly discrete. They make up several green patches that follows a meandering form, which clearly maps out the form of the river and shows its idea river-side habitat. The project sees the potential of connecting these discrete patches together, to create an experience where the user would see various hanging canopies as they walk along the Trail, and identify the green patches of Red Gum from the parametric design. In this process different visual axis were mapped out on several nodes along walking trail, such that the views of a walking user can be incorporated, and the design would come together as a coherent piece of sculpture.

Tectonic Exploration Voronoi

The voronoi was selected as the main tectonic element for the project primarily due to its volumetric qualities. It contained voronoi cells which echoed with the idea of seed collection. It would potentially lead to further development in the individual form of the cells using tessellation methods.

Canopy Form Exploration

Form finding Technical development regarding the form of the canopy begin by experimenting with different loft surfaces. Dynamic surfaces gave a sense of the structural form, whether it will wrap around a tree, rise from the ground or be suspended below the tree. The density of the voronoi cells were varied to explore the sense of scale. Possibilites were vast where people could be towered upon, interact with it, and even walk through it. The final form that the group settle on is a suspended form that would be hung below the tree canopy, where people would walk beneath and sit below it.

Surface Pattering Exploration

Playing with shadow The group decided to play around with surface patterning on the voronoi cells as a means to connect the canopy back to the user experience. Instead of bare cells, there was the potential of punching holes on the cell surfaces such that they create an intriguing shadow when sunlight shines through. Rounded holes that mimicked the shape of Red Gum seeds were settled as the result of the various pattern testing. They were made just large enough such that the seeds would be trapped within the structure but be half ‘poking’ out of the holes.

C.2. Prototyping

Testing structure The prototyping process was aimed at studying the rigidity of the framing structure for the canopy cells. 2D MDF framing pieces were laser-cut and assembled by hand. The joint system used in this prototype is a simple cable tie system. Holes were punched into each of the edges of the frames according to the thickness of the cable ties. 3 cells were constructed to test out the structural integrity as a whole. The resulting model was very sturdy and rigid which deemed a successful joint system. The 3 cells are rather lightweight and could be hung up easily using fishing wire. It is believed that the final model would be more heavy and will require thicker and strong fishing wire in order to be hung up.

C.3. Final Detail Model

Final prototype A small portion of a 1:1 scale model is constructed. It contains a total of 15cells and is takes on the shape of a dounut such that there is a hole in the middle. Constructing a 1:1 scale model will allow further exploration of the practically and structural integrity of the actual design.

Fabrication Frame and panel assembly MDF is used to construct the framing for the final prototype due to its strength tested previously. The natural timber colour also allows the model to blend in with the natural environment, especially under the tree. Black polypropylene will act as the infill layer that contained the patterned holes. Clear polyproylene will act as the backing layer to make sure seeds do not fall out from the black polypropylene layer. Cable ties are used as the joint system due to its simplicity in construction but strong connection as explored during the prototyping section.


Polypropylene (Clear) 0.6mm

Polypropylene (Black) 0.6mm

MDF 3mm

Plastic cable ties


Fabrication Overall assembly To simplify the construction process, the final model is divided into 4 segments which are assembled individually and put together later.


Seg 1

Seg 2

Seg 3

Seg 4



Step 2

The numbering of the MDF framing pieces were labelled using masking tape.

The patterned panels were stacked with the MDF framing and grouped into stacks.

There were over 100 pieces in total, which were divided into 10 sets, with 10 pieces in one stack.

Step 3

Step 4

Assembly process began by putting together one voronoi cell at a time by visual matching from the computer.

MDF framing members are tied together using cable ties.

Tedious and inefficient method of construction. A more accurate numbering system will be needed in order to speed up the process.

Step 5

Step 6

Once all the 4 segments are completed, they are then put together.

Excess bits of the cable ties were trimmed off to achieve a neat finish.

Simiplified assembly diagram


Step 8

Artifical lights were put into the cell to test out lighting and shadow effects.

The completed model was hung from a ceiling for photography.

Lighting effects were unsuccessful. Due to the presence of the clear polypropylene backing layer, the light was so diffused then it didn’t produce an shadow.

Presentation Feedback On the whole the project was on good track and had a clear direction exploring the idea of environmental protection. The problem occured with the final prototype which was overly designed. The black polypropylene was inappropriately used and that it appeared that it wasn’t necessary to make sure the seeds don’t fall out. The direction for our final moderation would be to alter the black polypropylene layer, to simplify it, and not have 2 excessive layers for the panels. The project also needs to rethink about the patterning effect. Currently the shadowing effect was not pronounced enough. The objects that will potentially fall into the canopy should also be considered more, such as leaves and twigs.

Seedscape “a canopy, a collector, a tool”

Site Plan Proposal


eedscape proposes a journey like experience where users would experience a gradual change in size and density of the suspended canopy. The 4 blue circles denote the different areas that are populated with the varying sizes of the canopy structure, creating gradual but different experiences as one walks along the Merri Creek Trail. The largest canopy located within 3 largest Red Gum. It has a scale of a 25m swimming pool and contains more than 100 cells. It forms a shelter-like structure for people to sit under, walk through, and gaze at the canopy as a towering installation. A Smaller canopy and wraps around a tree with ~20cells. It is most visible to users walking by the trail. It acts as an indication of Red Gum and a precurser to the larger canopy. A series of small canopy cells at a scale of a basket ball. It is intended to be suspended at around 1m above ground to allow direct interaction between the users and the canopy. The occur as groups of 3-5 cells such that people can poke their hand through it and interact with it.

Narrative diagrams

The Narrative

A Voronoi box is being placed on the site as the starting point.


The canopy of the selected trees were mapped out according to their height in section. The canopy areas closer to the truck were more dense, thus require a trough to increase the surface area for seed collection. An overall undulating form was then achieved.


The Narrative

On plan view, the flow of the river as well as the flow of pedestrian were incorporated as means of achieving a dynamic shape that respects the meandering river form and topography.


Holes in the canopy were created at the trucks of the existing trees to allow the canopy to be wrapped around the trees which acts as a rigid hanging ‘frame’.


The Narrative

The framing members of the canopy cells are made out of lightweight MDF pieces.


Patterned panels act as infill that is placed as a backing to the canopy celll. They provide the necessary volumetric quality to collecting the Red Gum seeds.


The Narrative

Other than Red gum seeds, the canopy is capable of collecting other fallen substance from the trees such as leaves and twigs throughout the four seaons.


During the Winter wet season, community events can be hosted by CERES to collect the Red Gum seeds from the canopy and leave them on the flood plain in anticipation of the Winter floods.


Digital Renders


Site Model 1:100 133





Learning Outcomes


esign studio had always been challenging for me. Since first year I learnt that architectural studios were about the flow of ideas, or a creative exploration of ideas in the context of the built environment. The design process was never simple to me, and studio air made it ever more difficult by working with a project entirely within the virtual world. To put it simple I experienced the power of digital tools in the visualization of an idea. The swift feedback power of grasshopper enabled the designer to iterate quickly and make immediate adjustments. The tool pushes digital design to the next level, a level away from tedious CAD drawings, with shorter time spent on ‘drafting’, and more time on ‘designing’.


here has been an interesting exploration in this digital fabrication subject, a rather different one, regarding the choice of raw materials. I realize we often confine ourselves to materials that are readily available to us, such as plywood and polypropylene that are available for cutting in the Fab Lab. It is funny how we relate ‘digital fabrication’ with ‘laser cutting’, when we could fabricate a digital design with everyday objects. A group constructed their final prototype entirely out of cable ties, which is a cheap and lightweight material. I believe digital design does not necessary have to make use heavy machinery during fabrication, but instead can be scaled down to a point where simple tools could be used as well. This way the power to make becomes not a noble privilege, but can be given to anyone to experience a digital design coming to life.


rior to using grasshopper, parametric design was once a mere genre of curvy lines and abstract shapes. It always appeared to me as some sort of futuristic architectural ‘style’ that would most likely be associated with the works of Zaha Hadid. This studio, however, has given me an opportunity to understand that working with a ‘parameter’ is the core part of parametricism. Parameters were in fact real-world information, no matter they are sizes of birds, thickness of material or the flexibility value of a fabric, these parameters are able to transform from abstract numerical information to vivid graphic representation. Parametric tools such as grasshopper enables the designer to take on a design pathway in a more contextual manner, with ever-more precise data, especially in the field of architecture.

Personal Thoughts Personally the process of learning grasshopper was a painful one. Although the plug-in enables us to work in a graphical environment, it was still a rather new language that require a very clear understanding of individual components and their various applications, not to mention the time spent on data manipulation was a total nightmare. Using parametric tools on a design project was a long but rewarding process. To be able to construct a 1:1 prototype is the perfect testimony to a successful fabrication project. I anticipate the years to come when I continue to expand my knowledge on grasshopper and I believe it will continue to provide me with countless possibilities in the realm of design.

References 1.

Future Arc, Blooming Bamboo House (2014)


Patrik Schumacher, ‘Tectonic Articulation: Making Engineering Logics Speak’, Architectural Design, 4(2014), (reference no.) pp. 47-51.


Arnt Cobbers and Oliver Jahn, Prefab Houses, ed. by Peter Gossel (Germany: Taschen, 2010), pp. 340-345.


Zero Carbon Building Limited, ‘What is a Zero Carbon Building’ in ZCB Experience <http://zcb.>[accessed 15 March]

5. Zaha Hadid Architects, ‘Kartal Master Plan’ <>[accessed 17 March] 6.


Garcia, Mark, The Patterns of Architecture: Architectural Design (United Kingdom: John Wiley And Sons Ltd, 2010), pp.68-73


Joshua Chan 638994 Studio Air Journal  

Part B Submission