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Studio Air

Emma Pattenden 538386 2013

Tuturs Alex Wilson David Lister

“architecture needs to be thought of less as a set of special material products and rather more as a range of social and proffesional practices that sometimes, but by no means always, lead to buildings.�2

A Letter From Me Case for Innovation Architecture as a Discourse Computational Design Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo

Parametric Design Olafur Eliasson

5 11 15

17 23

Algorithmic Exploration







Part A



I enjoyed the mathematical side of engineering but found it too restricting on my artistic side. Throughout these years of study I also did a lot of travelling( I think I may have an addiction). In my travels I have mainly returned to Europe over and over again. Traveling back to there has strengthened my love for architecture. Throughout my life I have always had a strong interest in Architecture, but it was not until I had experienced other study areas and seen more of the world that I realized that architecture was where my passion is, and it is what I want to follow as my career.

A Letter From Me

My name is Emma Pattenden and I am currently studing in my third year of environments, majoring in architecture. After finishing high school I moved down to Melbourne from the Blue Mountains near Sydney. Before starting my studies as an architect I explored a variety of different study areas trying to find where my passion lied and what path I wanted to take. Firstly I undertook a year of fashion design at TAFE, where I discovered a passion for design and the applied arts. After realizing I loved the concept of design, but not in the clothing industry, I undertook a year of engineering to assist me in getting into architecture.


During my studies at the University of Melbourne I have had a basic introduction to the use of computers as a design tool. This was primarily through studying Virtual Design in my first semester, where we began to explore parametric designs through the use of rhino. I used this programming to have create an organic form that grew out from the neck, using barnacles as my precedents. I found the use of computers quite challenging and I personally enjoy designing with a pencil more, so I have mainly steered clear of continuing with parametric designs. Additionally

for me, I find developing designs with a pencil creates a more personal and intimate relationship with your project. Although in saying this, I am looking forward to learning grasshopper and designing with it as I believe it will assist in broadening my concepts and how I visualize architectural forms. I am hoping by the end of the course I will take away confident skills in the program and a strong digital project to add to my portfolio.


Architecture as a Discourse

Part A Case for Innovation

In recent years architectural disrecent discourseInhas beenyears led architectural by the develcourse has been led by the developopments of computational design, ments of computational design. Using enabling our design parameters to computers more strongly within the broaden abilities to develop processour broadens our abilities to deandvelop construct formsforms andand spaces and construct spaces previously unattainable due duetotocost cost previously unattainable and design restrictions. Architectural and design restrictions. Architecdiscourse has also started to revolve tural discourse has also started to around the impression and emotions revolve around impression and evoked in the the public and community emotions evoked in athe public and when experiencing space. It has begun to consider the way each individucommunity. Considering the way experience will and activate a space. eachal will individual experience This has led to developing and conandstructing activatespaces a space. This has led due to the way people to interact developing andother constructing with each and an area, spaces due to defining the waya space people rather than or inarea due to its functionality. Architecture teract with each other and an area,is in thethan publicdefining realm anda therefore has rather space or social implications through the way it areaframes due toour its lives, functionality. Archideveloping a visual tecture is 3in the public realm and culture. therefore has social implications The the Studio intoour the through wayAirit looks frames way architecture creates discourse 3 lives, developing a visual

provoking thinking and motivation within the audience through formal The Studio Air looks the intoway thean gestures. It contextualizes wayaudience architecture creates experiences art,discourse the way in which each person seesand different signs by provoking thinking motivaand symbols and how they evoke varytion within the audience through ing reactions across the public due to formal gestures. It contextualizes their life experiences. Developing an the aesthetic way anexperience audiencethat experiences will continue art,tothe way inand which eachus,person challenge surprise and not allowing us to become desensitized sees different signs and symbols the experience we encounter andtohow they evokeas varying reac-it more and more.3 It is not about maktions across the public due to their ing a ‘building’, but about using ideas life and experiences. Developing an a concepts to shape and transpire aesthetic form. experience that will con-

tinue to challenge and surprise us, The developments and ideologies and not allowing us to become dein architecture are stepping away from sensitized to the experience as movwe the traditional typology and are 3 encounter moretheand more. It and is ing awayitfrom monumental notinstitutionalized about makingconcepts. a ‘building’ , butof Instead having a building timing, about using ideas represent and concepts space and the intentions of the creato shape and transpire a form.

tor, the architectural form now has the ability to change and reform through The developments and ideolotime, adjusting to new environments, gieseither in architecture are orstepping through movement by


A responsive surface structure. The top image responsive surface strucshow the closed off form duringA higher levels of ture. The top image shows the humidity. As the air dries the wood changes its levels closed form during higher composition causing it to curl and create windows of humidity. As the air dries the wood changes its composition, through the form.4 causing it to curl and create windows.4

changes within the surrounding environment. The architectural discourse in computational and parametric design is the reason behind choosing it as a tool to create the installation/sculptural work for the Wyndam City gateway design project. Wyndam city is looking for a project that will constantly encourage interaction between the artwork and the audience, not having it become stagnant. It will enrich the area with a strong visual and cultural design. The use of the computational design process will enable an extended period of time in which the designer will be able to play with the patterning and shape of the model, giving it time to develop to an appropriate shape and form for the site. This is seen in the passive design FAZ Pavillion, Frankfurt (2010). This is a nurb surface that is entirely climate responsive, it allows one to experience an architectural space through the convergence of the man-made and the natural environment.4 It shows how the combination of research and computer design has enabled such a space to exist. The combination of wood and computers sees the converging of one of the oldest building materials with computational design. The moisture in the air changes the dynamics within the wood causing a change in its dimension, having the geometric surface go from a straight panel to a curved.4 This effect will constantly change the surface of the form and enable a new experience for the audience, almost as if it is a living organism. The finite element analysis (FEA) of the 2010 pavillion in Stuttgart. The computational design model is run through the computer program to work out it’s exact postitioning on the site, and how this will efect the forces applied to the materials.5

Parametric design allows one to make a free flowing form. It configures a shape that ultimately makes one feel comfortable as it is not a disjunction of objects, lines and shapes. In the ICD/ ITKE Research Pavilion 2010, it explores the materiality of the wood, and the way in which we can apply it.



Evolving a new experience of how we normally visualize and use these materials. It tests and displays the performance of the materials, which is done with ‘rapid prototyping’ within the digital world before being brought out for physical construction.6 This process enables the fabrication of a form that previously was not possible to construct. This allows for further developments in future designs process as the combination of computers and humans continues to break down design barriers.

changing experience of architecture as the forms interact with the audience and the environmental changes in the location due to light, shadow, air, temperature and the views it creates. . The success of the way in which they have being developed, constructed, and then used, displays the way in which architecture is moving towards a design process with a stronger influence and usage of computational design.

Both of the pavilions discussed allow the audience to experience an ever A responsive surface structure fabricated for the instalation project : HygroScopeMeteorosensitive Morphology, in the Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2012. 7


Computational Design

Part A Case for Innovation

The development of computational design in architecture has shifted the creative process in which one would traditionally design an architectural form. It has driven the focus of design to the experimentation of the structural relationships and interconnections of shapes and symbols rather than the appealing form.8 Computational design is an exploration of the design process involving computers. Through an interdisciplinary design approach it assists in defining parameters to develop an outcome. This interconnection of skill sets proceeds to formulate an array of potential design outcomes. The architectural design field has re used technology and methods from other industries and applied it to the generative design process to stretch the abilities of humans, and to enable the growth and fabrication of the complex form. The borrowing of technologies from other industries supports these creative designs, and ideas.9 Computational design has the designers put in the parameters of the external factors, focusing on its final performance value( a paradigm of problem solving).11 By inputting parameters, it amplifies the goals of the project by strengthening complex aspects of the form. The complex forms continue throughout the design, fabrication and construction processes, giving it fluid connectivity. Within a design space all solutions are available. It is a reality where you have the opportunity to explore and develop anything you desire, a vast amount of outcomes are available to you.9 External constraints and parameters begin to direct you towards possible solutions. The use of computers allows you to apply logical and algorithmic parameters and forces to the problem solving process within this space.


An installation that uses this process is the VoltaDom by Skylar Tibbits. The Installation is a tessellation of shapes that populate a corridor on the MIT campus. The assembly of forms gives a new spatial experience to the corridor, and challenges the way in which we experience the transitional space between rooms. The complex form puts a new twist on how we normalize a room, and gets one to question how we can manipulate these forms away from traditional concepts and into a more fluid intricate form. The computational design enables Skylar Tibbit’s to design a double curved surface panel and then have it fabricated for installation. The combination of computers and humans involves the internal inspiration and creativity from us, and a logical, analytical conclusion from the computers to break down the externally imposed constraints.11 This is where architectural design comes from, constraints and inspiration. Now the development in computers allows architects to engage and communicate with the models as the design becomes more abstract,11 by expanding access to information within the process of discovery. It has allowed the exploration of alternative design conclusions by the representation of an array of ideas by using this design process to

capture complex aspects of design. This has resulted in seeing a growth in organic geometric forms in architecture, returning to the representation of the natural form.8 It has opened up a gateway to complex forms which were originally “difficult to conceive, develop and represent.� 8 But this is not our final solution to the design process in the architectural realm. Looking through history you see how the process is constantly changing. It is not stagnant. It is an ongoing search for a solution. Pushing to explore further options, which have us testing our abilities to develop new conceptual representations of space and how we perceive it. The design process through computational design exceeds our abilities and enables us to become more dynamic with our solutions the problems we explore through the design space.11

Inside the VoltaDom by Skylar Tibbits.10


Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo The South Pond Pavilion by the Studio Gang Architects is an example of a structural and a tessalation computational design. This project interested me as it uses a repetition of one shape to make a complex and intricate spatial experience. The structure is made from a lattice of bent wood with fiber glass shells along the top. This provides the audience with the view of the parklands, while being protected from the sun and the rain during the day and the night. The transition of the pavilions visual impact from day to night is quite exciting. As the night comes on, the pavilion begins to glow, as if it is coming alive. I find the imagery of it during the night quite moving and more aesthetically pleasing as it illuminates the fluid shape and the lighting changes the form through the shadowing along the curves. Throughout the weeks leading up to Studio Air I have taken an interest in having a pattern that uses light and shadowing to change and manipulate my project, having the gateway become an active system of parametric design. The use of lighting is a design outcome I will be considering to implement in my work once I begin to work within my group.



Parametric Design

Part A Case for Innovation

Parametric modelling offers designers a new medium to model. Facilitating a new way to explore design, which is generated through an explicit connection between parameters and their geometry. This new way of design expression brings fresh ideas and new ways of exploring concepts in the architectural field. It also has the designer rework the way in which they develop their designs; this is due to the deferral. The deferral is the way in which the final outcome (form) and placement of a model is put on hold till a later point in the design process. This is because parametric design is in relation to the graphing between nodes and how they network with each other. The data given to the nodes via functions and algorithms allows the manipulation to the coordinates to be much more rapid and easy.14 This gives the parametric model a dynamic form, allowing one to explore how the models can rapidly change, seeing the different methods of representation. This design process gives the architect more time to find a contemporary expression to a design brief.14 This development has led to a non-static design environment, as the architect is able to manipulate and change the conditions of the project at


different stages. When designing, the parameters have to still be flexible to enable this play with the form. These components of the parametric design allows for adjustments to the model so it can adapt and mould to the environment it will be placed in.15 An example of where this has being applied is in the installation work ‘Dermoid’ by the Center for Information Technology and Architecture (CITA) and Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory (SIAL). This group workshop was a research project into how computation can bring new material practices into architecture. The group of researchers and students used both computers and physical testing to probe the possibilities of the material. The use of computers in the parametric design enabled the final shape of the model not to be completely finalized to a few days before the construction, showing the flexibility given to architects with this new way of design development.16 As the use of parametric model programs is like a language, communication between the computer and the designer needs to be clear and concise, otherwise steps can be ‘lost in translation’. Configuring parametric models

The finished result of the Dermoid workshop 2011. 17


A detail of one of the connections in the 2011 Dermoid. 18


involves mathematical thinking, as the programs are set off mathematical propositions. Math’s has been a part of architecture throughout history; from the geometric proportions in the gothic churches to the golden ratio in Le Corbusiers designs. Computational design programs such as grasshopper are just a new medium in which the designer can use mathematics to formulate their design intent.14 An issue with this is that designers do not necessarily think mathematically, they generally use computational programs to the extent of their skill set. Also the way in which they

organize and layout there algorithms can be more complex and harder to read by others, which again takes us back to the need for communication, as it can become difficult for others to work on the same project. It is important to take on a mathematical mindset as it enables the designers to organize the algorithms in the right hierarchy.14 The mathematical mindset has led to architects starting to formulate their own plug-ins for computational programs. They have seen the potential and outcomes of the parametric design process and it has resulted in further exploration in this design dominion. 15


Olafur Eliasson Olafur Eliasson is an artist that uses parametric and computational design methods to produce his artworks. His installation works play with the audience’s perception of space and have them experience and view the world with a new and different perspective. His works evoke ideas and inspire creativity. His works create a sense of excitement through his manipulation of light and forms, challenging our traditional views of how we interact and experience the world. Some of his works almost induce a meditative state when physically experiencing his works. One work in particular that comes to mind is One-way colour tunnel, 2007, from the exhibition Take your time. This installation is a passageway of colour structured by a tessellation of geometric forms. Depending on the direction approaching the tunnel, the colours will change, delivering an unpredictable ever-changing experience to the audience. I believe this project optimizes the use of parametric design as it is a smaller project so doesn’t become overwhelming. The installation takes us back to the discourse and the basis of the air studio by stimulating and motivating the audience, building a spatial experience that motivates action and ideas.



One-way Colour Tun-

19. http : / / w w w. i n olafur-eliasson-mca-sydney. html/screen-shot-2009-1230-at-19-43-34



Algorithmic Explorations

With my extended research I started to combine techniques from differ-

ent tutorials to make shapes and patterns, which is seen in the corkscrew shape I made in the first image. These images shown will provide me with a base for further research in the design space within rhino and grasshopper to develop a parametric model for the Wyndam City gateway design project.

Part A Case for Innovation

I have chosen these algorithmic explorations as I think the methods used to get these shapes could be applicable when I am looking into my tessellation design for the gateway. The second image with the attracter points could be used to have the tessellation change shape and size across the surface, giving a sense of movement to the sculpture. The third image is a solid form that has become more relaxed and less ridged which could be used as a surface to work on (in a different shape of course).


Through my research I have seen the use of parametric designs within architecture and other fields that provide outcomes to design briefs that challenge ideas of formation and structure.

With the use of Grasshopper it will enable a sculptural form to be modeled for the site that can be explored in depth. Using tessellation in the design will display an intrinsic patterned formation that changes due to the perspective you view it at and due to the natural lighting falling over the area. The design approach used for the gateway will enable a form to be designed for the site via a reaction to the location, from natural formations, wind, light, movements and other elements affecting the area.


The modelling breaks down the barrier between art and architecture as the architects are able to explore the patterning and connections of their model before forming it into an interactive space. Computational and parametric design enables the functionality of spaces and the way people use them to define the shape and form of a structure taking us back to the idea of Richard Williams definition of architecture: “architecture needs to be thought of less as a set of special material products and rather more as range of social and professional practices that sometimes, but by no means always, lead to buildings.�

Using grasshopper, I find the logic of it understandable and something I will know, as I am mathematically minded, but I still need to train myself to reach that clicking point. The arrangement of functions in the hierarchies is logical to me. I still prefer the use of the traditional design process and using the pen and paper to develop my ideas, but it is a useful medium that will enable further exploration and experimentations in my works when I find the paper cannot satisfy what I want to show. Specifically when exploring the tessellation concept for the Wyndam City gateway design project.

Part A Case for Innovation

Parametric design is an exciting field in architecture that has provided architects a chance to explore design mathematically through a new medium. It allows for a development of free form unrigged sculptural spaces that inspire and challenge the audience’s perspective and opinion of architecture.


um in math-

1. Julian Leinhard, Research Pavilion ICD/ITKE 2010 Interior view, from Interview with Julian Lienhard, Digital Crafting 5 Seminar, 2010, 2. Richard Williams. ‘Architecture and Visual Culture’, in Exploring Visual Culture: Definitions, Concepts, Contexts, ed. by Matthew Rampley (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005), pp. 102-116, p. 108 3. Richard Williams, ‘Architecture and Visual Culture’, Exploring Visual Culture : Definitions, Concepts, Contexts, ed. by Matthew Rampley (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005), pp. 102 - 116 4. Achim Menges and Steffen Reichert, ‘Material Capacity, Embedded Responsiveness’, Architectural Design, vol. 82, no. 2, 2012, pp. 52-59 5. Julian Lienhard, Illustration, from Teaching by Doing: A Research Pavilion in Stuttgart, 2010, 6. Achim Menges, ‘Material Computation, Higher Integration in Morphogenetic Design’, Architectural Design, vol. 82, no. 2, 2012, pp.14-21 7. Achim Menges, HygroScope: Meteorosensitive Morphology, 2012, http://www.looksfeelsworks. com/category/sciene/


8. Kolarevic, Branko, Architecture in the Digital Age: Design and Manufacturing (New York; London: Spon Press, 2003), pp. 3 – 28 9. Woodbury, Robert F. and Andrew L. Burrow (2006). ‘Whither design space?’, Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing, 20 , 2, pp. 63-82 10.

11. Yehuda E. Kalay, Architecture’s New Media : Principles, Theories, and Methods of Computer-Aided Design (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004), pp. 5 – 25 References


13. Florence & Lavender, Olafur Eliasson, Inverted Berlin Sphere, 2005, mixed media, 2011, http:// 14.

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

15. Daniel Davis & Brady Peters, Design Ecosystems, From Architectural Design, vol 83, issue 2, 2013, pp 124-131 16. CITA, Dermoid Workshops, from Center for Information Technology and Architecture, viewed: 26/3/11, 17. Martin Tamke, CF035741, 2011, viewed 26/3/13, N00/5690745323/ 18. Martin Tamke, CF035942, 2011, viewed 26/3/13, N00/5690745323/

The South Pond Pavilion during the evening with the city of Chicago in the back-


o forcomhave mes of s and oring on.15


Part A Case for Innovation

sarily will ional r skill des to they ndset which re alx and which ed for come n and withof the ke on enae the chy.14

Studio Air- Emma Pattenden  

Journal for Studio Air 2013

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