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PA ST W O R K // 1. v i r tu a l e nv i ronm e nts

Introduction to computation tools and fabrication methods

2. s tu d i o : e a r th

Using Rhino for massing and spatial studies

3 . s tu d i o : wa te r

V-Ray for rendering and presentation


3 INTRODUCTION My name is Farisha Qistina Abd Khalid, a third year architecture student born and raised in Malaysia. I was first introduced to Rhino and Grasshopper during my first year in a subject called Virtual Environments and it proved to be a very rewarding experience, suggestive to the amount of thought and effort required in this field. Since then, I have been trying to utilise these skills in proceeding design studios but the emphasis has always been on physical constraints and brief requirements which are less flexible. Thus, there were limited opportunities to experiment with computation tools. Despite that, learning these softwares in my first year has been a great advantage throughout the course of my studies as it had helped me in developing and refining the somewhat rough concept of ideas that was done on paper. As such, I seek like many others to improve further on the skill in the hopes of discovering new design methodologies. I have recently started to explore the renderer V-Ray and am still new to parametric design as I have only used Grasshopper for small scale productions such as ribs, ramps and spiral staircases from existing definitions and algorithms.


Special thanks to Michael and Zak for all the guidance and advise.

c on te nt s

Also, to Andy and Alex for an awesome team effort.


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ARCHITECTURE AS A DISCOURSE ‘Architecture had a propensity to imitate itself. Architecture is partly based on the mediation of its former achievements as well as its shortcomings.’1 - Antoine Picon The notion of thinking architecture as a discourse is important in order to progress the field. The main reason being, is that it gives us opportunity to learn. We are constanly observing and analysing the works of others in order to better improve ourselves. Like the poet TS Eliot once said in his essay ‘Traditional and Individual Talent’, all creative work will always be in collaboration between the artist and his contemporaries as well as his/her predecessor.2 Architecture is a discourse and is as fluid and ever evolving as we are as a society. In Schumacher’s words, it is an autopoietic system that is in constant motion with direct responses to the past and reaching outwards in pursuit of the future.3 A self referential system. Moving to a much broader discussion, the reception of architecture, that is the public consumption is seen to gain more importance over the production. Although there are situations where ground breaking construction and design methodologies define the architecture, these instances are far and few. Williams describes architecture as the most public of arts4 and I agree with this as one must consider that people are always experiencing architecture one war or the other and how these architectural work is being received must not be ignored. However, architecture is not only art, they are not merely a question of aesthetics; there are multiple dimensions to architecture. There are multiple possibilities of what architecture could be and this drives it not in a linear progression with a dead end, but in a spiral or web-like development with vast potential. I feel that what makes architecture interesting is the story they convey. An architecture without a compelling story would just be another aesthetic sculpture. Without context, one would not be able to prescribe meaning to it and thus, an architecture without meaning cannot be understood and appreciated. Much of this will be further discussed in the journal. Going back to the idea of architecture as public art, I think it is important for there to always be a level of engagement between the user, or in the case of the Wyndham project, the viewer and the architecture itself. A dialogue instead of a monologue where the story could be clearly perceived by the people.

1 ‘And it’s always interesting, I think, to see how the future, or rather the forward-looking form of any discipline, always carries within it the seeds of its own triteness.’4 - William Gibson

William Gibson - Author of Neuromancer (1984) and attended the ANY (Architecture New York) conference of 1991 discussing the impact of digital culture on architecture and the urban fabric Image 1 - Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982) is thought to be the ‘early touchstone for imaginative speculation on the urban and architectural effects of the digital culture’.


Innovation often occur at a moment of necessity. Or boredom. Having too much of something, we revolt. Whether it’d be out of boredom or necessity, in the end, it forms a canon in which we propel ourselves forward creating change, making a difference. Innovation is solution. Without issues to solve, there would be no need for a solution. It is in our nature to adapt during a moment of necessity, an act for survival. It is also perhaps in our nature to ‘create’ our own issues as an imperative and path for change and improvement. Thus, it is because of this reason I feel architecture is at a most interesting juncture. During an era where technology plays a huge role in our everyday life, there are still potentials waiting to be realised and architectural discourse is perhaps at its most loudest. At the risk of sounding pessimistic, I contemplated the idea of homogenisation as a product of our digital age. The loss of cultural identity is but only one possibility out of many. We are, after all currently living a version of Wlliam Gibson and Ridley Scott’s future and it is not as dystopic as was potrayed in their medium. As Gibson mentioned, “the actual future is often more nuanced and unexpected than the imagined future”. However, several critics and architects have expressed concern on the current direction of architecture and I wondered if the matter is worth exploring further.

REDEF IN I N G I DE N T I T Y t he c o n t in u u m o f m e mory “Quality, nuance and expressive subtlety are replaced by such quantifiable aspects as size, loudness, shock value and strangeness [...] Intellectual speculation replaces emotive sincerity, and experiential quality is unnoticeably replaced by quantitative assessment”.5 To be clear, I do not completely agree with Pallasmaa’s statement. I am not against the idea of controlled and precision in architecture and realize these quantitative elements are important in producing a well developed design, especially in this day and age where the smallest of details could be assessed and proven to affect design in quite large ways to improve our way of living. I also believe that it is not wrong for architecture to be loud and possess shock value as they do evoke interest and excitement from the people. But these elements should not take precedence over the qualitative value that allows people to relate with the design. As Paul Brislin of Arup Associates said, it is a question of balance between the alienation and sense of rootedness.6 Going back to this idea of homogenisation, I wondered on the implication it might have on us. If all the architecture we see holds this similar element of ‘newness’ without contextual identity then ironically, it would induce boredom as well. Juhani Pallasmaa commented on this notion and mentioned how our obsessive search for the ‘new’ has in fact turned into a distinct repetition and monotony. Bear in mind though that the ‘new’ he implied is a formal surface quality without ‘deep mental echo that would energise the work and its repeated experiencing’. What Pallasmaa is largely concerned with is the existential content and meaning in architecture. Its identity. Though there are many ways to define a ‘new’ that ‘energises the work’ such as a new structural idea, functionality or sustainability, I personally feel that identity is often overlook in contemporary architecture. This however, does not imply that regressive traditionalism is encouraged.

2 I believe Louis Kahn’s National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh (Image 2) is a great example of realising and re-inventing a rooted identity by means of new technology and methods. In this case, tradition is not used artificially but is aknowledged as a source of meaning, inspiration and emotional rooting. It is a sort of continuity of our collective memory. We create for the future, from the essence of the past, not just from its superficial aesthetics. We create not out of self-expression but rather, out of the expression of our current world. And this I feel is very important as our current world and mode of designing is heavily intertwined with the use of digital technology. I believe in the ability to redefine identity and manifest it through current technology. And architecture with identity has the ability to appear timeless, possessing a mysterious element that breaths freshness ‘always anew as if we were looking at the work for the first time.’8 To escape from being just a mere passing curiousity, I believe that this could relate to the Wyndham Project. An architecture that is able to resist time through a strong sense of identity and meaning.

“tradition is not a static thing to be inherited, preserved or possessed, as true tradition has to be reinvented and re-created by each new generation.”7


Wang Shu is the first Chinese architect to receive the Pritzker Prize with architecture that provides an innovative approach at containing contextual identity yet being universal at the same time. His works are free from the preconceptions of tradition and modernity, nationalism and internationalism and possess instead, a genuine and timeless form of architecture.

“Design is a process of analysis and research with an emphasis on truth and authenticity.”9 - Wang Shu

His project, the Ningbo History Museum (Image 3) is to be located at Ningbo’s new CBD. At the time, Most new developments are built over what used to be homes and livelihoods of others. Wang Shu describes it as a place of ruin devoid of any memories. Thus, his intention was to transform the bleak environment to a place with ‘cultural meaning and future memory’. The very powerful atmosphere of its space (Image 4) is manifested from the usage of two different construction methods pertaining to its material. The first method derives from local tradition called wa pian qiang (claytile wall). A combination of bricks, stones and tiles fixed to the wall with cement. It produces an irregular pattern of colours that are harmonious to its natural surroundings. The second method is called zhu tiao mo ban hun nin tu (bamboo-strip concrete mould) and is a new method of forming concrete. This method was repeatedly experimented by Wang Shu in order to give out the intended effect and after many attempts, Wang Shu was finally pleased with the result. The success in capturing the region’s nature in concrete form. The textures produced by the bamboo in the concrete is graceful and sensitive which is different from the ordinary hard and monotonous form of concrete. The result of these two methods has can be seen in image 4, the complementary action between the new and the old, giving off a strong sense of identity to the place.



5 Image 5 - Wang Shu’s Xiangshan Campus for China Academy of Arts also shows his attempt at making people reassess the value and perception of ‘local architecture’. “They make people love the things that produce a local value again.”

4 What Wang Shu achieved is also the revitalisation of the people in appreciating the cultural value.10 Wang Shu’s work has left me to wonder on the possibility and potential of parametric modelling in relation to the subject of materiality. What sort of effect could be produced with a more sophisticated technology? And concerning his repeated experimentation, what could be achieved with the more efficient softwares of today? Would the results be completely different and would it instead contradict the authenticity of his design?


Image 9- Interior space of exhibition, showing embedded video and audio infrastructure. The hexagonal opening above acts not unlike a spotlight. Note the difference in atmosphere compared to the Ningbo Museum. Both with quality but differ in identity.

9 ‘Architecture nourishes itself constantly from images hidden in our memory, ideas which become sharp and clear and unexpectedly mark the beginning of a project.’11 - Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos


6 “Like those literary structures which include a story within another story, within yet another; a story without end. We conceived the project as starting with a system, a law generated by a repeating geometric pattern [...] ”12 The work on the Contemporary Art Centre (Cordoba, Spain) by Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos is also another example of redefining identity. It has been done with strong principles of Islamic geometric patterns which are being used in the organisation of its form as well as its facades. The formation of this design is interesting in that it derives from the subdivision of a regular hexagon into three irregular ones leaving three smaller, four-sided leftover spaces between them. The groups of three hexagons which measured 150, 90 and 60 sqm respectively are repeated along the building with slight changes in its orientation forming the basic unit of the exhibition space (Image 6). The facade is also done with computation design. Clad in prefab panels of glass-reinforced concrete (GRC) it has screens adapting basrelief of the same hexagonal patterns and concept (Image 7). At night, it projects moving images with 1,500 ‘pixels’ formed through indirect LED lighting positioned at each indentation. The whole building is fitted with a network of video, audio and lighting infrastructure that makes it able to project the art performances happening inside to the outside facade thus offering a new cultural way of performing. This is an interesting project that I believe encapsulates the notion of redefining identity through current means of parametric modelling and digital architecture. The geometries as mentioned was inspired by master builders of Islamic past and their capabilities in creating multiple, isotropic spaces within the mosque during their period of time. Having won the Aga Khan Award with their design of the Madinat Al-Zahra, they gained a keen interest in exploring Islamic geometries feeling that it has unlimited permutations through defining very simple parameters. The re-invention of such concept using the standards of today is what truly makes this design successful in my opinion.


8 Image 8 - The projection of lights and the effect onto the public space signifies a contemporary element in the somewhat tradition inspired design



COMPUTATION IN ARCHITECTURE The idea of working with computers to aid our design is no longer an alien concept. The design studio is, without a doubt a very different environment now compared to when it was two decades ago with the introduction of computers. Though these programs create a significant development within the evolution of design process, the designers are as Neil Leach (et al.) mention, ‘not recast as some demiurgic figure who imposes form on the world’.13 I agree with this belief as designers still do play an active role as the controller of the design processes and the ones who ultimately allow formations to emerge. During the early stages of computing in architecture, we see a lot of experimentation on forms. This created quite a huge change in architecture with different formal surfaces being expressed in a variety of ways. In the end though, they were just that: forms that are just surface deep. Seidel commented on this saying “After the first blobs, crystals and streamlined shapes were realized, an emptiness slopped through the architectural scene. Most of the built examples have one thing in common: after the first ecstasy, it turned out that all the shapes are at least just arbitrary and often only a competition of the most expressive shape of a spectacular facade.”14 Currently, design practices and the use of digital (computational?) architecture has changed dramatically. All centering on the ever permanent question of: what is architecture for? Current technology has evolved to a point where that question can be answered in an almost infinite number of ways. As our design processes progress more efficiently and fluidly with the aid of computers, we are given more time to ponder on details that could refine our designs even further. To also think on the possibility of what architecture could be in the future especially with regards to the various issues surrounding our current time whether it is social or performative or something completely different.

The Tongxian Art Centre shows a distinct material quality that is dynamic and I could not help but compare this project to the Ningbo Museum by Wang Shu. In the case of the Tongxian Art Centre, the designers at Office dA have imposed onto themselves constraints by limiting the material pallette, geometry, structural and programme elements with the intention to ‘provoke invention’ with the goal of producing a generous architecture through fiercely reductive means.15 They describe the building as having undergone a “rigorous diet where its bodily mass is suctioned to a critical minimum”. The purpose of this metaphor is in regards to a space restriction that they self-imposed. Wall deformations allowed the ripple across the building with every brick in subtle inflection not unlike the characteristic of parametric design. What sets this curved inflection apart from many other architecture that are proliferated with the help of computers are the quality of the curved deformation in that it contains a dialogue or a balance between the spatial abstraction and the concrete building. Between the quantitative and the qualitative. As noted by el-Khoury, “Embedded within the complex geometry of the gatehouse is a seasoned knowledge of industrial bricks and Flemish bonds, as much as digital computational techniques.”16 In regards to parametric properties, each building block is linked to the others and the whole, allowing the cascading play of cause and effect through the manipulation of its deformation and inflection. This results in the building being in a state of virtual flux and though the building does not move, ‘movement is embedded as potential.’ This project really made me question on whether the design was ultimately generated in paper (2D) first or was it wholly generated through the parameters that was set up considering the huge amount of them within this project. Again, I believe that this is an example of juxtapositioning the artisan quality of brick building in rural China with the use of digital theory and practice. Though it differs quite largely with Wang Shu’s Ningbo Museum in that it lacks the empowering atmosphere, I feel that the Ningbo Museum lacks the control possessed by Office dA with regards to the orchestration of the material elements.

After further exploration concerning the level of control, I decided to delve into more computation heavy designs in an attempt to study more examples on the effect of these tools beyond mere surface representations. The proceeding precedents show a different of approach in terms of conveying interaction and dialogue.



Image 10 - The tectonic effect produced through digital/computation methods act as a counterpoint in balancing against the simplicity of materials.

‘Embedded within the complex geometry of the gatehouse is a seasoned knowledge of industrial bricks and Flemish bonds as much as digital computational techniques’ - Radolphe el-Khoury




Image 11 & 12 - The opening and closing action of the wood in relation to the humidity level in a controlled casing.


Most climate-responsive attempt in architecture is conceived as a technical function where mechanical and electronic sensing are abundant. The Hygroscope by Menges and Reichert differs quite largely in the sense that the technology, its biological systems and its responsive capacity are all literally and inherently part of the material itself which is, in the case of this project, wood.17 The term hygroscopicity refers to the ability to receive moisture from the surrounding atmosphere when its dry and the ability to give out moisture when wet. Thus, it manages to be in equilibrium with the surrounding relative humidity in terms of moisture content. This process of exchange also leads to the material to change physically as the water molecules bond with the material molecules. The methods of achieving this is highly complex with the use of computational morphogenesis. This is because the generative code that drives and unfolds the morphology must be strictly done in relation with the materialisation process that injects the behavioural program during the fabrication of the material themselves. In short, the ‘computation and materialisation are inherently and inseperably related’.18 The system’s responsive behaviour is controlled through five parameters which are: the fibre directionality, the layout of synthetic and natural composite, the length-width-thickness ratio, geometry of the element and finally the humidity control during the production process. Though this project might appear unrelated to my discourse, I believe that climate and the natural environment are some of the universal elements that are intrinsic in arguably most designs and would be a great benefit in developing biomimetic architecture. This project further contributed in ways which allowed the technology to be embedded without use of applied mechanical means, thus the material themselves become the technology. This opens up new possibilities with regards to the use of possibly different materials and being under different conditions, specific to certain situations and context. As such, the use of computational morphogenesis is definitely intriguing. It is also quite interesting to note how the project is redefining what a surface is or could be. One of the strengths of computation in design is perhaps the ability to discover another layer in architecture and the further the technology evolves, the deeper our exploration would be in discovering new layers, this might be due to to its ability to produce an almost infinite amount of permutations.



PARAMETRIC IN ARCHITECTURE The use of parametrics in architecture has perhaps existed for quite some time. One could argue that Gothic architecture had utilise parametrics for the construction of their cathedrals concerning structures. But is the distinction here in construction rather than design? Surely Parametric modelling is just a representation tool but could one design through parametrics completely? Physics will never change. Gravity will always exist (unless...) and force will always be the product of its mass and gravitational acceleration. As such, I believe mathematical calculations will always possess the same logic which means the current use of computational technology will have the same framework as if one is doing it manually. The main difference will always come down to the level of efficiency and speed with its calculations. In addition to this, the efficiency and convenience has allowed us to gain more control of our design right to its smallest details and tolerances. With higher level of control in design, we now have a larger freedom for expression. Though has mentioned earlier, the current practice of computational architecture is never just focused on the formal aspect of the design. The beauty with control and freedom in our current position is the ability to explore beyond the surface qualities. After investigations throughout these first few weeks, I have come to appreciate the use of computational technology in architecture more and have perhaps gain an interest in biomimetic and responsive architecture with the belief that it could greatly affect us in terms of our way of living and behaviours in general. Utilising it perhaps with the idea of a strong architectural identity and atmosphere in order to have a great affect and dialogue with the world and people around us.

‘Andrasek belongs to a new sensibility, a group of highly computer-literate experimental practitioners, who have discovered within the digital realm new forms of expression and new design methodologies.’19 - Neil Leach The works of Alisa Andrasek and her cross-disciplinary laboratory Biothing is perhaps one of the most interesting in terms of experimental pratice in relation to computation design. Biothing is doing research that are more focused towards a more explicit computational approach in designing rather than just being technique-based with scripting being done directly in an open source manner. In their competition entry Climath in Dubrovnik, Croatia, their goal was to create a synthetic ecology. They intend to ‘bind the ingredients of local culture and physics’ to develop a hybridized programme which is inspired by the ‘Old City’s network of polished stone pavements, squares, palace courtyards and cloister gardens [...] to replicate qualities and effects of such collective living space’.20 What is also interesting is the way the plaza was designed. The tilling pattern was ultimately generated through the use of cellular automata algorithms based on computing local neighbourhoods. This resulted in a highly heterogenized distribution of the cells that made up the infrastructure. It also provided the information for the distribution and adjustable densities on several elements such as benchers, planters and lighting in the area. The design also has the ability to produce synthetic ‘weather’ and dispersal of energy production.21 I thought this was a truly new method of designing where the ultimate generator is entirely done through computation and digital technology. Yet despite the predominant use of mathematical algorithms, the design in my opinion still appear expressive. Neil Leach (et al.) has also noted on her seemingly poetic use of the formal grammar systems. This goes against the notion one might have in regards to rigid mathematical algorithms having no flexibility in formal expression if the biological function is the main focus.



14 All of this coupled with the fact that their intention was to also connect with the local culture, I find the result to be very interesting. In particular the attempt at creating a synthetic ecology which, if we go back a few pages, mirrors Wang Shu’s attempt at capturing the region’s nature in concrete form.

15 Image 14 & 15 - Climath showing qualities and difference in environment during the day and night with relation to lighting and synthetic ‘weather’. Image 13 - Showing the plan of the design

The evolution in scale that is, from just a formal concrete appearance to an inherent characteristic of the design perfectly potrays I think, the level and power of computation design in architecture.


Image 16 - The Climath under the context of its environment. Enclosed in a heritage area yet expresses technological advancement in its design.

‘It is worth remembering that architecture remains rooted to place, even in age celebrated for global culture; what circulates are images, ideas, expertise and architects themselves.’22 - Stan Allen




Image (top) - Grasshopper definition in producing magnetic displacement effect. Panels inserted to check and identify where the problem in connections begin.


ALGORITHMIC EXPLORATION These first few weeks have been a lot to consume in terms of learning grasshopper. The videos provided were extremely helpful in supplying the basic knowledge on how grasshopper work and the demonstrations truly showed them in context of modelling and designing. Given my interest in the responsive behaviours of elements in a design, I discovered an intriguing algorithm in controlling the behaviours of points in 2 dimensional plane using a concept not unlike that of magnetic displacement. The model is playing around with interacting singularities, essentially creating a vector field in line with real physics. In reverse engineering the algorithm and making it from scratch, I discovered various abilities in parametrically controlling these points. It is true that Rhino has the ability to do similar things such as assigning point attractors and repellers, but I find that using grasshopper is signifantly more complex in terms of the degree of manipulation. For instance, one can easily define points as either a sink, vortex or source by slide controls and adjusting the magnitude of the forces emitted as well as controlling the direction (clockwise or anti clockwise) of vortices. Using grasshopper has enable the flexibility of these changes but there are several problems encountered while modelling. Though this could be the fault of skilll inediquacy on my part, going back to change a single grasshopper element will result in tedious reconfiguration of the whole or most of the system. After trying to replace a wrong definition element, I realize that grasshopper might not be so flexible in terms of handling certain types of changes and it might be arguably easier to start a new model. Also, I have encountered situations where several of the connections were removed randomly after deletion or disconnection of a single element. Grasshopper sometimes do not inform the presence of these errors thus I find it hard to identify the problems that are needed to be solved. Although, this might be just an isolated technical problem on my part. Going back to this particular algorithmic definition, there is no doubt that several components are missing and still needed for a more concrete model. Several questions could be asked; could I use something other than points as the parameters and set up environmental parameters instead? How can I use the same effect on a three dimensional space? Could a time sequence be added?

Image (top) - A masters student’s published work on spatial studies using CA algorithms. <>

Image (above) - Object-E’s Dmitris research on Iannis Xenakis’ work concerning evolution of the cellular automata.

CELLULAR AUTOMATA ALGORITHMS This might be considered as another precedent in terms of parametric in design but is added to part A.4 as I feel that it came from exploring parametric algorithms and since this method was used in Biothing’s Climath project, I thought this generative algorithm was worth looking into further to gain a better understanding on what it does and the potential it might have. From what I can understand about cellular automata (CA) algorithms, they contain groups or cells defined as ‘neighbourhoods’ that has a binary property; on or off, transparent or opaque, white or black.22 The rules and configuration set for a neighbourhood determines the properties for the next generation of neighbourhood. Essentially cells in generation n is defined by the state of cells in generation n-1. An example from one of the most known set of rules is derived from Conway’s Game of Life and the designers in Object-E describes it as such: • Any live cell with fewer than two live neighbors dies, as if by loneliness. • Any live cell with more than three live neighbors dies, as if by overcrowding. • Any live cell with two or three live neighbors lives, unchanged, to the next generation. • Any dead cell with exactly three live neighbors comes to life.23 These rules can vary and is dictated by the designers themselves to suit the design needs. What is interesting here is the self referential character of the algorithm (hence, automaton) in that it requires no proceeding input from the user afterwards. A self evolving design generated through its own processes which questions Leach’s notion of designers as the ultimate driver in form emergence as the only interaction is the initial input. ‘A very complex structure of repetitive patterns emerge as a result of the direct relationship between parts acting together to form a larger system from the ground up.’24 It is thought that from these very simple sets of rules, complex formations can be achieved as the design evolves though I have yet managed to find any simple algorithm or definitions to test this out. Although there is a chance that CA algorithms are not within the subject scope, perhaps some time in the future I might explore this method of computation design out of curiosity and interest.



CONCLUSION & LEARNING OUTCOMES Taking everything into account, my design proposal and argument is layered in several elements. However, the main underlying thread is still the idea of a strong sense of identity within the design, a meaningful architecture that emerges from the ever evolving story of the history of the artform. This must not be forgotten as I believe it to be a huge factor in producing great works that stand a chance at lasting comparison and dialogue. How the design emerge from this story is key. It should derive from the expression of our current world; of our highest capability in utilising the technology that surrounds us, serving as a platform in redefining our place and identity within the story. For if we stray too far into self-expression, the design becomes indeed unique, but as Pallasmaa mention in the words of Igor Stravinsky: ‘The art becomes unique in the sense that its world is totally closed and it does not contain any possibility for communication.’25 Responsive and biomimetic architecture becomes the main method in the expression of this design. This enable a higher level of interaction with the world where its responsive nature could, in a sense, allow the environment themselves to dictate the morphology or effect. With the possibility of having not just one set of appearance, the design is given a multi-layered quality that could enforce its lasting impression; an added freshness as it could appear differently in other conditions. To conclude, the first few weeks have taught me to appreciate the world of computation in design a lot more and this in turn, led me to appreciate the architectural world as a whole in seeing and critically examining a work beyond its surface and shock value quality. The following weeks will hopefully allow me to continue in learning these computational methods while further analysing its role in the future of architecture.

‘True architecture makes us aware of the entire history of building and it reconstructures our reading of the continuum of time.’ - Juhani Pallasmaa

1. Antoine Picon, ‘Architecture, Innovation and Tradition’, Architectural Design, 83 (2013), pp. 128-133. 2. TS Eliot, ‘Tradition and Individual Talent’, Selected Essays, (Harcourt, Brace & World, 1964), New York. 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. 3. Patrik Schumacher, ‘Introduction : Architecture as Autopoietic System’, in The Autopoiesis of Architecture (Chichester: J. Wiley, 2011), pp. 1 - 28. 4. Stan Allen, ‘The Future That Is Now’, The Design Observer Group (2012), < architecture-school-the-future-that-is-now/32728/> [accessed 15 March 2013]. 5, 7, 8, 25. Juhani Pallasmaa, ‘Newness, Tradition and Identity’, Architectural Design, 82 (2012), pp. 14-21. 6. Paul Brislin, ‘Identity, Place and Human Experience’, Architectural Design, 82 (2012), pp. 8-13. 9, 10. Edward Denison & Guang Yu Ren, ‘The Reluctant Architect: An Interview with Wang Shu of Amateur Architects Studio’, Architectural Design, 82 (2012), pp. 122-129. Maurice Merleau-Ponty, ‘The Phenomenology of Perception’, (Routledge & Keagan Paul, 1962), London, p. 407. 11. Dezeen Magazine, ‘Contemporary Art Centre, Cordoba by Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos’, (2013), < http://www.> [accessed 25 March 2013]. 12. David Cohn, ‘Contemporary Art Centre, Spain, by Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos’, The Architectural Review (2013), < article> [accessed 19 March 2013]. 13, 19. Digital Tectonics, ed. by Neil Leach, David Turnbull and Chris Williams (United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons, 2004), p. 8. 14. Adeline Seidel, ‘We Were Promised Jet Packs!’, Computational Architecture: digital designing tools and manufacturing techniques, (Singapore: Page One, 2012), pp. 94-97. 16. Rodolphe el-Khoury, ‘The Digital Craft of Office dA’, 32 Beijing/New York: Russia-China 1920-2004, ed. by Michael Bell, (Princeton Architectural Press, 2005), pp. 44-45. 17, 18. Archimenges, ‘Hygroscope: Meteorosensitive Morphology’, (2012), <> [accessed 25 March 2013]. Woodbury, Robert (2010). Elements of Parametric Design (London: Routledge) pp. 7-48. 20, 21. Biothing: repository of computation design, ‘Climath, Dubrovnik’, (2010), <> [accessed 26 March 2013]. 22, 24. Mike Silver, ‘Automason Version 1.0’, Future Feeder (2006), <> [accessed 1 April 2013]. 23. Dmitris Gourdoukis, ‘Space Sound’, Object-E Experimental Architectures (2007), < spacesound> [accessed 1 April 2013]. School of Architecture Computing and Engineering, ‘Programming Architecture’, University of East London (2012), <> [accessed 1 April 2013].




INITIAL DESIGN FOCUS FAST ARCHITECTURE VS. SLOW ARCHITECTURE We chose biomimicry as a starting point as we thought it would provide an opportunity in exploring responsitivity and an architecture with many potential beyond the surface aesthetic. We also initially thought it would be interesting to look at nature as the ultimate precedent in our design and their ability to optimally adapt to the local context without any mechanical or artificial influences. In a sense, they inherently create their own identity in direct relation and response to the surrounding context. Of course, there must also be an underlying meaning that empowers this identity and that has proven to be a difficult element to discover given the statement in the design brief which highlights Wyndham City as a place with no unique characteristics. As such, we believe that this gives us the oppurtunity to look deeper instead in the interaction between the users, in this case the drivers, and the design installation essentially letting the meaning and identity be derived and defined from this interaction. A very important element about this design project is that it is to be installed on a highway with users in vehicles travelling at 60 to 70 kmph. This would affect the design greatly as it needs to interact with a fast moving user. Jan Gehl wrote in his ‘Close Encounters with Buildings’ that the scale of detail of an architecture ties greatly into whether they are ‘fast’ architecture or ‘slow’ architecture1. Essentially a 5 kmph or a slow architecture has a higher resolution of details as they could be aknowledged by the slow walking pedestrian. Contrasted to a 60 kmph architecture which are usually ignored by drivers who focuses on the road, thus limiting interaction. In order to solve this we decided to focus on elements that ‘move’ with the user [dynamic] to maximise interaction and to create a phenomenological space [atmosphere] as they drive through / pass the installation.


CASE STUDIES & ALGORITHMIC BRAINSTORMING Following up on the definition found a week ago which is the magnetic displacement definition that distorts a two dimensional grid field, we decided to explore it further and see if we could somehow find a way to include it in our gateway design. This time, the grid of points are placed on a surface with polygons mapped onto the points. Several small iterations were done until the definition proved to be a dead end as the data structure of the points proved difficult to organize with points that have no relation to either the surface or the other adjacent points. Thus, this limits further explorations that allow possible fabrication of models.

The definition was then simplified with standard attraction and repulsion behaviour of points without the vector rotation of the previous version. This allowed easier management and a structured set of points that could be easily predicted. The new definition allows the manipulation of the cells on the grid to create various tectonic effects that could relate to the contextual site level of the Wyndham highway. Or possibly the creation of an artificial landscape that weaves across the site. The definition was then used to create a radial grid instead of the hexagonal grid and several iterations were created solely on the idea of repulsion. In this case, the points were actively dictated to produce a visual pattern that we find might be usable for the gateway installation.






PHOSPHORESCENCE // BIOTHING Phosporescense by Biothing uses adaptive mathematical logics that allows for localized differentiation. The mathematics of electro-magnetic fields are used to derive the form. Network of underwater lights travel through the ‘field’ lines giving the notion that the building expands beyond the site and into the water. Using the mathematics of Brownian motion in the magnetic field allow for particles to navigate the mesh in a seemingly ‘random’ motion that is parametrically adjustable. This drives the form of the design and produces diverse tectonics on site. In addition, creating specialized spaces that is adaptable to the needs and demands of the varying programmes. The project uses a probabilistic program that maps human activities as well as tectonic behaviors on the surface they inhabit. This allows the mimicry of natural ecologies with the ground as a network of nestedsystems that can interact with one another. The design is also a combination of Pop and sustainability or as Biothing said ‘culture fused into nature’ with selected lighting scheme that imposes a new ecological layer onto the site, encouraging the growth of particular species of algae to revitalise local marine ecology. I find the striking aesthetics as well as the concept behind this project truly interesting not unlike that of Climath discussed in the previous part where the balance between exciting aesthetic form and a concept that ties with the local context is achieved. This would be a very interesting element for the case of the Wyndham gateway installation.



Image (top) - Biothing using a processing script to model the electro-magnetic fields <>

Biothing used a more complex software and processing scripts to produce the Phosphorescence design. As such, it was impossible to produce brownian termites to form the shell of the design in my case. Nonetheless, I tried to reproduce the form to a certain extent using a similar principle of field lines in grasshopper. I discovered a plug-in called FlowLines that adds a component called ‘Streamlines’ which allowed for easier production of stream field lines by ‘charging’ a point with an adjustable value. This allow interferences of other field lines and produces an almost ‘neuron’-like effect similar to that of the Phosporescence design. By evaluating a curve, I am able to move the charged point in a controlled path. In referencing more points, the merge component was used for easy management and the cull component is used to assign the different charges to different points. Thus by varying the charge would create different forms and effect in accordance to the interferences. In order to seperate the lines in groups of their respective charged points, the list partition component was used. These lines were then lofted to create the base shell and was then offset to create a solid. Lines were also piped to create solids. These two elements were then Booleaned in order achieve the form as shown in the simple render. Further exploration was not done with this definition as it lacks the direction and dynamism that we desired. The form resulted from this definitions are more ‘point’-like and centralised that is not suited for a highway installation in our opinion.



MORPHOLOGY // ACHIM MENGES Moving on from the electro-magnetic field theme of previous definition, we sought for a more linearity in forms that would emphasis our design focus of movement and dynamism. The sort of morphology prevalent in Achim Mengesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; work piqued our interest as it contain transitional elements that exaggerates the change from one pole to the next. This dual polarity accentuates the movement from one end to the other and could possibly create an exciting gateway installation. In addition to this, the transition was calculated in relation to contextual air-flow that dictates the angles and apertures of the tetrahedron faces. Various other parameters resulted in a very differentiated form which were analysed for optimum structural performance. This produces the final form, a morphology from space-frame to surface. His work on material morphology functions in a similar way to that of the Hygroscope project mentioned in Part A. Ignoring the fact that his material could behave inherently to adapt to the local context, we decided to recreate these projects with the resources available to us which is Rhino and grasshopper with using relatively simple components instead of digitally encoding behavioural patterns onto materials.

m at erial m o r ph o lo gy


tr a ns i ti o n a l m o r ph o lo gy





In an attempt to recreate the morphology, we explored and manipulated several definitions. At first, each faces were manually done through use of many components such as loft explode, section, polyline, curve divide, list shift, planar surface and others. Only later do we used lunchbox to efficiently divide the surface into desired face shapes.




We started off with simply trying to control the closing and opening of aperture on surface faces (1) done through evaluating the curve and connecting the evaluated point onto a 4 point surface input. After doing so we decided to explore ways to control and open the faces through extension at an angle (2). This was done through the move component which is connected to the evaluated point as well as the normal vector of the surface. The next step was to introduce an attractor point that would create variables in the output similar to that of Achim Mengesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; responsive materials. The distance between the attractor point and the evaluated points were retrieved and remapped to a desired boundary which then became the strength of amplitude used to move the evaluated points (3a and 3b).





P lan v ie w s



WIND ARBOR // NED KAHN In order to take a step further in varying the condition of the faces, we explored and looked for works that has a high responsive character. The wind arbor by Ned Kahn is an elegant display that produces an effect completely dependent to the wind. The display can be thought of as a canvas that shows people the shape of the wind at any particular time, an ever moving design. To represent the variability of the wind, a sample image was used as an example wind map where the degree of brightness dictates the amplitude of effect, in this case, the rotation of axis. Reproduction of the wind arbor starts off with a simple rectangular grid with rectangular cells. The rotation axis component was used with the amplitude manipulated by a sample image. The axis of rotation is controlled by choosing a particular list of lines from the grid. The iterations on the next page shows the differences in density and polygons from simple rectangular tiles, to triangles, to diamonds, hexagons and finally circles. The result produces variation in texture quality. The definition is tested to use on a surface. In this case, the axis of rotation plays an important role in determining the quality of the model as they create largely different perspective patterns at an angle. The item list component was used to determine which line of axis is referenced for rotation. Structure was added by using lunchboxâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s structure grid and diagrid components which were piped and extruded.



Image (top) - sketches depicting movement similar to an air show which are usually done as the opening of events to welcome people at the beginning of festivities.

TH E M E SS A GE / / 1. to wel c o m e 2. a n even t o r fe s ti va l 3 . a pro c e s s i o n th a t c el eb r a te s th e a r r i va l o f peop l e to w y nd h am


CONCEPT & TECHNIQUE DEVELOPMENT As mentioned before, the gateway is under the bounds of fast architecture where details are usually ignored due to fast drivers moving in a vehicle. The past few iterations have allowed us to explore grasshopper greatly yet most of them so far have only managed to produce arbitrary results with limited potential to pull and attract people in a very strong and meaningful way. As such we decided to step back and truly formulate a concept that would become our main driver in exploring further, making the use of digital design tools in a more purposeful manner. In order to captivate the moving user in a short amount of time, we perceive the design to that of a theater, a medium in which they could be ‘entertained’ while driving and at the same time experience the story and message of the design. Like the theater, the audience are usually only eyeing one direction which is the stage. The atmosphere is constructed through the setting or backdrop of the stage where the highlight and main core of the story is played out by the actors. Putting in context of our design, the drivers will mostly focus on one direction while on the highway, signifying that direction to be the stage. Yet due to the nature of our field of vision, the setting of atmosphere and main actors could be placed on the peripheral vision of drivers, not too far away from central vision that would cause discomfort and not too close that it would cause distraction. Thus, this allows drivers to experience the design with comfort as they drive safely. Using the idea of a theater with a moving audience is not necessarily a concept but rather an analogy that condenses the design, allowing us to focus on 3 main elements: The static audience are now the moving drivers, the stage setting and atmosphere is now the design skin, the main actors that tells the story and message are now the light. The reason for light being the ‘actors’ of this design relates back to previous design focus which was on movement in the design. How do we create movement in a static structure? If the structure cannot physically move then it must move in a different way. By using light as the immaterial element of the design, we could choreograph them in a way which allows them to move through our design along with the audience, conveying to them the message of the design and maximising the level of interaction. This illusion of movement in light would be done through careful sculpting and characteristics of the design skin through using the principle of Persistence of Vision (POV).

PERSISTENCE OF VISION The eye and the brain retain a visual impression for about 1/30th of a second depending on the brightness of an image. This ability to retain an image is known as persistence of vision. The phenomena occurs due to the nature of our memory (iconic memory) in that they do not disappear in an instant but rather fade overtime gradually allowing for retainment of residual memories of the image before. This means that everything we see is a subtle blend of what is happening now and what happened a fraction of a second ago The most popular example of this concept can be seen in motion pictures and movie projectors. Motion pictures show one new frame every 1/24th of a second. Each frame is shown three times during this period. The eye retains the image of each frame long enough to give us the illusion of a smooth motion.


1. 2. 3.


m ove me nt ( film ) sh ut te r ligh t so urc e

In the context of our design, the same elements are used again in relation to the essential components of a movie projector. The design skin acts as a moving film in a sense that they are sliding past the drivers as they move through the installation. Essentially the drivers are the trigger of this movement. The shutter must also be incorporated into the skin in some way to prevent interference of unwanted light that could potentially shatter the illusion of the desired effect. And the light source comes from the sun. On the left is an initial sketch of how these elements would function. We decided to use two skins to better achieve the performance desired by allowing the outer skin to help filter (shutter) selective light and lighten the burden of the inner skin, thereby allowing more flexibility in the choreographing of light.


cu t s e c t i o n o f ‘ roof’ overh ea d

NATURE OF LIGHT The sketch is further elaborated for a more realistic scenario. Both the inner and outer layer have fins at particular angles to better filter and direct the light. Because of the limited time in the design course, only three vectors were chosen to inform the shape and angle of the outer skin. The morning sun at 45 degrees, afternoon sun at 90 degrees and the evening sun at 135 degrees. This essentially creates a ‘modular’ set of form that make up the units of the outer skin.

In order to better understand the nature of light physically and outside of theory, a test model was constructed. The purpose of this model was also to investigate the necessity of using two skins instead of one. The result showed the desired outcome which was the filtering of selective light and activation of only certain slots. To put it simply, the outer layer allows for a controlled incident light to affect the inner layer. Thus this reduces the number of variables to manage in designing the path of light later on. A reduced collection of variables allows for easier control in that only the inner layer will be manipulated in order to achieve different light qualities.


The conceptual test model â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Black Boxâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; above shows the activation of only certain slots when the light source is at different angles. Though accuracy is not perfect due to limited control of the environment (not in a lab) the concept is proven to be successful.


After being convinced in using two skins instead of one, the next step was to determine the type of character these skins or layers should have. By reviewing previous definitions and iterations done before, it was observed that the definition used to reconstruct Achim Mengesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; morphology could be helpful in attaining desired panels for the inner layer. The idea of the inner layer was to create a focus light that has high relative brightness. As was previously discovered from the principle of POV, the brightness of an image affects the length of time of retention in memory. A prism would reflect a more focused light as compared to a flat surface. Using the grasshopper definition allows us for more control in the angle of these prism panels. The definition for Ned Kahnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Wind Arbor provides us initial starting point for the outer skin as it operates the same way as the diagrammatic concept (rotation of tiles/louvers at different angles). However, if these strips are to be weaved and choreographed later on as shown in sketch 2 of the adjacent page, the louvers would be difficult to manage because of the lack of flexibility.




THEME PAVILION // SOMA In order to develop the outer layer and achieve a more pliable form, We decided to split the skin into several segments or faces and fold them in a particular way to allow selective light in. This allows for more flexibility and fluidity when it comes to weaving the skin and also serves the function more efficiently as curved surfaces create more concentrated light that would be directed to the panels of the inner layer. The same concept can be seen in the ‘lamellas’ of SOMA’s Theme Pavilion in Korea. The lamellas are fabricated specifically with properties that allow controlled degree of deformation calculated with the aid of computer programs. The lamellas not only control the light input in the building, but motorised lamellas create animated patterns on the façade which spans from subtle local movement to waves running along the whole length of the building. In such approach, the form, material, movement and light are seamlessly interrelated with one another. The smooth and elegant opening of the lamella is based on elastic deformation of the material, glass reinforced plastic (GRP) which combines high tensile strength and low bending stiffness. Such properties made GRP, the ideal material for construction.


To model the sun scoop using grasshopper, a VB script was used to allow the control of attraction force and threshold distance. Points that were referenced act as the sun vectors. 3 points were referenced in order to simplify the variables as stated before. The curves are evaluated at midpoint (0.5) and were re-drawn by using the interpolate curve component with surfaces formed through the edge surface component.

a s et of modules for the outer laye r


A test sun scoop was fabricated at the scale of 1:20, initially as an aesthetic exploration. The joints were initially thought up as pin joints to allow slight movement and easy assembly on site. The prototype has various flaws in terms of the angle of its opening and reflective property as material investigation was not developed at this stage.



p lan v i e w

p e rsp e c t i v e s

Several test arrays were done in order to experiment the general form of the strip layers and its possibilities. The basic Rhino and grasshopper tools have limited capabilities and flexibilities in arraying multiple elements in various forms (rotate, intersection, union). As such, we discovered a rhinoscript that allows for more array options and the plug-in Armadillo for Rhino that uses cross-paths to layout the elements in the way we desired.


DESERT PAVILION // ANDRES HARRIS With two layers that make up the design, the next issue we faced was on how to connect them structurally. The initial thought was to use the concept of self organized structure that would allow for the natural form finding of the structural appearance as well as the biomimetic idea of minimal surface and maximum efficiency in terms of support. The idea was further elaborated through studying the work of Andres Harris and his Desert Pavilion project where he investigated viscous property, following the footsteps of Frei Otto. Through the use of a software called Real Flow and a Python scripting language, he was able to determine and control the viscosity, the surface tension and density control of the a material. The limitations however, as he describes it, was the inability to derive spine formations. As such, he proceeded on to using Generative Components for a more accurate form-finding2. Through this discovery, we admitted to having limited resources in terms of software availability and time. Though brief explorations were made in a plug-in called Milipede for grasshopper that allows for structural analysis and optimization. The initial intent was to use agents or flocking intelligence in conjunction to this plug-in to create the desired self-organized effect for our design. We decided instead to move on and search for a more manageable solution given our situation.


Though not perfectly self-organized, the usage of several plug-ins for grasshopper managed to somewhat reproduce a similar effect to a certain extent. The curves are separated into many segmented lines in order to apply the exoskeleton component. This was used in conjunction with kangaroo in order to analyse â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;structural relaxationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and placement of anchor points. Weaverbird was used to smoothen the nodes of the exoskeleton members and for a more continuos appearance.


exos k eleton

k angar oo & weaver bir d


Initial idea for connection of strips. Similar to muscle fibres in appearance. Structural members are rigid angles. Further developed to a more responsive and organic-like appearance that adds to the atmosphere.



Several iterations were done on determining the web connectors between the modules. The basic principle of selfsupportable structures were used at first ( standard truss system) as can be seen at the bottom of image 1 below. We finally decided to use the combination of three web connectors laid on top of one another for a strong and rigid structure as can be seen in image 2.


1 66


Iterations on inner panels to determine the most performative in terms of directing light in relation to size of aperture and angles of faces using the definitions done previously. Criteria also includes the atmosphere produced when arrayed onto strips. Third iteration from the left was chosen as it is aesthetically more defined when arrayed as well as having a suitable aperture size for the focusing of light.

The evolution of the surface with the help of rhinoscripts. Cross paths of panels allow multiple arrays on the same cell of grid. Overlapping of elements to create the desired effect. A brutal and defined design, creating a backdrop and atmosphere for the drivers that drive through.


THE COMPOSING PROCESS As we were composing and arraying all the elements together, we thought that the effect produced a very brutal yet organic form. This coupled with the concept of moving lights traversing on its skin produces an image not unlike that of nerve pulses moving through a spine. A conduit that is awaken only when someone passes through it at high speed to trigger the pulse. Signalling life.



m es h boolean union difficulty

web thick nes s

3 s ur face


s hell thick nes s

4 final m es h file s ent for fabr ication


We decided to use 3d printing for the fabrication of our model. As this was the first time for us personally to use this fabrication method, we had several issues in and difficulties in producing them. The model sent for 3d printing must be a closed mesh. It must be watertight which means having no holes or any open surfaces as the fabrication is similar to that of moulding processes with liquid substances. By offsetting the mesh, one could minimise the solid used for the fabrication thereby saving cost. The initial problem was creating a single mesh with no open surfaces and naked edges. From image 1, the boolean mesh union command does not fully create a single mesh due to problems of intersection with the mesh faces. With limited time at hand, we decided on just fabricating two module units connected by the web connectors with the intent of showing the physical property of the form. Before the mesh file was sent for fabrication, the mesh repair command was used to analyse the mesh properties and on whether there are flaws such as gaps, holes, face duplicates, intersections and naked edges. After several repairs, the mesh was passed as a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;goodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; mesh. However, the surface shells were too thin resulting in one of the shells to break apart during the fabrication process. other files were sent increasing the web and shell thickness to a minimum of 6mm in contrast to the very thin 2mm previously. The increased thickness also added more faces to the mesh thus creating a smoother surface and more continuous outcome to the model. As for the assembly method on site, our intent was to fabricate the structures and design in modular units for easy transportation. In order to assemble them together, we decided to use Andres Harrisâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; method of bonding instead of using the conventional joint methods to allow for a more continuous finish. By using a special mix of resin or biresin on site, the modular units can be assembled together to form a rigid structure with expansion joints at the base and other key areas. This method of assembly is also structurally superior as the bonding agent and the material itself are of the same element similar to natural biostructures such as rigid sutures.




1 2 3

trigger pulse message


Movement of vehicles through the installation which ultimately produces the effect of moving pulses through phenomena of POV.


The moving light produced from the reaction of movement and the designed skin. Like the chemical reaction produced on a specialized neuron stem cell.


The event of welcoming upon arriving and â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;farewellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; upon exiting of which will be further elaborated in PART C. localised to the context through various light qualities.


Signalling the arrival and the departure of people from Wyndham City through experiential light celebration

THE CONDUIT A living structure that is awake when triggered by the moving cars.




CONCLUSION & LEARNING OUTCOMES One of the main criticism with our design proposal was the lack of focus in our design intent as it seems to be incoherent with various ideas used which resulted in a design message that appear vague and unclear. We welcome this critique and use this opportunity to draw our focus and attention deeper into the design effect instead of spreading broadly over several other ideas. Also, the story and message behind the design is not developed yet. As such, we will continue to elaborate the process behind the conduit when it is put on site contextually. We have only achieved the technique at this point which is the pulse of moving light. To use an analogy, we have only formed the ‘words’ of which in Part C, will be used to string a story that would better convey the message and the expression intended. Only then will the design be fully cohesive, understood and comprehended by the users and only then will it become an architecture. Further exploration on the characteristics of Wyndham will be done to acquire clues on how to weave the story. Looking back at Part B of this course, it can be seen that the matrix and iterations of the first section, B.2 were done without much focus and direction. This is largely due to personal difficulty in deriving a concept from the matrix as I am personally used to deriving a concept first before attempting any algorithmic explorations. From part B.3 onwards, the use of parametric tools are more focused and used selectively to help and aid the design process as the design concept was starting to be defined. I personally find that choosing a concept from a set of matrix has its flaws in that they are never an accurate representation of what you want to achieve. This in addition to the lack of parametric modelling skills and softwares and time, would limit ones scope to just a set of matrix from given definitions plus a handful of added components. Despite the case, the design would never be where it is without the algorithmic brainstorming section as it has helped in informing several elements of the design and also given me a better knowledge and understanding of what grasshopper can do as well as what it cannot do.

‘While the forms created by this [...] parametric design might seem deceptively, deliberately simple, the complexity lies in the details and in making the process work’ - Bruce Bell & Sarah Simpkin


1. Jan Gehl et. al, ‘Close Encounters with Buildings’, Centre for Public Space Research/Realdania Research, Institute of Planning, School of Architecture, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, (2005) Archimenges, ‘Transitional Morphologies’, (2012), <> [accessed 25 April 2013]. Biothing: repository of computation design, ‘Phosphorescence’, (2010), <> [accessed 26 April 2013]. Images Used: <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <>




Images - showing the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;flatnessâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; of the plains surrounding the site.

Images (top) - The rough texture of the land due to flat landscape and lack of protection


THE SEARCH FOR DIRECTION Our first action in response to the feedback given was to add clarity to the design. A clear direction of a specific effect which we could focus on. As mentioned previously, we aim to introduce this clarity in relation to the context; to formulate a story that is precisely in line with the language of Wyndham using the technique that we have derived in Part B which was the element of moving light. Hence, we looked to the city for an interesting element that could be utilised and become the source of our focus. Initial research on their official strategic plan was done as we thought it would help in gaining knowledge on future directions of the city, thus our design could potentially reflect them. The sense of community, economic prosperity and sustainable growth. These are all elements and goals from the strategic plan that we feel are quite common in the plans of most other cities. In addition to this, the complexity required to translate these ideals and goals into a highway installation would risk being too abstract in that we believe that they are too often lost in translation and loses the message that is intended to be conveyed to the public or in this case, the moving drivers; an added difficulty for the design intention to be aknowledged. In that sense, we opt for something more ‘real’, something simpler that could be translated well as a highway installation.

‘The more subjective a work is, the more it focuses on the subectivity of the author, whereas works that are open to the world provide a ground of identification for others.’ - Juhani Pallasmaa Further on, our findings showed an intriguing pattern in how Wyndham was often portrayed by the local council and officials, in that they claim the unique character of Wyndham lies with its natural features and landscape. The second longest coastline, the You Yangs, the Werribee River, the wetlands; these are the elements that seemed to ‘define’ Wyndham. To continue with this relationship to the landscape, we decided to focus on something more localised to the site which is the surrounding flat plains. Thus we presented ourselves with the issue: How to utilise the ‘flatness’ of the site in correlation with moving lights and what is the experience we want it to convey? What is the meaning behind this?

THE SEARCH FOR MEANING Due to the flatness of the landscape, the area was more exposed to the elements of the weather resulting in a lot of wear and tear to the land and we could see this through the bare ruggedness on the site, a very strong characteristic that is apparent to see visually in the area. It was this fragility and vulnerablitiy of the land that we seek to exploit and utilise for the design. However, instead of depicting a scene of somber fragility, we intend on portraying brutal resilience. Instead of a still and quiet moment of reflection, we wanted an aggressive defiance as the wind tears through it. We feel that this is more in line with our intention to create an exciting and iconic installation. Together with our concept of the moving pulses of a neuron, this would depict an image of a ruptured and damaged element that is still able to sustain life; An analogy in which as long as there are moving pulses, there are still brain activities indicating presence of life. These pulses are created and triggered through the act of moving cars; To translate, as long as people keep coming to the city (triggering the pulse on the installation), the city would be active with lots of activities and events thus is able to sustain itself! A convoluted idea in hindsight, and this is proven correct as we struggled with the limited time we had to depict a convincing design showing all of these qualities. Also, we risk too much into metaphors which as discussed before, would affect the way in which the design is recieved by the people. Would they understand it? Perhaps not. The meaning behind this concept was too abstract and most importantly, does not have a strong connection in the context of Wyndham thus would only confuse the drivers.


Brief algorithmic sketches were done as we were exploring this idea of tearing and rupture by creating a definition that is able to create grid tearing. Initial intent was to derive a form from these tearings and to later array the sun scoop modulations as well as the webs accordingly to create the moving lights and pulse effect. As can be seen from these images, more exploration could have been done but in order to produce a convincing design, as mentioned, requires a lot more time that was not available due to the lack of technical skills and resources.



TOWARDS A MEANINGFUL DIRECTION Despite the local councilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s push in defining Wyndham through itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s geographical landscape, we struggled to derive an iconic idea out of these natural features. Looking at Wyndham, we personally feel that rivers and mountains are not enough to define the city as they are common elements that are present in almost any places, anywhere. That is, unless they are exceptionally outstanding from the common landscape and this is where subjective interpretations come in as we personally feel that Wyndhamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s landscape is not unique enough to act as an iconic beacon for the city. As such, we decided to stray away from the natural aspect and search for a more interesting character of the city that we could tap into. To find a stronger connection to a place beyond their visible natural landscape; to find an element that could be considered as the spirit of the place, a genius loci that is intrinsic to the city and history of Wyndham. Scouring the area around the site, we know that there is an open range zoo, Park Mansion, an equestrian centre and a water treatment plant nearby in which all were considered trivial to us. Then there is the Royal Australian Air Force Base and Museum. Having an aviation museum in the area would imply some sort of historical connection in relation to the air force and what we found was incredibly interesting. It was discovered that the air force base near the site is the birthplace of the Royal Australian Air Force, the second oldest air force in the world. It was then that we realised Wyndham does not only possess a powerful history but also a significant global identity that went beyond what we were expecting throughout our research of the place. The air force had participated in both the first and second world war, also becoming the fourth largest air force in the world (behind the United States, USSR and the UK) with having over 215,000 personnel in 1937-1945. Many personnel had lost their lives in air wars and on coalition operations. The air force is still currently active, participating in operations everyday contributing to peacekeeping and humanitarian as well as disaster relief. Proudly serving and protecting the people from the sky, we believe that we found a truly meaningful concept that resonates heavily with the spirit of the place. Though we admit that the city does not only derive its identity from the air force, we feel that the air force is one of many layers that makes the city; a fragment of its history in which we could convey in a simple yet powerful way.

The Point Cook Williams Air Force Base is the birth place of the Australian Flying Corps which was established in the early years of the first World War. During 1920, the AFC (Australian Flying Corps) was replaced by the Australian Air Corps, which in turn became the Royal Australian Air Force on 31 March 1921.

Making the connection, exposing a layer of Wyndhamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s history that was forgotten by many.

Images (top) - The Royal Australian Air Force Aerobatic Team // The Roulettes



FROM AIRSHOW TO LIGHTSHOW Having knowledge on the significance of the Royal Australian Air Force and its connection to Wyndham had opened up a new path in our design direction. We decided to strip down anything that we feel was too vague and to focus on the real. The neuron and the tearing concept had to go in order to forge a clearer design that we feel is more concrete and resolute in approach. We also feel that we could retain the technique and give them instead, a new meaning that is able to enhance the concept further. To invoke a feeling of excitement, and to inject pride, morale, respect and honour by mimicking and translating aerobatic maneuvers into the language of light. The use of natural light without any external electronic devices is still an important aspect of our design. We believe that the quality of natural sunlight adds another element to it; being responsive and dependent on natural light instilled a temporal dimension to the design instead of being only spatial. This is in addition to reinforcing its organic nature, as the effects are not clear-cut and definite throughout the whole day because with the use of artificial lighting. The lights and effects would differ and be completely controlled by the natural weather. In time, the installation would indirectly educate the people and stand as an iconic feature that brought back the connection of aviation history to Wyndham.

What could be better than being escorted by none other than the Royal Australian Air Force, celebrating oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s arrival.


Putting our technique from Part B into the context of the site, we had to make some adjustments in terms of orientating the sun scoop towards the sun. However, instead of using the concept of selective slot activation throughout the whole strip as we had done previously, we instead decided to seperate the morning, noon and evening sun scoop into three seperate position essentially creating a tunnel-like form (sketch 2). The reasoning behind this was firstly because of the change in orientation caused applying the design on site along the East Bound Princes Freeway road. The installation would not be laterally placed from east to west but instead more inclined towards north to south (sketch 1) thereby affecting the exposure of the sun scoop to the sunlight. However, as the ending section of the installation is more inclined from east to west, this gave us the opportunity to utilise the concept of slot activation thereby allowing us to present a grand ending that could be shared by all three, morning, noon and evening sun position. The reason behind the tunnel-like form was to essentially reduce the general illumination within the installation, thereby helping in achieveing a more focused and brighter light effect through the sun scoop panels. This is also helped by having more interlocking web structure in between the panels to limit the reception of light. Akin to the dimming of ambient light before one gets to enjoy a show, be it in cinema, theater or any type of events that involves lighting, the effect of moving lights in the installation would therefore be more enhanced for the viewings of drivers.


Also to clarify the reasoning behind having sun scoops for three different times of the day; morning, noon and evening is mainly for functional purposes. If we only had apertures/slots/holes without the sun scoop, the moving light effect would not function properly as it will lack focus due to the changing position of the sun. In order to truly achieve a focus light, one needs lenses that could respond to each different angle of incidental sunlight to create and direct that focused light towards a specific location. Instead of having many different lenses that would ensure the effect of moving lights throughout the whole day, we instead only focused on three mainly due to time constraints. After much thought however, we feel that by having a limited period of function in addition to being entirely dependent on the weather adds a level of unique scarcity that encourages people to cherish the light effect due to its less predictable and organic nature.


Design concept on site

To cherish the show, we want people to wonder to themselves, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The weather is good today, I wonder if I get to see the lights.â&#x20AC;?



ESTABLISHING A DEEPER CONNECTION To achieve a much deeper context and connection to the air force, we decided to study and utilise the different formations that they use especially during an air show. We found that the different formations and aerobatic maneuvers could fall under the categories of either spin, loop, rolls, hammerhead or lines. The only relevant and adaptable formations that we could use under the context of a highway installation are maneuvers that involves lines as the others are more appropriately used for a static audience. Throughout the line formations, we found that there were two maneuvers that we could adapt into our lightshow design. They are the Switchblade and the Missing Man formations. Both of these formations evoke different experience and convey different meanings to the audience. We feel that their contrasting aspect could be exploited to create a rich experience and effect for the installation. The Switchblade formation concerns itself with tension and suspense. Creating tension and excitement as planes come into close formation, leaving an illusion of an imminent collision before diverging off to safety. The Missing Man formation depicts a more somber mood, possessing a deep history and meaning behind its simple formation. It is an emotional narration and tribute honouring the ones who fell on the line of duty by having one of the pilots turning off his lights and smoke and leaving the formation. Creating a gap that portrays hollow absence.



We decided on applying three strips, or three moving lights for each position of morning, noon and evening that make up the tunnel-like form of the installation. The reason for this was to have enough space for the maneuvering of lights and thus the sun scoop strips. The total of nine of these moving lights are then converged into five for the final ending which is the Missing Man formation that utiles the concept of selective slot activation; having sun scoop modules for morning, noon and evening. Thus, the ending section of the design can be activated during all the of three chosen times of the day.

Sketch depicting morning light show with the Missing Man ending.



Composing the lines and curves required more effort than was expected as the small details were really important in portraying a convincing and logical motion in which an aeroplane could follow. The nature of lines and curves that portays aeroplanes differs with that of other motions such as the movement line of a walking pedestrian, the movement line of an ant or a fish. The movement lines and curves of an aeroplane we feel are more closely related to that of fast moving cars. This also added an amount of contextual relationship to the site as we believe that the moving light depicting aeroplane paths would echo the same language of moving cars below them to a certain extent. Aeroplanes have speed and dynamism that restricts them from making turns that are too sharp and wide. As such, the curves must illustrate a tight and fast motion. The placement of centre lines (CL in sketch below) were created to help in forming a sort of â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;structureâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and back bone in the choreographing of these lines and curves. During this process, care was also made in the aesthetic sof the design and how it would appear to the drivers while they are inactive without moving lights. Essentially, we intend to ensure that the design still conveys the message of dynamism and the speed of aeroplanes even when not activated by the sunlight. A frozen movement and sculpture that could still be appreciated by the drivers.

Final sketch of all light strips; morning, noon and evening converging into final five formation.




ADDING THE TECHNIQUE Due to the large size of the design, only a section of it could be digitally modelled with its entire component. The details of the sun scoop modules were too complex as was mentioned in the feedback of our presentation. We feel that aesthetically, the design could have benefitted from a more elegant and simple approach if we were to focus our attention on just lines instead of both lines and light. We agree with this notion but also believe that the element of light could enhance the effect of the air show even further and create a stronger level of engagement with the moving drivers in comparison to a static structure.






TECTONICS & STRUCTURE Our intentions with the design in terms of structure was to construct a single rigid form without the need of any post and beam, a self supporting structure that allows flexibility which is an important element in the design concept of maneuvering lights and strips. The arch from the tunnel-like form contributed to the rationality of the structure and the initial intent was to make it out of glass-reinforced fibres due to its flexible nature in creating forms as they are made from mouldings and formers. Further research however, convinced us that a whole structure could not be supported by mere GRP and we struggled to find a built precedent with the same scale that uses the same structural principle. As such, we briefly considered utilising railings and a space frame structure not unlike that of roller-coasters and box girders. Again, the emphasis was to search for a solution that allows flexibility as well as the appearance of a single continuos form that would direct all attention to the effect and creating the atmosphere that the installation intent to exudes. We went through several evolution of structure and joints as we explored different methods of constructing the design. We discovered and learned that the issues and problems could be solved in a number of ways but there are always another method that is better in conveying and translating the design intent and concept.








As was mentioned previously, we contemplated the idea to enforce a space frame structure [Scheme A] and railings that connects and supports the sun scoop modules together similar to that of a roller-coaster. The ear-plate joint system (bottom image) utilised for the connection of the structural members was inspired by Hi-Tech architecture with the likes of Renzo Piano, Sir Norman Foster and Richard Roger’s Lloyd Building. This idea was a response to our struggle and difficulty in finding a more organic structure to construct considering the scale of our design thus, we explored a more rational and realistic method of construction involving seperate metal tubes. Based on feedback, we discarded the idea as it proved to stray too far from the concept and lacks innovation as this mechanised form of construction has already been commonly used by many. As such we discovered a compromise [Scheme B] which involves both aluminium tubes and resin. This method is our intention in exploring the idea of bonding introduced by Andres Harris’ Desert Pavilion from Part B’s precedent. From his research, we found that resin to resin bonding is very strong. We are however, unsure of aluminium to resin bonding. Therefore, we came up with a custom made joint consisting of an aluminium perforated web plate embedded in resin which ensures strong resin to resin bonding as well as aluminium to aluminium bonding; the connection of the tubes to the perforated plate.




AN ORGANIC SOLUTION With discussion and help from the tutors, we managed to learn of a better way in achieving a structure and joint system that is closer to our initial concept [Scheme C]. Achieving the appearance of a single continuous form whilst exploring a new technique, even if there were flaws during our process in constructing the prototype, we were quite happy with the result in that it proved an organic joint system is possible while still retaining the structural strength required to support a design of our scale. The system involves, blue foam as formwork and fibreglass mat as main structural component. Resin is used for bonding while also adding strength and a continuous finish appearance. The offset created by the negative and positive joint method is also finished by adding another layer of fibreglass and resin mixture to give that continuous appearance.


It must be noted that the we used styrofoam instead of the blue foam that was intended as we thought that they would act in a similar way. The styrofoam also came in a more manageable block form that would make it easier for us to shape the organic formwork. However, as we were constructing the prototype, it was found that the resin mixture was eating up the styrofoam beneath it. Further study showed that blue polystyrene foam, a much denser material, would prove to be more ideal in this case as was discussed with the tutors. Nevertheless, the structure joint achieved was strong and we believe could resist the load that our design would produce while also retianing a continuous and organic form similar to our concept and idea.




REPLICATING ON SITE CONSTRUCTION We decided that the most efficient and effective way to construct our design was to prefabricate sections that are of reasonable size for transportation. The transported sections could then be assembled on the site through bonding. The base of the design should be anchored to the ground through construction of a simple foundation and footing system as advised by engineers. Through prefabrication of the sections, we can ensure high quality of rigid joints and finishes. To replicate the assembly process, we decided to produce our model through 3d printing. While initially planning to fabricate 8 seperate sections, we broke down the parts into smaller sections to ensure ease of facrication and transportation resulting in 16 seperate parts. The footprint of each part is ensured to be within a bounding area of 140mm x 140mm at the scale of 1:200.


While in the process of preparing the meshes for 3d printing, we have learned of new softwares that ensures much better quality in printing. These are Netfabb and Materialiseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Magics. As was discussed briefly in Part B, we were struggling in producing a viable mesh to be printed out. The current model (Part C) is drastically more complex compared to our previous attempt in Part B and fortunately we were able to achieve a decent solution with the help of learning these simple new softwares.


Mesh without Magic and Netfabb, not a singular solid while having many errors in terms of intersecting and inverted faces.

Mesh after going through Magics and Netfabb, a boolean-ed solid with no errors for printing. Increased thickness for maximum durability.


In all seriousness, the reason why we opted for 3d printing was due to the complexity of the model and the lack of time. We decided the 3d printing would also as mentioned previously, be a sort of replication of the assembly method on site. Despite not being the main focus on the subject, we were nevertheless quite happy with learning the process of how a digital model could be printed off directly in 3d and the effort and method required (if one does not possess the Magic software) in order to prepare a viable mesh for a complex model.



The material used for 3d printing was grey ABS plastic. Our first attempt in printing the complex model was not quite a success. This was due to the meshes not boolean-ed together to form a single solid thus, the result was messy. Another new thing that we learn about 3d printing using ABS plastic was the creation of build and support. These builds and supports are placed in order to hold up the model during the printing process and depending on how irregular the surface of the model is, the more build will be accumulated. In our case, there was quite a huge amount of it that needs to be removed, proving essentially that even 3d printing has its flaws.









CONCLUSION & LEARNING OUTCOMES Many things can be said in terms of the learning outcome and the knowledge that I have gained throughout doing the course of this subject. Perhaps the most apparent evidence is the broad nature and approach that my group members and I took in designing for this installation project. The persistence of vision, organic structural joints, the countless amount of grasshopper definitions, 3d printing, aerobatic maneuvers and formations, selforganizing viscous structures, the precedents explorations, materiality, prototypes (how to use a glue gun) and perhaps the most important element; Designing. The way all of the elements are integrated together. The most common critique that we faced by the juries and our tutors were the fact that we were essentially attempting too many ideas at the risk of losing coherency and depth. This is true but the nature of trying too many things has its benefits as well. I do however concede that I have the advantage of being able to design freely and safely being just a student still and understand the heavy risks involved in the scenario of a real project. It is because of this reason however that I feel it is better to leap into the unknown and taking the risks now and fail rather than doing them later. To test and experiment while you are in the safe environment of the university, we were essentially able to push ourselves to see how far we could go with the design idea. It is not a question of whether we failed or succeed but is essentially a question of what we have learned. By pushing ourselves and creating a lot of issues, we are forcing ourselves to look for more solutions and this is how we are able to learn what we learned throughout the course of this subject. Taking all of this into consideration, I am happy about the outcome and grateful at the opportunity given to witness the evolution and growth of my design to its final form. As mention, the process and journey in arriving at this juncture is priceless. Thank you.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Design is a process of analysis and research with an emphasis on truth and authenticity.â&#x20AC;? - Wang Shu

FIN. 508940


Studio Air Journal  

A Work in Progress

Studio Air Journal  

A Work in Progress