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AR0050

Design-Informatics

Ivo_de_Jeu

st.nr:9399779

AR0050

Design-Informatics

Ivo_de_Jeu

st.nr:9399779


Report for the course AR0050 Design Informatics Study The goal of this course for me was to use advanced digital technologies to help in my design assignment for the MSc2 City Foyer course. First let’s give a brief introduction of my interpretation of the City Foyer studio. The objective was to design a multi-functional visitors centre in the city of Rotterdam. After my analysis of the program and city, the Marconiplein was chosen as the site for the design. The characteristics of the Marconiplein directly influenced the concept of the design. The Marconiplein is a very important transportation-hub for commuters from and to Rotterdam and Schiedam. The different mass transportations became the main forces that drove the design into its final shape. In the diagram one can see the location. The red boundary is a loop for the trams to go into the different directions and to the different stops, this is the maximum footprint for the project. The different transportations and buildings are radiating different force fields that deform the structure. The structure was chosen to be a hexagonal honeycomb grid, from a conceptual point of view to represent the chemical layout of carbon, the main component of fossil fuels and smog.

Once the concept of a deforming structure was set, the way to execute this had to be found. The powerful animation software Maya was chosen to try and model the structure. The program has a component called Dynamics which has the capability to mimic natural force fields such as gravity and wind, etcetera. So a setup was made where a common plane was turned into a softbody in able to be deformed by forces that travelled along the trajectories as shown in the diagram. The result was a two-dimensional plane that under the influence of the exposed force fields slowly becomes three-dimensional and able to contain functions. From here on the plane became fixed, had to be repositioned to fit the original contours again and cut in the right shape. Also adjustment had to be made to tweak the plane in able to fit programmatic needs. The programmatic needs were easily visualised by using a MEL script from the toi-website that transforms m2 into volumes that made it visible where things fit and where tweaking was necessary.

AR0050

Design-Informatics

Ivo_de_Jeu

st.nr:9399779


AR0050

Design-Informatics

Ivo_de_Jeu

st.nr:9399779


The tweaking was done by using some of the other modelling tools such as non-linear deformers, sculpt deformers, softmod, blendshapes and even cloth. I will not go into the specifics of these tools because they are basic Maya tools and also they are used simultaneously and continuously in the tweaking process so it is hard to distinguish the effect of each separate tool and operation on the final result since it was a trial and error way of working. So now that the shape of the plane was finally meeting the design requirements, there still needed to be a structure applied to this three-dimensional plane. The honeycomb grid still had to replace the plane in order to meet the design-objectives. Here the design studio and the design informatics went their separate ways. For the design studio, a honeycomb texture was applied to the plane as an image. The honeycomb texture was drawn in a conventional drafting program and exported as an image. The honeycomb grid was only present in renderings. By using a black and white image, the plane became transparent wherever there was an infill of the honeycomb, the lines of the honeycomb stayed visible. By using a bump map the lines of the honeycomb structure became three-dimensional in the renderings. This appeared to be a quick method to focus on finalizing the project in the design studio and ‘drawings’ could be made from making sections of the model and render those sections to make the structure visible, as the illustrations show.

AR0050

Design-Informatics

Ivo_de_Jeu

st.nr:9399779


AR0050

Design-Informatics

Ivo_de_Jeu

st.nr:9399779


The next step was to try and develop the project at the level of the design informatics. This meant that a different way had to be chosen to generate the hexagonal grid and that this grid was not just a transparency map applied to the plane but actually generated. Different methods were tried to create the hexagonal deformed grid. Inverse kinetic handles, a technique to develop movement in animation with the use of joints like the human knee for example, were applied to a drawn hexagonal grid in an environment of force-fields. This had some rather pleasing results. But the fact that the grid was drawn instead of generated was still a big hurdle.

AR0050

Design-Informatics

Ivo_de_Jeu

st.nr:9399779


Scripting seemed the way-to-go for this exercise, the goal was to generate the cornerpoints as spheres in order to have the points from which the grid could be built-up: float $side = 1; float $angle = 30; float $zdistance = cosd($angle) * $side; float $xdistance = sind($angle) * $side; float $startx = -25; float $startz = -50; int $numberx = 50; int $numberz = 100; string $name = “cornerpoint�; float $x; float $y = 0; float $z = $startz; int $i; int $j; for ($j = 0; $j < $numberz; $j++) { $x = $startx + $xdistance * ($j % 2); $z += $zdistance; for ($i = 0; $i < $numberx; $i++) { if ($j % 2 == 0) { $x += $side * (2 - $i % 2); } else { $x += $side * (1 + $i % 2); } sphere -pivot $x $y $z -radius 0.1 -n ($name + ($numberx * $j + $i)); } } float $point1[]; float $point2[]; for ($j = 0; $j < $numberz; $j++) { for ($i = $j % 2; $i < $numberx - 1; $i += 2) { $point1 = `sphere -q -p ($name + ($numberx * $j + $i))`; $point2 = `sphere -q -p ($name + ($numberx * $j + $i + 1))`; curve -d 1 -p $point1[0] $point1[1] $point1[2] -p $point2[0] $point2[1] $point2[2]; } } for ($j = 0; $j < $numberz; $j++) { for ($i = 0; $i < $numberx; $i ++) { $point1 = `sphere -q -p ($name + ($numberx * $j + $i))`; $point2 = `sphere -q -p ($name + ($numberx * ($j + 1) + $i))`; curve -d 1 -p $point1[0] $point1[1] $point1[2] -p $point2[0] $point2[1] $point2[2]; } } AR0050

Design-Informatics

Ivo_de_Jeu

st.nr:9399779


The resulting hexagonal grid seemed extremely difficult to generate by the software and also any following operations that had to be done froze the software numerous times. My conclusion was that maybe MEL-scripting did not fit this research, or at least the application needed to be different. A new method had to be sought that was both flexible and adjustable while generating stable non-memory-intensive outcomes. So there the research came to a hold for some time while possibilities were being considered and tested. Until the moment when the department of design informatics organised a Rhinoceros symposium. The use of the explicit-history-plugin for Rhino could mean a way out of this stale-mate where the research had entered. Rhino’s David Rutten developed this plugin that has since been renamed Grasshopper. It works as a kind of visual scripting where different functions that normally have to be written out completely are replaced by buttons that can be linked together and thus visually showing the order and connections of the desired outcome. With numeric sliders the input to the different buttons can be easily tweaked, so quick and easy evaluation of the designs are possible. The objective of the design informatics course was to generate a three-dimensional hexagonal grid. Discussions with the tutors lead to another possibility, that of particle emittence of a plane based on a black and white image of dots. Those emitted dots should then remain on the plane and connections could be drawn between these dots. This could lead to inputting any kind of image, and based on their black and white values, patterns could emerge that could be turned into geometry and architecture eventually. This was an interesting entry to tackle the design tasks formulated at the beginning of the course. So the following efforts were concentrated on generating the hexagonal grid in Grasshopper by means of emitted dots from an image based on its black and white information. With this grid different usages were researched. The grid could be extruded, a pipe could be revolved around it or profiles of beams could follow the trajectory of the grid to mimic real beams, like for instance I- or H-beams. The grid could also be projected onto a deformed plane and boolean operations could take place. Another possibility to generate three-dimensional information seemed to be the use of heightfieldlogic. With this logic an image is transformed into a three-dimensional plane by using bump-mapping technology that transforms the plane with the different heights corresponding to their black and white value, the resulting height of the plane is a representation of the amount of black or white in the image at a specific place. The height of the plane at a certain spot can than again be used to represent different data, for instance the radius of a circle can depend on the height of the plane and indirectly to the amount of black or white in the image.

AR0050

Design-Informatics

Ivo_de_Jeu

st.nr:9399779


AR0050

Design-Informatics

Ivo_de_Jeu

st.nr:9399779


In this screenshot the logic of the setup of Grasshopper is visible, with underneath the geometry as it is generated by means of the image of dots. The order is; first create a grid of points, use the black and white info of the image to cull the selection, draw lines between the points, select the desired lines by means of the length of the lines, extrude or offset the lines.

AR0050

Design-Informatics

Ivo_de_Jeu

st.nr:9399779


AR0050

Design-Informatics

Ivo_de_Jeu

st.nr:9399779


In this setup, the image of dots is used to generate a heightfield, the black and white information of the image is translated into an extrusion of the plane. A boundingbox is drawn around the geometry and an intersection is made between the heightfield and the plane. The centerpoint of the intersections is determined and lines are drawn between all the points, subsequently a function sorts the lenght of the lines and the hexagonal grid is generated.

AR0050

Design-Informatics

Ivo_de_Jeu

st.nr:9399779


AR0050

Design-Informatics

Ivo_de_Jeu

st.nr:9399779


This example is made with help of a tutorial on designalyze.com. The goal of this operation is to have a small geometric element, here a part of the hexagonal structure that is tileable to form a complete grid. One element is made. A bounding box is placed over it. A plane is made that contains a certain multiplication of the dimensions of the bounding box, in this case 10 times. A surfacebox is placed over the plane. The plane is divided into 10 by 10 planes. The boundingboxes of the elements are placed onto the plane and the hexagonal structure is complete. Now in Rhino a cage edit is placed over the plane which is editable and deformable. The hexagone structure is deformed just like the cage of the plane. A deformable structure is possible in this manner. AR0050

Design-Informatics

Ivo_de_Jeu

st.nr:9399779


AR0050

Design-Informatics

Ivo_de_Jeu

st.nr:9399779


This exercise is based on a Grasshopper file from bfxlog.blogspot.com. It starts with a hexagonal grid which is scaled and extruded. A deformed surface intersects with the extrusion and after some boolean operations a hexagonal structure is left. Although it is deformed in the x and y direction, the z direction remains vertical. It is basically a set of extrusions and booleans, but the difference is that all components can be parametrically controlled and adjusted. AR0050

Design-Informatics

Ivo_de_Jeu

st.nr:9399779


AR0050

Design-Informatics

Ivo_de_Jeu

st.nr:9399779


The different examples as have been shown here can also be combined into one single file where a script, image or grid forms the basis for the next step. This next step can be to generate a three-dimensional deformable structure that is tileable and can be intersected with other geometry. The fact that this all can be done parametrically opens maybe no new directions, but they are very usefull shortcuts that save a lot of time during the design-process so the focus can shift from coding to experimentation of the design itself. Of course the possibilities to create forms in today’s software packages are limitless. This research has probably only uncovered the tip of the iceberg in that sense. It was also a very direct research that had certain goals from the start that had to be investigated. The switching between the different platforms has been a very fruitful experience. Taking the best from each software to do what has to be done, rather than to be limited by one package and not move further. The combination between modelling, dynamics, scripting and visual scripting has been very rewarding and will definetely be used in future projects.

AR0050

Design-Informatics

Ivo_de_Jeu

st.nr:9399779


AR0050

Design-Informatics

Ivo_de_Jeu

st.nr:9399779


AR0050

Design-Informatics

Ivo_de_Jeu

st.nr:9399779


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