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SEMESTER 1, 2013

Design Studio




Contents Bio .......... 1 Architecture as a Discourse .......... 2 Exploring Timber .......... 3 Computerization in Design .......... 5 Parametric Structures .......... 7 Grasshopper Experiments ......... 11 Conclusion ......... 12

Me Hello. My name is Janice Lobo and I am a third year architecture student at the University of Melbourne. I am of Indian orgin, but was born and raised in Dubai., UAE Both these places have a big impact on the architectural style that I am interested in. The discourse in both those cities is vastly different yet interesting because where one is an old country with a history of precedents to look to, the other is young and uninhibited by it.

The Completed I first began my digital design journey by playing around in Illustrator and Photoshop. After I took an interest in architecture, I found AutoCad and 3D Max. These were the primary platforms that I chose to work in. In Semester 2, 2011, I took Virtual Environments at the University of Melbourne. This is where I was first exposed to parametric modelling . We used Rhino to create a structure that was to interact with our body and draw influence from nature. Through this project I got to experience using parametric modelling and studied the influence it is having in the current face of architecture. Even though I enjoyed using it on a digital platform, when it came to fabrication, I was unsure about the materials that would work most effectively with my design, and I regret not going through a trial and error process to fully utilize the properties of different materials into my design instead of trying to morph them to fit my work. This semester I would be interested in looking at how materials can influence design, but particularly how parametric tools could be used to most efficently use the materials available.

Architecture as a Discourse “Free experimentation requires less detailed constraints and computation so architects may turn to simulations with accuracy levels that reflect the stage of design.” 1 Architecture is so embedded into our lives that we sometimes fail to see the effect it has on us. For starters, the creation and manipulation of space can inform our emotions, productivity and well-being. For example, an open plan space can prove to be more effective in some office environments in comparison to individual cubicle layout and hence increase productivity. Therefore it is important that architects take responsibility for the responses their designs evoke in people. Architecture also has a big impact on the environment, built and natural. Computational tools helps us to maximize efficency of materials by exploring their contraints and working within them to create new and sustainable design. Parametric tools allows us to design in a responsible way by creating individual panels that can be taken apart and transported easily. It also allows us to generate a multitude of designs based on the constraints of site, materiality and functionality. We can use it to create responsive architecture that uses materials efficently and in new ways that are environmentally sustainable. Strips and folding an approach used in parametric modelling that allows for the exploration of specific repeating geometeries. For example the exploration of the Mobius strip in the ContemPlay project explores the geometery and structure of the mobius strips and plays around with it using parametric tools to create a structure that can be constructed out of timber and utilizes computer software to determine the loads that will be experienced when different parameters are introduced.

1. Fisher Al, “Engineering integration: Realtime Approaches to performative computational design.”, Architectural design, 82 (2001), 112-117 < -%20Performative%20Design%20-%20slides.pdf >



This semester we have been asked to look at the Western Gateway Project and use parametric tools create an optimum solution that reflects our area of interest.I would like to explore the materiality through strips and folding to help me achieve this goal.

Trada Pavillion, 2013

ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion 2011

Exploring Timber Timber is a material that is usually used for frames and straight line structures. Due to its inefficency under tension, and its tendancy to warp and twist with changing weather conditions, it is not always the most ideal material to use for curved and organic shapes. But timber is a light weight, organic and renewable material. It creates an emotional response of warmth and can be designed to be fluid structures in nature. Parametric modelling can be used to to explore the possibilities of timber further. Curved structures can be panellized into flat volumes that can be easily laser cut and attached together using a large number of joining systems. These systems are lightweight and have to be joined at the ground. The Trada Pavilion designed by Ramboll Computational Design that is scheduled to be built for at the Ecobuild Exposition 2013. The structure used an algorithm to divide the structure into planar three-valence mesh that can be constructed using flat panels. The advantage of using a hexagonal mesh is that it has greater structural efficencies and requires fewer connections. The panels are 15 mm thick and were fabricated using a three-axis CNC route2. The fabrication process included the drilling of holes for hinges, bolts and cutting the contours for the panels. Grasshopper was used to place the hinges in optimum locations3.

2. Admin, “Parametric Timber Pavilion” in evolvo, <> [accessed 25 March 2013] 3. RCD, “Trada Pavilion” in Ramboll Computational Design <> [accessed 23 March 2013] 4. ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion at the University of Stuttgart” in dezeen magazine, <http://www.dezeen. com/2011/10/31/icditke-research-pavilion-at-the-university-of-stuttgart/> [accessed 25 March 2013]



Similarly, the ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion at the University of Stuttgart uses computer based design and computer manufacturing methods to create an ideal structure using complex geometry derived from bionic principles of a sea urchin’s plate skeleton. The structure is built out of thin sheets of plywood measuring 6.5 mm, fastened to the ground to prevent it flying away due to this extremely light weight. The joinery used in this structure was also derived from nature. Computational design tools were required in this project to derive the complex repeatiting geometry, where the hexagons change is size depending on what is most struturally viable and the local curvature. This structure also has the advantage for being able to take it apart and transport4.

Computerization in Design “design computation is still only seen by many as ‘just a tool’ and remote from the real business of creative design” 5 Computerization plays an important role in responsive architecture. In the Al Bahar Tower designed by Aedas Architects, the skin of the building is a shading system that responds to the sun. The shades open and close to let in sunlight and provide privacy. It is designed for the hot UAE sun, so the entire skin moves along with the sun to shade different parts of the building during different times of the day. Even though this may seem inefficent and expensive, the shading system is expected to reduce the buildings requirement for air conditioning by 50%. The form of the shading system is called a mashrabiya which is an Islamic shading system. Using this as an inspiration, the design was computed into a digital modelling software instead of computerized which is the creation of design in a modelling software. In this scenario, the benefits of the computed system, allowed the designers to panelize the facade in a way that can be morphed - moved, opened, closed - to respond to the environmental conditions. However the layout of entire skin and the forms it creates as it moves across the building was determined by computerization6. This project is a combination of both computerization and computation, and is an embodiment of the idea that computer aided design leads to structures that combine aesthetics and functionality. This structure is almost fits into Louis Sullivans idea of form following function.

Al Bahar Towers, 2012 5. Frazer John H. (2006). ‘the generation of Virtual prototypes for performance optimization’, in GameSetAndMatch II: The Architecture Co-Laboratory on Computer Games, Advanced Geometries and Digital Technologies, ed. by Kas oosterhuis and Lukas Feireiss (rotterdam:episode publishers), pp. 208-212 6. Cilento Karen, “Al Bahar Towers Respnsive Facade” in archdaily <> [accessed 28 March 2013]

ContemPLAY, 2012 The ContemPlay Pavillion is based on the principle of a three dimensional Möbius strip supported by a triangular truss. Digital modelling was used in this pavillian to ensure that the individual tubes do not intersect with each other7. They use digital modelling to vary the thickness of the tubes. Grasshopper was able to predict every connection and joint accurately depending on the thickness of the structural members8. In this way, computerization has enabled the designer to explore possibilities that would have been near impossible to do otherwise. It has opened up the possiblities for creation instead of taking away the creativity. Using Grasshopper, the team was able to change the variables in the structure, giving them control of the outcome.

It must be noted however, that if one is unaware of digital modelling software, it would be much harder to read and understand the programming code than hand-drawn plans. But the advantages of using these softwares in a professional environment by trained designers is leading to a new wave of architecture that is only possible because of it. 7. Chang Lian Chikako, “ContemPLAY: Adventures in full-scale digital fabrication” in archinect <> [accessed 20 March 2013 8. Mingallon Maria, “ContemPLAY pavilion completes” in World Architecture News < index.php?fuseaction=wanappln.projectview&upload_id=20684/> [accessed 22 March 2013]



Using digital software also helped bridge the cap between engineering and architecture. Engineering computational software was used to realize the stress of compression and tension that the structure would undergo and the information derived from this was inputed into Grasshopper that checked that there were no interferences with structural changes made. Computation has allowed for a platform and language that can be read across various professionals.

Parametric Structures Computerization can be used to predict environmental patterns.It can also be used to predict the ways in which a space will respond to the environment depending on its wall thickness, height, etc. By treating the optimum environmental condition as a constraint in your design, you can use parametric tools to create a solution. This housing proposal in Oman utilizes a rhomboil framework within two strips to produce the model. The surfaces’ length, width and thickness is responsive to weather conditions, thickening up in high temperatures and moving the panels to allow for increased ventilation indoors9. Even though the design process requires high technology, it has simplified the construction process by using simple manufacturing techniques. The size of the locally found limestone is cut according to pre-decided sizes determined by the computer sofware. The complex arched geometeries control the amount of light entering the living spaces to avoid the harsh sunlight in the region. 9. Admin, “Eco-Sustainable Housing – Parametric Design” in evolvo <> [accessed 21 March 2013]

Housing Competition, 2007

Parametric modelling can be used to create efficent structures have increased material efficency.

The exterior concrete shell is proposed to be constructed using a steel frame with lightweight concrete pre-cast concrete panels on the outside and acoustical panels hung from the interior of the frame. This would reduce construction time and avoid extremely large loads that would be created from a monolithical approach.

10. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Bengbu City Opera House Finalâ&#x20AC;? in [n]igma <> [accessed 30 March 2013]



The basic structual system usied in the Bengbu City Opera/Music Hall is a gridshell. The quadrilateral grid is comprised of steel tubes and stiffened by steel rods to maintain the systems stability. Using parametric tools, they were able to optimize the curvature of the gridshell to minimize the curvature of glass panels that are expensive to fabricate10. This project utilizes the strength of steel as an informant for the design itself. The material performance of both steel and glass act as parameters allowing for various possibilities within their constraints.

ZA11 Pavillion designed by students for the ZA11 Speaking Architecture event in Cluj, Romania. The purpose of the design was to attract people to the architecture festival as well as providing an interactive space that could also function as a shelter. The major constraints of the design was the budget and fabrication techniques. Parametric modelling tools were helpful in this aspect because it allowed for the logical labelling of individual strips that could be put together on site11. The students used Grasshopper to create the individual panel strips that were divided into 746 unique hexagonal pieces. The panels were of varying thickness to reduce and increase loads in required areas. In this case, timber proved to be a viable lightweight material that allowed the construction process to take place without the use of heavy vehicles11. This project is interesting because it uses simple manufacturing and construction techniques and an amature knowledge of parametric modelling tools, but is still a successful temporary structure that functioned as a pavillion space during the festival. This contrasts Woodbury’s theory that parametric tools in that hands of amatuer uses leads to amateur design because the software controls the user12, but in this case, proved to be the other way around. 11. Jett , Megan. “ZA11 Pavilion / Dimitrie Stefanescu, Patrick Bedarf, Bogdan Hambasan” 05 Jul 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 04 Apr 2013. <> 12. Woodbury, Robert F. and Andrew L. Burrow (2006). ‘Whither design space?’, Artificial Intelligence for Engi-

ZA11 Pavillion, 2011

Indigo Deli, 2011

sp+arch are focused on challenging the existing discourse, particularly through changing the socioeconomic typologies. They used parametric modelling for their design Indigo Deli in Mumbai13. One of the parameters that had to be worked within was the brand image of this chain restaurant. The client wanted to maintain the aesthetic feel of the restaurant and insisted on using copper and timber elements14.

Parametric modeling was used here to create the three dimensional space for a restaurant. This discourse around this structure is that it symbolizes the retail culture and the trappings of the mall context. It was constructed using steel rods, fixed to plywood panels that allowed the leveling of the framework. The panels do not act purely as a roof covering and decorative element, it also merges into the ground creating a shelving system that can be easily used by the behind-the-counter staff.

13. “Indigo Deli, Mumbai” in sp+a <> [accessed 15 March 2013] 14. Shah Dhanishta “sP+A Uncovered” in Home Review <> [accessed 15 March 2013]



It is a hybrid structure that uses the combination of structural elements such as quasi-dome and quasi-structure to maximize the structural efficency within the constraints of the layout. The architects use intersecting strips of timber that have been solved in using parametric modelling softwares13.

Grasshopper For this course we are to use Grasshopper in Rhino for our Gateway design project. Following the weekly tutorials, I have chosen these 3 experiments because they are most relavent to my field of interest, even if they are not the most successful. Fig. 1 uses point attractors on delaunay mesh surface to create a series of cylinder of varying heights and diameters. This approach would be useful in creating my major assignment because it would enable my group to vary strips of thicknessâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and widths at points for either aesthetic value or structural and material value. Fig. 2 extractes the edges of a delaunay mesh and converts them into individual planar quadrilateral meshes that follow the form of the initial curve. This method would be valuable in creating individual panels that can be divided into easily fabricated panels. Fig. 3 also works on the framework of a series of curves. It uses a conditional statement that offsets theres curves based on the length of the curves and forms a triangulated delauney mesh that is derived from the geometry of the initial loft and the offsetted loft. This experiment was based on the ContemPlay design, one tha I would like to further explore using additional plugins such as Kangaroo. This method could be relevant to my design project beccause it

Conclusion My design approach will utilize material properties as constraints for my design, and by this, expanding the possibilities in which the material can be used, as can be observed in the Trada Pavillion and ContemPlay, where the designers used the material strengths and weakness as constraints to create new and innovative designs. My approach will also be framed by exploring strips and folding methods such as the Mobius strip. It is significant to design in this way because it uses the knowledge of exisisting material properties and geometries to create a new and innovative structure that push the boundaries of the basic elements of the structure itself.

This design approach would have been useful in past projects because it would allow me to make changes further on in my design process without affecting the overall constructibility of my model and drawings.



I have always had an appreciation for computers as a design tool. This course taught us that are merely tools in the designers hands, the same way a pencil works as a tool and therefore does not control the design, merely guides it and helps to provide new outcomes. However learning about parametric modelling has changed my outlook towards designing. It has allowed my to realize that the computer can also be used to solve problems and force us to design within constraints which would cause us to push our creativity within possibilities instead of designing creative wonders that our impossible to construct and leading us to compromise further on in the design process and ending up with designs that are much less successful. By setting up the limits initially we can design structures that can be easily constructed and maximize time and material efficency.

Case for Innovation  

final submission

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