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CONTENTS Introduction 4 PART A: Case for Innovation 7 Architecture as a Discourse 8 Computational Architecture 10 Parametric Modelling 12 Algorithmic Explorations 14 Learning Outcomes 15 Conclusion 16 PART A: Bibliography 15 PART B: Design Approach 19 Case Study 1.0 20 Case Study 2.0 22 Design Focus: Biomimicry 24 Precedents 26 Technique Development 30 Algorithmic Sketches 32 Prototype 34 PART B: Bibliography 35






ver since I was a child I've always been into arts and crafts, making or drawing things whenever I got the chance. During my whole schooling life, art was always my favourite and best subject. Following this creative flare, when it came to choosing a field to study in after VCE, Architecture sparked my interest. I've always been one to notice fine detail of my surroundings and am always up to

explore creative things. I was lucky enough to have travelled through India in mid 2012, which was a great eye opener to different styles of Architecture, depending on what materials are available and suitable for different environments. I loved how different buildings were able to spark a certain feeling while you were inside them.




ver the last 2 years I've been studying a Bachelor of Environments at Melbourne Uni. which started off very broad, focussing on a lot of different fields. As I enjoyed the design based subjects more so than the others, it clarified that Architecture was a suitable major. In the studios I have completed, I've used both hand drawings and computer based programs to complete my design presentations. I dappled a little in Rhino in Virtual Environments in my first semester of uni., but never continued to use it after, as my skills in it were limited to geometric shapes and basic pannelling tools. In both studios Earth and Water, I have mainly used AutoCad and Illustrator, incorporating my own hand drawing and renderings into my presentations. This year I am hoping to better my skills in digital design programs and strengthen my design skills.








Does computional Architecture compliment and strengthen the relationship between nature and Architecture? Is design aesthetic over powering functionality?


hat is Architecture? It is said to be 'the most public of all the arts. Something inescapable on a daily basis for anyone living in urban society'.1 To me Architecture is art with a purpose. But what exactly is art? Art is a very undefined term. To some, the first impression of art is simply just a painting or drawing, but it is so much more. To me, art is self expression in a creative way. Art, as a whole has no boundaries. It can be made from various mediums, look like anything and be any size or shape. Anything which someone has put creative thought into producing, is therefore a work of art. A great example of artwork having no boundaries is Marcel Duchamp's


'Fountain'.2 This highly arguable piece of art is merely just a porcelain urinal, with initials signed on it's side, placed in a gallery space. This, to many wasn't appreciated for its creative merit or even considered art, but to others it was considered pure genius, selling for $1.7million. Any aspect of design, therefore can be considered a piece of art. The main aspect which differs architectural design from art though, is that Architecture has boundaries and is designed to suit a certain function. Thus making Architecture a segment of Art. In saying that, these days designs of buildings are more computerised and futuristic, changing styles, and

IMAGE 1: Winslow House, Frank Lloyd Wright Craig, D.C, Modernism in the Midwest (2010) <http://davidcobbcraig.> [accessed 31 March 2013].

incorporating parametric and digital ability into the designs.3 This sprouts the question, is design aesthetic over powering functionality? Is it functional to have a blob shaped building? How does the surrounding environment react with it? Back in the 20th century, it was obvious to see the design of a building reflect the functionality. Frank Lloyd Wright, is a great example of this. In his 'Winslow House', he has incorporated the new style of living, creating a dwelling of complete comfort.4 This is one of my favourite Wright designs because of how he incorporates nature into his designs, making the building fit better into its surrounding environment, allowing

residents and users to embrace nature whilst inside. The plan layout of the Winslow House is purposely spread out in a way which allows fluid movement, no boundaries and spiritual connectedness. Touching on what was previously mentioned about more computerised designs coming about, a good example is Lars Spuybroek's, Three Graces by Nox.5 Don't get me wrong, this is a very aesthetically pleasing structure, which I quite enjoy, although is it's look reflecting its function? How do radiolaria relate to the towers function? They don't. Although they are a great example of biomimicry, reflecting the surrounding environment of the towers.

IMAGE 2: Three Graces By Nox, Design Boom (2012) <> [accessed 27 March 2013]. .Curtis, W., Modern Architecture since 1900, 3rd edn (New York: Phaidon Press Inc., 1996), p. 113-115. Eugene, My Modern Met (2008) <> [accessed 18 March 2013].

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ver the past few decades, Architecture has developed and grown into something no one had ever anticipated. Design techniques have come a long way from doing a rough doodle on the corner of your notebook to the assistance of digital technologies.6 Computational Architecture is a very controversial subject, as there are many benefits of this process, and many negatives. A major benefit in these design programs is the ability to allow Architects and designers to test out construction capabilities of potential designs, as well as testing them in different environmental circumstances. This not only helps get a better understanding of how the design would fit into its surrounding environment but also assure the architect that this particular design is buildable and will need little to no alterations by the engineers when constructing. As this assistance may sound great in theory, design may still be restricted by the designers knowledge of the program and the program itself. The main opposing argument is the crucial question; is the computer the designer? I personally don't agree with this statement,

although I understand where the argument has sprouted from. If a designer was to have an idea in their head, they may be unable to completely produce this design on the program. Therefore, are Architects changing their styles depending on what they know in these programs? Over the past few decades we have seen many obscure styles come about, including blob and smooth Architecture. As much as I enjoy weird, abstract architecture, it sort of feels like architects may be abusing this new found style, which computers are making possible. As helpful as these techniques may be, you have to ask yourself; are some buildings getting designed to prove that they can be? There is a vast contrast between a 20th century modernist building in comparison with a digitally designed building produced today. Sometimes when buildings are too abstract and futuristic, it could give off the impression that it no longer suits the function of the building itself, but is more something odd to catch someones eye and look cool and different. In saying this Digital technologies can be used greatly to the advantage of a

IMAGE 3: Beijing National Aquatics Center Okeanos Aquascaping (2011) <http://www.> [accessed 21 March 2013].

.Architecture in the Digital Age, ed. by Kolarevic, B. (New York: Spon Press, 2003), p. 3-28.



building too. Safety measures are more accurate with computational architecture and less time consuming. If changes were to be made to a design, digital programs allow that to be done and undone quite easily, in comparison to hand drawings, which would have to be completely redrawn. It is also an advantage to those designers who have a wide imagination, although lack artistic talent and are unable to express their ideas with a pencil. In this case, the assistance of digital technology allows the architectural field to branch out to those who can't draw that well. In stating these benefits and negatives, the main point Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m trying to make is, computer programs are great assistance to not only the design but the construction too, although architects shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be completely dependant on them and rather use them as a tool purely for assistance. Some great buildings have been created with the assistance of digital design. PTW Architects, Beijing National Aquatics Center is a great example of a digitally designed building, in which its visual aesthetic strongly represents its use. Being an aquatic center, the overall structure imitates a water cube, made up of an array of bubbles.7 Another great example is Ashton Raggatt McDougall's, Portrait Building proposal for Swanston street, Carlton.8 This buildings facade displays an indigenous mans face, reflecting on the indigenous land and is a very interesting building to see. Although, reiterating my previous point, are design aesthetics over powering functionality, you have to ask yourself, Do we really need to have a big portrait of a mans face on a high rise apartment building? But then again, in society today the norm is to have more than just what we need.

IMAGE 4: Portrait Builing, ARM Cube me: Tap into the essence of creativity <http://> [accessed 31 March 2013].

Okeanos Aquascaping (2011) <> [accessed 21 March 2013]. Cube me: Tap into the essence of creativity <> [accessed 31 March 2013]. 7 8




arametric Modelling was one of the first aspects in the new design world - Digital design. It is said that Parametric modelling is a representation of change.9 That's what Architects are known to do, they create and provoke change. They change the look of your surroundings by influencing design approaches over cities. Architects have the control to send a visual message through their designs, creating change to the atmospheric feel and visual outlook of a city. In this new process of digital technology, it can be seen to some, that computers are taking over the architects job in the design. Parametric modelling can be a great example of how computers can be used as merely a tool to assist the designer, rather than being

the designer. These computer based programs create a simpler and more efficient way of calculating angles and dimensions suitable for a buildings structure. Renzo Piano's, Peek & Cloppenburg, is a great example of this.10 The inside of this structure is made up of a series of components, such as vertically arranged trusses and horizontally arranged tubes, held together by a diagonally stretched cable, creating the rounded dome form to the building. The dimensions, angles and force of each of these components are able to be calculated manually with trigonometry, although because of the large scale of the building, digital technologies are more time efficient and accurate, in this case. A major benefit of parametric modelling is shown in

IMAGE 5: Peek & Cloppenburg, Renzo Piano Living Amused (2010) <http://www.> [accessed 1 April 2013].


Woodbury, R., Elements of Parametric Design (New York: Routledge, 2010), p. 7-48. Architizer (2009) <> [accessed 1 April 2013].



Antoni Gaudi's, Sagrada Familia. This is one of the most inspiring pieces of architecture because of eveyones dedication to actually seeing the finished product. Gaudi passed away during its lengthy construction process, leaving it only partially built and designed. Parametric modelling technologies made it possible to continue construction years later, still following the same structural patterns.11 Another benefit of parametric modelling, is the fact that not every architect is going to be a mathematical genius, but with using these technologies, they can still understand the simple parameters of their designs and get at least a vague idea of how exactly their structure is able to stand. I personally love maths and how architecture connects design with maths. But for those who don't share this love, these technologies open the architectural field up to those who still have the creative skill and interest in this field. Sometimes designs are even done by hand, and then put into the digital system to then proceed in adjusting the angles and dimensions to the appropriate scale. This differs from some computational architecture, which is sometimes too obvious that it is fully produced and designed on a computer, purely because it can be, and loses its link to the functionality of the building. I'm not trying to state that the computer is doing all the work, I just don't think its necessary for the architect to completely rely on technology. It is a well known fact that in society today, people are becoming lazier due to the increase of electronic devices. Is this happening with architecture? .I can't say it is yet, but in the direction this industry is heading, over the next few decades, computers are just going to continue increasing their abilities, making them easier for people to rely on.

IMAGE 6: Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi Living Amused (2010) <> [accessed 1 April 2013].

RMIT University, SIAL (2007) <> [accessed 1 April 2013].







s I have slightly increased the little skills I had initially in Rhino and Grasshopper over the passed few weeks, I can see the benefits and negatives of using these programs. Learning all the different functions Rhino and Grasshopper offer, it is clear that you can do an awful lot on a computer, in a lot less time than if it were done by hand. In saying this though, I am still an amateur in these programs and feel restricted in what I can produce with my little knowledge of the program. I will really struggle as an architect if I weren't to learn these programs at an early level as there is so much depth to them. They are quite complex, having so much to learn in very little time. I feel as though I'm slowly catching on to the system of Rhino, as well as Grasshopper, although there is

still so much I cannot do. The online tutorials are a great help, as you have the ability to go as fast as you like, pausing and resuming as frequently as needed. I find them easy to follow and very clear for the basic areas of Rhino and Grasshopper, although in saying that, I would not have a clue how to create an actual building on it yet, as I've just been creating simple shapes and patterns, and manipulating them in various ways. I think over time with practice and more tutorials I'll get to the stage where I can produce a design from my head into the program, but for now I am definitely not at that level. As much as I learn in this program, I know there's always going to be so much more I don't know because of the complexity of the program, and that scares me a little.




hilststudying the topic of Digital design in depth over the past few weeks, I have seen more benefits to this technology than I originally thought. Initially, I wasn't the biggest fan of Computational Architecture, as I thought it was taking away the traditional merit of designing and drawing. After several class discussions, weekly readings and further research I have been informed about the benefits these programs give to an architects design. In saying this, I still feel strongly about not depending on computers. Today, almost everyone is assisted by a computer in some way and architectural design


is no different. Technology is a great thing, although it is obvious to see when a building has been over-computerised. When the overall design of the building travels too far away from the actual function, just to produce a building which looks futuristic and weird, then I think that's when people are abusing this technology, and building structures because the computer says it's buildable. When used appropriately, I think these technologies are a great addition to the architecture world, allowing creations to come about that no one ever knew could. Computers are meant to be a tool to assist you, nothing more.


Curtis, W., Modern Architecture since 1900, 3rd edn (New York: Phaidon Press Inc., 1996), p. 113-115. Williams, R., Exploring Visual Culture, ed. by Rampley (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005), p. 102-116. Lynn, G., Folds, Bodies & Blobs, ed. by Lachowsky, M. & Benzakin, J. (Belgium: Books by Architects, 1998), p. 169-182.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, SFMOMA (2013) < multimedia/interactive_features/37#> [accessed 2 April 2013]. Design Boom (2012) < nox05.jpg> [accessed 27 March 2013]. Eugene, My Modern Met (2008) <> [accessed 18 March 2013]. Craig, D.C, Modernism in the Midwest (2010) < au/2010/11/wauwatosa-wis.html> [accessed 31 March 2013]. Architecture in the Digital Age, ed. by Kolarevic, B. (New York: Spon Press, 2003), p. 3-28. Cube me: Tap into the essence of creativity <> [accessed 31 March 2013]. Okeanos Aquascaping (2011) <> [accessed 21 March 2013]. Nicola e Pina Europa, Panoramio (2009) <> [accessed 1 April 2013]. Living Amused (2010) <> [accessed 1 April 2013]. Woodbury, R., Elements of Parametric Design (New York: Routledge, 2010), p. 7-48. Architizer (2009) <> [accessed 1 April 2013]. RMIT University, SIAL (2007) < php> [accessed 1 April 2013].

























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Aranda Lasch - The Morning Line Dakob Polacsek, The Morning Line (2013) < com/photos/arandalasch/5882758562/> [accessed 8 May 2013].


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David Fisher - Dynamic Tower My Digital Life (2007) <> [accessed 19 April 2013].



isecting David Fisher's 'Dynamic Tower' sparked many ideas for our initial design approach.1 Initially we created a solid rectangular prism using Grasshopper, continuing on to twist certain areas of the structure, to replicate Fisher's building. Experimenting with

different number sliders, We were able to create the spot and extent of the twists in this buidling. We have shown various different stages of the twisting skyscraper, as it is constantly moving. Below, you see our final definition used to create this structure.

My Digital Life (2007) <> [accessed 19 April 2013].





"In both the past and present there is an intensive relationship between the natural environments and the activities of the human settlement in Wyndham." -Design brief


Galapaos Shark skin Cathleen Bester, Biological Profiles (2013) <http://www.flmnh.> [accessed 3 May 2013].

iomimicry was the chosen theme for our design for this brief, because of the relationship Wyndham has with the environment. Architectural designs which have been influenced by Biomimicry are highly sustainable, as they mimic a natural structure.2 We intend for our design to reflect natural processes showing how they respond to, and work with or against the environment. Natural structures are a beautiful part of life, because of their pureness and realness, they are not artificially made. Watching a David Attenborough documentary on the Galapagos Island, I was very inspired seeing how Galapagos shark skin was made up.3 With lots of overlapping, sharp panels joining together creating the surface of the sharks skin, the shape and position of the panels create a very flexible yet rigid texture, allowing fluid movement for the

David Attenborough Listal (2013) < viewimage/252977> [accessed 8 May 2013].

shark, whilst still working as a barrier against bacteria, This particular example of biomimicry is known to be used in construction of walls in hospitals, as its impermeable surface blocks out bacteria and germs, keeping the hospital clean, without having to use dangerous chemicals. For our design, we intend to create a sculpture which shows the flexibility and rigidity of this panelling system, whilst using its shielding qualities against wind, rain and other weather conditions. Our aim is to create something that works with nature, and welcomes people into Wyndham with an obvious movement. The slight movement of our sculpture will be a symbol to people, showing they have past the line, entering Wyndham, similar to the flags waving as you pass the finish line of a race.

Jillian Du, Biomimicry: Sustainable design guided by nature (2013) <> [accessed 18 April 2013]. 'Galapagos 3D, dir. by Martin Williams (David Attenborough, 2013).

2 3

Galapaos Shark skin < curious-about-synthetic-denticles> [accessed 3 May 2013].



THEO JANSEN - STRANDBEEST Theo Jansen's 'Strandbeests' are an amazing example of how a sculptures can move with and against their environment. This series of moving sculptures are constructed in a perfectly calculated way, ensuring that when pulled or blown by wind, all their joints work in a system to walk. The flexibility and stability of the structure is the most important aspect within these sculptures. They are made to with take strong winds, and embrace them for movement. We were highly inspired by this series of sculptures, as it is nothing you'd ever expect to see. It's very innovative, as it takes the way an animal is made up, and mimics that onto a sculpture to ensure movement, creating something no one has ever seen, and proving it can be done. From these sculptures, we intend to reflect their flexible, yet stable qualities in our design, as well as being highly dependant on the environment for movement.


Theo Jansen - Strandbeest An Irishman Abroad, Strandbeest (2012) <> [accessed 18 April 2013].



David Fisher - Dynamic Tower Facts Pod, Dynamic Tower, Dubai (2011) < dynamic-tower-dubai-uae.html> [accessed 19 April 2013].

DAVID FISHER - DYNAMIC TOWER David Fisher's 'Dynamic Tower' is proposed to be built in Dubai.4 Construction of this building has been postponed numerous amounts of times, but it is said that it is still intended to be built. This building is quite interesting and highly innovative, being the first of its kind. Dubai as a city is very forward in the times of Architecture and highly influential to other cities, and this is no exception. This 80 storey building is powered by wind and solar power generators, using them to create the ability to spin its floors. Each storey is able to separately spin from the rest, yet still be attached and stable. As it is solar powered, it uses natural sources of energy, but does not move with nature, you are able to choose the time, speed and amount of movement of each floor. It is very interesting that this building is forever changing, in an unpredictable way, therefore never gets boring. This is a quality I want to reflect into my design, we intend to create a flexible skin for our sculpture. My intention differs slightly, in the way that we intend our sculpture to move with nature, not just using nature as a source of movement.


Facts Pod, Dynamic Tower, Dubai (2011) <> [accessed 19 April 2013].

FRANK GEHRY - FISH LAMP Frank Gehry's 'Fish Lamp' are a series of very simple, yet effective lamps. They literally replicate a fish, yet are so interesting in the way Gehry as emphasised their scale qualities. Similar to a sharks skin, it is constructed of many overlapping panels. Gehry has use transparency in the panelled surface to enable light to transfer and seep through, lighting up the entire fish. This light source creates an amazing pattern and texture to

the skin of the fish, as some areas allow more light than others. Being highly influenced by this effect, in our design, we intend for the skin of our sculpture to be highly transparent, translucent and also shaded in some areas of panelling. As our panels will overlap, mimicking shark skin, the lighting effect will show various tones of light, just as Gehry has shown in his series of fish lamps.

Frank Gehry - FIsh Lamp Antebellum, White Wall (2013) <> [accessed 3 May 2013].




s we intended to show flexibility within our sculpture, we planned on making our design move in some way, highly depending on the wind behaviour along with the gusts caused by fast cars driving down the highway. Our initial idea involved a gear system assisting the spin of our sculpture, as it spun due to the wind, The overall form contained cusps, catching the wind, providing it with force to move. Our idea was to have a series of twisting vertical structures, all connecting together at their base in a gear system, as shown in the above diagram, This meant that the movement of one structure would cause the others to move correspond-


ingly. The shape developed was highly influenced by the Fisher's 'Dynamic Tower' and suited this scheme as it was constantly changing as it spun. The twisted form gave the impression of moving upwards. This movement was the sort of symbol we wanted to depict as cars would enter Wyndham. Although we were content with our design progress, we came to the realisation that this form still didn't reflect the flexibility aspect we had initially intended for. Having achieved movement was a great progress, although we felt it wasn't living up to our original idea of mimicking the shark skin structure to ensure a flexible surface.

ABOVE: Our initial idea or various twisted vertical structures. BELOW: Grasshopper Definition of how we created our form.



ALGORITHMIC SKETCHES NEW DESIGN APPROACH From our initial idea, we realised our concept of flexibility wasn't strongly demonstrated in the form we had created. Going back to our original influence of the texture of Galapagos shark skin, we have worked on creating a skin for our sculpture, which not only shows flexible and rigid aspects, but also creates a dappled pattern as light hits it. To achieve these characteristics, we have created a skin made up of overlapping diamond panels, ensuring an impermeable, but still flexible surface. The panels are made up of three different materials, all having different qualities. One material will be completely transparent, another with 50% opacity and another completely opaque. Some additional panels will be layered on top of the surface, only being connected in one corner, allowing them to move unpredictably as wind hits them. The arrangement of these panels are designed to create an effective pattern, in both day and night as cars are pass through on the Highway. The effect at night as cars headlights shine through, will emphasise the qualities of the different materials. As the twisting panels

move, the location of light passing through will change. This intended effect can be seen on our small prototype (pg.34). Our overall form has not yet been refined and is still in design progress, although we do know that it stretches over the road, allowing cars to pass through it. The flexible quality of the skin is exemplified when wind hits the sculpture, causing ripple movement. This movement is a symbol of entry to Wyndham, something telling you where you are and creating a relationship between the individual and the sculpture, as you are the one moving it. The outskin of our sculpture appears pristine clean to cars as they are passing through, but as they enter the tunnel, they are shown the brutal truth of the effects of pollution. The build up of pollutants will tarnish and corrode the inner skin of the sculpture. In the Wyndham City Plan it states that they will "create a healthy, safe, vibrant, proud and harmonious community, while respecting our environment". This symbol is a reminder of the damage people cause to the environment without intention or knowledge that they are doing so.

LEFT: An algorithm of our skin, created on Grasshopper BELOW: Grasshopper Definition of how we created our panelling system.





Jillian Du, Biomimicry: Sustainable design guided by nature (2013) < biomimicry-sustainable-design/> [accessed 18 April 2013]. Galapagos 3D, dir. by Martin Williams (David Attenborough, 2013). Listal (2013) <> [accessed 8 May 2013]. My Digital Life (2007) <> [accessed 19 April 2013]. Facts Pod, Dynamic Tower, Dubai (2011) <> [accessed 19 April 2013]. An Irishman Abroad, Strandbeest (2012) <> [accessed 18 April 2013]. Antebellum, White Wall (2013) <> [accessed 3 May 2013]. <> [accessed 3 May 2013]. Cathleen Bester, Biological Profiles (2013) < Spinydogfish/SpinyDogfish.html> [accessed 3 May 2013].


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