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Computing in Architecture. Computerization vs computation Computing in architecture has become a norm in today’s industry. Computers are somewhat used in almost every aspect of the design process. This includes drafting, 3D renders and etc. Most people of today’s generation have accepted computers as a strong tool to aid in presenting an idea. However, the idea of the computer as the generator of ideas and new design still seem to be unacceptable to some. It is important to add that there is a particular level that drawing by hand could never reach in architecture. Those who argue that only the computer does the work while the architect does not contribute much to the design is mistaken. Spuybroek had said, “you can only draw with one hand, while with a computer you can work with tens of coordinated hands simultaneously”. There is no fighting the belief that the computer has greatly benefited the architecture industry in this age.

Downland gridshell by Edward Cullinan Architects Computer driven form The Downland Gridshell is the first double timber gridshell building in the UK. This building is not only important for its use of computing in the design but also for its innovative construction techniques. The Download Gridshell is unique as it is a building of contrast. It draws on modern design and technology but also focuses on natural timber and traditional carpentry.

Computer simulation of forming timber gridshell and drawing of the shell sowing rib laths

Extensive analysis is needed to find the shape that can be formed given the original flat pattern. The form of this structure depends heavily on the use of various software. Richard Harris the engineer of Buro Happold explains more: “The computer ‘form finding’ is based on the ‘dynamic relaxation’ technique. Dynamic relaxation is an interactive process of computer analysis that solves a set of nonlinear equations. The technique modifies an initial approximation to the desired shape by monitoring the kinetic energy of the model as it is made to oscillate.” Without the help of computers, it would be impossible to create such structures. This building is also a good example of how computing in architecture need not always be shiny, complicated looking structures (like the likes of Zaha Hadid’s works) but could also help in generating simple and organic buildings.

Water Pavillion by Spuybroek of NOX Computer driven concepts. Not too fond of the exterior but it does resemble water ‘sliding’ on a surface which gives it movement. Through the use of a computer, he turns the design into a ‘machine’ which follows along a geometric system, all intertwined, will all aspects functioning together. None of this could be achieved without the use of computers, which help to create a ‘matrix’, along with a system of relations, which is unobtainable through the use of a pencil. By using computers, Spuybroek has managed to create a different style that is ‘liquid architecture’, ‘blob architecture’ and most importantly through this work, interactive architecture. This uses technological advances to create a new type of experience. In this design, Spuybroek tries to avoid using lines. He did this by digitally analysing curves and irregular forms.