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Architecture Design Studio Three: Air JOURNAL Michael J Stephenson

week 1 - E.O.I. Case for Innovation : Architecture as a Discourse

The project featured here first is one of my own. It is a bridge I designed very early in my degree. The brief was to design a bridge connecting the south and north sides of the yarra river, between Birrarung Marr and theAlexandra gardens. What I ended up designing was a proposal for the management of the growth of four mammoth Moreton Bay fig trees, with a construction period of 200 years. The branches would intertwine to become a complex network. Finally, through the voids and supported by cables and struts attached to the main ligaments of the trees, a slender wooden pedestrian footbridge would be laid, hidden amongst the canopy. This would add to the discourse of architecture in the following ways... It would be an impossibly long term build, unheard of in this modern age. It would be especially long considering the final product would only be a simple footbridge. For something so incredibly difficult to execute, the simple idea behind it was planting four trees. It would raise questions about its worth. It would raise argument for designing for the sake of aesthetics alone.

But there is also an opportunity in this project for the adavantages of Parametric Design to be displayed. With the ability to program algorithms based on mathematical functions, we could potentially write a script that mimics the growth of a tree, but also add in constraints that would mould the tree into a desired form. It is not possible yet, but we could even potentially program a minute robotic manufacturing machine* with this script, and have it build this design in a way that mimics an actual trees growth, so that no scaffolding is even required during construction. The result would be a construction process that is gradual, but still relatively much faster than the growth of an actual tree, so that people could almost watch the design grow in front of them. This is a very exciting concept and one which would generate much discussion, and it is purely parametric in its essence. *See week 3 for my entry on ‘Moon Studio’; a project that is aimed at building structures in this way (though with larger machine) on the moon.*

week 1 - E.O.I. Case for Innovation : Architecture as a Discourse

Image from -

Pictured are the design for Melbourne University’s new Architecture Building, and CH2 (Council House Two). Both are recent projects (with the Architecture Building not even yet started) and both display similar qualities to each other. Whilst they are not extravagent examples of the potential of Parametric Design, they both display features which would benefit from parametric design, namely the vertical sun shades across the building’s face. The repetative pattern of identical components is something that parametric design excels in.

Images from -

week 1 - E.O.I. Case for Innovation : Architecture as a Discourse - Rhino Webinar definition

ns - Parts 2 and 3 Example of what goes wrong when selecting curves individually and not through autosort, in this case whilst using the loft command.

The Rhino tutorials for this week introduce the most fundamental idea in Architecture, which is space, and how we enclose/address that space. Whilst rudimentry, the simple task of creating a defined space is the very first step to creating any building.

week 2 - E.O.I Case for Innovation : Computation in Architecture - EX LAB BEND TUTORIAL


Rotate 3D


Bezier Curves: Standard Loft Added

(Above) (Right)

week 2 - E.O.I Case for Innovation : Computation in Architecture - EX LAB BEND TUTORIAL

RESPONSE TO LECTURE With Parametric Modelling comes a entirely new method of design. The ability to make countless iterations which can be almost infinite in their degrees apart, is made relatively extremely fast and easy compared to other methods (such as hand drawings or computerized models). When used correctly with the appropriate structure present in programs such as ‘Grasshopper’, the slight change of a single variable can drastically alter the entire design. The scope possible from such actions is infinite and of a completely new genesis compared to iterations by hand (or by singular steps through computer modelling). The designer can now experiment at his or her fleeting desire without having to invest hours of work into an iteration which has no guarantee of success. Instead, they can make a couple of quick changes to variables concerning things as simple as magnitude, or dimensional plane, or the relationship between two discrete components, and end up with a form which is entirely unexpected. As such, the use of Parametric Design should not inherently present the risk of restricting the creativity of the designer (due to the softwares pre supposed ideas of the design process), but rather present them with so much creative freedom that the risk involved relates to having too many ideas. Creative constraints will be self-imposed by the designer, allowing for very personal designs to be created (perhaps more individual than those possible with pencil and paper).


Rotation on Axis - 1

Rotation on Axis - 2 The only difference between these two forms, is the ‘t’ input on the PERP FRAME node.

week 3 - E.O.I Case for Innovation : Parametric Design Precedents of Parametric Designs

This is a project called BLOOM by DO|SU Studio Architecture. Designed parametrically, it holds a form which is quite typical of the design method... one which is elegant, light, fluid, and contemporary. Additionally, its integration in to software allows its components to be ordered, numbered, and cut using an automated laser cutter. What is special about ‘Bloom’ is that it is constructed of hypersenstive sheet metal, that when heated (ie when exposed to sunlight) it curls up, mimicking the actions of a flower. The design philosophy is concerned mainly with this idea of a changing skin, one that is directly correlated to the environment in which it exists (in this case, the temperature). The designers have a great interest in how the changing skin can be used to control the amount of light coming through the perforations. I have included it here as I believe it has very close similarities to our brief for the Western Interchange Gateway. It is an installation piece, with no purpose further than to create discourse. It contains elements which are present in architecture, mainly, the enclosed spaces it creates, and the role of light in such places. And it directly references its environment through its changing skin.

This particular project bears important relation to my own ideas, in that I have been toying with the idea of creating a structure that changes with time, so to symbolise the growth of the city of Wydnham. Designing such a structure outside the realm of modelling software would be an ardious task filled with constant iterations. Here, is the clear advantage of parametric design.

DO|SU Studio Architectre. 2012. DO|SU Studio Architectre. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed March 2012].

week 3 - E.O.I Case for Innovation : Parametric Design THE FUTURE OF DESIGN One of the recent projects I stumbled across during my travels on the internet is the Moon Studio project. This project’s team consists of two architects and an astronautical physicist, who are funded by NASA. Their goal is to design structures that could/would be built via Contour Crafting, a process which uses robotic machines to build structures using materials made from the moon’s geological composition. As this project is incredibly advanced, it will no doubt involve serious scripting in every step of the design process. Designing structures for such a foreign site will require constant testing and simulations to be run on the design to check everything from its basic structural soundness, to its ability to protect again solar storms, gamma rays, and of course the vacumn of space. The designs will therefore have to be permenantly integrated into computer programs so that such things can be tested. And if they will be built by robots, they will need to be blueprinted in exact accurate terms, so that they can be built via more scripts. The robotic lunar machines will carry out a process much like 3D printing that is currently in use in many studios around the world. Aside from a practical need for CAD, the advantages of Parametric Design in this case are clear. No doubt a huge number of iterations will be needed after every step of the testing process, so the ability to easily manipulate discrete components and update the entire blueprint instantly will be a certain must... Likewise, the ability to manipulate the quantity of the same component at once, and/or update its relation to adjoining components will certainly be an absolute necessity. Furthermore, designing for the moonscape is a completely new realm for Architecture, and surely traditional modes cannot apply here (or rather, should not apply here). The style should be a unique style that is both akin with the moon, and also only possible on the moon. The gravitational differences surely throw traditional load bearing structures out the window, and allow a much larger choice of solutions. The possibilties available to exploit materials to whole new levels open up relatively infinite design solutions. Using algorithms that express the requirements of the structure, the limitations of the robotic builders, the necessary order in which the structure need be built in order for the robotic builders to be able to complete the design in the fastest and most efficient way, can be used to create a script that nearly designs the structure itself. Using algorithms from nature can help design a growth system that would allow the structure to become its most efficient and most intuitive form. Basically, in a realm of which not one person has enough experience of yet to truly understand, how can architects who have never been to the moon, create a style suited to it? So complex and intrepid with engineering is the design problem, that a design simply cannot be calculated by hand alone. In such a harsh environment, and at the very beginning of architecture here, no choice can be made that is not purely functional. The design must be born out of its practical use, with no concession being made to aesthetics alone.

That said, choices of the aesthetic which have no implications on the functionality of the design still need to be made, and still need to be made creatively, ie, made by humans, not robots. This is the role of the Architect. For the absolute cutting edge of mankind’s acheivements/endevours, what could be more suiting than the cutting edge of mankind’s Architecture? Like space exploration, Parametric Design is also a realm not yet fully understood, and by no means has anyone discovered its full potential. The designs possible are as infinite as space itself. In an enviroment not yet used as a site for architecture, the design solutions are beyond the grasp of our current knowledge. Parametric Design is not traditionalist... it is futurist. It is the design method, which style is that of infinite possibilities. Wyndham City is a town set to grow exponentially over the next few years, and as such, its gateway should be a symbol of the city’s future. It will be designed by technology bound to be outdated, but that was at the cutting edge at the time of the idea’s conception. The design itself will grow, at least in the sense that it’s understanding, its meaning, its symbolism will grow with the city. It could even be far beyond its time, and waiting for the city behind it to catch up with it... it will be a point on the horizon which the city is aiming towards... it will symbolise the future, not the past. It will be the new style, and the new style is only possible through parametric design.

Moon Studio. 2012. Moon Studio. [ONLINE] Available at: http://uscmoonstudio.!/. [Accessed 19 April 2012].

week 3 - E.O.I Case for Innovation : Parametric Design - EX LAB BEND TUTORIAL

These are the results from the definitions on ‘Extracting Iso curves from a surface’. Creating a curve in rhino, referencing said curve in Grasshopper and then Lofting gave rise to the above form. Extracting the curves created the mesh like network of curves on the surface. I then added a Sum Surfaces component into Grasshopper which has the inputs for a start and end curve. I used the U direction output and V direction ouputs from the ISO component as these inputs. With multiple start and end curves, all of which were in pairs, the resulting form has the same basic structure as the original surface, but is now a series of surfaces. I would put the form on the right down as one of the unexpected results one can get from parametric operations. It is totally arbitrary, but none the less looks very interesting... a lot like a turbine of sorts.


Grasshopper Definition

I realise now after completing this excercise, that I did not fully understand what I was doing at the time. Retrospectively I see that this Grasshopper definition is for creating uniform sections within a specific boundary (something I should have grasped from the title alone). This would be particulary useful when it comes to creating section elevations for a 2D presentation, or more importantly, for allowing detailed analysis of the model’s form during the design process.

week 3 - E.O.I Case for Innovation : Parametric Design - EX LAB BEND TUTORIAL SECTIONING A SOLID USING MOVABLE POINT AND VARIABLE PLANE ROTATIONS This is a very useful definition to know. It allows you to turn your 3D model (a solid) into a bounding box, and then project planes onto it. The projected planes can then be used as sectional cuts through your model.


Iteration 1

3D SERIES ARRAY MOVE Definition. This script allows us to generate a huge number of repeating forms very ‘cheaply’ (low use of Grasshopper components). Ensuring to select the ‘Graft’ mode on the output from the ‘MOVE’ component, we can plug the results from a single dimensional move into a second dimension, and again into a third. It seems easily possible that we could add more steps into the script so that every repeating move is slightly different... perhaps based on a random number generator. We could design a script that adds a different direction onto every second repeat, which then goes onto start its own series array. I imagine this would be something like rampant cell mutation, growing exponentially and out of control.

This definition allows us to create repeating copies of an object (in this case a curve) around a circle. We have variables such as the radius of the circle and the number of repeats (planes). Simple manipulation of the radius can give very dynamic results. Iteration 2

week 4 - E.O.I. Research Project : CUT (Develop) - MATRIX

CUT RESEARCH PROJECT: Inputs, Associations, Outputs.













week 4 - E.O.I. Research Project : CUT (Develop) - EX LAB BEND TUTORIAL CREATE A 3D GRID OF POINTS FROM REFERRED GEOMETRY The definition for creating a 3D grid based from a single referenced point in Rhino.

The definition for creating a 3D grid based from a single referenced surface in Rhino. I was unable to get this script to work correctly. I had to reference the surface a second time as the base geometry for the MOVE component to acheive the following form.



Iteration 2

week 4 - E.O.I. Research Project : CUT (Develop) - EX LAB BEND TUTORIAL MOVE A GRID OF POINTS USING A RANDOM FUNCTION Here, I used the arbitrary curve from the previous excercise and added the random function definition to it. I used a high multiplication for the amplitude of the random number generator, so it resulted in quite a tall form. I then baked the resultant points into Rhino and used an autosort ‘curve from points grid’ command to create a curve. I extruded the curve in one direction, then again in a different direction, creating the 3D form seen here.

week 4 - E.O.I. Research Project : CUT (Develop) - EX LAB BEND TUTORIAL

Parametric Brick Wall VILLA SAVOYE In this weeks EX LAB: BEND tutorial, there was an example of how to build a parametric brick wall, using a referenced surface, referenced geometry and the image sampler associative technique. The grasshopper definition is as follows.

The Divide Surface component splits our referenced surface into a series of division points and UV coordinates, the amount of which we can control by the U and V inputs. We reparametricise the surface to ensure all data is in the same domain. The division points output we Flatten into a list of data and then designate each point as a XY plane. We feed the UV coordinates into a Flatten component and then into the Image Sampler. Using an image of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye in Poissy and setting the Image Sampler to brightness, we get a list of values which describe the intensity of brightness in the image. The image becomes black and white to give a clear indication of the values (white is 100% intensity and black is 0%). These values become the angle of rotation in the Plane Rotate Component. The XY planes become the base planes in the Plane Rotate component. Each plane’s original division point matches up with a UV coordinate that was fed into the image sampler, so every plane has it’s own angle of rotation.

The rotated planes become the input for the ‘Final’ plane in the Orient component. The orient component takes a base geometry and places it onto whatever plane(s) we reference into the component. We reference a geometry built in Rhino to become the base geometry and use the list of rotated planes as our ‘Final’ planes. The orient component also needs to know which plane the base geometry is orientated in, so we pull a point from the geometry and affix a plane to it (using the box corners component). We also cull both the division point and UV point lists with the same pattern so that the bricks are offset and take on a typical brick wall arrangement. The cull pattern must be identical so that the matching UV and Division point pairs are culled in those pairs.

We can adjust the resolution of the image by reducing the size of the referenced geometry, and increasing the amount of division points on the surface. Using a mesh instead of a solid geometry also frees up memory and is quicker to work with.

week 5 - E.O.I. Research Project : CUT (Develop)

REVERSE ENGINEERING CASE STUDY - ‘ARTICULATED CLOUD’ Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh Ned Kahn in collaboration with Koning Eizenberg Architecture, Santa Monica, California

For my Reverse Engineering Case Study project, I chose ‘Articulated Cloud’ shown here on this spread. A.C. interacts directly with its environment through its unique hanging tiles. These tiles ripple in the wind much like grass ripples in a field. What is interesting, is that A.C. uses this effect to mimic the form of clouds in the sky, hence its name. It is even more interesting to note however, that this only really works when viewing a snapshot of the builing, like the one on this page. In real life, the rippling effect is very fast and is continious and is not remotely like the slow moving if not virtually still clouds above it. Still, this idea of a design directly displaying the effects of its environment is strong, both visually and in terms of meaning. The design for the Wyndham Gateway could benefit greatly from a similar concept. Perhaps the design is built in such a way so that the cars moving past the design are the environmental influence that is being reflected.

Images via LMS. Intially from Christine Killory, and René Davids, ‘Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’, in Detail in Process. 1st edn, Asbuilt (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2008), pp. 112 - 117

week 5 - E.O.I. Research Project : CUT (Develop)


‘Articulated Cloud’ has a very strong resemblance to the possible forms that can come out of image sampling, so to try and reverse engineer this project using Grasshopper, I thought I would start with my Villa Savoye definition.

I realise that ‘Articulated Cloud’ doesnt actually move the tiles to resemble clouds on purpose, but rather lets them ripple in the wind. I really only needed to recreate the geometry of the hanging tiles, but I thought that if I designed Articulated Cloud, I would need to demonstrate how it could look in action before it was actually built, so using the image sampler here would help demonstrate its active form. On left is the image I knocked up in Photoshop to become the clouds.

week 5 - E.O.I. Research Project : CUT (Develop)

REVERSE ENGINEERING CASE STUDY - ‘ARTICULATED CLOUD’ Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh Initially, the results of this definition were unusable.

Whilst the image was coming up, the tiles were rotating on the wrong axis, (see TOP view above). The tiles on ‘Articulated Cloud’ rotate/swing around a horizontal axis. The tiles were rotating around the z-axis due to my use of the Plane Rotate component which is set to the z-axis. So I altered the definition to use the Rotate Axis component, which allowed the choice of axis.

I used a Line between Two Points component to draw a line between two parallel, in-line points on the referenced geometry, and then used this line as the axis of rotation for the planes....

week 5 - E.O.I. Research Project : CUT (Develop)

REVERSE ENGINEERING CASE STUDY - ‘ARTICULATED CLOUD’ Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh Unfortunately the results of this definition were also unusable.

The tiles were rotating around a single horizontal axis, and not on their own individual axis’. As the angle increased, the tiles moved away from the surface.

week 5 - E.O.I. Research Project : CUT (Develop)

REVERSE ENGINEERING CASE STUDY - ‘ARTICULATED CLOUD’ Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh I edited the definition, defining an axis that was placed between two points on the already ORIENTATED tile geometry. I then used the list of axis’ as the input for the Rotate Axis component, and the list of orientated tiles for the geometry input. I could now input the list from the image sampler as the angle, and the tiles would now rotate around their own individual matched axis.

Notice now how the tiles are rotating on a horizontal axis and not a vertical one.

week 5 - E.O.I. Research Project : CUT (Develop)

REVERSE ENGINEERING CASE STUDY - ‘ARTICULATED CLOUD’ Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh This problem of defining the axis of rotation was the hardest obstacle to overcome. Now all I had to do was simply place this axis at the top of each tile, and then duplicate the screen of tiles four times as per the real ‘Articulated Cloud’. Below is the section of the definition that takes the average of two corner points to create one in the center. I use this definition on the top four corners of the tile geometry and then feed it in to a line component to create a center line across the top of the tile. This becomes the axis of rotation, so that the tile is ‘hanging’ from this axis as per ‘Articulated Cloud’.

Hanging tiles in Articulated Cloud.

Hanging tiles in Grasshopper.

This section of definition is used to create a duplicate of the screen 90 degrees offset from the original. The result is fed into a copy of the same script to obtain a copy at 180 degrees, and then again to obtain one at 270 degrees. This totals four screens enclosing a sqaure center. The two screen perpendicular to the original need their own script after this point for orientating the tiles rotation, as otherwise they will not be rotating perpendicular the their surfaces’ ‘normal’.

This section counters the 90 degree rotation of the entire screen’s effect on the tile’s rotation. Without this section, the screen to the left or right of the last screen will exhibit the negative of the image on the current screen.


week 5 - E.O.I. Research Project : CUT (Develop)

This is the entire Grasshopper Definition. Every component is adjustable except the surface (immediately on right), which is still under construction. At the moment this definition still relies on referencing the surface from Rhino.

week 5 : E.O.I. Research Project - CUT (Develop)


Above: Iteration # 1. The tiles rotate around their centre, and the image is inverse on perpendicular sides. Left: Iteration # 3. Data driven shading is used to actually colour the cloud in addition to rotation being used to creat the image. This was scrapped as it did not reflect the way in which Articulated Cloud operates (rotation only).

Above left and right: Iteration # 2. Tiles now rotate from an axis at their top so that they ‘hang’. Image is uniform across all walls. Left: Iteration # 4. Additional vertical components added to furthur capture the geometry of A.C.

week 6 : E.O.I. Research Project - CUT (Develop)

WYNDHAM CITY GATEWAY Our concept for the Wyndham City Gateway will display the following ideas. Interaction between the motorist’s travel through the design, and the visual effect of the design. A commentary on growth and the consequences of a growing city. Light being used to demonstrate the previous ideas. The effect of air on the design. How the design ages. We have attempted to capture the idea of movement by creating a form that will have visual impact only when moving through it at speed. This form is basically a tunnel which contricts with greater acceleration the furthur you move into it. The desired effect is that the motorist will feel the walls slowly moving in closer to him/her, but as they proceed, the speed at which those walls constrict increases likewise until it almost feels like the tunnel will suddenly become a solid wall stopping them dead. This feeling is our commentary on the effects of an exponentially growing city. If it gets out of hand, it will be already moving too fast to be stopped. We could change the design to be the inverse, so that the tunnel expands exponetially and reaches great heights. But the height is too great to sustain and eventually must come crashing down, just like a plane stalling because it is climbing at an angle too great and loses momentum. If the city grows too much too quickly, it will not be able to sustain itself and will eventually crash. The way our design ages and weathers will symbolise the inevitable counterpart of growth... deterioation.

Journal Mid Semester Submission  

Pertaining to discourse, architecture and parallegrams.

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