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Michelle Ho 516315 Tutors: Finn Warnock & Tom Morgan Subject Coordinator: Dr. Stanislav Roudavski

table of

contents Introduction


Expression of Interest stage:

Part ONE: Case for Innovation


Part TWO: Design Approach


Project Proposal




i n t r o duction Hi, pleased to meet you! My name is Michelle Ho, and I am an Architecture student from The University of Melbourne. I have had a varied upbringing: born in Perth to Chinese-Malaysian parents, and I spent most of my childhood in the United States and Melbourne. I enjoy the creativity and independent thought that Architecture offers. Achieving that sense of satisfaction when I create something that suits the brief and improves on what was existing is a great feeling. It resonates with me that Architecture has an important role in people’s lives and it can significantly impact how people feel about their surroundings, whether it be their office, school or places they go for recreation. In comparison to my university peers, I consider myself to having a limited experience with digital design tools, having only undertaken Virtual Environments (also led by Stanislav Roudavski) back in my first year of study where I experimented with Rhino. Needless to say, I found it difficult and stressful, and it discouraged me from using it again in my second year. Despite this past experience however, I am determined to put my prejudice aside of digital design tools from now on. I am enthusiastic about the possibilities my peers and I can achieve using algorithms with Rhino and Grasshopper. I am quite excited to enjoy the ride that is Architecture Design Studio: Air, and I look forward to developing my digital design skills and overcoming challenges I may encounter.

Bring it on!

case for

innovation expression

of interest stage Part ONE


as discourse Architecture as discourse refers to what has been said about architecture in the realm, the conservation that surrounds architecture. Richard Williams in his essay “Architecture and Visual Culture” (2005) introduces the notion that architecture is much more than the physical building, that it is “as much a philosophical, social or professional realm as it is a material one”. One should view architecture as a range of social and professional practices that sometimes lead to buildings, ‘sometimes’ being the key word. This challenges the conventional way I have viewed architecture prior to starting this subject. The traditional way of viewing architecture primarily focuses on the physical outcome of a tangible building, but after much pondering about the ideas raised in the lectures and readings, I have come to the conclusion that architecture should be more about the process and experimentation, which may or may not lead to a tangible, physical outcome. This links in to the two approaches of producing architecture: problem solving versus puzzle making (Kalay 2004). In problem solving, there is a set path that leads to a predictable outcome,

this being an existing building typology such as a house, an office, a theatre. Although this path can be seen as being more efficient, it can be limiting in terms of contributing to the architectural discourse. It places a focus on representational outcomes such as drawing and models and there is less of a direct and deeper engagement with the design process. It is through the second approach, puzzle making, that we can contribute more readily to the architectural discourse. Puzzle making introduces a framework from which we begin and progress from and the outcome is unknown. By having an unclear ending, we are forced to experiment and continually evaluate our experiments, to see whether they address our requirements in the brief which may result in the unexpected. Experimentation may include paper/conceptual projects which may not end up being built, however this does not mean it is any less significant than built works. Architecture encompasses much more than the final built form, it is also the peripheral experimentation process, and this is what is meant with the term “architecture as discourse” – it literally means everything that has been said concerning architecture, whether it gets built or not. When something new is created as a result of puzzle making, it adds to the architectural discourse, expanding our boundaries and questioning what we assume architecture to be.

In reference to our design this semester, the question we have to consider is: What ideas or innovative practices will your project contribute to the architectural discourse? I think it is pretty exciting that we as university students can be part of something that pushes the boundaries of architecture. It challenges the notion that age and experience are necessary components to make a mark. Of course, it does help to have such experience but if we approach this semester with an open puzzle making mindset instead of a confined problem solving one, we may be able to achieve something interesting and profound. One of my peers remarked how it was pretty cool how we are already exposed to such concepts such as parametric design this early in our architectural careers, which already gives us an advantage over more established practitioners of the architectural community, who are perhaps more set in their ways and might need more persuading to view digital architectural design as a significant driver of innovation in the architectural profession. Although I find programs such as Rhino and Grasshopper complex at first, it is probably because I am not used to using parametric design as a tool (I am more at home with a pencil and ruler) but with more practice and continual exposure, hopefully I am able to contribute something meaningful at the end of this course, or at the very least, be more informed about how parametric design is a useful tool in the design process.

What are the advantages and problems associated with this view? How can contemporary idea of digital architectural design relate to this? How does this frame (or expose) the preconceptions behind the Gateway competition? Advantages – aesthetic value of architecture is preserved; it is maintained as an important quality in the practice. If architecture is viewed as “individual works of art”, thought has to be carefully put into the visual appeal, it is not just a practical shell for habitation. Problems – this view can be limiting, as architecture is more than just 2D beauty (e.g. Ruskin focusing on facades). Too many expectations of what architecture should and should not be. I feel that architecture should simply be more about individual expression in consultation with the users and environment. If we view architecture as merely art, something with just aesthetic appeal, we might limit ourselves in the design of the Gateway before we even begin designing it, e.g. “the Gateway should be of this certain style, this particular look”. if we remove the pressure for the Gateway to be “pretty”, we can open the design more and experiment with the unconventional to produce outcomes that may not be “beautiful” to the commons, but will be ”interesting” and “inventive”. However, architecture differs from traditional art in many ways. For instance, architecture does not exist in a vacuum; it is often specific to a time, place and culture, whereas we have works of art from centuries ago still present today. Architecture usually requires patronage or clients to propose the project, unlike art where artists often make things without this stimulus to start it up. In art, the creator of the piece is the person who makes it, whereas the idea of authorship in architecture is more complex as the outcome is dependent on the collaboration of other professionals such as engineers and builders to make it a reality.

Critique of the reading

Architecture and Visual Culture:

Architecture as art Richard Williams 2005


Diller Scofidio + Renfro 2002 temporary pavilion Yverdon-les-Bains SWITZERLAND

Unique point: Proposing new ways of considering what is architecture and what is art

The Blur Building was designed for the Swiss Expo in 2002 and was dismantled afterwards as it was made to be temporary, only existing for the duration of the expo. Being temporary is a quality that makes projects ideal to experiment with non-conventional ideas as they do not have to deal with the problems that permanent buildings face such as practically and cost-effectiveness. In this regard, expos and world fairs are curators for innovation and exhibit projects that break new ground in some way, making such projects exemplars to contribute to the architectural discourse. Blur Building is no exception; it merges the realms of architecture and art. It challenges what we predictably view as architecture: stable walls do not exist; instead there is a lightweight tensegrity metal construction with high-pressure steel jets that sprays water from the surrounding lake. The result is a saturation of moisture in the air and this creates the effect of mist hovering over the surface of the lake, a blur effect. Although this project does not physically seem like a building, it does share some characteristics with what defines architecture. For example, Blur Building is context specific. It takes into account the surrounding environment (Lake Neuchatel where the Swiss Expo is located at) and uses the water from the lake to generate the blur effect. Computers are integrated into the design, constantly processing the changing climatic conditions at the site (temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction) and using this data to adjust the steel jets and the strength of the spray. Blur Building is uniquely attuned to the location it is constructed upon, and this is one of the defining characteristics of architecture. I found the Blur Building interesting because it is an architecture of atmosphere that relies on ephemeral qualities to define it. Diller has said of her design, “our dependence on vision [becomes] the focus of the pavilion” (Wolfe 2006). It is interesting how the primary material used for the project – water – is indigenous to the lake site; similar to the practices of sustainability, using materials sourced locally. I like how Diller Scofidio + Renfro were able to produce something that contrasts so vividly to what a physical building normally is; they were essentially making nothing, even describing their own contribution as “formless, massless, colourless, weightless, odourless, scaleless, featureless, meaningless”. Blur Building does not have a permanent form or boundary, the blur effect is constantly adapting to the climatic conditions of the lake site. It is weightless, challenging the role of gravity in architecture, opening up the possibility that somehow “the weight of our buildings and buildings in the distant future that [escapes] the bounds of the earth” (B.W. Parker as quoted by Sandhana 2002). Even though the project does not use revolutionary construction techniques, it expands the discourse of what can be considered architecture. With the Blur Building, Diller Scofidio + Renfro have created something that blurs the difference between architecture, art and the environment.

Original design by Gaudi; numerous refinements by many others Construction began in 1882 Still under construction Barcelona SPAIN

Sagrada familia

The Sagrada Familia (meaning ‘Holy Family’) is a cathedral in Barcelona, Spain which began construction in 1882 and still is currently under construction to this present day. Antoni Gaudi is the architect responsible for the fusion of Gothic style and curnilinear forms reminiscent of Art Noveau that are present in the cathedral. As the construction was only a quarter completed when Gaudi passed away and much of his detailed plans for the cathedral was burned during the Spanish Civil War, some are critical that the current design is hypothetical and is ruining the original design intent, putting forth the view that the cathedral should be left incomplete, to preserve Gaudi’s design integrity. The overwhelming size of the Sagrada Familia brought about opposition from many of the church leaders in Barcelona as they were worried that Gaudi’s design would upstage the existing Gothic cathedral in the city, however the public supported the new construction. The Sagrada Familia was a symbol of the Catalan nationalism revival at the time and relied on public donations for its construction. In this regard, many saw the cathedral as a way to recapture the community spirit of the Middle Ages, as back then the great cathedrals of Europe was built with public support.

Unique point: Still under construction, each generation to make its own mark

At the turn of the 20th century, Gaudi was considered revolutionary for his time as he chose to disregard the norm of flat horizontal and vertical surfaces in favour of parabolic arches, hyperbolic vaults and slanted, helical columns. He carefully considered elements such as space, light and the surrounding environment and was heavily inspired by nature. The Nativity Façade of the cathedral is composed of four parabolic spires that reach immense heights of 350 feet, which was unheard of at that time. His inspirations from animals and nature manifested themselves into intricate ornamentation that integrated the varied shapes and textures found in nature, which was a contrast to what his contemporaries were focusing on at the same time, such as Frank Lloyd Wright and his prairie style concerned with simplicity and horizontalness. Despite the fact that the Sagrada Familia is still unfinished despite over a century of construction, it is this characteristic which makes it unique in architecture today. Most projects that are built now are proposed to be finished within a lifetime at most, but Gaudi envisioned the church as a ‘medieval project’ that would take decades, perhaps centuries, to complete and he welcomed the idea of successors to make their own mark on the cathedral, a collaboration of sorts throughout generations.

The role of computing in architecture is a controversial one. We have to question whether computers encourage ‘fake’ creativity or whether they are merely limiting our creativity. Many take the first view, also a view put forth by Lawson (?) who states that CAD encourages ‘fake creativity’, but others believe that computing allows us to explore possibilities that would have been difficult or even impossible without the computer. One should differentiate between the terms “computerisation” and “computation” however. Computerisation refers to the digitalisation of physical models and the rationalising of such surfaces into NURBS surfaces, which allow greater flexibility in how these shapes are controlled on the computer. Computation on the other hand is defined as “the use of the computer to process information through an understood model which can be expressed as an algorithm” (Architectural Design, March/April 2013). Advocates of computation believe that computers should be integrated more in the design process, that computers are not merely “just a tool” but something that can generate complex geometries that would have hard to do otherwise. Herbert Simon claims that design problems are “ill-structured”, as they are open to interpretation and multiple goals often need to be considered, sometimes resulting in tradeoffs. This renders the design outcome as unpredictable, similar to the puzzle making concept discussed in the previous section. Design problems are open to experimentation and never-ending possibilities, and this may be daunting to address without the use of computing. Yehuda Kalay in his essay ‘Architecture’s New Media” notes that while computers are “superb analytical engines” capable of digesting huge amounts of information, they lack the creativity to produce their own instructions. I agree with this point, that although computing can help allow for interesting outcomes, it is ultimately up to the designer to evaluate constantly and know when to intervene and adapt the computer processes when needed. We should work in synergy with the computer in order to produce the best outcomes; Kalay proposes the collaboration of the computers’ “superb rational and search abilities” with our human creativity and intuition to solve design problems. I believe this would be advantageous as the computer compensates for our weakness in processing complex tasks; with the computer to aid us, we can achieve much more complicated designs. Computation essentially complements the intellect of the designer and improves our ability to solve complex problems.

“[In digital generative processes] the emphasis shifts from the “making of form” to the “finding of form”, which various digitallybased generative techniques seem to bring about intentionally.” (Kalay 2004) This could possibly mean that digital processes enable form finding or refining better than completely making a form from scratch. This is what computerisation is essentially. Although we make an initial model in the physical world, we can use computerisation techniques to “scan” this physical model onto a computer which we can then “form find” through adapting and refining the initial model further using NURBS surfaces.

The typical design process presently involves the use of drawings with established conventions and scale models. I find that using such mediums helpful in experimenting with various possibilities (puzzle making!) and visualising how spaces work before I commit them for refinement. However, computing could be something nice to introduce to this process. As stated previously, computing can aid in analysing and processing complicated tasks in an efficient manner. Computers can be used as another way to generate and conceptualise my ideas in order to synthesise a solution to the puzzle, perhaps offering a more realistic representation than any drawing could. For example, I am aware that BIM (Building Information Modelling) is a framework that puts together all the information for constructing a building from various sources in one program, and this seems to be more convenient to use than having numerous drawings to reference upon. As Architectural Design (March/April 2013) notes, “The development of computational simulation tools can create more responsive designs, allowing architects to explore new design options and to analyse architectural decisions during the design process”. By having such constant responsive updates on how the design might perform when built, we can use this information to refine our design as needed. We can also use the information generated from BIM after the design and construction stages, during the occupation stage of the building itself. Feedback between users, building and the environment can be updated in the digital model, and this model can be used to propose changes that could be implemented to further improve building performance for its users and environment even after construction is completed.



Critique of the reading

Architecture’s new media

principles, theories & methods of computeraided design Yehuda Kalay 2004 “Design is a process we engage in when the current situation is different from some desired situation, and when the actions needed to transform the former into the latter are not immediately obvious. … Design, accordingly, is a purposeful activity, aimed at achieving some well-defined goals.” This means that the final result should add something new or be different from what existed previously. If all design was undertaken in this manner, we can conclude that all design adds to the architectural discourse, as it is something unknown previously. We want our Gateway projects to hopefully bring something inventive to the architectural discourse.

Design search processes: Depth first. Examining each solution one at a time to its logical conclusion (either it achieves the goals or it fails), then moving on to the next solution if it does fail. Breadth first. Exploration of multiple solutions before deciding on one solution to develop to its logical conclusion.

Personally, I prefer breadth first as the way to search for a design solution. I believe depth first is too narrow in scope and can be quite limiting, as what happens if the first solution picked satisfies the goals adequately, how would you know that the solution you initially picked is the ideal one in the end? Breadth first allows for more experimentation in the search process, and it is through this experimenting we have a number of options to evaluate against our goals and then we can select the one which best achieves our goals for further development.

To decide which solution is the most ideal one for further development, it would be helpful to put in place constraints that “gradually reduces the size of the solution space and guides the process toward a particular solution” (Kalay 2004). Sometimes this Best first. Evaluation of all may involve designers establishing additional constraints to what currently available solutions the client initially proposes. In terms of our Gateway project, this before choosing one for can involve us going out onto the site itself and seeing whether development. To me, this seems our site analysis and first-hand observations can add something quite similar to “breadth first”. we want to adapt or address in particular on the competition brief.

Computation techniques in architecture are usually associated with the monumental structures that tower its neighbours, a visual landmark on the city’s horizon. However, computation does have a place in the smaller-scale domestic realm. English architecture firm Facit Homes is one of the first to integrate parametric and digital production methods in its design and construction process, changing the way residential projects are built. Facit Homes calls this computational process the “D-Process”. In the design of Hertfordshire House, all the processes associated with constructing a house (including the design, engineering, research and development, prototyping, production and assembly processes) were undertaken by a single entity called the Building Information Modelling (BIM). BIM allows all the consultants to work on one entity together, simplifying the collaboration involved between the parties. BIM is utilised to produce a 3D computer model that encompasses all the information needed for every aspect of the building – materials and their quantities, wall angles and even the position of items such as electrical sockets. It also allows consideration for environmental design, such as calculating the insulation value of the building envelope. A key feature of the D-Process is that these 3D digital elements are directly fabricated on-site in mobile production facilities (MPF). By making these building components in-situ, an efficient construction system occurs. MPF contain equipment that use information from BIM to precisely cut materials, reducing the material waste produced and the time spent that would have occurred if manufactured by hand. By having MPF, the need to transport large prefabricated structures to the site (and the related carbon emissions) is eliminated. Fewer building

contractors would be required as a consequence as the MPF does part of their job. In this regard, Facit Homes is changing how construction occurs on-site and is influencing the way sustainability could be achieved in the construction industry. However, the way computational techniques are used by Facit Homes differs from the typical prefabricated house present at the moment. The D-Process still allows for every project to be compatible to the unique conditions on site; it is not simply a case of mass-manufacturing housing components from a factory and assembling them on a variety of sites without regard for specific context conditions. Computational techniques played a vital role in the design and construction of Hertfordshire House. Computing has the power to bring information from various sources and consultants together in a single entity known as BIM, and this allows for more efficient and more sustainable practices to occur. As Facit Homes as shown, computing has a significant role at all scales of architecture and should be just limited to large-scale projects. After researching Hertfordshire House, I realised that not all computational projects have to look complicatedly intimidating. This is something useful for me to keep in mind as I approach the Gateway project: the use of parametric techniques does not equal complexity in appearance; it could mean efficiency of its construction.

Facit Homes 2012 built residential Hertfordshire ENGLAND

Hertfordshire House

Unique point: Computation techniques are not only for large-scale monumental buildings, can be used for residential small-scale projects; changing the construction process

British Museum

Great Court Architects: Foster & Partners | Engineers: Buro Happold 1994 - 2002 London ENGLAND

Unique point: An accomplishment of architecture and engineering working in synergy This project revitalised the garden in the middle of the British Museum into a covered civic area, in the process transforming one of London’s long-lost spaces. Where previously before, the courtyard was congested and difficult to navigate, the reinvention of the space provided a centralised circulation area that linked the surrounding galleries of the museum. The efforts of Foster and Partners was highly valuable as it guided the means for better pedestrian traffic as people enter the museum, and with visitor numbers toppling over five million annually, the British Museum is just as popular as the Louvre. The Great Court project comprises of a steel-framed lattice with over three thousand triangular panels of glass. Each glass panel is uniquely shaped and had to be precise, a tolerance of only three millimetres has been accounted for. Without the use of computers to determine these exact geometries, such a precise lattice would not have been able to develop. According to Greg Lynn, parametric modelling makes this possible, as it allows for the repetition of a form (the triangle in this case) but with slight differences in the shape of each individual panel according to their unique position within the lattice. It makes use of a technique called ‘fritting’ where the glass panels are screenprinted with small dots on half their surface area. Fritting filters ultraviolet rays and minimises solar gain, a nod to sustainability issues prevalent in the past few decades. Visitors enter the Great Court from the principal floor of the museum, and the glazed canopy provides a contrast to the classical Ionic portico forecourt of the British Museum exterior. When people enter the Great Court, they are met with an explosion of light and space. The Great Court is the largest covered square in Europe. “What should make the topology particularly appealing are not the new forms but, paradoxically, the shift of emphasis from the form to the structure(s) of relations, interconnections that exist internally and externally within an architectural project. Whether an architectural topological structure is given a curvilinear (“blobby”) or rectilinear (“boxy”) form should be a result of particular performance circumstances surrounding the project, whether they are morphological, cultural, tectonic, material, economic and/or environmental.” (Kolarevic 2003) This means that architectural forms should have a logical reasoning behind it, that they are not just “token” shapes plucked out of thin air. The glass canopy used in the British Museum Great Court is an example of how “performance circumstances” such as the existing Reading Room and quadrangle surroundings informed the shape of the glass canopy and the way the steel-framed lattice was configured in the project.

parametric modelling and

scripting “Parametric digital modelling is the paradigm of programming the definitions of the geometry and their associated relationships so that they might be more easily adjustable by simple algorithmic manipulation and changes can be varied interactively. In theory, a well thought out parametric program can increase the productivity, allowing for an increase in design iterations and the creation of variations in families of parts for fabrication. It promises to increase the productivity of an operator, saving time in the design process.� (Rick Smith 2007)

“Algorithmic thinking means … knowing how to modify the code to explore new options and speculating on further design potentials. We are moving from an era where architects use software to one where they create software.” (Architectural Design, March/April 2013).

“In parametric design, it is the parameters of a particular design that are declared, not its shape. By assigning different values to the parameters, different objects or configurations can be created. Equations can be used to describe the relationships between objects thus defining an associative geometry … Parametric design calls for the rejection of fixed solutions and for an exploration of infinitely variable potentialities. ” (Kolarevic 2003) “[P]arametrically controlled digital modelling works well for quick design iterations of a project allowing a designer to step through many “what if” concepts much quicker, increasing productivity.” (Smith 2007) This opens up a range of possibilities, that by changing the values we input into the parameters, we can come up with a whole new variation of the design. This is much easier to do with the computer than by hand. It allows us to experiment further with one solution, allowing for the “depth first” design search process to occur more quickly and more easily, as proposed by Kalay. Grasshopper, the program we are using to generate forms for the Gateway project, is a form of parametric modelling which incorporates inputs into algorithms to create designs.

This quote highlights one of the potential problems that parametric scripting with algorithms may have: we need to know “how to modify the code” in order to make something, that instead of merely just using the software, architects are now creating the very software used in parametric programming. However, I feel that such approaches are not intuitive and can be difficult to master. It questions the role of the architect: are we now expected to become programmers in order to have our design voices heard in the future? Is simply coming up with a great concept and being able to sketch it not enough? Can architects afford to not use computation in the future? If parametric programs become the norm for architects in the future, there may be issues concerning the reuse and sharing of such modelling. As Rick Smith notes, “any operator using the model needs intimate knowledge of the parametric program that is written for that specific design” (2007). If one does not possess the “intimate knowledge” required, they would be unable to alter the parametric model meaningfully. As a result, the original programmer becomes the primary intellectual owner of the model, and this can be limiting in terms of contributing to the architectural discourse on parametric techniques, because only one person (or the selected group of individuals with the “intimate knowledge”) adds to the discourse. I feel that in order to make meaningful contributions to the discourse, it would be more viable to collaborate with others in a group environment, much like we are doing now with the Gateway project. This would allow for the exchange of ideas and exposure to different ways of thinking, characteristics ideal for creating something innovative. I am quite glad that I have the opportunity to work with two other members in my studio to produce the Gateway project; it certainly makes the task to create something interesting less daunting and more achievable.

“Once you think you have a working parametric model you may still find you haven't programmed a parameter of the geometry in a way that is adjustable to a designer's future request. A designer might say I want to move and twist this wall, but you did not foresee that move and there is no parameter to accommodate the change. It then unravels your program. Many times you will have to start all over again. Imagine trying to do this on a complex and fully integrated building.” (Smith 2007) Another limitation parametric modelling has is that often “front-loading” is involved; that is, we need to put in place all necessary and conceivable parameters at the beginning of the design process. However this may be difficult, as how would we know what to expect and what elements we want to account for before the designing has even occurred? It can be constraining to consider all the likely variables at the start; we may be closing ourselves off too early to certain possibilities. Nevertheless lack of parameter establishing at the beginning may lead to complications later in the design process; in the example given in the preceding quote, something as simple as “twisting this wall” can be hard to achieve with a parametric model that already has a dense interconnection of parameters in place; such changes can even break or “unravel” the parametric equation. This relates to what Herbert Simon (as quoted by Kalay 2004) referred to in reference to the balancing of multiple goals in design problems – tradeoffs sometimes occur in order to accommodate these goals. In the case of parametric modelling, we are trading off the control of some variables in the design for more control in other areas.

“Parametricism is the great new style after modernism. The new style claims relevance on all scales from architecture and interior design to large scale urban design. The larger the scale of the project the more pronounced is parametricism’s superior capacity to articulate programmatic complexity.” (Schumacher 2009) I hold similar beliefs to Schumacher, that parametricism has a place in the future of architecture and urban design, but only if used in collaboration with our existing skills and with others. Parametric modelling has the benefit of speed and being able to be more flexible in generating many different outcomes just by altering some parameters in the model. However, like with all design tools, there are also limitations. I am not too sure if I totally agree with Schumacher on the point that “parametricism is the great new style after modernism”, as for this to occur, a widespread adoption of parametric techniques by architects is needed for such a style to be established properly and this can be difficult at the present moment because of the limitations of parametric modelling identified earlier. Nevertheless, I look forward to immersing myself in the world of parametric scripting this semester and seeing where it takes me and seeing whether I am convinced of its benefits at the end of this course.

Bao’an International Airport

Terminal 3

Massimiliano Fuksas and Knippers Helbig Advanced Engineering 2012 Shenzhen CHINA

Unique point: Parametric programming offers the opportunity to redefine the role of structural engineers; even though the structure itself is simple, the façade cladding proved to be another problem

With a perforated cladding comprising of 60 000 unique façade elements with 400 000 individual steel members, parametric modelling was necessary to bring it under control. Rhino and Microsoft Excel worked in collaboration to produce this parametric model. The parametric data model that resulted was organised into four layers: the inner and outer facades each had their own layer, while two layers were dedicated to the inner grid structure. This model controlled the two design parameters (the size and slope of the glass openings in the façade) according to daylight, solar gain and viewing angles requirements imposed by the local authority, and they also ensured that the standard was up to the architect’s aesthetic intentions. Up to fifty different models were trialled for the tessellation of the terminal roof. In the end, a honeycomb motif was selected made out of panels from metal and glass that can be partially opened. It is with the power of parametric modelling that numerous and extensive trials could be completed easily for such a vast space (the terminal measures nearly 1 400 metres in length), as it allows for efficient control of fine details. This makes parametric tools flexible, allowing for changes to occur at relatively any stage of the design process.

iSaw can be seen as an development of a previous work of Kokkugia completed in 2005, the Parachute Pavilion. The Parachute Pavilion was the first instance wetform geometries were used by the design firm, gaining its inspiration from the interaction of liquid and gas when bubbles from milkshakes and carbonated drinks enlarge and multiply as they travel towards the surface. Despite the simplicity of this process, Kokkugia transforms this into code, creating algorithms to fabricate their structures. I feel that it is ironic that such a complicated method was used to produce a topology that mimicked the seemingly unfussy interaction of liquid and gas. However, parametric modelling does have some merits in this project: it allows the precise control of certain elements. iSaw uses a lattice with a non-linear gradient that thickens beyond a set threshold, where spaces emerge so that it becomes inhabitable. It is through parametric scripting that allows the provision of such a threshold that is capable enough to communicate to the model when and where to change the walls and make them thicker. The lack of parametric scripting here would have made this task very complicated to achieve manually; trying to adapt an already convoluted topology by hand would have been disastrous as there are many variables one has to consider before changes are implemented. As Rick Smith (2007) notes, the application of major changes to a parametric model may break the algorithm behind it, as such a change may not have been accounted for at the beginning of the project.


Kokkugia 2012 unbuilt/conceptual Warsaw POLAND

Unique point: Parametric scripting can be used to produce intricate skins that divide and create space


This is one of my earliest explorations with Grasshopper and that is why I chose to include this in the journal. Shown here is my refined attempt; in my very first attempt I was able to arrange the forms along a line but was unable to exponentially increase their sizes. I initially thought about using some sort of attractor point or even Fibonacci component in Grasshopper to alter the sizes, however after discussing with some peers, I found that using the “Series� component was a simplier way to achieve this.


Exercise: Create a series of shapes that increase in size and distance from each other.

Exercise: Create a pavilion structure using 3D grid over a lofted surface. I found this tricky; it definitely required more thought than the first exercise. In this definition, I included an “Offset” component that connects from the “Pipe” component. This allowed parameters to be set regarding the radius of the pipes and gave me control over how thick the pipes were. In retrospect, I probably did not need to include the “Offset” component as the “Slider” that directly connected to the “Pipe” did virtually the same thing. However, it was good to discover different ways of achieving similar results. I chose to include this algorithmic exploration because I liked how the “Artistry” viewport turned out. It may look a little cartoony, but it gives a nice hand-drawn look to the structure. Also, shadows were automatically included with this viewport. As a result, I was able to get some views of how the pavilion would look to a person inside the structure.

My design approach to the Gateway project will be one of PUZZLE MAKING (as opposed to problem solving). In order to contribute meaningfully to the architectural discourse, it is necessary to constantly experiment and evaluate our efforts. In puzzle making, there is no set path towards the outcome, only a framework is established at the beginning. The framework in this case will be the Wyndham City Gateway Project Document and the fact that we will be using Grasshopper to generate algorithms which create forms and topologies for the Gateway proposal.

Who and how can benefit?

Why is it significant to design in this way?

How is it innovative?

What will your design approach be like?


Puzzle making is innovative as it encourages us to experiment. Before we experiment though, we look at precedents of revolutionary projects in the past and analyse what makes them unique, whether it be it challenges our conventional notions of what architecture is (Blur Building), or whether they used new construction techniques (Hertfordshire House), or how their use of parametric scripting allows for precise control (Bao’an International Airport). Through analysing precedents, we create a “base” from which we can progress from, and hopefully challenge the status quo of design or what is already out there. Precedents are important to study as it makes us aware of what is already existing so we can learn from them. Approaching the Gateway project with a puzzle making mindset that urges us to experiment, develop and evaluate should help us create a design with parametric tools and scripting that is interesting and beautiful. If we experiment enough, we may be able to challenge the status quo of the architectural design space. As a result, our project would contribute to the discourse.


outcomes My knowledge of architectural computing has greatly expanded since starting this subject. I feel that I am constantly learning. Before studying architecture formally at university, my ideas of architecture were embarrassingly shallow. Initially I thought that architecture was the design of aesthetic buildings with purpose, and while this is still true, I have now realised that architecture is much more than that. It is about constantly experimentation and evaluation, and how the first idea you come up with is not always the best one. Learning about parametric scripting programs such as Grasshopper and their power to create all sorts of variations just by altering the parameters astounds me. With this sort of process, I believe we can create architecture that is attuned to its site and context and changes accordingly when the surrounding changes or people are present. It would be interesting to produce a design that interacts with its environment and audience, by somehow having parameters on-site that constantly update. Out of all the buildings I’ve looked at for the Case for Innovation section, I quite enjoy the Blur Building because it merges the line between architecture and art, and is reactive to climatic conditions. The use of water vapour as its primary “material” intrigues me as it challenges what can be used as building materials and makes us wonder, does it have to be permanent and physical for it to be an effective material? This is particularly relevant for me as my group has decided on “materiality” as the design focus for the Gateway project, and it will be interesting to explore this realm throughout this semester.


approach expression

of interest stage Part TWO




working with Meg Varley & Bonnie Williams

Why material performance is valid and interesting for a project like the Wyndham City Gateway project? (as opposed to other parametric approaches) - Interesting to us because it allowed for physical experimentation and this would provide us with real limitations. - Interested in the properties of timber/wood and creating something that challenges the expected form of timber (e.g. sturdy, solid, rigid). Hence we wanted to create something with timber that is fluid, flexible and movable.

- Also with timber as our selected material to focus on, it allows for physical experimentation with the material to test out its performance and properties in the real world and feeding our observations of timber limitations back into the parametric experimentations to improve our design. This gives timber and material performance a competitive advantage over other parametric approaches as physical experimentation is vital to our area of focus, whereas with tessellation or sectioning for example, the physical experimentation may not be as vital or as needed – using computation to generate experimentation outcomes may be sufficient on their own.



This project is relevant to our design focus because it uses materials in an unusual manner. Voussoirs are normally heavy masonry blocks that are stacked upon each other acting in compression to create its arch profile. This project challenges this preconception by using wood laminate less than 1mm thick to create these voussoir units. By using a lightweight material that is naturally more inclined in tensile strength and torsion, to produce wedge-shaped units that act in compression, it indicates that there is more than one way of creating something and that materials have the ability to be manipulated in ways that they are not normally expected to, even to the extent that achieve â&#x20AC;&#x153;potentially conflicting constructional logicsâ&#x20AC;?[1] by using lightweight materials to create an usually heavy compression structure. It is relevant to the theme of computation as the forms that make up the pure catenaries profiles were generated by computational hanging chain models, similar to the previous work of Frei Otto and Antonio Gaudi (although they made their hanging chain models by hand). The structural logics were calculated through computation; it allowed for the arrangement of the Delaunay tessellation to have greater cell density at the column bases while spreading out and gaining porosity as the arches are formed at the top[2]. Figure 1: Voussoir Cloud in action. Source <>

Figure 2 (left): Precise incisions can transform even a sturdy block of timber into a flexible form. Source < http:// aktuell/detailansicht/gmwausstellung/ dukta-holz-in-form/> Figure 3 (right): Wood loop.. Source < ausstellungen/aktuell/detailansicht/ gmwausstellung/dukta-holz-in-form/>

WOOD LOOP /DUKTA CHRISTIAN KUHN & SERGE LUNIN Timber is given newfound flexibility characteristics when precise incisions are cut into its form. These notching and incision systems vary in length, depth and distance between each staggered cut, and it allows otherwise rigid wood panels to be easily twisted and flexed into new forms. It has also been observed that these incisions allow the timber to absorb sound more efficiently, making it an ideal material in acoustic-controlled setting. Zurich University of the Arts has made use of this technology by installing Dukta panels in its large concert hall for its acoustic benefits[3]. In this way it can be said that Dukta has contributed successfully to the materials discourse on timber by indicating what other properties timber can possess through the use of precise incisions.

wooden textiles fabric Elisa Strozyk

This project combines wood veneer offcuts (from other projects) with fabric and latex to transform the hard physical properties of wood into a fluid skin. This precedent is definitely relevant to our area of interest as it alters the manner in which timber behaves. However, we argue that our resulting prototypes (in section B.5) are an improvement of this idea as no additional materials were added to prototypes to alter their properties – instead we just cut the plywood in specific angles to impart flexibility and fluidity. Nevertheless, Wooden Textiles Fabric can be seen as using the timber material quite optimally, as it recycles “waste” wood veneers from other projects, ensuring efficient materials usage as no “new” wood veneers were used. One thing we took away from our analysis of this precedent was the fact that “common presumptions we make about materials often prohibit the exploration of their potential”[4]. This means that it is important for us to continually experiment with timber in the effort to uncover the various abilities it can be capable of achieving. It makes us aware to not look at materials at their “face value”, for example: “timber is rigid and is only good for linear structures”. If we thought this and did not bother to explore the potential of the material, a lot of opportunities to contribute to the materials discourse on timber would be lost.

Figure 4 (left): Wooden textiles fabric made up of triangular offcuts. Source <> Figure 5 (right): Same source as above.

ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion 2010 Achim Menges

Figure 6: Interior of pavilion. Source <>

Similar to the Voussoir Cloud, these research pavilions designed by Achim Menges in recent years have been the result of experiments in material-orientated computational design to produce structures that stretch the potential of how timber can be used. In this particular 2010 research pavilion, computational processes have been useful in creating a responsive bending structure comprised out of extremely thin plywood strips. We found this project interesting as it is an example of how the form of the structure was directly driven by the physical behaviour and material characteristics â&#x20AC;&#x201C; not the other way around (e.g. manipulating the material

to make a predefined form) as normally done. As Achim Menges noted, â&#x20AC;&#x153;the structure is entirely based on the elastic bending behaviour of the birch plywood stripsâ&#x20AC;?[5]. The material behavioural properties of the plywood were used as inputs in the parametric design process, which in turn produced the relevant forms that could be made from these limitations. Similarly, we also plan on following a similar process in our design for the Wyndham Gateway project: after discovering the limitations of timber from our physical prototypes, we will then embed these as inputs in Grasshopper and produce relevant iterations from it for our final proposal.

case study matrix SECTION B.2.

Species 4 Changing Z-value (height) positive values create narrow bases that expand at the top negative values create narrow tops that expand to wide bases (basically is an inverse form of the forms generated by positive Z-values)

Species 1 Changing height of points along z-axis Species 5 Adding Kangaroo plugin

Species 2 Changing position of input points on one plane

Species 3 Changing size of the base openings using the number slider - The smaller the value, the more 'solid' the structure appears - The bigger the value, the more 'web-like' and 'skeleton' the structure appears

- Left: mesh created when slider = 8 plus affects of kangaroo plugin - MIddle: mesh created when slider = 8 - Right: mesh created when slider = -2 however Kangaroo doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t work when Z-value is negative so this iteration was abadoned

Figure 7 (above): Attempt at cutting out an entire skin out of plywood (instead of connecting individual strips together). The fabricated model was not successful as the skin remained rigid and was hard to bend. Figure 8 (below): Changing the base shape from the normal strip to circles. This offered more looping possibilities.

technique development SECTION B.4.

The materialisation process for our prototypes was relatively straightforward as the main premise for our area of focus was to experiment with how we could alter the typical rigid properties of timber and make it a fluid and flexible form. We were heavily inspired by the Dukta/Wood Loop project by Christian Kuhn and Serge Lunin (mentioned in section B.1.), in particularly, how simple but precise incisions dramatically transformed the wood into something that was able to be flexed into different forms. Hence, our technique development mainly focuses on strips and platonic shapes, and how varying the amount we cut out of these base forms had an affect on the flexibility of the plywood. For our technique development, we felt that we needed to experiment first with the plywood material in the form of physical prototypes, and from these prototypes

we would encounter its limitations, which we can then input as parameters into our Grasshopper algorithms at a later stage. We opted to computate our physical prototypes in Autocad, as it was a program that we were very comfortable in using (in comparison to Grasshopper) and it was quicker for us to directly draw the shapes we wanted cut on Autocad rather than attempting to make it in Grasshopper first, as at the beginning stages, we did not know what wouldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been important to have as variables for later alterations in the Grasshopper definitions. We realise that this manner of development by choosing not to engage fully with Grasshopper from the beginning is quite different to the way other groups have approached the design, but we feel that this manner of development has worked well for us and what we wanted to focus on with timber: that is, how to increase its flexibility.

Variables we experimented with: • angles of the cuts, • length of cut • width of cut • distance between the cuts • curve/straight cuts • shape of the strips • length/width of strip • with or against the grain • applying different amounts of tension to form We discovered each prototype encouraged a different type of movement eg. Rolling, twisting, bending, stretching etc. Our final form will be a combination of the effects created by each trial.

Figure 9: Different cuts/patterns on a sheet of plywood. Far left: The cuts slowly change into another, starting with short cuts at the top, growing wider in the middle, while forming angles at the bottom. Top right: Another attempt at creating an entire skin out of one sheet. Bottom right: Experimenting with curved cuts.

technique prototypes


We felt that since our area of focus is “material performance”, we felt that it is important for us have prototypes readily available for us to physically play with, as this would inform us on the characteristics of timber in reality, rather than just relying on computation to show us. We ended up producing three sets of prototypes, and with each iteration of fabrication, we discovered new limitations that we wanted to address in the next set of models we produced. Our fabrication process resulted in several zig-zag strips, some of which were very long and therefore able to be twisted and knotted, and some considerably shorter, offering less bend when we handled it. Fabrication and having physical models to play with was a integral part of our development process, as we discovered many limitations in this manner that might not have been obvious to us otherwise from just creating 3D visualizations on the computer. For example, the direction of the grain in the plywood was a factor that affected the flexibility of the plywood strips. The strips were considerably more flexible where the grain ran in the same direction as the notching as opposed to running perpendicular to the notching. This might have been overlooked had we just relied on computer visualizations.

Figure 10: Weaving as a method of connecting the individual strips together. It is important to note that the strips do not have to be exactly identical to achieve this, as seen here.

One of the ideas that emerged during this period was creating a skin structure that draped itself along the highway. We experimented by modeling and fabricating whole block panels. However, the prototype for this was not successful as we hoped as the plywood remained quite inflexible and had limited bending ability. Also, designing a skin structure out of plywood poses the problem that in reality, it would be hard to find a piece of timber that was big enough to create a singular skin suitable for the scale for the highway installation.

Hence, we had to view our fabricated plywood strips as individual modules that somehow connected together to create the giant skin we desired. One method we used to connect our individual strip elements together was through weaving. This opened a whole range of possibilities: we could weave identical elements together or weave numerous elements that were each slightly different to one another (e.g. they had a different base shape or the length of cuts varied). This latter method allowed us to combine various elements of different characteristics together to create one meshlike skin that leveraged all the individual characteristics of each strip into one unit. Weaving appealed to us because it doesn’t require additional material to make the individual elements join together – the connection is inherent in each module’s structure. Throughout our process we have been considering the characteristics of timber such as size and how it would influence the real construction process. We were worried that weaving to create such intense combination of elements would reduce the flexing ability of the plywood strip, however through our physical prototypes we discovered that the resulting mesh has the same properties as one individual strip. Therefore this overcame the limitation of the available size of timbers as we are now able to create the skin from smaller modules/individual strips. Without knowing the real parameters of a material we were unable to begin experimenting with forms in grasshopper. However now that we better understand the material and its limitations we can better use grasshopper in a more accurate/realistic way knowing how the material will react.

Figure 11. Weaving as a method of connecting the individual strips together. Here the strips are identical modules.

Figure 12: Another example of weaving.

In traditional construction we have found, timber has been used in a very rigid still way something which we wanted to challenge. Therefore we were prompted to draw on ideas established through these precedents but to extend the investigation and manipulation even further. We focused our explorations on pushing the traditional boundaries of timbers flexibility and discovered we were able to create something which is quite fluid and organic. Similarly, we were able to achieve an interesting ornamental quality as a result of the explorations we undertook, combined with the natural aesthetics of the timber itself. We envisage our technique to act as a mesh-like skin on the site, perhaps following the curve of the highway or draping across it. We believe that the competitive advantage our approach has is that it challenges the way people view timber â&#x20AC;&#x201C; we want people to notice the fluid form from a distance and let them assume that it is made out of some naturally fluid material such as plastic. However, when they travel through it, they realise that it is actually timber creating such fluid and flowing forms, and we hope that this element of surprise encourages them to revisit. By challenging the common


Figure 13 The woven skin mesh propped up -- when light pressure (e.g. a hand tap) is applied, the surface deflects but springs back readily. Could be interesting having some element of movement in the gateway final project that mirrors the actions of the vehicles fast motion.

preconception of timber, we are adding to its material discourse. Another competitive advantage our approach has it that it interacts with its surroundings. When propped up (as in figure 13), the skin we have designed has flexible properties that deflect and bounce back when pressure in the form of a light tap or movement in the wind is applied to its surface. This creates movement in the structure, and this would be interesting to explore in the next stage of the design process, as given the projectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s close proximity to a busy highway with fast-moving vehicles, this wind movement can affect the structure of our skin by flexing up and down. This hence engages with the site and audience, as opposed to having it as a static structure. Having the skin structure change slightly dependent on weather conditions (wind) or how many vehicles are traveling there creates a installation that is versatile and interactive, and having these characteristics would encourage people to revisit as the structure can be experienced in numerous ways. We hope this design questions the expectations of a material and contributes new ideas about materiality to the architectural discourse.

technique proposal

Figure 14.

algorithmic sketches SECTION B.7.

These were done using Grasshopper. Parametric design helped us to vary the width of the strips and cuts (figure 14) and the use of attractor points in a mesh was possible with Grasshopper (figures 16 & 17).

Figure 15.

Figure 16.

Figure 17.

learning objectives and outcomes SECTION B.8.

Particular learning outcomes addressed: Developing “an understanding of relation¬ships between architecture and air” through interrogation of design proposal as physical models in atmosphere. The prototypes we have produced during this Expression of Interest period have encouraged us to form a mesh-like skin with them that interacts with atmospheric air conditions on site, such as weather (wind) and the fast-movement of the vehicles travelling along the highway. Section B.6 discusses how our proposed skin structure engages with its surroundings. Developing “an ability to generate a variety of design possibilities for a given situation” by introduc¬ing visual programming, algorithmic

design and paramet¬ric modelling with their intrinsic capacities for extensive design-space exploration. This has been addressed in Section B.4 and B.5 where we designed and fabricated numerous prototypes to explore different ways of changing the properties of plywood. Although we have not quite engaged with Grasshopper to its fullest potential at this stage, we plan on using the limitations we have found through our physical prototypes as inputs in future Grasshopper algorithms that act as virtual parameters in our computational geometries. The limitations of timber could only be discovered by playing with physical prototypes, and hence we felt that making the decision to develop our design more in the “real world” as opposed to algorithms in Grasshopper was the most appropriate way for us at this current stage.

Developing “the ability to make a case for proposals” by developing critical thinking and encouraging construction of rigorous and persuasive arguments informed by the contemporary architectural discourse. Section B.6 addresses this, as it discusses the competitive advantages of our approach to the site and brief, and why challenging the normal perceptions of timber as a rigid and inflexible element could be important to the material properties discourse. Develop capabilities for conceptual, technical and design analyses of contemporary architectural projects. Section B.1 addresses this through the analysis and comparison of precedents that relate to our area

of interest, material performance. Not all these precedents are architectural-based, a few focus on how materials have been used in interesting ways (such as Dukta and the Wooden Textiles examples) and this has inspired us to develop our own ways to alter the properties of plywood.







working with Meg Varley & Bonnie Williams

How we think our proposed technique, the material performance of timber, can be developed and implemented in regards to the Wyndham Gateway: It is a high exposure location [1] located at the entrance of the urban precinct of Wyndham, meaning that the Gateway should act as a significant marker to these sites. The Project Brief even states it should be “an exciting [and] eye-catching installation” [2]. As it is also located along the busy Princes Freeway, meaning that the Gateway would be viewed in a state of constant moment and hence it should be big enough to be deciphered from a distance and when driving past or through it. We felt that the manipulation of the material properties of timber would be an ideal technique for the Gateway as it challenges the conventional usage of timber as a rigid and inflexible material. Also with material performance, we are able to manipulate the timber into a long, linear initial form that stretches and twists along the highway itself, and we felt that this “following” of the road would be a good way for people driving by to experience it for an extended period of time – that is, our final proposal is not an object that vehicles pass by in an instant, but rather a ribbonlike form that follows the movement of the vehicle.


undulating ribbon-like surface that

rolls and curves along the road, with

different areas of the SURFACE either BENDING

more or being more rigid, according to the cuts of the individual modular

plywood strips.

~ A one sentence description of our project/ the essence of our proposal ~

Figure 1: The final !:50 model.

The Wood Loop/Dukta by Christian Kuhn and Serge Lunin was the starting inspiration for our proposal. We were fascinated by how they created fluid and flexible forms from timber through precise incisions. These same incisions also made the timber absorb sound more efficiently, and has been utilised in concert halls for its acoustic benefits [3]. In this way it can be said that Dukta has contributed successfully to the materials discourse on timber by indicating what other properties timber can possess through the use of precise incisions.

How we think our proposed technique, the material performance of timber, can be developed and implemented in regards to the Wyndham Gateway:

One innovative approach previously completed is the Voussoir Cloud by IWAMOTO + SCOTT. This project is relevant to our design focus because it uses materials in an unusual manner – that is, fabricating the voussoir blocks which act in compression (and are normally made out of heavy masonry) out of lightweight wood laminate less than 1mm thick. This contrasting usage of material is precisely what our proposal aims to achieve. The Voussoir Cloud challenges people’s perceptions of what compression member units can be made from, and similarly, we want to challenge people’s perception of timber as a sturdy, rigid and inflexible material by creating a proposal Gateway that is flexible, fluid and bendable, that is able to be draped having sculptural qualities instead of merely being a structural unit.

One way is through linking our approach to parallel innovative approaches in architecture and demonstrating that (and how) they are acclaimed and influential.

Figure 2 (top): Precise incisions can transform even a sturdy block of timber into a flexible form. Source < http:// gmwausstellung/dukta-holz-in-form/> Figure 3 [middle]: Voussoir Cloud in action. Source <http://> Figure 4 [bottom]: Interior of pavilion. Source < http://www.>

Another approach is the ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion 2010 by Achim Menges. We found this project interesting as it is an example of how the form of the structure was directly driven by the physical behaviour and material characteristics – not the other way around (e.g. manipulating the material to make a predefined form) as normally done. As Achim Menges noted, “the structure is entirely based on the elastic bending behaviour of the birch plywood strips” [4]. This project is similar to our proposal in that we are letting the form of our Gateway be derived from the characteristics from our plywood strips, which we have observed from our real-world materials testing. For example, in areas where the plywood strips have wide open incisions, the Gateway’s form here is “drooping” and flexible, but in areas where the plywood strips have incisions that are close together, the form of the Gateway is more rigid.

Another way is through informed reactions of your peers such as other students and teaching staff.

On the whole, we have received positive feedback from staff and other students in regards to our proposal. Whilst most groups worked through the design stage by using Grasshopper to generate their design then creating the prototypes, we have taken a contrasting approach by first creating physical prototypes from plywood and then feeding the information and observations we have gathered from our real-world materials testing back into our Grasshopper definitions as parameters. We feel that our way of approaching the Gateway design is more beneficial as we have taken into account material performance in the real-world and hence this allows us to make better informed parameters in our Grasshopper definitions. Also, we felt that with our specific area of interest being â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;material performanceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, real-world experimentation with plywood was necessary in order to see what was physically possible with timber, in terms of bending, flexing and general manipulation.

OUR PROTOTYPES (SELECTED ONES) [clockwise from top left] Figure 5: Flexible nature of our timber strips through the use of incisions Figure 6: Weaving the strips together Figure 7: Strips acting as one continuous mesh. Figure 8: Twisting characteristic of this strip, formed by the diagonal incisions.


INTERACTIVE COMMUNITYA PROJECT, NEW ORLEANS Our proposal is designed so that the Wyndham community can add to it and adapt it over time to their desires. We felt that this sort of ongoing interaction is important if the Wyndham community is to feel connected to it, and would encourage them to take ownership of the project and make it their own. Wyndham is said to be Victoria’s fastest growing municipality and similarly we felt that our design can become an evolving symbol which literally grows and expands with the Wyndham city and community. Our proposal also challenges the traditionally held notions that the Gateway must be a permanent piece by making our proposal a “living” design that constantly changes, instead of a piece that is permanent in structure and static.

We speculated that this is likely by demonstrating that 1) our innovative design approach is already successful elsewhere and 2) that another, conceptually analogous, project resulted in cultural, technical, environmental benefits elsewhere.

How can we argue (what evidence can you produce) that your proposal inspires and enriches the municipality? Figures 9-11: “Before I Die” in action. Source < http://>

By making a project that is highly influenced by the involvement of the community, it is similar to many of Candy Chang’s public art projects. “Before I Die” is an ongoing project which began in 2011 in New Orleans, just after the effects of Hurricane Katrina which adversely impacted on the city, destroying homes and infrastructure. The project initially started off with Chang painting a derelict house with blackboard paint and stencilling the words “Before I die I want to ___________.” Colourful chalk is provided and the people of New Orleans were encouraged to fill in the blanks with their goals of what they wanted to achieve in life. According to one critic, the art piece “[strengthens the] community through interactive street art” [5] and The Atlantic publication has named the piece “one of the most creative community projects ever.” [6] The creator Candy Chang states, “Each wall is unique and reflects the people of that community … Our public spaces are as profound as we allow them to be.” I like the idea of how something simple as sharing thoughts on a blank canvas that is a derelict building can be profound in bringing a community together, especially after a natural disaster which physically destroyed the city. In this manner, our timber proposal has a similar purpose in that it is made out of modules which give the Wyndham community the ability to adapt the initial form of the highway installation in a hands-on manner to what they want to achieve. Therefore, we can say that the timber structure is a reflection of the Wyndham community, in similar fashion to how “Before I Die” reflects the people of New Orleans. “Before I Die” has been highly successful in that it has been replicated internationally in over 10 languages and in over 30 countries, including Kazakhstan, Portugal, Japan, Denmark, Australia, Argentina, and South Africa. [7] D Given the success of readily community involvement in “Before I Die”, we feel that a similar interactive approach to our proposal is achievable and would facilitate a positive, inclusive feeling to the Wyndham community.

Specifically, we explored the project in its various stages, and how it can sustain formal results that are never the same. How does it create ONGOING INTEREST?

On-site conditions We want our proposal to be in a fluid state, forever changing according to on-site conditions. The incorporation of air in our design, in the form of movement from passing vehicles and wind, ensures that our Gateway varies a little each time it is viewed. As our Gateway is composed out of interwoven strips which are highly flexible it is reactive to the slightest pressure exerted by surrounding air movement. The skin therefore updates itself according to site conditions. This variance in the skin creates interest and encourages people to look out for the Gateway each time they pass through, to see how it changed since the last time they experienced it. This creates ongoing interest in our proposal.

Another line of argument demonstrates that our design proposal is innovative for its time and circumstances on one hand and is a longlasting contribution to the architectural discourse on the other.

Community involvement Our proposal is put forward as an initial form that is open to change and development by the people of Wyndham. Our design can be deconstructed to be made smaller or built upon to increase its size in both the length and width directions, changing its appearance as subtly or dramatically as desired, in a very simple manner. Different groups of the community (such as schoolchildren) could submit ideas which would allow the design to evolve on a monthly basis, encourages ongoing interest in the sculpture. It would become an icon of Wyndham, symbolising growth and evolution of the city and always adapting to the present time. It would be something which the people can be proud of and call their own as they have direct involvement in the building of the Gateway. In this manner, it can be said to be reflection of the community.

Figure 12: Detail of our 1:50 model.

We feel that our design proposal is innovative for its time as it challenges the current perception of timber as a rigid and inflexible material. Our project heavily contrasts with this notion by having the form of an interwoven skin which flexes in response to nuances in site conditions, coming from the air movement from wind and movement from passing vehicles at high speeds. This interwoven skin is unique in that it acts in exactly the same way as the smaller plywood strips which it is made up of â&#x20AC;&#x201C; both are bendable and flexible, and able to be stretched and contorted into interesting forms. In this regard our proposal contributes to the materials discourse surrounding timber as it brings awareness to what timber can achieve and breaks down the limits of timber being rigid and merely structural.

Figure 13: Detail of one of our protoypes, showing how the notches help to exaggerate the curved qualities of our form and also make the joints a decorative feature, whilst also being practical



• Reactive and responsive to site conditions – primarily wind and air movement generated from the vehicles passing at high speeds. It is not static, and its constant state of flux means it appears slightly different every time people engage with it. • It adds to the material discourse on timber by challenging the perception of timber as a rigid and immobile material – our proposal is flexible and bendable and has the ability to move/change slightly across its surface according to on-site conditions. In short, it exemplifies contrasting properties of timber. It has an element of surprise – when people first

view this skin/mesh from a distance approaching from the road, they believe that it is made from some naturally flexible material such as plastic. However, as they get closer and drive pass/through our proposed Gateway, they realise it is actually timber creating such fluid and organic forms. By having this element of surprise, we hope to encourage further detailed viewings of the Gateway on future occasions.

fabrication cost as only plywood is needed, no “joining” adhesives are needed. Puzzle notching is used to lock the strips together at staggered intervals.

• It is made up of modular plywood strips which are connected to one another to create a mesh/skin without the use of additional materials. This ensures minimal wastage and saves on

• During fabrication, the strips are able to be nested tightly with each other the plywood sheets, ensuring minimal material wastage and hence achieving material optimisation.

• Another benefit of using the notch joints: they are in itself a sculptural quality, adding to the aesthetics of the skin/mesh, and the notches help to exaggerate the curved qualities of the skin/mesh. (Refer to figure 13)

• The modular plywood strips are fabricated flat and in dimensions of 150 by 6 metres, meaning that it is able to be easily transported to the Gateway interchange site by truck, saving on transportation cost.


Figure 14: Our 1:50 model, showing the whole initial proposed form of our timber Gateway.

• One of the great themes in the competitive advantages of our proposal is CONTRADITIONS. One such example of a contradiction is even though it is transported as relatively 2D flat modular strips, it is able to be assembled as a 3D sculptural skin/ mesh with a broad area. • Another CONTRADICTION: it is flexible when it should be rigid, as per normal timber. • CONTRADICTION: Is structural even though it seems purely like an aesthetic skin/mesh. • CONTRADICTION: It is unlike the typical gateway, in that it is not a ceremonial arc that one passes under to mark the entrance of a new place • CONTRADICTION: The very form of our proposal is similar to a ribbon which curves and acts fluidly, which contrasts to the flat

We have chosen Site A as the location for our proposal as being the longest site, it offers the most opportunity for development and extension in the future, as explained previously with given the modular nature of our proposal, how the community can be involved in the form of the structure on a monthly basis. We envisage the timber structure as “moving” up and down the site. This variance in the actual location of the structure as well as its form as community groups work on it would create ongoing interest. By having a structure that is constantly evolving, when people view the structure from their vehicles they are always greeted with something new, as opposed to the traditional sculpture that is static and unmoving. Our proposal is a lightweight structure, meaning that it doesn’t impose or sink into the land. This is a significant characteristic as given the highly adaptive nature of the structure, we didn’t want it to leave permanent marks on the land every time it changes form.



Figure 15: Site map with proposal location.

We have taken into consideration how the project will be viewed from a vehicle at high speeds. Our form follows the road and suggests a similar path of movement but contradicts the linear nature of the highway by twisting and bending. Our design also blends in well with the local aesthetics, as it is made from the natural material of timber, as opposed to something artificial. Surrounding the Western Interchange location are sites which place a focus on the environment, such as the Werribee Open Range Zoo and the Melbourne Water Western Treatment Plant (one of the world’s most significant wetlands). By having this natural timber aesthetic, it gives the Gateway an image of unity with its surroundings. Furthermore, it addresses one of the points in the Wyndham Council project brief: “In recent years, Wyndham City has been addressing the issue of its image by undertaking significant works to upgrade the condition and aesthetics of its streetscapes, open spaces and parks.” [8] This project achieves that by blending in aesthetically with the natural environment. To end this proposal statement, I would like to quote the Wyndham Council project brief which states that “art has become woven into the fabric of everyday life, a central thread connecting people and place.” [9] We believe that this statement perfectly summaries our proposal, in that our structure connects the people of Wyndham through ongoing community involvement and also from simply driving past as since the project changes regularly, people driving by on multiple occasions will notice these changes and identify this growth of the structure to the growth of the Wyndham community as well.



The core construction element is a detail which is repeated (with dimensional variation) across our design.

For our design, flexible timber structures with the joinery, structure, aesthetics and functionality are created all from one modular strip that is repeated and connected to each other in a staggered fashion. No additional elements are required: the simplicity and all-encompassing nature of the design means that it is straightforward to fabricate from the cutting of parts at the beginning to the final construction on-site. The lightweight and modular nature of the material makes transportation easier and therefore would lower the overall cost of construction.

Our core construction element is an interlocking joint system on one side of each modular strip which slots within the cuts of the adjacent strip.

Figure 16 (far left): The flexibility of our timber strips, and which directions they can bend in.

Our proposal is also highly adaptable to its site topography in that it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t necessarily require a particular surface to build upon, making it an ideal form to be moved around easily to different areas of the highway if the community desires. As the design is connected to the site at arbitrary points located near the ends of the structure, it leaves the middle area to be completely free, giving it the ability to be changed over time by the wind. No excavation is required to locate our project.

Figures 17 + 18 (middle and far right): How our strips interlock to each other.


final model SECTION C.3. Figure 19: Model at 1:50 scale.

Our model fabrication process was fairly straightforward. We used Grasshopper to generate our strips (refer to Section C.4.), which we then printed out at various scales for our 1:50 card model (to show the whole form of our Gateway structure) and our 1:20 detail model (to show our joinery system). Once these were printed, assembly consisted of slotting the square notches on one side into the cuts of the adjacent strip (refer to Section C.2. for diagrams). For the !:50 card model as pictured on this spread, wire is used to hold the card into the proposed initial form of the Gateway. We realise that it would be more accurate to use some form of timber (perhaps a very thin plywood) for the 1:50 model instead of card, but due to time limitations, we had to make do with card. Nevertheless, we are pleased with the forms achieved by using a card material, and we believe that it shows an accurate portrayal of the form our proposal would take at a 1:1 scale using actual plywood. We believe that the flexibility achieved at 1:50 would be applicable at 1:1 as our plywood prototypes at a bigger 1:50 scale (refer to Part TWO) showed immense potential for flexibility.

Figure 20-22: Model at 1:50 scale.

Figure 21 (below): Model at 1:20 scale, overall form. Figure 22 (right): Model at 1:20 scale, showing a close-up of how our strips will interlock into each other.

algorithmic sketches SECTION C.4. We used computational design to quickly adjust and test out our physical prototypes (as explained in more detail in Part TWO). Grasshopper was useful in generating variation in the strip dimensions.

Figure 23 (top): The general form created in Grasshopper that we used to print on card and plywood for our final models. Figure 24 (bottom): 3D model.

Figure 25-26: 3D models. Bottom figure is how our proposal would look like from the road.

Figure 27: (nitial 3D model (since abadoned).

This is one of our earlier forms generated through Grasshopper. Its definining feature are the direction the strips are running, they are running width-wise, instead of lengthwise as we had originally intended with our prototypes from the previous Part TWO. In the end, we decided to change the direction of the strips so they ran length-wise. This is because in this earlier model, the joints between the individual strips would make it bend instead of the notches/cuts in the strips itself, which is what we had originally intended. By in

running the strips in the strip would give

the the

other overall

direction Gateway

(length-wise), the cuts structure its flexibility.

wider strips for more open areas

less closer together members for areas that require more bend/ flexibility

closer together members for areas that are straight and more stiff

learning objectives and outcomes SECTION C.5.

narrower strips for denser areas

Taking into account the feedback from our guest jury, this is where we address their comments/suggestions. What changes will we make to your design approach, conceptual idea or argument for innovation?

One of the main points that our guest crits suggested was that computational intelligence would be ideal. This would involve making the variance in the cuts (length and width-wise) more responsive to the form of the Gateway. Inputting the form of the Gateway as parameters in the Grasshopper definition would improve the logic of why certain cuts are located in certain areas. We did realise this possibility beforehand, and if we had more time, Grasshopper could be used to analyse each curve in the form and hence suggest an appropriate form for the individual modular strips. For example: how narrow/ wide the strips were (narrower strips for denser areas, wider strips for more open areas), how close together the members in the strips are (closer together members for areas that are straight and more stiff, less closer together members for areas that require more bend/flexibility).

Figure 28: How we can use computational intelligence in the future to further develop our proposal.

Figure 29: Close-up of 1:50 model.

Discuss how the design project effected your knowledge of architecture and the roles of Particular learning outcomes computation in the design addressed: process.

In undertaking this design project, I learn a lot about the properties of timber and how versitile it can be as a material in architecture. I learnt not to accept materials the way they are conventionally used, and instead challenge their common perceptions. It was interesting getting to physically experiment with real-world prototypes constantly in the design process of this particular Gateway, and I found it rewarding that we got to physically handle and hold our prototypes on a regular basis, feeding the observations we gathered from these prototypes back into our Grasshopper definitions. Other groups did not utilise the fabrication of their physical prototypes as often as we did, which gives us an advantage in proving how adaptable and tangible our proposal is in the real world over other group’s proposals, which mainly relied on digital models to make their case. Computation has been quite useful in our design proposal in that it can generate variations quickly, and we are able to make updates and adjustments to the design of our form/strips easily with the Grasshopper definition.

“interrogat[ing] a brief” by considering the process of brief formation in the age of optioneering enabled by digital technologies; developing “the ability to make a case for proposals” by developing critical thinking and encouraging construction of rigorous and persuasive arguments informed by the contemporary architectural discourse. This has been addressed in Section C.1. Design Concept, where the Wyndham Council Project Brief has been referenced to a number of times to prove why our timber Gateway proposal is advantageous.

developing “an ability to generate a variety of design possibilities for a given situation” by introducing visual programming, algorithmic design and parametric modelling with their intrinsic capacities for extensive design-space exploration; developing “skills in various three-dimensional media” and specifically in computational geometry, parametric modelling, analytic diagramming and digital fabrication; This has been addressed in Section C.4.

developing “an understanding of relationships between architecture and air” through interrogation of design proposal as physical models in atmosphere; The atmosphere part in relation to our proposal has been discussed in Section C.1. (page 82), where the movement of air from wind and vehicles plays an role in changing the form of our timber Gateway in slight ways. develop capabilities for conceptual, technical and design analyses of contemporary architectural projects; This has been addressed briefly in Section C.1. when we discuss our precedents -- Dukta, Voussoir Cloud and Achim Menges pavilions, but also the “Before I Die” community project by Candy Chang. The latter project is evidence of how interactive projects can bring a community together, and we hope that our timber Gateway proposal will achieve that in a similar manner through its modular strips which can be easily modfied to suit the changing desires of the Wyndham community.

list of

references case for

innovation expression

of interest stage Part ONE

Architecture as Discourse Kalay, Yehuda E, 2004. “Architecture’s New Media: Principles, Theories and Methods of Computer-Aided Design” (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press) Williams, Richard, 2005. “Architecture and Visual Culture”, in Exploring Visual Culture: Definitions, Concepts, Contexts, ed. by Matthew Rampley (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press) Blur Building Diller, Scofidio and Renfro firm website. <http://www.dsrny. com> Hill, John, date unknown. “Blur Building: The Architecture of Nothing”. <> Sandhana, Lakshmi, 2002. “If You Build It, They Will Drink”, Wired. < news/2002/07/53700> [pics] Author unknown, 2002. “Diller & Scofidio: The Blur Building”, Designboom. < dillerscofidio.html> Renfro, Charles, date unknown. “Blur Building: Jurors’ Description of the Project”. <> Wolfe, Cary, 2006. “Lose the Building: Systems Theory, Architecture, and Diller+Scofidio’s Blur”. <http://www.carywolfe. com/16.3wolfe.html>

Sagrada Familia Schumacher, Edward, 1991. “Gaudi’s Church Still Divides Barcelona”, The New York Times. <http://www.nytimes. com/1991/01/01/arts/gaudi-s-church-still-divides-barcelona. html> Hertfordshire House Bell, Bruce & Simpkin, Sarah, 2013. “Domesticating Parametric Design”, Architectural Design (March/April 2013). Facit Homes, 2013. “D-Process”. < dprocess> Facit Homes, 2013. “Celia & Diana: Herfordshire”. <http://www.> British Museum Great Court Sudjic, Deyan, 2000. “The Bloomsbury Coup”, The Observer. <> “Great Court at the British Museum”, pdf handout from Foster and Partners. Hart, Sara, year unknown. “A Brilliant Shell Game at the British Museum”, Architectural Record. <> Pearman, Hugh, 2000. “Empire in the Sun”, Sunday Times Magazine. <>

Parametric Modelling and Scripting Smith, Rick. 2007. Technical Notes from experiences and studies in using Parametric and BIM architectural software. <http://> Schumacher, Patrik, 2008. “Parametricism - A New Global Style for Architecture and Urban Design”, Architectural Design (July/August 2009). Bao’an International Airport Terminal 3 Knippers, Jan, 2013. “From Model Thinking to Process Design”, Architectural Design (March/April 2013). iSaw Author unknown, 2008. “Kokkugia’s iSaw”, IconEye. <http://www.> Kokkugia’s own entry on iSaw. <>







of interest stage Part ONE



[1] “Voussoir Cloud,” Buro Happold, last modified 2013, voussoir-cloud-142/. [2] “Voussoir Cloud,” ISAR, last modifed 2013, http://www. [3] “Wood Loop,” Gewerbe Museum, last modified 2012, detailansicht/gmwausstellung/dukta-holz-in-form/. [4] “Wooden textiles add a new dimension,” Yatzer, last modified 30 December 2009, http://www.yatzer. com/Wooden-textiles-add-a-new-dimension-ElisaStrozyk. [5] “ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion 2010,” Achim Menges Material Properties, last modified 2010, http://www.

[1] Western Gateway Design Project (Melbourne: Wyndham City, 2011), 2. [2] Western Gateway Design Project, 2. [3] “Wood Loop,” Gewerbe Museum, last modified 2012, detailansicht/gmwausstellung/dukta-holz-in-form/. [4] “ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion 2010,” Achim Menges Material Properties, last modified 2010, http://www. [5] “Strengthening community through interactive street art,” Kaid Benfield, Natural Resources Defense Council, last modified May 12 2011, blogs/kbenfield/finding_strength_community_thr.html. [6] “Before I Die,” Candy Chang, last modified 2011, http:// [7] “Before I Die,” Candy Chang, last modified 2011, http:// [8] Wyndham Council Western Interchange Gateway Project Brief [9] Wyndham Council Western Interchange Gateway Project Brief

FINAL Air Journal Semester 1 2013  

Material Performance -- Plywood/Timber with Meg Varley and Bonnie Williams Tutors: Finn Warnock and Tom Morgan

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