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Hi, My name is Cheng Chen.I’m a third year environments student major in architecture.I’m mostly interested in building innovation through new techonologies. Digital modeling is defenitely one of those. For instance, in the subject named Environmental Building System, I used computer softwares to make architectural design more environmentally friendly. I don’t know many digitally designed architectural projects, except for famous ones such as Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is one of the most important buildings of the 20th century and it was digital design which made its sculptural and expressionistic form possible.

I haven’t had many experience with digital modelling programs except for Rhino and Sketchup. I used Rhino in Virtual Environments last year and Sketchup for other design studios. The project was started by getting inspirations and build a clay model. Then a digital model was created in Rhino. Finally, the digital model was striped, printed and assembled as a final outcome. Unfortunately, I don’t have the digital model any more, but I do have the photos of the model making process. Through this project, I found that Rhino is very useful in making complex geometries and better express creativity. So I used it for initial modelling for another project which I tried with Sketchup but couldn’t make the complex shape.

Kirosan Observatory by Kengo Kuma is one of my favourite architecture. The idea behind this project was anti-object, concentrate on site, and return to the nature. It can be described as anti-modernism. Modernism cares about the architecture itself (especially the form and visual needs) much more than its environment. Sometimes, it even try to totally separate them, through things such as the white ground of the Barcelona Pavilion and white columns of Villa Savoye. Through this week’s reading , I further understand that Kuma is going against “architecture as sign�. For him, buildings should not just be objects, but also be a part of the environment. He tries to build the most fitted architecture by making architecture to disappear. Source: kiro-san-observatory/

Katsura Imperial Villa is another architecture that I like. The architecture and landscape were carefully designed, and they remind me of both “architecture as art” and “architecture as experience”. The view is as beautiful as art and forms a pleasant and peaceful experience. I think “art” is included in “experience”. The wavelessness of the lake, the stillness of the trees and buildings, all contribute to an experience of tranquillity. The fully natural materials, mostly timer and stone, reveal the harmonious relationship between the built environment and the natural environment. The ideology behind all these elements mentioned above, is Zen Buddhism which was popular in Japan. Those buddhists did their practices mostly by sitting, and they persued a harmornious way of living. Therefore these elements were incorporated in their architecture. Source: http://www. kyoto/katsura.php


There are lots of benefits of using computers in the architectural designing process. Firstly, computers help designers organize and store documents in an easy way. Secondly, computers helps designers to visulize the design outcome before it is actually built, as drawings did in the past. Computers can do this job better with realistic, controllable 3D models. These models are also useful for communication with clients. Thirdly, computers can help designers to solve engineering problems with BIM tools. With those tools, designers can also design more energy-efficient buildings. Forthly, computers can be used to design individual fabricated parts of buildings, and also be used as controller during the production process of those parts. Source: http://designinquiry. n e t /~/d e s i gnin q uir y.n e t /wp content/uploads/2010/03/bim-i. jpg

Fifthly, computers improve the efficiency of communications between different parties involved in the design process. Designers located at different places can discuss through internet. e.g. New architecture building. The new Architecture Building of the University of Melbourne is a very good example of digital collaboration. The project was done by John Wardle Architects (Melbourne) and NADAAA (Boston). As these two teams are located in totally different places and even time zones, so digital communication was vital in the process of the design. Source: http://www.abp.unimelb.

In the early stage of ultilization of digital technologies in the architectural field was more about computerization. Architects made a digital representation of the design which was mainly represented on paper in the past. Computerization made the representation of the design outcomes easier for the architects, but it does not help in the process of actural design. Computation was later ultilized by architects after they discovered the digital tools used by designers in other industries.

Those digital design tools assisted architects in designing, for instance, generating forms that even were not imagined by the architects themselves. This process opened a whole new window in the architectural field. There are a number of architectural computation approaches, such as dynamic, topology, metamorphosis, performative, etc.

Performative architectural computation ultilizes building performance as a guide in design. The information from financial, social, spatial, cultural, ecological and technological perspectives can be analyzed and used for the building design with digital tools.

One problem of using performative techonologies is that the perfomance-optimized outcome could be very different from the original design in terms of the form, which is not aethetically acceptable.

For example, digital techonologies can be used to analyze thermal performance of the design and produce a better design with better performance to make the building more energy-effiecient.

One solution of this problem could be taking a in-between method, which is keeping the topology of the form, and optimizing the performance as much as possible by changing the geometry.


With parametric design, architects are no longer in the centre of formal genesis. Digital technologies can assist designers to generate forms, after designers input the conditions or parameters to the computer. One advantage of this is that architects can now design complex forms that were unimaginable before. For example, the Southern Cross Station was made possible using these kind of technologies.

One disadvantage is that current parametric design projects are more concetrated on the form-making, in stead of other important aspects of architecture. This can sometimes lead to ignorance of things like the connection between the building and its context. Sometimes, the complex form can cost much more than traditional forms. If the complexity of the form is only used for increasing visual attractiveness, the high cost could be regarded as a waste, especially in the current economic situation. Not to mention that those visual attractiveness can easily fade away.

Daniel Libeskind’s Futuropolis is an example of fully parametric project. It has 2,164 different geometrical parts that were all generated by parametric softwares. With those softwares, the time spent on the project was reduced to two weeks, and $US 300,000 was saved. The parametric tools also made last-stage design change from Libeskind possible, because every other piece of the design could be change automatically according to the change. Some projects were aided by the parametric tools in the design process, instead of fully parametrically designed. Gugggenheim Museum Bilbao, which was mentioned before in the journal, was initially designed or inspired on paper, and computational technologies were inplemented later. Sources: news/CS_ARCH_ETH_Libeskind. pdf h t t p: // l e l a p i n a m o u r e u x .



Based on my journey in this subject so far, I think I have gained more knowledge about digital design, and I have had more thoughts about it, especially parametric design. No matter parametric design is a “new style� or not, it is becoming a very important part of the design field. In the current fastbooming society, adaptability and sustainabilty are becoming more and more vital. Conventional architectural design methods could no longer meet the new needs.

Information techonologies are changing almost every aspect of our society dramatically, architecture is defenitely one of these. Parametric design is exactly the way which all the information generated from different places can be ultilized by architectural design, and hence make architecture more adaptive to the needs of the society and also be more sustainable.

The field chosen by our group is responsiveness. Ned Khan’s Articulated Cloud is an example of a responsive parametric design. This parametrically designed project respond to wind acting on it, and therefore forming a dynamic, natural pattern instantly. Through this project, a few characteristics of responsive design can be found: instant, dynamic, and of course, responsive. Source: wind.html

The responsive approach is valid and interesting for the Wyndham city gateway project, because of three reasons. 1. A responsive approach is eye-catching because of its characteristic of being DYNAMIC. 2. A responsive approach inspires and contribute to the spirit of the municipality, which should be RESPONSIVE to the residents, and also be vibrant. 3. A responsive approach is suitable because it’s INSTANT, which happens to be compatible to the audiences in the project - the drivers and passengers in the fast-moving traffic who need instant reactions.

I did some experiments with the Case Study 1.0. Firstly, I changed the shapes and the image. Secondly, I changed the spacing of the grid. Thirdly, I made a new curved base surface. Lastly, I changed the form of the base surface to a more dynamic one.


The chosen project is Ned Kahn’s Articulated Cloud. It has a 3-storey high steel and glass structure, with a screen full of small translucent plastic panels that hang on the steel rods and can rotate in the wind. The Articulated cloud is designed to show the movement or ripple caused by the wind. The appearance changes in different light conditions, weather and time of the day. The panels can also reduce heat gain while letting the light going through. Source: Source: http://nedkahn. com/wind.html

Five steps were taken to reengineer Articulated Cloud. 1. Create a surface and then divide surface to get a grid of points. 2. Orient panels to the points. 3. Rotate panels. Our failure: rotation angle and plane. Solution: create vectors that direct the rotation of panels 4. Create supporting frame (for the panels) and for the whole facade. Our Failure: relation between the frame and panels. Solution: shift the points and orient the panels. 5. Image mapping to generate rotation angle and then create some surface patterns.

The matrix was generated using tree types of variations: panel shapes, structure shape., and panel spacings. Different variations were used to exploer different wind capture abilities. Panel shapes include rectangular, circle, leaf-shape, and hexegon. Structure shapes include at rectagle, curved wall, triangle of curved wall, and three curved wall connected in the centre.

The model making includes five steps.


1. Rough test models were made to test possiblity of the tecniques using low quality card board. 2. Base shapes were created digitally, then printed and used to cut the base with white card board. A small hole was drilled in the centre. 3. Supporting structures were created and then small panels were added to it.

4. The top cover with a hole in the centre was then added to the structure. 5. The process was repeated for three times so that three levels of the same form were created.



We are interested in the use of dynamic and responsive parametric architecture to harness environmental energy. Environmentally responsive parametric architecture is an ideal approach to the the Wyndham city project as the ideas that can be generated through this design process are exceptionally dynamic and respond greatly to varying weather conditions. This rapid change is symbolic of the social growth in the city itself. Through this dynamic movement, the ever-changing forms that the structure can take will create a constantly changing experience for it’s consumers. This will allow greater appreciation for the project as an art piece over its lifetime.

Articulated Cloud - Ned Kahn The design intent of the “Articulated cloud” was to suggest that the building has been enveloped by a digitized cloud. The sculpture’s appearance changes dramatically with variations in light conditions, weather and time of the day. Its prime driving factor is wind. Ned Kahn used the invisible force to create ‘moving’ facades through the use of smaller dynamic units in a repetitive nature. Source: Source: http://nedkahn. com/wind.html

Da Vinci Tower - David Fisher The Da Vinci Tower by David Fisher is a prime example of a self-sustaining, dynamic and environmentally responsive structure. It was designed to harness the kinetic force of the wind to allow each individual oor to rotate at approximately 0.01RPM. Resulting in the constantly changing shape of the tower. These two examples both successfully use environmental forces to alter their form and facade and in the latter, to generate electrical power. The aim is to use these precedents of movement and adjust them on site to produce something suitable to the scale of cars. The movement needs to be quick enough to engage with the vehicles as there is a limited time traveling through the site. The structure must aim to catch the wind most effective to it’s purpose. Source: http://www.

This is the parametric diagram showing the process of making the digital model.

Three variations were chosen from the matrix because of their wind capturing abilities and visual implications. The third one was the final chosen variation because: 1. Closed triangular structure ensure wind from most directions are captured. 2. Large panels ensure dramatical visual effect and also capture most of the wind. 3. High-dense panel spacing ensures most of the wind is ultilized instead of leaked through the spacing.

The final chosen model was reconsidered and a combination of the Articulated Cloud and the Da Vinci Tower was chosen be to our final test model.

The physical model can rotate in the wind. The wind was simulated with hair dryer and the experiment was successful.


The feedbacks from tutors mentioned that firstly the structure we created was too simple as it was just a combination of two existing forms. The solusion would be more creative in the next stage. It was also mentioned that the form of the structure and model was not good enough for capturing wind as it wouldn’t move much if the wind is blowing onto the middle part of it. So we definately are going to change the form.

I think I am still interested in this subject although I found the study load a little bit overwhelming. I’m becoming better at using both Rhino and Grasshopper. I found that although it was easy to create something form with Rhino but it takes a long time editing. It’s exactly the opposite when using Grasshopper as it takes a long time and effort to create the form successfully, but once it’s done, it’s much easier to change it compared to Rhino. This is exactly one reason why parametric design is useful.



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