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AIR. ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN STUDIO University of Melbourne | 2012 Nicholas Sigi Bergin | 327088

AIR | CONTENTS PART 1.0 | Expression of Interest 1.1 | The Case for Architecture 1.1.0. | Who? | Intro | Past-work 1.1.A. | Architecture as Discourse 1.1.B. | Computing in Architecture 1.1.C. | Parametric Modelling 1.2 | Method Proposal | Structure 1.2.0. | Digital Architecture - Reflection 1.2.A. | Group Argument | Structure 1.2.B. | Cut Case Study 1.0 1.2.C. | Cut Case Study 2.0 1.2.D. | Summary of Precedents 1.2.E. | Design Development 1.2.F. | Prototyping 1.2.G. | Feedback & Response 1.2.H. | Where to from here?



PART 2.0 | Project Proposal 2.1 | Design Development

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PART 1.0 | Expression of Interest


NAME | Nicholas Sigi Bergin 3RD YEAR | BEnvs ABOUT | Prior to enrolling in the Bachelor of Environments, I was a commerce student. I chose to finish, however it was clear where my passion lied, with Architecture, so it’s a relief to finally be doing something I’m passionate about and interested in. I’m currently into my final year of the Bachelor of Environments and majoring in architecture. My design focused subjects have been the two studios I undertook as breadth whilst still in commerce and Virtual Environments last semester.

and push myself in this studio, after my ‘warm-up’ in Virtual Environments. I am starting to become more aware of the presence of digital architecture however I would say my knowledge of the theoretical aspect of the field is quite limited. That being said, it is a reletively new design phenomenon, so I’ll excuse myself. So really, I’m 6 months into my digital architecture experiment. Obviously I can’t claim to be an expert so I won’t make any sweeping statements, as I just don’t know yet.

I’ve traditionally been a bit skeptical of digital architecture, sure the heroic renders look sexy, but is that all? Is the computer just a cleaner tool for those who can’t draw? As someone who tended to hand-draw all of my projects, often purely out of stubborness, I tended to steer clear of the computer unless absolutely necessary. But now I’ve cracked. I began the year open to being ‘seduced’ by this ‘digital architecture’ I also feel these skills are a necessary and want to see for myself. It’s slow development for decent employment. So this gives me added incentives to progress but I feel I’m coming around. do as best as I can and jumo into this In semester 1 2012 I undertook Virtual studio. Environments which was my first experience with digital design. It took VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS | SEM me a while to get going and get my head 1 | 2012 around it. I was impressed by the results PROJECT BRIEF | and the ‘wow’ factor of many of the other students presentations except I have Design a lamp based on a natural proone problem. I felt all of the projects cess and develop it in Rhino software looked much the same. It begs the into a fully functional 3D model using paquestion; is digital design constrained by per. The natural process that was chothe tools at our disposal? I could answer sen was of a snake shedding it’s skin. my own question here as I recognise Using the three design drivers; growth, that once upon a time architects were pattern and peeling to underpin the deconstrained by their materials, such as sign. After initial form modelling in clay, stone and wood.....until the invention of Rhino software was used to refine the cast iron. But I still think it is a valid point. form, panel the surfaces and prepare the design for fabrication. Fabrication Nevertheless, the potential of design was implemented by unfolding and lathrough this medium is very exciting to ser-cutting card to create a scaled 3D me and I’m hoping to really progress model.

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1.1.0. | Who? | Intro | Past-work |

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PART 1.0 | Expression of Interest

DISCOURSE | Digital architecture as a discourse is the focus of this studio. My best understanding of a discourse is like a ‘zeitgeist,’ or ‘spirit of the times.’ Whether or not this merely becomes a trend or a fad remains to be seen, however this studio is an opportunity to discover the digital design medium for myself. What is clear about digital technologies and computation methods is that they are opening up new possibilities in terms of the form of structures, however, is that all that digital architecture can offer? More inventive forms and a new aesthetic? If so, then this is nothing new, and I feel this type of architecture won’t last, and hence my skepticism at this stage. The Baroque period, characterised by curvilinear forms has been and gone. Digital architecture needs more substance to become really useful and fulfil the potential of architecture and its ability to contribute to the public realm. It seems as though digital architecture certainly can enhance the visual and aesthetic aspect of architecture, but what else can it achieve? It is an exciting prospect to consider. I feel it is an area that I must challenge both

in a theoretical and hands-on manner to decide for myself. To begin with, one must question the nature of architecture itself to question the validity of digital architecture.

listic approach that incorporates the social and functional is important. A balance between the visual, the structural, functional and the social aspects of the building is in my view important and should always remain the focus of the When we talk of architecture itself and discourse amongst architecture. the discourse that surrounds it. My first reaction is to think of architecture as a Architecture functions on a social level form of art. However I believe it is not as it elicts emotions from the observer just purely an artform as Williams (2005, and the user. It can also convey an imp.103) agrees, contending it is as much age. It is a spatial experience to the user a ‘philosophical, social and professional and to the passer-by. The human scale realm as a material one’. The downfall I of architecture allows it greater potenbelieve of viewing architecture as purely tial over other art-forms. This, perhaps an art is that this view neglects the so- more subliminal effect that architecture cial, and functional aspects of architec- can have, is nevertheless very importural design, and turns it into simply as tant. Willaims (2005) offers architecture aesthetic challenge, which I believe is as either a sign, or an urban and social only one small portion of architecture as experience. He contends that either a whole. Architecture has more poten- perspective is valid as they present artial than just aesthetic, and as such is chitecture as something we are recepthe best medium with which to fulfill the tive to. brief of this project. The aesthetical aspects of architecture are the most visu- Richard Williams, ‘Architecture and ally obvious, however are not necessar- Visual Culture’, in Exploring Visual ily the most important. Therefore when Culture : Definitions, Concepts, discussing architecture as a discourse, Contexts, ed. by Matthew Rampley I think it is important that the emphasis (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University isn’t purely on form. Hence, a more ho- Press, 2005), pp. 102 - 16.


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1.1.A. | Architecture as Discourse

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PART 1.0 | Expression of Interest



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WHY I LIKE IT? | I’ve chosen a classic building seemingly at odds with this digital architecture studio, but it remains a beautiful building to me. In this case and I like it for how it responds to the site. It doesn’t contain any crazy form-making or cutting edge technology, (although it was at the time with the reletive newness of steel structures). It has stood the test of time and still commands more interest than many of the so-called ‘modern’ buildings around it. Having been there earlier this year I found it incredible to look at and was amazed at how it’s lines attract the eye and commands attention, almost as though all roads lead to this building, the centrepoint of the area of New York. As part of the intial stages of the modern movement, the Flatiron showcased the latest design technology in terms of steel construction and was at the time one of the tallest buildings in the world. I think this building re-iterates the need to use the best technology available at our disposal and is a good inspiration for this studio in that sense. The architectural discourse at the time was beginning to embrace new methods of steel construction which enabled new use of form, as well as the pursuit of heights that were previously unfathomable. The Flatiron added to the discourse around the turn of the century in it’s unusual geometry and it’s ability to respond (even if somewhat literally) to the context of the site. Although in the design itself it wasn’t exactly modern and was slammed by critics at the time, it still responds to context even if it did hark back to Baroque tendancies with it’s ornamentation. |


PART 1.0 | Expression of Interest

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1.1.A. | Architecture as Discourse ZAHA HADID | INNESBRUCK, AUSTRIA | WHY I LIKE IT? | Contrasting to my previous favourite example, this design is reletively new, a deliberate choice, which illustrates my unwillingness to associate with a particular ‘camp.’ This design captures a certain malleability of architecture that excites me. I like the fact that at any one time it appears to be both in the process of movement, yet static at the same time. It gives the structure a sense of dynamism, as if it is somewhat about to slide away. I also like the fact that no two parts of the structure appear to be the same, every angle offers something new. Almost as though it is in the process of melting, like the ice caps on the mountain peaks in the distance. The designs are tweaked slightly over four stations to adapt to the specific conditions of the site, all whilst maintaining their cohenence. This is an exciting part of digital and parametric architecture, the ability to tweak and change designs ever so slightly, to tailor the designs to the site allows the design to respond more appropriately to context. The linkage that is created between each station is seamless and this project really represents the advantages of digital architecture.

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Zaha Hadid’s designs are probably the most recognizable of the current generation of digital architects and therefore fits perfectly as a precedent when considering the possibilities of digital design in the current discourse. Although much of her other projects (which I don’t really like) seem very repetitive I think this one in particular responds to its cotextual obligations and while exploring the limits of form, is not just form-making for the sake of it, which I despise. It is good to see her projects actually being built to prove that forms such as this can be realised in real-life which pushes the upper limits materiality in architecture. Zaha’s designs such as this are contributing in a strong way to the architectural discourse through their seamless and flowing digital forms that are becoming more and more attainable through digital mediums. |


PART 1.0 | Expression of Interest

COMPUTING | My initial understanding of computing and architecture was that of a tool, a time-saver to architects. I believe this role is changing, as new developments in parametric architecture are increasing the computers capacity to actually be a valuable part of the design process. The status quo function of computers in architecture has been one of ‘computerization,’ in that it automates and speeds up a process, rather than changing the way we design. Essentially the same designs could be achieved with paper and a drawing board, only it would take substantially longer. Computers are advatgeous in being able to calculate complexity, however architects have traditionally not really used computers to their advantage in this regard. Basic calculations such as length, area and volume are easilly achieved by computers but I believe we have only really scratched the surface in unlocking a computers potential for design. What interests me is the relational aspects of architecture. The ability to create associative geometries that respond to the needs of the client. Such patterns of behaviour are not easilly quantifiable by the human brain. This is where computers offer a distinct advantage. As Kalay (2004) suggests,

computers by nature excel analytically, however they need humans as they ‘lack any creative abilities or intuition.’ A symbiosis between humans and computers is therefore needed to bridge this gap. Therefore it is not computerization, but computation, that is of interest. The ability of a computer to aid the design, rather than simply aiding the documentation and fabrication process. Theoretically, parametric architecture i.e. designing the system and setting the parameters, then letting the computer do the designing would facillitate this aim. This ‘bottom-up’ approach is at odds to traditional ‘top-down’ methodologies but perhaps holds the key to future architectural practice. Simulation of the effects of real life parameters, is therefore the greatest advantage of computational methods of design. The ability to design systems to respond to live and unpredictable parameters such as heat, wind, loads, social interaction, workplace synergies etc. is a worthwhile pursuit, which will enhance the value of architecture to the general public, the users of our designed buildings. Another advantage of computation is the digital continuum that is being developed linking design and construction

and the synergies that are appearing. As suggested by Branko Kolarevic in “Architecture in the Digital Age,” the contemporary digital architectures find their legitimizations in the exploitation of the latest technological advances, as well as new digital means of conception and construction and production. Previously unatttainable forms have emerged from this modelling software which would have once been considered too hard. New topological geometries centred around relations and interconnections within a spatial context are being created. Sptial relations over spatial distinctions. Digital architecture represents the oppotunity to synthesise all stages of the process of creating a building, from design, development, analysis, testing and manufacturing. As well as the ability to easilly change and manipulate design according to certain factors. | Kolarevic, Branko, Architecture in the Digital Age: Design and Manufacturing (New York; London: Spon Press, 2003), pp. 3 - 28 Yehuda E. Kalay, Architecture’s New Media : Principles, Theories, and Methods of Computer-Aided Design (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004), pp. 5 - 25;


1.1.B. | Computing in Architecture

PERFORMATIVE ARCHITECTURE Performative architecture has a wide variety of solutions. Perhaps why I am interested in it is because I cannot seem to untie myself from the idea that architecture must have a purpose other than that of being sculptural. To me, architecture is not, and never will be solely about form. It needs more reason, more logic behind it to differentiate it from other types of art- like sculpture or painting or whatever. This is why performative architecture appeals to me more than other forms of digital architecture. It has a purpose. As Kalay (2004, p.5) agrees “design, accordingly, is a purposeful activity, aimed at achieving some well defined goals.” Kolorevic (2003) argues that performative architecture uses ‘building performance as a guiding principal.’ Therefore it places performance above form-making, which is personally resonates with me strongly. By utilizing the digital technologies of quantitave and qualitative performance based simulation, it offers a new, and I believe a worthwhile approach to design. However it can be argued that performative architecture can be interpreted and justified in a large number of ways, for buildings have a large array of purposes, any which of these can justify

a building as performative, for example financial, spatial, social, cultural, ecological and technical as mentioned by Kolarevic. The idea of performative architecture therefore seems quite open to interpretation, at this stage, being new to the digital realm, I am happy to accept this. Of particular interest in terms of performative architecture is the idea of structural and energy use optimization in architecure. To me this seems like a worthwhile pursuit as it can be seen as sustainable in terms of the construction, ensuring materials and energy are not wasted. Whilst this is not a new idea, the new software avaialble is offering the ability to achieve this aim to a greater extent.

Kolarevic, Branko, Architecture in the Digital Age: Design and Manufacturing (New York; London: Spon Press, 2003), pp. 3 - 28 Yehuda E. Kalay, Architecture’s New Media : Principles, Theories, and Methods of Computer-Aided Design (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004), pp. 5 - 25;

The ability to analyse and respond to airflows, fluid flows, the transfer of heat mass, stress and deformation and the like is something that I think will take building design to the next level and something worthwhile, with tanglible results for its occupants. I also think that by doing this, the role of an architect will become more important and more respected by the general public, as the results of good design suddenly become much more tangible to the users. It ensures that architectural discourse remains much more than just a study in form. |


PART 1.0 | Expression of Interest





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This design encompasses the idea that the form is the structure. Although this is not a new idea by any stretch of the imagination, in fact it has been around for thousands of years, it nevertheless explores certain possibilities to deal with form as a sturctural entity. The ability of the computer to create parts and pieces to assemble the structure in a sense is lending itself more to becoming like the manufacturing industry. This particular design can be characterised as performative in terms of it’s structure. The members that provide the structure also provide the shade, the fascade, and all of the functional requirements of the structure, whilst simultaneously providing the emotive response to its observers that was intended. So whilst at first this may be considered purely form-making, it isn’t, in that its form is everything else that it needs to be. Whilst I don’t profess to be a fan of the proliferated use of waffle-like structures that are now commonplace, this one has been done particularly well. Interesting to note also, of this project is the speed of construction. Parts were simply sent to and produced by the manufacturer and then transported to the site with the utmost accuracy. A significant step, I believe in abolishing the current norm of simply using standard materials and construction sizing in projects. Customization of parts is becoming a reality with more performative structures like this requiting individually tailored pieces to be built. Synergies with engineering programs and manufacturers, creating a ‘file to factory’ workflow, makes this possible. The use of wood as a medium has been structurally optimized to make it the largest wooden structure in the world. Computer technology has worked out the optimal structural form of this wooden structure, to allow it to stand the various forces with such a material as wood. As suggested by Kolarevic, the ‘digital based convergence of representation and production processes, represents the most important opportunity for a profound transformation of the preofession and, by extension, of the entire building industry.’ |


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1.1.B. | Computing in Architecture

FOSTER + PARTNERS | LONDON, ENGLAND | PERFORMATIVE ARCHITECTURE | This building appeals to me as a member of the new buildings of the current batch of computer generated architeture discourse. Less so for its look, but more for the drivers that produced the forms that is seen.

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The building for the Greater London Authority (GLA) headquarters, underwent significant engineering changes after Arup analysed its thermal and acoustic performance. The ‘pebble’ like form was a direct result of the energy performance of the building, which minmized the surface area exposed to direct sunlight/ As a result the deformed sphere form has a 25% smaller surface area than a cube of identical volume. This had obvious benefits in the form of reduced solar heat gain and loss, and hence less of a need to rely on artificial heating sources from within (Kolarevic, 2010). The cladding was similarly developed through analysis of sunlight patterns throughout the year and was optimized to such parameters (Kolarevic, 2010). To the south, (the sunny side) the building leans back on itself such that the floors above proved the shading for the floors below This building clearly demonstrates that the much maligned ‘blobby’ forms can be more than smiply an expression of aesthetics, that the forms are derived as a direct result of performance, i.e. emergent forms. Socially one oculd also argue that the building is performative, the openness and transparency of the building is designed to reflect the democratic process that is confined inside the walls of the building as it is used. The building certainly shows the marked advantages of computational design with a performative focus, and is a direction that I am most interested in, as it has the ability to produce tangible, real-world results that benefit all of the stakeholders. | Kolarevic, Branko, Architecture in the Digital Age: Design and Manufacturing (New York; London: Spon Press, 2003), pp. 3 - 28

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PARAMETRIC ARCHITECTURE | As the name suggests, the idea of parametric architecture is that the structure responds to parameters. Parametric architecture is currentlly gathering momentum in the architectural discourse. If I could be clear, I firmly believe that parametricism is not a style, rather it is still just a design tool. So for proponents of parametric design such as Patrik Schumacher to declare it as a style I believe is wrong, it is nothing of the sort. It only offers a profound change in how we use computers to design, nothing more. The basic pretense of parametric architecutre is of a bottom-up approach to design, as opposed to top-down. Simply, this means that the important parameters set for the design create the form, rather than the form being declared, and then the parameters of the design being worked into it. ADVANTAGES | Parametric architecture offers some significant advantages over former design techniques. Equations can be used to define the relationships between objects, therefore creating associative architecture (Kolarevic, 2010). A focus on the interdependenies of whatever parameters were used creates infinite possibilities for functional design. With optimization of as many, or certain parameters being the objective of a build-

ing. This is particularly helpful towards the current need for sustainable design, as it has the ability to prioritise certain factors that lead to a more sustainable outcome. Parametric technology offers the ability for architects to focus on the relational aspects of the design. As suggested by Mark Burry (2011), “The ability to define, determine and reconfigure geometrical relationships is of particular value.” Parametric tools offer the chance to capture this complexity in built form. As suggested by Kolarevic (2010), the parametric approach to design, if consistently applied from the conceptualization phaze to it’s materialization, changes the entire nature of established hierarchies of the building industries, and forces the designer into a role of definer, of boundary setter, rather than the designer of form. Because parametric design is founded on the defintion of a system, changes and iterations are very easy to achieve. This streamlines the whole design process. Change an input to the system, and the rest of the systems automatically updates adjusting to the confines of specific parameters. This has the advantage of becoming a great time saver, creating multiple iterations quickly, and shortening the design phaze of

the whole building. This obviously has great cost-saving potential as well. DISADVANTAGES | As with any new technology in a market economy, parametric technology offers significant change that disrupts the status-quo of current procedures, with flow on effects to interlinked professional industries, such as the construction and building industries. Changing production methods and cost-saving economies of scale from the current ‘way of doing things’ would be an obvious barrier to parametric design being implemented as effectively as if could be. Also, the designer/architect faces a role shift. What happens to them when all the designing is done by computer programs. The designer becomes a definer of parameters, letting the computer do much of the work. Therefore is the designer losing ownership/autonomy over the design or gaining? | Kolarevic, Branko, Architecture in the Digital Age: Design and Manufacturing (New York; London: Spon Press, 2003), pp. 3 - 28 Burry, Mark (2011). Scripting Cultures: Architectural Design and Programming (Chichester: Wiley), pp. 8 - 71.


1.1.C. | Parametric Architecture

“There are millions of natural objects and each has its own coherency...... It’s open minded. If you have geological layers shifted against each other, there are alway continuities. This is a form of natural computing if you want. The incident sits within the field of incidents which makes sense. The way vegetation runs up a mountain makes sense. We are trying to bring this logic into architecture. There is a sense of eloquent beauty and intuitive understanding that enters into the matter.” Patrik Schumacher - Extract from Hadid (complete works, (1979-2009) | A decisive factor for the success of such strategy is defining the correct selection criteria for determining the best individual in a population of this kind. The selection is the sole control mechanism.” (Bollinger, Manfred and Tessmann, 1486) |

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1.1.C. | Parametric Architecture






combination of Catia models and 3-D AAMI PARK | COX ARCHITECTS, MELBOURNE | CAD. The parametric model was developed As a building in my local city, I feel this is a using Bentley’s “Generative Compotangible and great example to expel the nents” software after concept design, virtues of parametric architecture and the when basic geometries principals way it has been used to ultimately de- were agreed between Arup and Cox sign a world class stadium. Unlike para- Architects. metric designs that purely design form for the sake of form, which to me, is not Parametric modelling enabled revised architecture, this structure uses the idea geometry to be speedily generated of “structural optimization” under para- and imported into structural analysis metric framework to generate the form. model to study structural efficiencies. The idea of structural optimization makes The parametric modelling software sense to me because at the end of the created the wireframe models. day, I don’t feel like parametricism itself is a new style as suggested by Patrik The steelwork shop drawings and Schumacher in his Architectural Journal detailling were then prepared from the parametric modelling software, disarticle “Let the style wars begin.” playing the design process synergies I think parametric modelling is essentially that parametric software can create. still just a tool. Not a new style of architecture. As suggested by Meyer in Collaboration with engineers Arup his blog, “without broader social aims a and their software enabled each of movement is likely to fall out of fashion.” the 4156 roof members to be optiI don’t believe that there is a social need mized for efficiency. for parametricism, hence I can’t see it as a style. Rather, I see it as having the potential for massive labour saving So where is the value? | and design and construction fabrication synergies. This is why I see the project 1. | Parametric modelling allowed of AAMI park in Melbourne as being a variations in geometry to be tested great advertisement for the advantages quickly to provide the most structurally efficient form. of parametric design. 2. | Structural optimization determined minimum steel tonnages for the roof Why was parametric used? | geometry. According to Cox Architects, parametric 3. | By combining parametric modmodelling was used to define the roof elling and structural optimization, the structure because of its ability to test al- engineering design team provided ternative geometric configurations, and value in both steel tonnage savings to accomodate the final preset geometry and design time savings. for fabrication and construction purpos- (The final stadium required 50% less steel than typical stadium roofs of the es. same size.) How was parametric used? | (The Arup Journal, 3/200, p.13) | Initial studies of the roof and shell geometries were undertaken with Cox Archi- References: (The Arup Journal, Istects and RMIT University’s Spatial Infor- sue 2, 2010) mation Architecture Laboratory, using a | 20 |

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exemplifies the problem of focusing on only the fascade of a building. Perhaps highlighting the ability of parametric architecture to be used in an incomplete manner. The interior is stark, absent of symbolism that defines the outer and returns to the practical standards that define standard modern architecture. Thereby the parametric design is somewhat limited to the exterior of the building. A truely parametric design would integrate parametric aspects throughout the whole design. It is the ability to permeate the entireity of the structure that should be the ultimate goal of parametric design, rather than simply to affect the exterior fascade. This is one of the continual shortfalls of designers in general.

A unique building which I became aware of through the 2008 Olympic Games, the water cube is a great example of performative architecture, albeit of a different kind AAMI park. The water cube works on the principal of the buildings layering acting as a skin. Therby it is performative in terms of controlling it’s internal temperature. The structure itself is tied into the natural formation and emergent behaviour of soap bubbles, and the inherent strength they achieve when banded together. This fundamental mathematical model, which has been documneted for over a century has been realized through the digital technology responsible for fabricating the materi- As suggested by Walker (2009) the water cube highlights the opportunity to overcome the overly als used for this structure. rational dogmas of the Modern Movement and According to Walker (2009), the water cube re-engage with the long-standing Ventruvian defconfirms the role of the architect as a selector of inition of architecture - the balanced interplay of systems. The architect was responsible for se- structure, program and form. lecting the symbolic representation of water in the form of water bubbles, and all of the subsequent Why was parametric used? | formal decisions, such as the number, shape, Parametric was used to mimic the Weariesize, profile and materials used, were deter- Phelan structural pattern of bubbles and create mined largely by the engineers, whose purpose the structural framework out of this pattern for was to achieve optimal structural, electrical and the fascade. mechanical engineering. Therfore, in answer to some of the questions posed earlier concerning How was parametric used? | the changing role of the architect, the answer Parametric was not used to create the form, it lies in the fact that the computer does what the was simply used to create the skin, so it was not machine cannot, understand and create culture. a fully-integrated parametric project, but commendable nonetheless. A criticism of the water cube given by Walker (2009) which I tend to agree with, lies in that it

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1.2.O | Digital Architecture Reflection

DIGITAL/PARAMETRIC THEORY: REFLECTION / WHERE I’M AT NOW | The research and exploration I have undertaken into digital and parametric architecture has been a worthwhile experience. I feel that I have developed a balanced perspective of the subject due to a critical approach, and as such, I feel I am aware of the advantges and disadvantages of these theories. Beginning semester I was concerned that the basis of digital architecture was shallow or ‘skin-deep’, more concerned with form than purpose. However I have come to see that fully integrated digital architecture fullfils both purposes, perhaps in some cases better and more efficiently than ever before. However I’m also aware of the pitfalls of a nonresolved digital project, and how easy it becomes (due to the time-saving functions of digital software) to gloss over important functional issues and hide mistakes by producing heroic forms. To me this is not good architecture, and is a lazy approach. It is something I would not like to see associated with the discourse surrounding digital architecture,

but something I feel could easilly happen, evidenced already with its common moniker ‘blob’ architecture. I feel the precedent research has helped me to refine my taste in digital architecture, and I feel this has been important. Prior to begininng this design studio, I saw all of digital architecture in the one group, I struggled to recognise the nuances between projects. All digital projects were more or less the same to me. However I feel that I am now able to discern between digital projects better and classify them according to their purpose, e.g. structural optimization, pattern, performative. This, as opposed to the projects that are purely designed for form - or architectural self-indulgence. I found I have naturally gravitated towards projects that show genuine attempts to justify their form for a purpose such as AAMI park and London City Hall. PARAMETRIC ARCHITECTURE | In terms of parametric architecture, I have actually been surprised by the possibilities associated with designing in this way. From a big-picture perspective, I’m very impressed with the

advantages that parametric architecture offers. Specifically the opportunity for the convergence of the construction and manufacturing industries to allow the architect greater control over their designs. Agreeing with Beston (2012) who argues ‘mass customization, as opposed to mass production of the components of the building allows for specific, intentional bespoke architecture that moves away from standardization.’ I am also very much impressed with its ability to constantly tweak designs and I do think it has real time saving benefits associated with it’s use in the real world. Changes and updates are quick, not laborious and tedious, which appeals to me greatly. For these reasons alone the field of parametric architecture is worth pursuing. I have been impressed with the capacity of parametric software to create forms that I previously couldn’t have imagined myself modelling Beston (2012) Dossier: Manufacturing Difference, Architecture Australia, Vol: 101, No. 5: Sept/Oct 2012


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PART 1.0 | Expression of Interest CONTRIBUTING GROUP MEMBERS:

Michael McLoughlin Nick Bergin Sophie Bardoel ARGUMENT STRUCTURALLY PERFORMATIVE ARCHITECTURE Why choose structure as a starting point for our parametric project? As a group, Michael, Sophie and I have decided to focus on structural parametric design. We chose this area due to the current trend in digital architecture to focus on form making, neglecting structural, functional and performance considerations. As a group we are concerned with the marriage of structure and ornament, as Louis Sullivan has suggested in Ornament in Architecture. Through this union, we intend to span the (false) dichotomy between architecture and engineering. Between sculptural art and construction. Moreover, we want to explore the unique position Wyndham has in the broader industrial, urban nd non-human environment. While exploring the broader geographies of the area, our intention is to create a beautiful, ornamental, sculptural piece of architecture that maximises scale and visual and experiential impact, whilst minimizing the size of the ‘kit of parts’ used to construct the structure. This approach will create a structure on a monumental scale, but will also minimize both material and constrcution costs. The placement of this intervention near a highway is a call to arms for a monumentalization of movement and allows an expression of the deep relationship Wyndham and the highway share with urbanism, industry and nature. Railway stations and airports have often been the subject of architectural intervention: spaces for the monumentalization of high-speed movement in the digital age. The highway is an oft-neglected space for architectural monumentalization and we intend to remedy that. This approach is apt for the Wyndham city Gateway project because through the optimization of structure with a holistic integration of ornament, we will be able to create an exciting, eye-catching monumental structure that will act as a beacon for the city of Wyndham that is sensitive to, and sits at ease with, the surrounding geographies.


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1.2.A | GROUP | Research + Argument

INTENT “Our interest lies in bridging the gap between engineering and art through the marriage of structure and ornament in digital architecture. To unify structure and ornament, both must be considered in equal measure at the beginnings of a design. Digital architectures allow us to work with both, holisitically, throughout the design process.” “Expressed through the monumentalization of structure, the design translates contrasting ideals of the compressive notion of urban industrialised space and the expansiveness of suburbia as one oscillates through this continuum along Geelong road.”


PART 1.0 | Expression of Interest


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1.2.A. | Precedents

NATURE BOARDWALK AT LINCOLN PARK ZOO STUDIO GANG | This small scale project was of particular relevence to us due to its use of structure as ornament. As a structure to be experienced through movement it has strong parallels with our design intentions. It highlights the fact that structure can be beautiful and structural at the same time, in this case through the use of a curved grid shell structure. The intention of this design, to be traversed ‘through’ on foot has important implications for our own ‘Gateway,’ project for the city of Wyndham. Whilst the means of movement may be different, the sensation is the same. In a construction sense, the use of single repetitive unit would ensure ease and speed of assembly, proof that a simple concept can be beautiful, yet hold enough complexity to warrant no more ornamentation than the structure itself. Important features | 1. | Ornamental structure in the landscape to be experienced through movement. 2. | Single repeating unit. 3. | Curved diagrid.


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PART 1.0 | Expression of Interest

01 01 |

BRITISH MUSEUM GREAT COURT FOSTER + PARTNERS | The Great Court at the British Museum uses structure to create the sense of grand. A radiated grid shell structure has been used to achieve the design intentions. A structure that monumentalises the space it encloses. As with South Pond, the experiential phase of this building comes by walking through it. Although this time in a

more circular manner as opposed to the straight line. Stucture fullfills the duel aims of enhancing natural light in the space, whilst adding to the sense of circularity of movement that is intended by the room. Furthermore the structure of the roof creates inherent ornamentation due to it’s level of detail that attracts the attention of occupants. Therfore the obvious parallels with the intended direction of the Wyndham Gateway are present.

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1.2.A. | Precedents

Important Features | 1. | Flexibility of radiating grid shell for creating internal spaces. 2. | Allows light into an internal space. 3. | Creates a space for circulation.


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PART 1.0 | Expression of Interest



01 | Gherkin.jpg

02 |

30 ST MARY AXE, LONDON, ENGLAND FOSTER + PARTNERS | 30 St Mary Axe, affectionately known as ‘the Gherkin’ is a good example of structurally performative architecture. The triangulated exterior of the structure supports entirely the weight and external loads placed on the buildings. As summarized by the architect the radial plan resolves walls and roof into a continuous triangulated skin, allowing column free floor space, light and views., whilst being optimized for wind and air circulation. I think the architect has achieved this aim spectacularly. HOW WAS PARAMETRIC USED? |


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The building is a perfect example of the benefits of parametric modelling. Currents ciculating around the structure create large whirlwinds at the base, makie it uncomfortable for occupants. Based on the mathematical properties of turbulence, the cylindrical form chosen responds optimally to the air currents compared to a square building and minimizes ground level wind, whilst also reducing the lateral loads that the structure has to endure. On an interior level, the structure was optimised for cooling effiiciency. Hence, the form was one that maximised natural air ventilation. This combined with aerodynamic modelling that created a spiral effect of air up the interior of the structure created a state of the art self-regulating cooling and heating system that uses a quarter of the energy of comparably sized buildings. | 31 |

1.2.B. | Cut | Case Study 1.0 01



STEPS TAKEN: 1. | Created elevated circles as a starting point to represent the reletively cyclindrical form. Used the move function with a z-vector. 2. | Resized the circles using the scale function to represent the form. 3. | Lofted the circles



4. | I struggled a bit at this point but found a solution by creating a polygonal spine along the building from the end points of each circle and then lofting them. 5. | Rotated the one spine using a slider 6. | I then rotated the loft giving it an interval range of 0-360 degrees. This



duplicated each spine around the circumference of the building. 7. | I then realized the fascade rotated anti-clockwise and clockwise, so I mirrored the effect I had already produced, which resulted in the latticed structure desired. Although it looks wrong, this is becuse you can see through the building so the front and back is showing.

1.2.B. CUT | C.S 1.0 ‘THE GHERKIN’

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PART 1.0 | Expression of Interest

01 01 |’s_Cross_Western_Concourse_-_central_position.jpg

1.2.C. | C.S 2.0 ‘KINGS CROSS’

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1.2.C | Cut | Case Study 2.0




1. | Lofted semi-circular guidelines to create a surface to divide. This is not ntirely parametric and I hope to find ways to make the form of the structure parametric in the coming weeks rather than relying on lofting circles, as it is not truely parametric.

The Western Concourse roof epitomises the monumentality of spaces associated with movement that we are trying to replicate. As a circulation space within a train station, the grid shell structure creates a vast experiential space to move within. Again, parallels with our design intentions for the ‘Gateway’ are evident. Important Features | 1. | Flexible use of the grid shell structure. 2. | Monumentallises internal space.

2. | Divided the surface in the x and y directions to produce a grid structure from the surface. 3. | Manipulated data structures to connect points along the grid structure to one another. This was my first attempt at manipulation of data structures so I hope to gain greater control over this and create some more intricate structural systems with this knowledge as the base.

3. | Monumenalises movement, both in circulation and through rail travel. | 34 |

PART 1.0 | Expression of Interest

01 01 |

02 02 |


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1.2.C | Cut | Case Study 2.0

CARDBOARD PAVILLION SHIGERU BAN | We began to think of exactly how we would put together a structure similar to a diagrid, which often contains many 4-way or 6-way intersections or junctions. Shigeru Ban’s temporary cardboard pavillion offers a possible solution, whilst highlighting the inherent strength of the grid shell structure. The structure is made of only cardboard tubes tied together. This emphasises the flexibility of materials able to be used with the structure, owed to its internal strength. Creation and exploration of new forms was easilly achievable through this grid shell structure.

Important Features | 1. | Shows flexability of materials in a gridshell structure 2. | Simple, lightweight repeating units. 3. | Quick assemply and dissassembly Whilst this structure isn’t an exact replica, we feel we are moving closer to replicating the structure with increased knowledge of data structuring proving to be our stumbling block again this time. | 36|

PART 1.0 | Expression of Interest

01 01 |

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1.2.C | Precedent Analysis

CHIDDINGSTONE ORANGERY PETER HULBERT ARCHITECTS | Whilst investigating methods to help build our model for the midsemester presentation we were again plagued by the problem of how to connect a 4 overlapping members in a grid shell structure. Realizing that simply flattening the grid shell pattern onto a panel and laser cutting this out would defeat the purpose of calling our project ‘sturctural,’ and render it simply an exercise in pattern, we looked for precedents to help us solve the issue. Peter Hulbert’s design for the roof of the Chiddingston orangery in England inspired us to engage with the structure on a more tectonic level. The idea of creating a universal joint or a small number of identical joints to support the members and tie them together at these intersections may well be a direction that we have to take to realise our outcomes for the final submission. Whilst we were unable to really attempt this method as we discovered it after having made our models for the mid-semester crit, we believe it offers the group a way forward. This is a method that we may be able to employ with the use of the 3D printer, to create the necessary joints to fabricate our structure. Important Features |

02 02 | close_up9_ready%5B4%5D.jpg

1. | Innovative way to construct a grid shell. 2. | Use of a simple repeating joint to join repeating structural units. 3. | Ability to fabricate.


PART 1.0 | Expression of Interest 01 | AAMI PARK COX ARCHITECTS














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1.2.D. | Summary of Precedents






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PART 1.0 | Expression of Interest

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1.2.E. | Design Development

Parametric Diagram | Unfortunately the clarity is an issue due to my screen’s resolution.


PART 1.0 | Expression of Interest 1. Changing the number of divisions on the grid

2. Creating surface curvature

3. Changing the underlying geometry



2. | 43 |

1.2.E. | Design Development 4. Segmenting the underlying geometry and creating duplicates

5. Elongation in the y-direction and further plasticizing form

GROUP MATRIX | As a group it was decided to start with the grid shell structure to generate our forms. This method, or a closely related one, was prevalent in many of our precedents and case studies we analysed. It gives us the flexibility to form a number of different structural patterns with the manipulation of the parametric data structures. It was also decided that this structure lended itself to our key drivers of design; monumentalization and movement. This matrix explores the manipulation of our parametric grasshopper model. We have created a flexible definition that enables us to easilly manipulate the base geometries, create duplicates, segment the structure and intensify or dilute the pattern. The proliferation of a long ‘snake-like’ structure in this matrix is in part due to our wish to draw out the experience of the user (a driver travelling at 100kmph) and also partly due to our wish to use size to add to the sense of monumentality of the structure.


One would expect that through further knoledge of grasshopper techniques we can develop data structures that allow more curvature between the main gridlines and hence enhance the overall aesthetic qualities of the structure. This and other changes will hopefully come about through increased technical knowledge. But we are satisfied that this defintion gives us multiple options.



PART 1.0 | Expression of Interest

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1.2.E. | Design Development

CHOSEN DESIGN | The design chosen is by no means a reflection of our intended final form or structure. However we chose this one as we feel it best incorporates the advantages of the parametric grid shell structure, whilst reflecting our design intents of movement, monumentalization and structure at the same time. The intent behind the design was to create a structure that was ornamental and elicted the sensation of movement. The structural pattern helps to give directional movement as one passes through. Further, we intend to explore the relationship between the compressive notion of urban industrialised space and the expansiveness of suburbia, which one experiences moving along Geelong road. The form dictates this intent through the compressive and more open spaces along the structure. We also intend to explore these notions through materiality to add multiple layers to the meaning. This design demonstates a starting point, a parametric model that allows for ease of manipulation and the potential to grow with our expanding collective knowledge base in grasshopper.

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PART 1.0 | Expression of Interest

Method 1 | Double skin - Inner & Outer

We initially attempted this method because the flattened grid structure wasn’t strong or maleable enough to stand by itself. This exposed the inherent problem of using the laser cutter to fabricate - it needs to be flattened to be printed so it becomes a planar surface, rather than a collection of individual elements. This method requires thick members to support itself. As a result of its inability to hold its form we decided to use a wire mesh underneath to support the grid shell structure. Obvi-

ously this method is not optimal so we don’t want to use this method. But I think it showed us that we will need to look at a method that is not a planar surface. By flattening to a surface, it defeats the purpose of our argument because our method is structure, and hence should be self-supporting, not simply a patterned surface imitating a structural system.

Method 3 | Grid Shell Structure Flattened

This was another attempt at laser cutting, with thicker cardboard and a simplified structure. Although it visibly looked how it should have, It required steel wire to keep the model in proportion, due to the fact it had been flattened to cut in the machine. Also, we had to simplify the overall form to a more linear tube-like form, which was not what we desired. | 47 |

1.2.F. | Prototyping

Method 2 | Reinforced Mould

Taking inspiration from reinforced concrete and the strength and maleability it posesses, we decided to use ‘pinkysil’ embedded with wire to create a flexible and stable model, which could easilly bend in all directions. This was an interesting experiment that showed how adaptable our grid shell structure could be.

However aesthetically it wasn’t the cleanest result. The best thing about this model however, was that it was a structural system, rather than a ‘dumbed’ down version of what we wanted to achieve.

SUMMARY | The inability of our design to be simply flattened onto a planar surface meant that we had to explore our options in the fabrication stage. We decided at this stage to test out as many options as possible (within the time constraints) to see what we could come up with. As structure is our method, we feel the need to not ‘cheat’ the end result by simplifying the model because the laser cutter can only work in singular planes. We also don’t see the point of 3D printing the whole structure as this is just not feasible in real-life. Ultimately we are looking to the example of the Chiddingston Orangery to hopefully design a universal joint that can permeate the whole structure. This would allow us to really explore the tectonic relationship between members and also make the assembly quite simple, and repeatable in the real-world.


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PART 1.0 | Expression of Interest

FEEDBACK DISCUSSION | We felt that perhaps we shot ourselves in the foot a bit in the presentation. The ideas were there, but I don’t feel as though we got it all out. We agreed that we probably got ourselves hung-up on the idea of achieving ‘optimization’ with our structure for too long, and didn’t fully engage with the idea of movement. As a result we didn’t prioritize this in our presentation, and only really mentioned this when pressed in question time. This was disappointing, however it was also encouraging in that now we feel we have a solid theoretical base from which to launch our design in the coming month. We know what we have to do, we have a solid theoretical backing for the design decisions we make, and feel that we can pull this off. The crit did highlight the fact that we need to be more critical of our work, and question every minute decision - is it backed by our design intent? If not, change it. It was also suggested that we find some more contemporary precedents for structural based parametric architecture. This is something we will consider, and a bit of an eyeopener (I thought we were looking at reletively new works, apparently not!). This may enable us to explore different fabrication methods as well. We were also corrected on the name we had been using for our structural system, calling it the ‘diagrid’ rather than the ‘grid shell’, this has been noted and ammended in this journal. PARAMETRIC EXPERIENCE | Learning parametric architecture on grasshopper is most defintitely a challenging experience, having spent many nights feeling as though I was not getting anywhere it was great to make a breakthrough with Michael a few weeks ago. The combination of his knowledge and mine were able to solve two problems that we were having, with our knowledge complementing each other. This is the advantage of working in a team on new software such as this. We are trying to make our model totally parametric so we have complete control over the structure, which is the idea behind parametric architecture. We are seeing results, but I feel we needed to overcome our small theoretical hitch as the basis to push our design to the next level. I feel we have done this, with a new emphasis on monumentality and movement that was uncovered during the feedback section of our mid-semester crit.


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1.2.G. | Prototyping

DIRECTION | MODELLING & FABRICATION METHODS | Initially I was concerned about our lack of a polished, presentable physical model, however I think we are in a position where we need to take the time to develop a construction system rather than take the easy way out and laser cut the structure. We are looking at possibly 3D printing the inverse of a universal joint, and then using it as a mould to create multiple joints for a model. However we need to address concerns over materiality to have a reasonable understading of how these joints will work. The idea obviously, is to create a proposal that is structural, not some fake imitation of structure, and this may take time. Currently we are working on creating a site model in the break to alleviate the need to worry about this later. This will enable us to prototype models at scale and give us a better idea as to the design’s sensibilities to the site. TEAM DYNAMICS | I feel the unity within the team is working very well. We are all beginning to find each others stengths and weaknesses and are now progressing accordingly. Everyone seems to be on the same page theoretically so we all understand the principals underpinning our design. THE SITE | This is now the time to start analysing the site and exploring the contextual issue of the area. The urban-geographical relationship of Wyndham and it’s surrounds becomes the focus of the next stage of design. The grasshopper defintion is a work in progress as we look to try to incorporate the ideals of monumentality and movement into the structure. Our ideas have become clearer with the constructive feeback and we are looking to really push the design in accordance with these developed parameters.

1.2.H. | WHERE TO FROM HERE? | 50 |

2.0 PART 2.0


PAGE INSTRUCTIONS This spread should be a “splash” page for the case for innovation section of the journal

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Nick Bergin Journal (Mid Sem Submission)  

Mid semester journal submission

Nick Bergin Journal (Mid Sem Submission)  

Mid semester journal submission