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A R C H I T E C T U RE S T U D IO A IR 2 0 1 2.



The Beijing National Aquatic Centre, designed by PTW Architects,is one of the most architecturally interesting water sports venues in the world, with advances in architectural discourse and technological innovation, allowing the design to come to fruition.

This project was designed in the “Water” Studio Course undertaken at Melbourne University in 2011. The project focused on creating a new Boat Shed at Studley Park in Kew, Melbourne. Through the use of architectural techniques and specific materials, the space was designed to not only blend in with the natural context of the site, but to also create a space that was functional, and held the characteristics of the area while still making a statement that would assist in drawing a larger amount of interest to the area. This project is relevant to the Wyndham City Gateway project in the way that specific tecniques (in this case, parametric computational techniques) and materials will be needed to make a statement for this site that signifies it’s context (the city of Wyndham) and explore it to create a piece of architecture that can be used as well as ``respected by the wider community.

The combined use of digital technology and advances in new materials such as ethylenetetrafluoroethylen has allowed this building to not only become a talking point of the city, but to also be able to abstractly represent the purpose of the building through it’s design. Through the use of these new technologies, the architects were able to turn what is otherwise a simple box structure, into an iconic symbol for the city. “The Watercube demonstrates how improvements in technology can affect design in terms of material use and computer software technology employed” (Australian Institute of Architects, 2012).

ARCHITECTURAL DISCOURSE beijing aquatic centre.


The Burj Khalifa building, designed by Skidmore and located in the city of Dubai, and is the world’s tallest structure at 838m tall. The ability for the architects to push the boundaries in both height and exemplary architecture has allowed the tower to become a significant icon of the technological advances of the 21st century and the city of Dubai. Through the use of digital processes, and advancements in engineering methods, the building has revolutionised the characteristics of the modern skyscraper, in particular through its “Y shaped” form - to combat wind loads as well as the application of “rigorous geometry to the tower that aligned all the common central core, wall, and column elements.” (Haseeb, J, 2011) to allow it to become the architectural marvel that is now a huge drawcard for the city.


COMPUTATIONAL DESIGN TECHNIQUES: frank ghery: olympic fish

The development of computational design techniques have allowed for the overall shape and form of buildings that are designed to change dramatically. General processes, based on concepts such as topological space, isomorphic surfaces, dynamic systems, keyshape animation, parametric design and genetic algorithms have allowed unconventional shapes to be developed that were never before achievable in the construction of buildings.

One of the major innovations that were presented by contemporary computational design techniques was the design and construction of the “large fish shaped pavilion at the entrance of a retail complex on Barcelona’s waterfront”, (Burry, Mark , 2011) known as the “olympic fish” by Frank Gehry. Through the process of digital production during the late 1980’s, the building was able to be constructed without the use of construction drawings. (Burry, Mark , 2011) Through the digital development of the building, a physical design model was first generated, which was further defined until the wireframe model was extracted and used by structural engineers to develop a frame that supported the design. A physical model was then constructed from the digital representation which was then used to aid construction. (Burry, Mark , 2011)

The process of design and construction through computational design techniques was highly innovative as it was the first time ever a structure was constructed without the need to refer to relevant construction drawings. It was also significant as it created a precedent for further projects by Gehry to be designed and constructed in the same manner. Greater efficiency in the construction process of buildings is also attributed to the innovations of computational design techniques, with better digital information and coordination allowing for a potential 28-40% increase in efficiency. This increase in efficiency is mostly due to the fact that back in the days prior to digital technology, it was necessary for architects to consult with all the necessary technicians such as the structural engineer, individually, however through innovations in computational design, architects and the technicians can work together on the one digital model. This is can be seen in Frank Gehry’s projects. (Burry, Mark , 2011)

The development of innovations in computational design have revolutionised the shipbuilding industry, with drawings being almost completely eliminated in favour of “comprehensive three dimensional digital models from design to construction”. The innovation of digital computation on other industries such as cars, airplanes and various other appliances are also evident, with for example, the Boeing 777 becoming the first airplane to be designed completely digitally. Through the use of computing technology, the Boeing 777 was able to “exceed it’s goal of reducing change, error and rework by 50%”. (Cogressional record, 1996). The innovations that have developed through digital technology in these fields is considered to be high beneficial to the future of architecture, having a great impact of the design and construction of buildings in the field. (Burry, Mark , 2011)


case study: kings cross western gateThe Western Gateway Project in London, designed by John McAslan + Partners employed parametric techniques in order to develop a new western concourse at the famed Kings Cross Station. The new striking design of the structure includes “vaulted, semi-circular concourse” which is located to the west of the existing station, capturing the eye from first glance with the dazzling visual affect it creates through a vast range of lattice work involving steel and glass materials ultimately creating a centrepiece for the station, with the building’s architectural expression “like some kind of reverse waterfall, a white steel grid that swoops up from the ground and cascades over your head towards 16 perimeter columns in a flurry of 1,200 solid and 1,012 glass triangular panels” (London Evening Standard, 2012) and is considered to be “the greatest station building ever” (The Guardian, 2012)

Through employing parametric design techniques to develop this structure, the architects were able to create a successful piece of interesting architecture. The unique pattern of diamonds curling up in a cyllindrical form and radiating out in a tree like manner to form the roof of the concourse is a very inspiring element that brings vast amounts of light and visual interest to the area of the building. Without the use of inexpensive parametric techniques, John McAslan + Partners this design would have been highly unlikely to have developed into reality due to the “constantly varying sizes of the panels needed to make the double curve would only be possible to calculate on this scale using parametric computer-aided design” (London Evening Standard, 2012)

The decision to use parametric techniques to create this design by architects was also a wise choice, as it allowed the building to be of quite and interesting and iconic design, without being too unsympathetic to the original context of the site, which in this case, is very heritage oritentated, with the lattice like design allowing for the old bricks and parts of the structure to remain in sight, whilst still being able to create a visually striking design. “The modernisation of the structure carefully considers the character and heritage of the building and a balance between old and new attained. Careful design choices have been used to complement the original features.” (e-architect, 2012). While this is the situation for most of the case, there are still some elements which seem to clash with the heritage facade, in particular the area where the cylindrical section of the structure blocks out the view of the heritage building. This could have been rectified had the cyllindrical section allowed greater space between itself and the heritage building, however this would ultimately resulted in a differently shaped design.

The use of steel and glass in the project allows for a great contrasting affect, allowing the structure to stand out within the context of the site, without being too overpowering and over the top.

case study: kings cross western gateway.

Studio Air - Journal  

Concepts and Ideas working towards a new gateway for Wyndham City Council

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