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Welcome to StudioAir (a journal by Samuel Ong)

Off-the-Shelf Genius, METROPOLISMAG.COM:

“All the swoopy, curvilinear, geometrically perverse gestures that we associate with the world’s most fam­ous, most audacious architects—those are now embedded in, and enabled by, commercial software: Rem in a box.” ...... “Crumpled, folded, rounded show-off “wow” buildings will become increasingly commonplace—but they’ll no longer be designed by the stars. The only true stars will be the guys who design the parametric software.” -Karrie Jacobs on Parametric Design


Architecture as a Discourse -Introduction -Past Year Works and Experiences -Views on Digital Architecture -Architecture as a Discourse -The Barcelona Pavillion -Orchard Central Computering in Architecture -Computering in Architecture -The Next Big Thing -The Port Authority Gateway, New York -Burj Khalifa, Dubai Parametric Modeling -Parametric Architecture -Beijing National Stadium by Herzog & de Meuron - Esplanade - Threatres on the Bay, Singapore Journey on Parametric - Reflection 01 - Attractors/Perceptions - Dynamic Performance of Nature - Case Study 1.0

The Design -Matrix Exploration -Further Research 01 -Morphogenesis 01 -Morphogenesis 02 -The Model -Reflection 02

Case Study 2.0 - The Construction -Comparison

INTRODUCTION Dear readers,

My full name is Ong Jun Hao, Samuel, preferred name would be Samuel. I am a direct third year student who just arrived here from Singapore to pursue a degree in Bachelor of Environments (majoring in architecture) and hopefully, Masters of Architecture in order to fulfil my dream of being part of this great profession called Architect. My journey began when I decided to pursue architecture after my GCE O levels at the (only) local polytechnic in Singapore that provides architectural course, Singapore Polytechnic. During my education in polytechnic, I was given the chance to be attached to one of largest architectural firms in Singapore, DP Architects and be part of the team that was in-charge of tender documents; it was in there that I marvelled at the complexity and sophistication of this profession. During my training in polytechnic, I was equipped with the following computer skills to communicate and present my project – Bentley’s Microstation, Autodesk’s CAD, 3D Max and a little on Revit and Adobe’s Photoshop. Therefore, I am completely new to Rhino and Grasshopper; however I believe it is relatively similar and am keen and open to learn new skills/ programs. Shown on the right is a montage that briefly present my past year works- the design processes that I have been through and technical drawings that I have done during my polytechnic days.

Views on Digital Architecture Frankly, I have seen and heard of digital architecture (Example, works by UNStudio), however I have never done one before. I understand that digital architecture is a cutting edge technology (which I guess one types in the data and the computer generates a form) however my mind has been influenced by the propagandas by what some might called them “traditionist “, with reasons and statements such as “what will you do if your computer is down” and “too much reliance on computer to do your work (calculation) will ruin your mind”. However, I believe that this “movement” or “style” could have a name/therm for itself- digital architecture, there should be a reason, a solution or maybe a charisma; something great and hope this module will shed some light to me.

Architecture as a Discourse To begin to write on archiecture as a discourse, one must first reflect upon the two key words in this statement, Architecture and Discourse. What exactly is architecture to me and how it relates to discourse? Many often can only see the superficial part of architecture, they think that it is merely an object, a building that is being built to serve a fuctional purpose (eg, a hospital, a office tower.. etc), however, I feel that architecture is more than just an object, it is a integral part of our life. Examples of architecture being part of our lives could be seen during our daily routine, from the landmarks we use to tell our bearings to the habits we caltivated for daily chores and the topic we use to converse with our neighbours or friend, these are little details that architecture had in our life. Therefore, when one would to contemplate on architecture, one would realise that architecture “talks”, it communicates - which brings up the point of it as a discourse. Richard William in one of his chapters on Architecture and Visual Culture expressed that architecture should be seen more than just mere object instead it should be use as a tool to bridge the “social and professional practices”. In other words, architecture as a discourse is architecture ( as Schumacher would call) as “a system of communication” - which brings about discussion and ideas and may result in the creation of a language. In order to have a better picture of how Architecture is being carried out as discourse, I have selected two of my favourite architectural design and how are they relate to the term discourse.

The Barcelona Pavillion The German Pavillion at Barcelona (Barcelona Pavillion) built in 1929 design by Mies van der Rohe was created for the sole purpose of exhibition Whats unique about this design that relates to architecture discourse is the concept behind this project and the architects intention for it. The project was concieved during the the 1930s after the 1924 Dawes Plan whereby Germany’s economy was starting to pick up. This project was supposed to represent the new Weimar Germany: democratic, culturally progressive, prospering, and thoroughly pacifist (Concept). When Mies van der Rohe took on the project, he wanted it to become “an ideal zone of tranquillity” for visitor to be invited into to “rest” before moving on to the next exhibition (Intention). These idea (concept) and Intention could be seen from 3 different aspect of the project.

Barcelona Pavillion,, Viewed on 1st Aug 2012

First, the selection of the materials: glass, steel and marbles of up to four different types namely Roman travertine, green Alpine marble, ancient green were used to represent ideas of the new Weimar Germanyassociating ideas with materials especially stone is a concept which many cultures practice. Second, the use of planar walls was cleverly executed to direct the viewer from the foreground to the background, at times, these planar walls and roofs form semi-enclosures to create a dialogue between the internal space with the external space, blurring the definition of boundary and engaging the visitor to move forward.

Barcelona Pavillion,, Viewed on 1st Aug 2012

Lastly, the detailing that went into the design of the building provoke interest and generate topics for conversation and discussion. Each element is design to appear as individual giving the visual effect of each floating on it own.

Barcelona Pavillion,, Viewed on 1st Aug 2012

Orchard Central, the tallest and first vertical mall in Singapore was designed by DP Architects Pte Ltd, this mall sits on a narrow strip of land at the tip of Singapore’s famous shopping district, Orchard Road.

As a whole, this project interacts with the public regardless of social and professional standing. We can see ideas being convey and activities made between the professional, Mies van der Rohe and the public (range of social practices).

Orchard Central

Unlike the majority of commercial projects in Singapore, Orchard Central is one of those projects that has thought being put into the design of it. Due to the spatial constraint, Orchard Central was design to wisely incorparate the public walkways into the architecture by designing alternative routes to get through it- which will bring you into the atrium of the building, and extending out a long escalator that reach out to the center of the main circulation space (the public walkway) inviting the public into the building. With a porous facade design that has a range of transparency, the mall engages not only the public through offering glimpses of the internal Orchard Central, DP Architects Pte Ltd, Viewed on 1st Aug 2012

Orchard Central, DP Architects Pte Ltd, Viewed on 1st Aug 2012

space, the activities and retail machandise but also create dialogue with the busy street and the luscious trees surrounding it through the reflection of it. This idea of communication is also being carried out into the design of the internal space of the building. Multiple pockets of multi-volume space are generously place in various part of the complex, occasionally interlaps each other which rise to not only connection of the visual and spatial but also create ideas for activities such as mountain climbing and oppotunities for events to be carried out.

Orchard Central,, Viewed on 1st Aug 2012

Orchard Central, DP Architects Pte Ltd, Viewed on 1st Aug 2012



Computering In Architecture


Since the introduction of computer to this world, man has gradually become more reliant on it. Likewise, architecture is also expriencing this change due to this advancement of technology. From the introduction of CAD (computer-aid-design) programs to the use of 3D modelling tools (ie. 3D Max, SketchUp and Rhino), we can see how computers with its analytical brainworks help us, designers to breakdown the complex geometry and sophisicated mathematical equations to present what is in our mind - the fanciful ideas and creative forms, and capture that in its virtual world/enviroment. This not only allows easier communication of ideas but also freezes our idea for us - for further improvements.

Guggenheim Museum,, Viewed on 8th Aug 2012

A great example of the use of computers using the method as mentioned above is Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Like many of Frank Gehry’s project, Guggenheim Museum was a huge mass of complex geometrical facade that Gehry pictured in his mind; which he pen it down in a form of scribbles. However, the project could not be realised until the discovery of the computer program, CATIA. This is due to the complexity of the iconic curve facade which Gehry design that bends randomly and in two directions - a design which is too complex to calculate and perceive that it could only be realised through 3D visualisation. However, Gehry’s architecture is merely using computer to computerised his design. This brings us to the next type of use of computer, which is computer doing the design or computational architecture.

The Next Big Thing Computer have allow us to push the boundary of design more through the use of artificial intelligent (AI) - making the computer to do the thinking together with or for us. Instead of us coming out with the design or end product, we can create AI(s) with our

An example would be the competition entry by Greg Lynn for

The Port Authority Gateway, New

In this project, the inspiration was to use forces that represent the flow and movements of vehicles and pedestrians on the site to design a protective roof and lighting scheme that will be the gateway for the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York. Greg Lynn who was famous for his use of animation - evolution of form and shaping forces, used a

Port Authority Gateway,, Viewed on 8th Aug 2012

computer program, particle system - which i presonally feels is a representation of AI to study the forces within the site. Particles were input with intelligents to react to the data collected from the site, which results in a series of movements that Greg in turn used to determine (shape) the design which he joins to form the structural support for the roof and lighting scheme

Port Authority Gateway,, Viewed on 8th Aug 2012

This use of computational method in architecture, unlike Frank Gehry’s design whereby he himself gives a personal touch from inspiration he might have gathered from the site. Greg’s design could be interpreted as a design influenced by the site and therefore bears a character unique to the site Port Authority Gateway,, Viewed on 8th Aug 2012

Apart from using computer to generate forms as we have seen earlier in this entry, computers can also affect the appearence (color) of the building in regards to building compliences. In this current period, almost every country has formulated a set of building regulation and code, Many building’s ultimate appearances usually do not correpond to what the architect’s initial idea after going through the panels of authorities. Computer programs such as Ecotect, RAM, STAAD and ProSteel by Bentley - which usually associated with analysis and building authorities; which people find it hard to associate with design, is undeniably a great influence on how architecture’s appearances/design turns out ultimately A great example, one that test the extremes to best represent this point would be,

Burj Khalifa, Dubai Standing at 829.84 m tall in hot climate, Dubai, Burj Khalifa face several challenges that definitely requires the analytical mind of computer for its construction. Due to the hot climate and the facade material, glass, computer program such as those like ecotect is required to calculate the thermal properties of the building and prescript the glass that is going to be installed - to meet buidling codes which is often link to the comfort of the tenant. Shear height and strong winds pose enormous stress for a building of that magnitude, therefore, judging from its size and height, constant test, simulations, endless structural equation and frequent remodelling of the design in regards to structure is required to be carry out in computer, to ensure that the building is structurally sound and buildable.

Burj Khalifa,, Viewed on 14th Aug 2012

P A R A M E T R I C, Viewed on 15th Sept 2012


Although parametric architecture has been introduced for a while now, majority of the people are still skeptical and divided by it. Mix emotions are always felt when architecture labels themself as parametric. Due to the lack of definition to the term “parametric architecture”, many people associates new and organic (blob) form with it, thus creating a style whereby when people sees a organic form, they says, “well, that is parametric”. Here are two examples that are identify as parametric architecture, one was executed slightly undesirable whereas the other carried it out ingeniously.

Beijing National Stadium by Herzog & de Meuron

The Beijing National Stadium, though design by the famous architectural firm, Herzog & de Meuron, brought about a large stir of emotions when it was first introduced. Although currently this architecture has been accepted by the majority now, it is fustrating to see it being label as “Top 10 Buildings: Parametric Design” in a online publication (HUFFPOST ART & CULTURE). Beijing National Stadium,, Viewed on 16th Aug 2012

The Stadium, which made out enormous steel beams bend and weld together to form a large “nest” was suppose to reflect the character of chinese ceramic wares, however, despite the fact that others associated it with another object, the construction of it was not sustainable. Parametric has been used to make the facade into modules - despite it having a random look. However, each element were too huge, hence making it non sustainable. Possible further exploration into breaking it down could be implemented to achieve similar effect and yet sustainable still be achieve when more exploration is done.

In contrast to the earlier example, here is another architecture which also uses parametric, however this architecture uses it in a ingenious way - to address practical realistic issues as compare to the majority parametric architecture which are usually pure asthetical. Esplanade,, Viewed on 16th Aug 2012

Esplanade - Threatres on the Bay, Singapore The Esplanade, one of the major landmarks in Singapore is a joint effort by two architectural firms - DP Architects (DPA) of Singapore and London-based Michael Wilford & Partners (MWP). It houses two threatres in organic glass domes - which is an avant garde design to Singapore when it was first presented to the public in 1994. However, many may misunderstood its as parametric due to its blob gometry but it is the facade the uses parametric - which caught my attention and interest. The facade, angular pointy sturctures (thorns) though seemingly generic throughout the dome, contains complex calculations, tiny difference in dimension and angle. Each module of thorns were specifically design in groups- for prefabrication, selected and designated on to the building by the computer according to the direction of the sun in the tropics What is successful about this architecture was the incorperation of parametric into the project, which resulting in meeting the requirement of Singapore’s building code - regarding the issue of heat in buildings and creation of a creative visually pleasing architecture - which the locals associate with the king of fruit - the local’s favorite, durian., Viewed on 12th Sept 2012

JOURNEY ON PARAMETRIC, Viewed on 12th Sept 2012



Journey through this course of parametric design has been an interesting and insightful experience. Parametric architecture is now gaining popularity in this current age. Benefits of this tool enables the users to not only produce new geometry but also speed up the design process. Through having another media - computer to interprets design perimeters, design are free from the restricted mind of man. As man interpretates design in a restrictive manner - a building consist of walls. roof, floor and etc, the variety of design options are becoming exhaustive as times go. With the introduction of parametric, computers give new light to how preimeters are concieved, thus producing a range of perspective to design that often man never realised. This not only hasten the design process, new designs and geometry are being created and new inspirations are generated for designers. However, although there are many benefits to this tool, parametric also pose potential danger to designers. Due to the large extend of the tool’s involvement in the design, it seems possible for anyone who has the tool to generate parametric design. Questions on whether there is a need for designer and what is a designer-worthy parametric designs are unavoidable issues that will potentially hunt designers if the tool would one day drives all design. Despite the danger that comes with parametric, I personally feel that one should always move forward , take risk and experimenting with new things; for it is through this sprit of exprimenting and moving forward that man made advancement in development., Viewed on 22nd Aug 2012

Dynamic Performance of Nature ,, Viewed on 22nd Aug 2012

Attractors / Perception Studies has shown that man’s memories are usually associated to their senses or objects that have impacted them. In the Wyndham project, it is important for the design object to leave a print in the users mind and associate them back to Wyndham City. Therefore, Attractors/Perception is selected as the team’s area of interest, for we believe that when interacting with the user’s senses through this media, we will be able capture their attention and create an experience which will leave a deep impression upon them.

DYNAMIC PERFORMANCE OF NATURE In the first case study, the team has selected to study this project, Dynamic Performance of Nature in Leonardo Museum of Art, Science and Technology, located in Salt Lake City, Utah. The permanent installation, designed by EB Office has solar powered LEDs which corresponds to natural factors such as wind, temperature and seismicity by changing its colour.

Dynamic Performance of Nature ,, Viewed on 22nd Aug 2012

Dynamic Performance of Nature ,, Viewed on 22nd Aug 2012

Taking the form of louver fins, the installation is a representation of attractors and perception as it attracts the user with is flashy colour which changes as unpredictable as nature and invites them to close up and journey along it. As they begin to close up and walk along, the gap between the fins starts to reveal glimpses of the space and exibited items behind it - which plays around with perception as users needs to perceived what is behind.

Dynamic Performance of Nature ,, Viewed on 22nd Aug 2012


Using the given OMA file exploration begins, 1 - A surface was created in Rhino and was convert into a grasshopper definition 2 - 3 Geometry were created on Rhino 3 - On grasshopper, the surface was divided into grids whereby rows and column are controlled through U and V direction 4 - An image sampler is attached to influence the arrangement of the object in accordance to the image provided 5 - Each location on the surface is converted into a list of numbers 6 - The geometries that were created in step two were converted into index 7 - Using List Item component, the list of numbers (locations on the surface) is pair with the index (geometry) 8 - Finally, the object are map onto the surface with Orient component 9 - Experiment and bake

CASE STUDY, viewed on 12 Sept 2


For this week, the group will be looking at a given project that has been selected for it has attractors and perception qualities imbedded into the design, the Pavilions for New Architecture exhibition by BKK Architects with Rory Hyde. In this installation, inspirations were gathered from the spherical form of Buckminster Fuller’s Montreal Expo geodesic and the Serpentine Pavilion 2002 designed by Toyo Ito. The form is created through the projection from the network of the geodesic sphere projected onto a center point which is then trimmed by two cubes to form the overall form and the interior space.

11.5 billion X 6.5 trillion miles

11.5 billion times 6.5 trillion miles, RMIT University, 2006

11.5 billion times 6.5 trillion miles, RMIT University, 2006

Serpentine Pavilion 2002, flickr - frandkieroberto, Viewed on 28th Aug 2012

Users were invited to stand on a black platform whereby their head will be positioned within the focal point of the installation. There, only the thin edge of the structure is visible to them. This gives an element of surprise for there is a contrast of visual effect between the external and internal space – user may

Buckminster Fuller Montreal Expo 1967,, Viewed on 28th Aug 2012

The Construction In the next step, the case study was analyzed and broken down to understand the process of building it in grasshopper. In the initial attempt, we follow the prescript method of starting with a geodesic sphere. However, no matter what functions we used, a geodesic sphere is hard to produce with our knowledge of rhino and grashopper. Hence, we turn towards google. In google, a plug-in for rhino was introduced, StructDrawRhino. There in the the program, geodesic sphere is a primary tool, however, when the program was run, there seems to be a compatibility issue with our rhino program. This brought us back to square one. For the second attempt, we start to think of creating it in a different method. Here we start with creating the main form/ geometry and work it down into the details.

From the diagram below, we start with the cube (Box),

Next, we fill it with points(Prop 3D) and use veronoi to allocate the points for us. Then we explode the faces and extrude that to a center point. However. at this point, we began to realise that the model began to look even distant from what we were expecting,(bottom left is the first draft, right is the 2nd & final draft)

As we were unable to get the initial model right, we began to analysed our steps and start again the second time starting with the cube again.

In this second attempt, we identify that the problem we had earlier was Prop3D, when what we should use is Prop 2D, After identifying the problem, we began to work our way down to the geometry that we are aimming for. (bottom right)

Next, a centre point is put in the middle of the geometry. This point not only acts as a reference for the scaling of the smaller cube but also the attactor points whereby the “fins� will be directed towards. (above, middle) However, there is a problem during the extrusion of the geometry, they are extruding in all directions and on different face, therefore, Graft and Merge were used to pair up the corresponding pattern of the cubes on each face, so that it will extrude accordingly. Extrusion is done by using Loft function

COMPARISON Similarity -Both are results in a cube form -Both has its fins to be directional

Differences - The overall geometry is slightly different (one is veronoi, the other is hexagonal)



MATRIX EXPLORATION Wanting to create a journey as compared to creating a symbolic installation. The exploration starts with a linear surface - a curve. Techniques used in this matrix (from left to right) -Geometry -Thickness -Density -Patterns/Image sampler -Size of module








Rather than selecting specific results and further develop, the matrix process was used for analysis, discussion and a platform to draw inspiration for further development. Result of analysis: - Panelisation are more directional and less cluttered - Smaller modules allows more flexibility to play with more options - From the technique which involved image sampler comes the inspiration of incorperating rhythms into the design






Exploding with colours and exclaiming for attention, the Spanish Pavilion by Foreign Office Architects was the perfect example that has all the qualities that the group is looking for. Representing Spain in a foreign land, the Spanish Pavilion has its facade embedded with the colours that represent the country. Six colour ceramic tiles which reflects wine, roses, blood from bullfight, sun and sand - colours associated to Spain are assembled on a hexagonal grid. Arrangement of the colour tiles were composed in a six piece lattice system to produce a variety of patterns consisting of geometry and colour. Study of this design is critical to the development of the Wyndham Gateway Project. For this precedent has relatively similar design intention to that of the project and being awarded with the RIBA Worldwide Awards 2005, it has achieve a relatively high standard in fulfilling its objective that we can learn from.

Left: The non-repeating tiling was composed of six elements of distint colour and shape (Spanish-Pavilion,, viewed on 15 Sept 2012)

MORPHOGENESIS 01 (EVOLUTION OF DESIGN) Evolution Process - Breaking down to smaller modules - Adding of attractor points to orientate panels to specific spot according to vehicular movement - Trying out with different layers of modules - Finally adding colours/materials into the model (refer to MORPHOGENESIS 02)

Breakdown Attractors

Selection of the amount of layers and points is a subjective but critical analysis that is being carried out through group discussion to strike a balance of effectiveness of the objective and level of distraction. Evaluation Too many attractor points - messy, lost of direction Too many layers - too distracting 3 layers with 2 attractor points on each layer seems good


Colours , viewed on 17th Sept 2012


Voids & Solids

Colour Module Composition

Shortlisted Compositions

The selection of colours goes through two level of study - matrix style. This give the project two areas for the play of rhythms when the users drive pass. First, the study of solid and voids, this involved the execution of light and shadow and glimpes of the opposite traffic - visual interaction. Next, the study of colour composition, the idea behind this composition is to come out with a system whereby it result in similar effect as the precedent study, the Spanish Pavilion - though seemingly chaotic, it has an orderly rhythm/system to the arrangement and experience.



Mid-semester review has been an insightful process, understanding the design process of other groups; we were able to not only understand the different method and approach others are using but also gave us a deeper understanding of the tool- parametric. Due to the construction of an argument and balancing it in regards to the project, the design of the model was a little too simple and was commented for not pushing the (parametric) tool to its full potential. However, what is heartening is that the panel feels that we have a strong idea. This indicates that we are heading in the right direction, which is important to the group now for it give assurance for the group as we advance towards the next stage. In the next stage, the group will be focusing on several points that were feedback to us. First, we will be further refining the design to the site context and explore how we can further enhance it through more exploration of parametric tool. Next, we will be tackling the issue of construction, as presented in the review, we are looking at exploration of a horizontal element that will tied in both the construction and further enhancing the design intention. Finally, we will be looking at more precedent study at different technique that we can use to give identity to our design – as the feedback was that there is no colour or material that is related to Wyndham City. Therefore further study on the city and other options of inserting this quality is necessary.

Mid semester 2  
Mid semester 2  

3rd edit to the journal