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DPM II FORMFINDING EXAMPLES In order to introduce students to the methodology and tools of the form-finding task, four different workshops will be held on a number of software alternatives and sustainability themes. In groups, students will then be expected to develop their own sustainability themes through the use of the software tools explored in the workshops. The four workshops will be: ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ

Capturing water through structural form (3d Studio Max) Efficient ventilation through wind dynamics (Vasari) Maximising solar exposure (3d Studio Max) Material economy through structural form (Rhino/Grasshopper)

Some examples of natural systems that can be studied within these categories are:

WATER OR AIR FLOW THROUGH NAUTILUS FORM “Spiraling nautilus shells, swaying kelp, and skin pores all share a fundamental spiral geometry. This same spiral moves fluids more efficiently than the rotors and impellers humans have been designing for centuries. The pervasive logarithmic spiral pattern found throughout the natural world is an optimal flow form, allowing fluids to travel as fast as possible without transitioning from a laminar to turbulent flow”. Jay Harman, founder of PAX Scientific. www.paxscientific.com.

ABSORBTION OF WATER THROUGH PEATLAND AGGREGATION “By mimicking the structures of peatlands, a community could absorb periodic waters. Peatlands are of particular interest to water resource managers because they occur extensively in the headwater areas of many streams and rivers. Peatlands can have large impacts on the quantity and quality of the receiving waters (e.g. Brooks 1992; Verry 1997). The response of peatlands to large rainstorms is different from that of mineral soil uplands. The lack of topographic relief, the absence of well-defined channels, and the shallow water tables all combine to make peatlands behave hydrologically like unregulated, shallow reservoirs. Some peatlands act to regulate the flow of water in the landscape. Flow regulation would attenuate flow in wet conditions and release it in dry conditions." (Rydin and Jeglum 2006:152)


TERMITE-VENT GEOMETRIES FOR EFFICIENT VENTILATION “The ovoid nests of termites carry away dangerous accumulations of heat and carbon dioxide via ventilation shafts.The outside of this ovoid bunker is perforated by a series of vents or tubes (or vents converging on circumferential tubes giving rise to more vents, or an arrangement even more elaborate); the structure of these vents and tubes is so unique that they are often used for species identification. As a rule, the vents run down from the inside to the outside, which would keep dripping moisture out and draw cool air up and into the structure. The entire home is suspended from all walls on arching pillars. Ventilation shafts bring cool fresh air in and carry warm stale air out." (Gould and Gould 2007:136)

AIR FLOW THROUGH SPONGE TISSUE “Ventilation system in a large building can use the sponge diagram for moving air upwards” (Weaver, 2007).

FIBONACCI PATTERN FOR MAXIMISED SOLAR EXPOSURE “Patterning seeds in spirals of Fibonacci numbers allows for the maximum number of seeds on a seed head, packed uniformly, with no crowding at the center and no 'bald patches' at the edges. In other words, the sunflower has found optimal space utilization for its seed head. The Fibonacci sequence works so well for the sunflower because of one key characteristic—growth. On a sunflower seed head, the individual seeds grow and the center of the seed head continues to add new seeds, pushing those at the periphery outwards. Following the Fibonacci sequence ensures growth on the same terms indefinitely. That is to say, as a seed head grows, seeds will always be packed uniformly, and with maximum compactness." (Grob, 2007).


STRUCTURAL EFFICIENCY THROUGH HEXAGONAL GRID "The hexagonal cells of bees and wasps create an extraordinarily strong space-frame, in particular in the vertical bee comb with two cell layers back to back with half a cell's shift in the position to create a threedimensional pyramidal structure. The extraordinary strength is exemplified by a comb 37 centimetres by 22.5 centimetres in size, which is made of 40 grams of wax but can contain about 1.8 kilograms of honey." (Pallasmaa 1995:81,101)

ENHANCED STRUCTURE THROUGH BONE AND TENDON CONNECTIVITY "In the building sector, connections between parts and elements are almost always discontinuous and articulated as dividing seams, instead of a smoother transition in materiality and thus functionality (such as can be seen in the way tendon and bone connect, deploying the same fibre material yet across a smooth transition of mineralisation). The understanding and deployment of gradient thresholds in materiality and environmental conditions can yield the potential for complex performance capacities of material systems. This will require a detailed understanding of the relation between material makeup and resultant behavioural characteristics." (Hensel, 2006).

MINIMISED MATERIAL IN DRAGONFLY’S WINGS “The wings of insects combine structural support and material economy because they are flat, braced surfaces. Insect wings provide yet another example of braced, flat surfaces--cylindrical cantilever beams (veins) support a thin membrane. A pound of fruit-fly wings laid end to end would stretch about 500 miles, a very low mass per unit length--a steel wire to go so far would have about the same diameter as a red blood cell. Yet in each second of flight the tip of a wing moves several meters and reverses direction four hundred times. Other paddles and fins are fairly flat as well, as are some feathers, the book gills of horseshoe crabs, and a scattering of other stiff structures. In all these cases, though, flatness suits functions other than support. From a mechanical viewpoint the flatness of these systems, however impressive, is perhaps best regarded as a necessary evil--and their designs incorporate features that offset their intrinsically low flexural stiffness." (Vogel 2003:439)


PENGUIN FEATHER ARRANGEMENT MAXIMISES INSULATION “Feathers of penguins trap air to retain warmth by being filamentous and forming a continuous layer around the body. As insulators, feathers are even more efficient than fur. Only a bird--the penguin--can survive on the Antarctic ice-cap in winter, the coldest place on earth. The penguin's feathers are devoted entirely to this task. They are filamentous and trap the air in a continuous layer all round the body. This, reinforced by a thick coat of fat just beneath the skin, enables the hot-blooded penguins to stand about in a blizzard in temperatures of forty degrees below freezing and remain there for weeks on end, even without stoking their internal warmth with a meal." (Attenborough 1979:178-179)

BIBLIOGRAPHY Attenborough, David (1979). Life on Earth. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company. 319 p. Gould, James L; Gould, Carol Grant. (2007). Animal architects: building and the evolution of intelligence. New York: Basic Books. 324 p. Grob V; Pfeifer E; Rutishauser R. (2007). Sympodial construction of Fibonacci-type leaf rosettes in Pinguicula moranensis (Lentibulariaceae). Annals of Botany. 100(4): 857-863. Hensel, M. Menges, A. (2006) Differentiation and performance: multi-performance architectures and modulated environments. Architectural Design, Special Issue: Techniques and Technologies in Morphogenetic Design Volume 76, Issue 2, pages 60–69, March/April 2006 Pallasmaa, J. (1995). Animal architecture. Helsinki: Museum of Finnish Architecture. 126 p. Rydin, H.; Jeglum, J. K. (2006). The Biology of Peatlands. Oxford University Press. 343 p. Vogel, Steven (2003). Comparative Biomechanics: Life's Physical World. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 580 p. Weaver, James C.; Aizenberg, Joanna; Fantner, Georg E.; Kisailus, David; Woesz, Alexander; Allen, Peter; Fields, Kirk; Porter, Michael J.; Zok, Frank W.; Hansma, Paul K.; Fratzl, Peter; Morse, Daniel E. (2007). Hierarchical assembly of the siliceous skeletal lattice of the hexactinellid sponge Euplectella aspergillum. Journal of Structural Biology. 158(1): 93-106.


FORMFINDING EXAMPLES