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y name is Stanley Yeoh, I am 20 years old and in my third year of architecture. I was born in New Zealand but was brought up in Melbourne for the majority of my life. I have always been interested in design since young, just the notion of creating something tangible that people can appreciate and enjoy is something that I strive for. I believe that architecture allows us to make our mark on the world, doing so through something that is used on a daily basis and that is experienced physically and spiritually gives a complete meaning to the word design.


Through the Design studio: Water, I had studied the famous architect Louis Kahn and I came to appreciate his philosophy of honesty towards architecture and the theory of form following function. Although I appreciate aesthetics in a building, I do believe that a building has to do more than look appealing. Coming into this subject I find the different approach to architecture with justification through algorithms a nice change from what I’ve been studying, and I look forward to exploring the vast world that is architecture. This includes the use of different digital design tools such as Grasshopper and Rhino.


y previous encounter with Rhino was during Virtual Environments in my first year of semester 1. The case study required us to create a lantern that could be worn anywhere on the body. Its form was meant to represent a complex concept that demonstrated a natural process. I found this was a great exploration as it forced us to research outside of the aesthetic realm. My project focused on the natural process of movement of the human body playing tennis. Personally I enjoyed playing tennis so tracking the movements of the arm muscles was very fascinating to me. The end result came about from initially tracking position and movement points of the arm during a forehand swing.

I took pictures of myself playing tennis and tracked the points and came about an initial form. From here I found that through Rhino I was able to manipulate the data and create a form that was more suited to wrap around my body. I find that this project has great relevance to this subject as it focuses on the exploration of processes through the research of computational techniques. Form finding was much easier to develop with the different uses of Rhino, the addition of Grasshopper during this project would be able to further push the concept, certain parameters could be explored and a more interesting form developed.




ARCHITECTURE AS A DISCOURSE A rchitecture is a profession that extends itself past the physical; many see architecture as merely the built form, of buildings and houses.

But architecture is more than this, as Patrick Schumacher describes, it is a system of communications, more than a profession and more than a collection of buildings. Rather it is networking tool that allows us to express, generate and represent ideas not only to our infrastructure, but as a subsystem of society.

The profession has moved past architecture as an art form of set rules that defines aesthetics, and now has become a representation of ideas and methods of thinking.

To be able to move forward in architecture, one must look at what society is looking for, and when looking at a building nowadays, you should be able to see a progression of thinking and exploration in physical form.

Architecture above all is a social construct, one which responds to and relates to its surroundings and to society itself, by doing so it intervenes into other communication systems outside of the profession of architecture.

Resources Patrik Schumacher, ‘Introduction : Architecture as Autopoietic System’, in The Autopoiesis of Architecture (Chichester: J. Wiley, 2011), pp. 1 - 28




he Esplanade Theatre is an iconic structure in Singapore known for its distinctive façade and unique sun shading system. The collaboration between the Singapore based DP Architects and London based Michael Wilford & Partners (MWP) drew from the structural geometries and environmental adaptations of natural elements such as sunflowers, fish scales and bird feathers. But most distinctive is its similarity with the durian fruit, not only in its appearance but also in how it relates to the environmental context. The durian fruit creates a semirigid pressurized skin to protect the inside from temper

nature changes, the Esplanade adopts this method through its sun shading louvers which responds to the suns angle and position creating unobstructed views from the inside while protecting the visitors from the harsh climate of Singapore. Personally, I find that the Esplanade is a spectacle to see up close, I admire the complex yet stimulating exterior but yet at the same time a light and almost transparent interior. But what I find most interesting is its use of biomimetic shading techniques that tie this large building to its surroundings, because of the angles at which the louvers are positioned; they are ever changing and dynamic playing with light and shadow.

The subtle curves of the building balance the elaborate texture of the external aluminium façade system and results in a softer, more organic structure. The façade design was all achieved with the intensive help of computer systems to create the various triangular geometric louvers. With the CAD software they were able to experiment and explore the different angles and shapes that would create the optimum shading experience intended from every angle.

Resources Patrik Schumacher, ‘Introduction : Architecture as Autopoietic System’, in The Autopoiesis of Architecture (Chichester: J. Wiley, 2011), pp. 1 - 28 “DPA Projects/ Esplanade- Theatre By the Bay“, last modified March 20, 2013, sg/projects/esplanade/


Top Left: Image from interior of the Esplanade Theatre emphasising the light passing through the sunshading louvers and creating a bright transparent interior. Source: esplanade/ Bottom Left: Birds eye view of the whole of the Marina center at night highlighting the iconic Esplanade Source: esplanade/




ON on Orchard road is one of landmarks of Singapore’s shopping district being placed on the corner of the busiest shopping street in Singapore. Its brilliant façade demonstrates Singapore’s first building which uses a Monocoque approach in which the external skin is able to support the loads imposed onto the building. Supported additionally with a canopy structure, this building becomes an iconic monument that stands out within the crowd.

Resources “ION Orchard- Singapore’s Most Iconic Malls“, last modified March 20, 2013, http://agfacadesign. com/images/Layout-on-ION-Orchard.pdf “Arup- ION ORCHARD“, last modified March 20, 2013, aspx


Following the idea of organic architecture, the free form contours take its influence from that of an orchard so that the project could be seen as an urban seed that would lead to further urban innovation. The large load supporting canopy takes its visual and structural influence from that of tree roots and branches so that the overall organic and free form provokes interaction between the building and the people. The amorphous contours of the facade are an example of the significant use of technology

in creating free flowing shapes that is still able to hold its own weight and ultimately being able to determine the best possible surface and shape to use in the skin system. This exercise in simplicity and efficiency shows the evolution of Singapore’s urban fabric and built environment.

Top Left: Image of ION Orchard at night and in built LED lights. Source: default/files/project_pdfs/Singapore-ION Orchard-L2172.pdf Bottom Left: View from ground level of facade and canopy columns in daytime Source: http://www.worldarchitecturenews. com/index.php?fuseaction=wanappln.showprojectbigimages&img=2&pro_id=11570 Bottom Left: Comupter render of ION Orchard at night Source:




COMPUTATIONAL ARCHITECTURE C omputing in architecture has evolved to a level to where it is included in every part of a building’s development. Despite this, it is more important to see where the computational techniques used are able to contribute to the discourse in the autopoetic system of architecture. As human cognitive abilities are limited to an extent that prevent certain spaces to be discovered, people argue that computational design is the answer to work around these human limits. We have to take advantage of the analytical abilities and precision of computers so to cover for our cognitive limits. But yet in the same way use our ability to cover the computers lack of creativity. As mentioned by Yehuda, it is important to see computers as a tool that we can use to further analyze our design problem, and in turn as architects we use this information to further expand our understand

ing of the surrounding design alternatives, and therefore expanding the design space.

Looking at computational design as a tool, has reference to the amplification approach which Woodbury has towards the implementation of computers, using computers to encode certain algorithms or analyze data and condition, allows for further exploration and design states to be created. As described in Robert Woodbury’s “Whither Design Space” , architecture is an exploration of the design space to further evolve and develop the design states and paths. Discovering these paths lead to ever evolving states that allows exploration into more undiscovered space ultimately creating infinite possibilities. In a way this is reminiscent of Schumacher’s description of architecture as an autopoetic system in that it is evolving through a vast category of mediums generating their own components through an ongoing flow of processes.

Resources Yehuda E. Kalay, Architecture’s New Media : Principles, Theories, and Methods of Computer-Aided Design (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004), pp. 5 - 25 Kolarevic, Branko, Architecture in the Digital Age: Design and Manufacturing (New York; London: Spon Press, 2003), pp. 3 - 28 Woodbury, Robert F. and Andrew L. Burrow (2006). ‘Whither design space?’, Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing, 20 , 2, pp. 63-82




uwait International Airport was designed by the architects Foster & Partners and is a strong example of computational design being integrated into our design process.

With computational support they were able to experiment and imply different options to further expand their design space.

After looking at design spaces and how we strive to explore the undiscovered space, I find that this concept is a perfect example of how computational methods are able to amplify and further establish the design and the process.

Figure 1 shows an example of the experiments that were taken place that shows the exploration of explicit space, which allowed them to go back to past design states and create different paths and processes to arrive at another new state that enters undiscovered space.

The main idea around this structure is that of geometrical symmetry. The architects experimented with different forms of encoded symmetry to try and find one that integrates the interfaces of the bays at each of the points.

This experiments with the symmetrical capabilities of the triangular form and the different rotations that could be achieved through mirroring along the diagonal points.

The geometric curves are created through the use T splines that work together with the symmetry-encoded representation to create a highly complex curvature. This building is an example of a simplified computational approach that explores symmetry and geometry to expand its design space and capabilities. This design approach can be seen as a mix between computational amplification of geometrical form making and of a codification method to create a mirror symmetrical design state.

Figure 1: Diagrams showing the exploration of the encoded symmetry.

Figure 2 shows the final product from the experiments that show the symmetry of the airport. I find that the amplification of the design concept through the use of computers give this building a lot more depth and is a great example of the exploration of design space through the research of computers.

Figure 2: Diagram of the showing the 3 points of the mirrored symmetry of the airport.

Top Left: Perspective rendering of Kuwait International Airport Source: courses/ABPL30048_2013_SM1/Computation%20Works%20-%20The%20Building%20of%20Algorithmic%20 Thought.pd Bottom Left: Concept rendering of Kuwait international Airport Source: indesign/





rnhem Central is a large transport hub part of an urban master plan that consists of office space, houses, station hall, railway platform and underpass, a car tunnel, bicycle storage and a large parking space. Because of the wide range of intricate requirements and necessities, the developments require a methodical approach. This building by UNStudio is a perfect illustration of computational design action approach rather than amplification, the program used is Visual Basic .NET, a programming language within Rhino. The programming of the building focuses on the relationship of the patterned panels in the context of

the structural, material and economic parameters. In this case the panels are arranged to develop a pattern that was dependent on anchor locations and geometrical efficiencies, modification to these aspects through the program show the limits and automatically look for solutions to the geometry, creating flat or curved surfaces. The system goes through the design process and discovers problems by itself and is able to check for the optimum solutions, the system is able to actively update unrelated properties instead of dealing with individual elements.

Figure 1: Concept rendering of site plan showoing basic geometry

Unlike the amplification method, this approach implements computational techniques into the design and further suggests solutions to the problem, this is in contrast to using computational techniques to represent and support the designer method. This building proves that computation is not restricted to merely assisting form making and form controlling and instead demonstrates the significance of the piece of code or software, to communicate the design and idea across multiple disciplines.

Figure 2: Mock up of roof panels showing computational generation of panel boundaries.

Top Left: Perspective rendering of Arnhem Central Source: Bottom Left: Interior rendering of Arnhem Central Source:





omputing in architecture Parametric architecture is a type of digital architecture that is used as a geometric model in which the geometry is a function of a finite set of parameters, also can be describes as a “set of equations that express a set of quantities as functions”, these equations or parameters can be used to shape and define geometry and forms to create the contemporary parametric architecture we see today. As Patrik Schumacher describes in his manifesto for “Parametricism”, he describes the parametric architecture as a style that was to succeed modernism, he states that it was to replace separation and repetition with continuous differentiation and intensive correlation. As it is true that parametric architecture do hold these

qualities, it is important to see parametric design not bound to a certain style or rules. In order to intensify the internal subsystems and the external relationships within the context he states that a parametric approach is to consist of soft forms with systems that are differentiated and interdependent so to avoid simple repetition and rigid forms. In spite of this, computational design like the parametric model is a representation tool, it is used to amplify and work through the process to arrive at a different design state, to restrict parametric design to forms that are fluid and malleable, is ignoring the value of the process in which the parameters manipulate and alter the geometric model.

Nevertheless, Schumacher’s intentions were to convey that these principles were to enable a further push to the design process rather than to restrict them; they are used as a self-criticism guideline to encourage more differentiation and correlation. Through processes and computational techniques, and by using the principles as a guide lines to further encourage a more complex model, I find that the geometry would result in a form that Schumacher describes, but essentially what is significant is the performance based analysis and algorithmic instruction and the representation of this to achieve what is known as parametric architecture.




he Nord Park project is a good demonstration of parametric modeling generating complex geometries that fit well into Schumacher’s description of parametricism. The project consists of four stations leading up to the mountains, each adapting to its site context, considering aspects such as altitude and topography. The structures are a light fluid geometry that almost floats and acts as artificial landscape. Its soft contours and shapes reflect various movement and circulation patterns, as a result resembles natural ice formations of glaciers.


The design itself is computer generated and represents a form finding exploration through parametric modeling. The track for the cable cars have set ratios and inclinations, hence acts as technical parameters. Despite this, parametric modeling enables flexibility in the form allowing manipulation in the parameters while keeping the formal integrity. Two contrasting elements were explored as the concept for the project, “Shell & Shadow”, this implies a very different approach in comparison to buildings such as the Arnhem Cen

-tral Hub, as many would assume these buildings would adopt a top-down approach in which the form is already defined through principles that Schumacher himself describes in his manifesto. Initially it may seem like a top-down approach, but what is initially defined at the start is an approach rather than a select form. ZHA works concentrating on the formal aspect of the design, the form can’t come last, hence the form not determined and can change during the duration of the design. This is where the computational

methods are employed, although at first it seems computational design is used as designer action, since there is a vague definition of form in mind the use of parametric modeling seems to be more of a amplification tool.

Left: Alpenzoo Station Source: Bottom Left: Hungerburg Station Source:





he roof consisting of 3312 uniquely shapes triangular panels of glass is on the many parametric marvels of contemporary architecture, the Britain Museum roof designed by Foster + Partners in collaboration with Buro Happold engineers, demonstrates a key aspect in the parametric design approach, it marks an important point in the development of physics based form finding. The structure is created completely based on computational simulations and calculations. The simulation used was similar to a nucleus simulation in which constraints and colliders are added to nucleus simulator and creates parametric simulations from selecting a material.

During this simulation is where explorations of the explicit space can be conducted to find the optimum shape. Along with this form finding simulation, the relaxation algorithm was used. This involves adjusting triangular grids to release tensions. It aims to position the vertex through placing it in a location calculated by taking the average of the positions of the 6 adjacent members. After finding the position of one vertex, the algorithm repeats and creates the grid. Seeing this structure as a parametric design is significant, as we look into the manifesto of Patrik Schumacher and his description of parametricism. Looking at parametric design in terms of a style forc

es us to see them as soft and fluid structures similar to work of Zaha Hadid, where the structure seems to flow around its environments, yet the same cannot be said about the roof of the British Museum. Schumacher implies that the roof is “excluded� from the definition of parametricism despite its sophisticated computational design processes. This is where it is important to see the limitations of classifying parametricism as a style, ignoring the design processes and focusing on the top-down methods to arrive at an inevitable form, would ultimately disregard many future projects just on its form.

Right: Roof of the Great Court in British Museum Source:



his Rhino file shows my attempt at creating an origami folding model on Grasshopper. I was not sure where to start hence I resorted to the Grasshopper forums. Here I came across a “Origami tutaorial“ which taught from scrath how to create a moving paper like structure. To be honest I found the tutorial far too complicated but I gave it a shot anyways, this is my attempt which was not completed. Despite this, I found that looking at tutorials was useful in that it enabled me to copy certain paths and processes that were used, and reinterpret them into more complex forms. In this case I wasnt able to complete the tutorial but it still taught me a few useful

Tutorial: Ivo A. Semerdjiev••



his exploration shows a basic Rhino model experimenting with the mesh and the loft commands to create a simple structure. From the initial lofting curves, I used the same formal to create a different shape and hence a different form. This is an exploration of explicit space in the design exploration, it applies the copy and paste path method that Woodbury mentions in his reading. By going back to past design states I was able to change the formality of the structure and instead of a tube like basket, it was morphed into a standing structure. This is a basic understanding of how computational techniques may contribute to the design and to solving certain probelms



ooking back at the research and the several readings, I have made the conclusion that computational techniques are a crucial method in creating a discourse in architecture. It not only allows us justify our design ideas but continues to enhance our ways of thinking in terms of design exploration. Through this exploration we will be able to combine the surrounding context with more complex systems outside of the field of architecture. I found that many of the precedents adopt several computational methods and these methods create unique processes which further enhance the


For the Wyndham City Gateway project, I would strive to explore the designer space through computational methods, such as algorithms and collected data of aspects that related to the surrounding context. I would like to approach this project through amplification similar to that of the Kuwait International Airport by Foster & Partners or the Nord Park Cable Railways, as it provides us with a representation tool that allows us to explore the extent of our creativity and processes of thinking. This does not limit the processes of designer

in which the computational techniques suggest alternatives and intimately involves itself within the process such as the Arnhem Central Project. This would prove to be a unique and interesting approach in that it would lead to a complex set of algorithms and would relate closely to the context. As a result, I would aim to create a precise and complex project that is able to relate to the site context, as well as demonstrate a strong and well thought through process in which elaborates the significance


nitially this subject was unclear to me in how it related to a more practical sense of architecture, but after engaging in the readings and the theories of such architects as Patrik Schumacher and Robert Woodbury, I learned that this subject was less about what building or structure you create, but rather how you got there and the process undertaken to arrive at the certain design state. This subject allowed me to see architecture as

more than built forms and spaces, even more than experiences and context and more as an exploration of thinking. This subject opened my eyes to seeing buildings as a representation of process and exploration into the realm of design. The design space is infinite and in contemporary architecture we are able to further explore the possibilities with the advanced computational techniques as we see today.



REFERENCES Patrik Schumacher, ‘Introduction : Architecture as Autopoietic System’, in The Autopoiesis of Architecture (Chichester: J. Wiley, 2011), pp. 1 - 28 “DPA Projects/ Esplanade- Theatre By the Bay“, last modified March 20, 2013, http:// “ION Orchard- Singapore’s Most Iconic Malls“, last modified March 20, 2013, “Arup- ION ORCHARD“, last modified March 20, 2013, ION_Orchard.aspx Yehuda E. Kalay, Architecture’s New Media : Principles, Theories, and Methods of Computer-Aided Design (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004), pp. 5 - 25 Kolarevic, Branko, Architecture in the Digital Age: Design and Manufacturing (New York; London: Spon Press, 2003), pp. 3 - 28 Woodbury, Robert F. and Andrew L. Burrow (2006). ‘Whither design space?’, Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing, 20 , 2, pp. 63-82






n this section of our exploration, a combination of case studies were explored to support our initial concept design approach. The brief enabled us to choose from a number of design approaches that would be a stepping stone for our development of ideas. Our design approach focused on structure, which we found was a very broad and extensive topic. Because of its broad nature, there was not a set case study for us to focus on. This allowed us to explore several of the topics to find what we found relevant to our design approach. As a result this gave us a range of case studies to experiment with and more importantly, gave us a stronger understanding of grasshopper components.

We find that structure as a parametric approach would be interesting to the Wyndham City Gateway project as it would allow us to challenge the extents of expressive form while still considering its structural capacity as a self supporting structure. As structure is the main aspect in which we will construct our exploration, it will be interesting to see where engineering ends and architecture begins. We want to explore the notion of structural integrity mainly being considered after the concept and spatial layout and challenge this idea to enable concept and structure to be one in the same. Acheiving this allows us to see how structure can dictate form rather than being an obstacle required to pass to support the concept.










Distributing lines around a point and creating a point charge to prevent lines from intercepting. Using a graph mapper to morph lines into a curved form creating a structure.

Creates a mesh from an extruded voranoi of a few points to create vertices for Kangaroo input. Implements into Kangaroo to simulate a unary force upwards resulting in a curved form between anchor points.

From a lunchbox panel grid, creates a set grid which is is able to differ depending on panel type. Then creates a line that has attracting and repelling properties to create differing sized holes in the grid relative to the line.

Distorts and manipulates grid lines around a set of points. Very similar to the the concept of point charge from the Biothing, manipulates the lines to come together in a pinching motion rather than the opposite.

From two adjustable surfaces, creates a set grid of lines. Then relates these two surfaces together through similar points to create lines that connect to to surfaces resulting in a 3D space frame.

From a single curve, divides into points and extrudes these points out to create a grid. The centre of these points are found and extruded in the Z plane which enables the points to connect and create the effect of a truss system.

Utilising the advatages of lunchbox, creates a custom space frame grid that is a lot more flexible and adjustable but with the disadvatage of having iregular lengths and sizes.


his matrix shows the different case studies that were explored throughout the design process of our initial model and case study idea for structure. Many of these case studies were crucial to the progression of the technique that we decided to use. However it is important to point out that most of these case studies are not directly related to the concept of structure, but each helped us further our understanding of certain components to allow us to move forward. Even if we found that certain case studies brought us to a dead end, this in itself provided us with a direction as well as external alternative path which we may choose to come back to for further exploration in the future.


his matrix shows the different case studies that we explored, it shows the progression of concept and ideas that we struggled with in terms of finding relevance to structure. As there was no set case study for structure we began looking at the Biothing project thinking it would give us a starting point for a technique to utliise. By changing the base curve (Figure 1) and altering the curve parameters we experimented with the different forms possible. We found the component of the point charge the most interesting as it allowed the lines to react with each other without touching, in terms of application it would allow for unique and ever changing forms.

Figure 1: Image of case study after expermentations of base curve and form.

In terms of structure this technique did not help us justify the form. Despite this, the graph mapper component gave us the option of flexible form finding though equations and curves. The notion of expressive form finding is what intrigued us but the relation of the case study to structure is too vague, even after lofting the resulting surface (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Lofted surface of resulting case study curves.



L Figure 1: Image of case study after expermentations of base curve and form.

ooking at the case study of the Voussiour Cloud project, the most important aspect was the use of Kangaroo to help create the form. After creating a mesh from a voronoi, the Kangaroo component uses a unary force to create the structural component of the structure, mainly the column anchor points and the vertices along the mesh. The use of Kangaroo enabled us to explore dynamic form finding with the physics simulation component.

Figure 2: Lofted surface of resulting case study curves.



Matrix showing experimentation with different grid systems, different panelling options and base curves and shapes


Basic form finding exercise involving the unary force component from the Kanaroo Plugin. Simulates an inverted gravity effect allowing the original mesh to rise from its edges to create a more fluid organic form.

Original mesh before form altering, mesh created from voronoi points, hence creates random shapes as the column areas.

Pinned the anchor points at the base of the lower extruded curves to simulate the columnns of the structure, The mesh is then forced upwards in relation to the points on the columns.

Reversing the unary force creates the same effect but with a sinking geometry instead of a inflated structure. This simlulates such structures that may hang from the roof connected by wires.

By increasing the unary force the form inflates to its maximum stress level depending on the position of the anchor points. If not for the anchor points the mesh would continue upwards until the form gives out, similar to how a balloon pops.


Changing the anchor point position and scale creates different forms once the unary force is applied.

With different anchor point shapes, the mesh that is affected by the unary force is lessened or increased, hence changing the overall stress of the mesh.

Anchor points that are too close together result in the unary force collasping the mesh.

Combining different anchor point sizes and unary force levels.


As well as applying different degrees of unary force, we also changed the unary force vector direction. Unlike reversing the unary force as in using a negative figure. Altering the vector alters the resulting unary force.

Due to the altered vector direction, the resulting mesh will follow accordingly creating a more organic struture, the structural capacity is tested in terms of unary force direction and amplitude.

By altering the vector direction, anchor point position and degree of pressure, the unary force component results in more natural and expressive forms.

As a result allowed us to explore the idea of expressive form finding to allow for more natural surfaces. Through this it could allow us to implement resulting surfaces into future components. For example a combination of lunchbox and the unary force component. Instead of the random voronoi shapes. Lunchbox allows for a more organised set grid for the unary force to be applied to.




he Canton Tower is a building that demonstrates the expressive and practical uses of structural design. Information Based Architects (IBA) collaborated with Arup, to create a simple structural concept using three elements: columns, rings and braces. The Canton Tower is a great example of structure and form enhancing the concept in mind, in this case the slender twisting form, mimics a beautiful elegant lady with a slim

figure, inspired by the bones of the human hip joint. However the design is far from a top down approach where the concept dictates the form. Through parametric design methods, two ellipses are morphed in a twisting motion relative to each other enabling the lattice structure to tighten and create a “waist“. We imitated this motion through creating the lattice grid in grasshopper and rotating the base curves, as a result the



lattice grids follow accordingly tightening in the middle. The Canton Tower demonstrated flexibility of form through twisting. From this, we plan to explore the flexibility of the essentially rigid properties of a structural grid, we want to see the limitations of structural components in terms of form, rigidity and fabrication.

Image of Canton Tower Source:

Grasshopper Definition of Canton Tower


Matrix showing experimentation with different grid systems, different panelling options and base curves and shapes




ade from five overlapping solid truss systems, the Tokyo Tatsumi Swimming Center is a sports center for both international events and public use. The form of this structure is based off the beating wings of a waterbird which relates to its position on the coastline of Tokyo port. This building interested us as it demonstrated the structural use of a space frame truss system to support an inconventional roof form.

Unlike the Canton Tower, this building demonstrates the possibilities of space frames in terms of supporting a structure as a whole. The structure works as a self supporting shell which is an approach which we would like to consider. the technique is similar to ours, but we would want to explore the design space of different forms. The Canton Tower’s advantage over this building is that it uses parametric techniques to further expand the alternative forms.

This structure in contrast was specially planned as a circular arena while the texture and experience where specifically targeted towards children. Another aspect which we found interesting was the application of panels as cladding. Later in our project we would like to explore this idea but in a way that expresses more than just materiality and texture.

View from Tokyo coastline at facade Source:

Resources JA: The Japan Architect; Spring94, Issue 13, p166-169

Image during construction of Tatsumi swimming center, visible space frame structure Source: space_struct.html








Matrix showing experimentation with different grid systems, different panelling options and base curves and shapes




rom the two case studies that we looked at, we decied to further explore the notion of space frames being able to create an expressive self supporting structure. The challenge in using this structure was utilising grasshopper to freely alter and manipulate it while still keeping the integrity and structural components.

Figure 1: Image of basic space frame model

We began with creating a simple surface frame. By extruding the line to create a surface, a grid was created from the surface and the center points were established. The point were then extruded upwards. From here points were connected to the relating grid point above and between it creating a truss structure. This method resulted in lines in approximate equal lengths, we found this important as it would help greatly in terms of fabrication. This was the first step in recreating a basic form, from here we produced several candidate solutions and worked towards a form to further develop. As Kalay mentions in the reading, this searching process enables us to engage in an undetermined outcome and evaluate the possible outcomes against our goals and constraints.

Resources Figure 2: Model of intended 3D form of space frame. One of the possible outcomes during the search process.

Yehuda E. Kalay, Architecture’s New Media : Principles, Theories, and Methods of Computer-Aided Design (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004), pp. 5 - 25










The first exploration of the space frame trusses, despite varying sizes the most logical result came from a lower depth but essentially a larger amount of trusses.

With a single straight line, the options were very limited, hence a curved line was explored, again more trusses meant more definition in the curve.

Exploration into a curved surface enabled the idea of roof structures that is suspended, however this contradicts the notion of a self supporting

A truss made from 2 surfaces enables form to be pushed, combining the curved and straight lined space frames. Depite this, the lengths are altered dramatically and the structural integrity is vastly influenced. Curves that differ less affect the lengths less. After experimenting with a horizontal structure that was not self supporting, the next step was a vertical partition that would stand by itself. Although a interesting idea, structural integrity is unstable. The most successful form would have the larger foundation surface area. A cantilever structure enables us to further push the idea of a self supporting structure and evolve the vertical partition form. Yet the base would have to be wide to be able to support. This would have to be tested under stress. The final forms that were explored were lofted geometries. Lofted surfaces like these were highly complicated but enabled several expressive forms. The most successful forms created a strong base.




lthough research was undertaken on many expressive forms, we struggled to find a way to fabricate a prototype that demonstrated how our model would function, considering how we only had experience with the laser cutter printer. Looking at how real larger scale buildings were built helped us realise a construction method. We concentrated on the joints of each of the trusses to start the fabrication. In the Canton Tower, the trusses are held together by joint at the edges of each of the columns

In other examples of trusses, each truss is fixed to a ball socket that is screwed into indents. With the help of the tutors we were given the idea of 3D printing these balls and creating holes in each so to differentiate the angles and postions. We would then manually insert the trusses into the indents to create our structure. For us to realise this model we had to consider the lengths of each of the trusses. After looking at the intended model we found that the length were all random which caused a problem. Nevertheless, our

original single line space frame and extruded curve space frame was created from a different definition. Rather than basing the space frame on a surface, it was based on a set grid where the values can be set. This shows the importance of back tracking, as it is a common feature in the search process. We used this as a starting point to begin our prototype.

Figure 1: Image of the inside of the Canton Tower showing the joint of each of the columns

Figure 2: Ball soccket joint used on a truss system



Resources Yehuda E. Kalay, Architecture’s New Media : Principles, Theories, and Methods of Computer-Aided Design (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004), pp. 5 - 25




he first model that we completed enabled us to see the limits and strengths of the materials that we used. For this model the factors that contributed were the 3D dust balls, the holes that were made, the trusses (in this case toothpicks) and the glue. The 3D dust balls were accurate to a certain degree, the majority of the holes were in the perfect position but we had encountered several instances where the holes were not oriented correctly. But considering this moel was done without any numbers,


this could be due to human error. Every slight miscalculation effected every other element, this meant that 100% precision was required. We had considered 3D printin the entire model but we found it uneccessary as the model could be manually altered via cutting the stick lengths accordingly or using glue to strengthen the bond. The scale at which we printed our model presented a problem as it was difficult to find the exact stick or wire size to fit into the holes. We were lucky enough to find that

toothpicks fit perfectly after trying wire and bamboo sticks. for such a small scale project the strength of the stick presented no problem. But it was important to consider the thickness and structural integrity when we approach a more complete model.

Diagram showing how the elements are connected to the joint


e started by creating the Rhino file to submit to the Fab Lab, this was done by creating spheres at each of the end points and using the boolean difference command to create the indents. As each of the pipes extended to the center origin of each sphere, another smaller scaled sphere was created to shorten the pipes before they created the indent. We also has to consider the size of each of the holes and the thickness of the pipes that create them. As we were not fabricating the pipes, we had to make sure we were able to access perfect sizes or else the joints would not fit together. Figure 1: Image of the Rhino file sent to the 3D printer


he most important aspect of the fabrication aspect was organisation and this relied on the numbering and classifying each of the balls so that we were able to know which ball connects to which angle. As each ball was different, it would be difficult to determine the location without labels. This is where we met our first problem. The 3D printer that we used was the 3D dust printer which was suggested due to its accuracy and precision. Despite this, at certain scales it is not able to create numbers. The holes and sizes were accurate but the numbers were not visible hence putting together the model involved using the original Rhino file as a guide. Another problem was that the dust balls were used instead of the polymer printer, hence they were much more fragile and prone to collapsing (Figure 3).

Figure 2: Image of the 3D dust balls without the numbering labels

Figure 2: Image showing the fragile properties of the 3D dust balls


B5. TECHNIQUE: PROTOTYPE 2 F or the second prototype, we enlarged the scale which accomodated for the lack of numbers on the balls. Also the larger scale meant it was easier to find materials for the joints. We experimented between thick wire and skewers. In a real life setting, the material used for the structure would most likely be steel but for the sake of accessibility and fine tuning, wooden skewers were used.

Even at a larger scale the size of the holes were not exactly consistant, hence the skewers didnt always fit into the holes, this required for the skewers to be filed down so that it was able to fit without potentially damaging the balls.


For the sencond prototype there were still areas where joints were not properly connected and several adjustments had to be made to the lengths of the trusses to resolve this. In comparison to the Rhino model, the lengths of each of the trusses varied, but in certain parts of the model lengths were generally similar. This helped during the process but we learned that having accurate lengths and angles was difficult to acheive.

In the end we found that although there were discrepencies, the model was a success. Structurally, it was very stable, to the extent of being able to support itself on its side.





B6. TECHNIQUE PROPOSAL F urther development for this project for us meant a stronger justification of our form through structure. We wanted to acheive this through stress analysis simulations through the physics based Kangaroo Plugin. This would further justify the structural integrity of our structure as well as potentially indicating improvements that could be made. The model which we produced was put under several analysis simulations testing different things. Figure 1 shows an analysis of the compression and tension members that are present in the structure. The varying sizes of the pipes indicates the magnitude of the compression or tension forces.



Through this analysis we can determine which members are under stress and which members are not as influences. For further development, this allows us to further push the limitations of structure whilst exploring the idea of unique form. We considered eliminating the members that were not as important to potentially emphasize the main structural components, essentaially resulting in a deceptive looking stable structure.



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B6. STRESS ANALYSIS F or an elaborate design and complex structure such as the proposal mentioned before, it is important to be able to justify and prove its structural stability, this is where we utilised the the simulation aspect of Kangaroo to simulate the structures ability to stand on its own while also allowing changes to the stiffness of the members. This could potentially impact the material that we choose as it could literally make or break the structure. Figure 1 shows the simulation in action analysing the stress on an unstable form. Any visible red or blue indicates too much tension or compression resulting in the form collasping .


The left side of Figure one show high signs of compression and tension to the extent of the form altering and potentially falling over, on the right side, the trusses are too weak because the spans are too long. From this analysis we can determine if there is to be more trusses or a shorter span.

Figure 1: Unstable Kangaroo simulation

In comparison, Figure 2 is stable and shows little sign of buckling and collasping. The stress and load is distributed safely and the form is not altered from its original state. Using this definition would allow us to analyse the structure and determine if it is structural sound.

Figure 2: Stable Kangaroo simulation


Figure 2: Image of a hexagonal space frame Source:


e found the overall feedback extremely helpful in that the panel questioned us about how we were to differentiate the engineering component of structure with the architecture. For us we found that we need to develop our design further to be more than just a structural grid. In our previous exploration, we looked at definitions such as attractor lines and grid pinching. Looking at the reverse engineering exercise with the tatsumi Swimming Center, we considered combining these definitions with the panelling approach which the swimming center used.

By adding panels to our design it could allow us to relate our structure to the site, potentially creating effects with sunlight or reflect data of traffic flows. At the moment we have not yet decided on a concept approach but we find that perhaps this form of ornamentation can enhance our design without taking away from our expression of interest. Another comment from the panel suggested we further explore not only the form of our structure, but the connections

Figure 1: Explorations of attractor points on a surface and grid pinching

In terms of our technique, the grid we use is very generic and it is clear that it is a space frame. We find that we could think of our structure more like a constellation of joints and less like an organised grid structure. It will be a challenge not to be constrained by geometry and utilise grasshopper more to create a floating like structure. A possible option that we could look at is the hexagonal space frame (Figure 2), where the connections are more prone to alterations and has more complex 3 dimensional depth although not neccessarily using a hexagon.


REFERENCES JA: The Japan Architect; Spring94, Issue 13, p166-169 Yehuda E. Kalay, Architecture’s New Media : Principles, Theories, and Methods of Computer-Aided Design (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004), pp. 5 - 25






fter reviewing the feedback and constructive criticism given by the panel, as well as looking at the Wyndham Gateway Proposal in context, we constructed a criteria which would help dictate the direction of our project. This criteria of aims and goals would allow us to create and define our design concept; this would further push our design to develop more depth and relation to its site and user. We also aim to challenge the limitations of this self supporting structure and possibly re-invent how the space truss is perceived. The Wyndham Gateway Proposal wished for a gateway project that not only acts as an eye catching and exciting installation, but as a means to inspire and engage the community of Wyndham city and the users of the Princes Highway. We approach this by creating a design

that plays on the unity of structure and elaborate form; aiming to instill curiousity as well as questioning the users initial sense of rationality. This originally would be acheived through the application of the fluid and complex forms as the self supporting structure, but through our inital concept proposal, it was mentioned that the form although fluid and legible from a distance, becomes visually distracting and confusing to the user itself. This is due to the trusses and grids which are instead perceived as irrelevant webs rather than a comprehensive form. This prompted us to focus on the development of the connections rather than the joints; to see our structure as a constellation rather than random suspended poles. Furthermore this pushed us to concentrate more

on how our structure would be seen from the users perspective. As a result, the idea of immersion became a key concept in enhancing the user’s experience, if the members of our structure are too distracting and random to the user, then we would manipulate the organisation of the truss members in the space frame to effectively create a sense of immersion; to link the experience of the driver and the road to this structure. To further enhance the sense of immersion, we used the idea of floatation and suspension, as to engage the user and prompt the idea of curosity. The idea to create floating joints or members would allow the user to drive through a structure that is suspended in the air, also while boasting an unstable looking form, it would inspire users as they drive through to enquire about the structural capabilities

and properties. The main ideas that we want to convey, are the sense of discovery and curiousity that we wish for the user to experience. This in turn reflects the city of Wyndham’s status as a modern and unique city, our design becomes a physical representation of the goals and culture of the city. Although at first being seen as a rural city far from the city, the city is still strongly supported and works towards sustainability and a greener city. Like our concept, despite being suspended in mid air, the structure is firmly secured to the ground.




ur concept of immersion became the starting point of our form finding stage as we had to explore how to enable a form that engaged the user. From the beginning we aimed to avoid the typical forms of tunnels, although a tunnel has the effect of encompassing and enclosing the user, we found that it did not achieve the inquisitive and challenging nature that we could possibly accomplish. Focusing on the user’s perspective and the idea of an unstable looking structure led us towards cantilevered forms. We were drawn to the ability of structures to seemingly float in the air being supported only from its foundations. Regarding cantilevered structures, it was important to consider that cantilevers are usually anchored only at a certain point, and additional bracing is utilized in more specific areas, this is a problem as we are


proposing a space truss structure that is self-supporting, any additional bracing and anchors would make our proposal contradictory. Therefore we experimented with different forms that combined the structural capabilities of the tunnel with the effect of suspension and immersion of a cantilever. Our first design sketch was an attempt to create a structure that mimics the effect of a cantilever in its instability and suspension while having solid base anchor points on both sides. The form is a cross between an arch and a cantilever where the suspended cantilevered point is directed towards the driver’s perspective to simulate the feeling of instability. The structure would be positioned along the freeway so that the cantilevered point is situated in line with the driver’s perspective.

We found that cantilevered structures was a great form to experiment with in terms of creating the feeling of instability and suspension but it also came with several downfalls. Despite having an arched form and two strong base anchor points, when trialing the form in the Kangaroo stress evaluation the form continued to fail. After manipulating the number of trusses and even extending the base anchored points, we found that without additional bracing such as beams along the sides the cantilevered point will continue to collapse. Additionally, we found that the situating of the structure on the site was too vague; we could essentially place the structure anywhere with a road. Its relation to the site was too disconnected and its point of attraction (i.e. the cantilevered point) was too instantaneous and brief to create the feeling of immersion.

Image the first design concept. Demonstrates how the cantilevered area is suspended in the air

Kangaroo stress simulation: Evaluates the structures ability to support itself, the colours represent the types of stresses applied to the particular member




n the next design concept, we tried to solve the issues we had in the past concept by creating a form that is supported by a larger base area foundation, also by increasing the size of the structure, it potentially increases the immersion effect, rather than being instantaneous, the effect follows the user throughout. This approach was a lot more rational and less daring than the past concept; nonetheless the goal that we were trying to achieve was a form that was able to convey the effect of suspension while still being able to support itself, but most importantly the ability of the form to be related to the site. This concept was the start of the study of how the site properties could possibly enhance and relate the form itself. While looking at the site, we found that the in site B, there was a gradual curve in the road. Considering that we were looking at the perspective of the user and lines of view, we found that we could possibly take advantage of the curve in the road to manipulate the perception of the design to increase the effect of suspension. Although the form is similar to a tunnel, using the perspective of the curved road, the effect could be similar to that of a cantilever while driving through. This concept also displays the manipulation of the space trusses in terms of the density and concentration. We found that when creating the form through curves, the curves with a steeper gradient concentrate the members into tighter clusters. When the curve gradient is gentler, the spherical concentration and member clusters are more spread out. The intended effect of this gradient shifts the users focus to the cluster of spheres and slowly moves the attention to the cantilevered point. The concentration of members on the base of the form creates a sense of structural integrity and stability, whereas the sparse members


members on the top show a sense of weightlessness. Even though this concept differs from our original contention, this concept was able to demonstrate the ability to manipulate the truss system and gives us control in the organisation of the space frame. Unfortunately, this has its limitations; this form displays control of the members only through variants of gradient depending on the curve, this means that the form is limited to a curved structure and the variations of truss manipulations can only be expressed gradually. Although the concept is able to take advantage of the site, we found that the form lacked the ability to immerse the user, its form had the right idea; creating a cantilever effect depending on the position of the user but we found that the members themselves and the spheres were made almost redundant. The gradient effect didn’t translate to the user as its exposure is centred on an irrelevant area of the structure. Instead to amplify the sense of floatation, we would prefer to create a top section that is made from “complex” truss systems while the sides are “simple”. Yet through this concept it would be difficult to employ just gradients to achieve this effect. Also while inputting this structure into the Kangaroo simulator, it was able to hold together better than the past, but the base anchor points are still too weak to hold the long suspended span. This means we would have to try and implement a stronger base support structure such as strip footings to complement the suspended part of the design.

Diagram showing how the form was created, starting from the curves to a lofted surface then implementing the form into Grasshopper to create the trusses structure

Image showing the gradation effect that is created through manipulation of the truss structure

Kangaroo stress simulation: Evaluates the structures ability to support itself, the colours represent the types of stresses applied to the particular member



Figure 1: Site plan showing the proposed position of our design.


fter experimenting with the second concept, it allowed us to think about the design in context and how it would sit on site, the main idea was to place the design so it maximised the exposure of the main feature of the design in conjunction with the viewer’s line of sight while traveling along the road. As mentioned in the previous design concept, this means taking advantage of the curved form of the road to play on the user’s sense of sight and perspective. The curve in particular starts from site C and moves up in between site B and site A. The curve slowly turns to the right direction as it heads towards the petrol station.


This information is integral to our design as we want to be fully aware of what is visible when approaching this turn, it was important to consider which side we want our structure to be on and the effect its position has on the user themselves. As the driver moves along the Princes Highway, the line of vision is directed more to the left hand side of the road, additionally the curve on the right hand side of the road is less exposed to the viewer, potentially hiding part of the structure from view completely. This positioning gives us the ability to control which parts are more and less exposed. In

this case, it would allow us to maximise the effect of suspension through concealing the base anchor points and revealing the cantilevered, floating counterpart. The images on the right demonstrate the ideal positioning of our design, showing that placing the structure on the left hand creates a barrier that draws the focus of the viewer to the vertical truss systems whereas on the left, the focus is drawn to the elevated, suspended part of the structure which emphasises our concept.

Field of Visual Focus

Path to Wyndham


Figure 2: Diagram indicating the field of focus and user line of view as the user drives along Princes Highway.

Figure 3: Experiment showing the different point of views shown from different positions.








1. Create a form that immerses the user into the design so that the experience is clear and immediate 2. Consider the effect of immersion to last throughout the design rather than being instantaeous.

1. Creating a cantilevered point of attraction that appears to be floating to the viewer’s perspective. 2. Manipulate the amount of trusses to create a sense of complex trusses supported by simplipied trusses

1. Provide sufficient anchor points that are able to fully support the cantilevered structure. 2. Ensure the simplified truss system is able to sustain the heavy, complex truss.

1. Take advantage of the curved road to maximise exposure directed at the point of attraction, i.e. suspended cantilever.

Finding the final form involved revising the previous issues and considering all the aims which we wanted to achieve each of the previous design concepts were able to contribute to the criteria of the final form. Our first criteria was the overall effect of immersion that was to be experienced by the user, we found that in the first concept, this effect was decreased; this was because the point of attraction (feeling of suspension) did not carry on throughout the users experience, rather it was instantaneous and didn’t engage the user to the extent that we preferred. Despite this, we were still attracted to that instant where the user does experience the cantilevered form hence we began to further develop this idea in the final form to enhance the experience. The second design concept helped us move forward in terms of allowing us to manipulate the amount of trusses and the density of the space frame. By manipulating these trusses we would be able to enhance and elongate the feeling through the members themselves, this was an integral component as it would be one of the aspects which will dictate our final form, therefore we had to find a form that allowed us to manually control the positioning and the density of the trusses. Following on the criteria of immersion, we had to also consider how we were to achieve the effect of suspension. In the first concept we were unable to create a cantilever form without it constantly failing, hence in the second concept, we adopted the idea of creating a form that imitates the effect of a floating cantilever to the user as they drive through, but has the base anchor points arranged in several points. We aim to use this idea in the final form to enhance the effect according to the viewer’s line of view. The third criteria which we had to approach were the stability of

our design. We had to make sure that the structural integrity was not affected by the complexity of the form; this became a problem for us as it was difficult to change one without potentially affecting the other. The first form proved to be too unstable and unrealistic as it was too ambitious in terms of imitating the cantilever structure. This highlighted the fact that we need to create several more anchor points along a larger area, to support the suspended area of the structure. The second concept was a lot more stable, but we found that the anchor points were too weak in conjunction with the area it was intended to support; the suspended span was far too long hence the forces were unable to be directed to the anchor points. For the final form we found that we needed to create anchor points that were a lot more compact in relation with the suspended area, this is so that the elevated span is shorter and the forced are directly applied to the anchor points. What the first concept failed to consider was its relation to the site, this was important as it could be placed anywhere and its context would be unclear. The second design concept and the site analysis helped in identifying the curve which could possibly be used to enhance the sense of perspective to the user. The final form would have to make use of this curve so that it was give the user the most exposure to the point of attraction. By determining the angle at which the design is placed on site, we could essentially enhance the experience by implying an enclosed barrier or an open view that uses perspective to hide certain areas to enhance our intended effect. This also gives us a chance to explore the possibilities of patterning in the floating joints, orientating this pattern in line with the site could enhance the feeling of immersion with both the connections and the joints.




1.FIX ANCHOR POINTS TO SITE When finding the form of our final concept, we used the criteria to help us determine the positive and negative aspects of each previous concept, and the characteristics which we needed to consider. We began by looking at the anchor points in relation to the site; we started with three compact points keeping in mind the area which we intend to suspend. The end results are three points with a large span in the middle, but learning from the second design concept, kept the width thin.

2. FORM FOLLOWING SITE While connecting these points, we generated a curve that follows the freeway while keeping in mind the areas which are best exposed to the viewer’s line of vision, we achieved this by measuring and tracing the outline of the freeway and adjusting the form to account for the point of suspension. The left side of the form shows the area which we intend to suspend; the right side is left for further support which can take advantage of the site to potentially hide so that the attention is directed to the left side.



3. ELEVATE TO CREATE SUSPENSION The anchor points are then pinned to the ground as we elevated the rest of the form upwards to create the sense of suspension. The suspended area of the form is supported by directing the forces to the furthest anchor point. By elevating the form in this manner the main anchor points that hold up the majority of the structure, is passed first so that the effect of a cantilever is achieved. Additionally, the long span of the anchor points enables the user to experience the feeling of suspension throughout the design,

4. ADD SUPPORT CURVES To account for the long span of the structure, it was essential to add additional support to the left side of the design, but considering the idea that this support is to be hidden, the curved were made to be minimal. As a result, a fourth anchor point was created near the middle of the structure; it was placed so that it would be hidden to users as they drive around the curve. Another support was added to the anchor points to avoid the use of points as anchors as we demonstrated in the second concept; instead we created legs instead of pins to increase to base area of the anchor points.

5. LOFT FORM FROM CURVES When the curves are confirmed, we were able to loft them together with the sweep rail command; creating three separate surfaces, through the loft surfaces, we were able to visualise how the design would be experienced from the user. By dividing the design into separate surfaces, it gave us more control over the density and positioning of the truss members. As such, we were able to assign which surface was to be simplified and which to be complex.

6. IMPLEMENT SPACE TRUSS Finally the surfaces were transformed into the space frame system through the lunchbox plugin; this enabled us to confirm if the three separate surfaces were able to merge with each other successfully while remaining independent; this is so that they were susceptible to change during further development. This space truss form enabled us to also trial our form into our Grasshopper Kangaroo stress simulator, to test if it was selfsupporting.

The Kangaroo stress simulator enabled us to test our structure to see if it had the capability to support itself; it simulates the force of gravity onto our structure so that we could determine if the anchor points were sufficient. The simulation proved that our structure was capable of being a self –supporting structure, the reason being the change to strip footings and its compact form. The colours indicate what types of stresses are being applied the particular member so to possibly identify which area needs more support.




n determining how to manipulate the truss system so to create a frame that was able to both satisfy our concept and still be structurally sound, we explored different parametric algorithms to try and simplify and optimise the space frame. There were different approaches we took in manipulating the number of beams; initially we planned to manually remove members from the structure, to reduce the density of the frame. This method of removing members was guided by the use of another kangaroo simulator that measured the forces acting upon the structure in terms of compression and tension. From this simulation we were able to determine which members were least stressed through the thicknesses of the resulting pipes. The thinner pipes implied less stress applied on it and a thicker pipe meant more stress. By using this information, we tried manually eliminating the thinner pipes thinking that it would influence the structural integrity less. We attempted to apply the “cull pattern“ into our equation to remove members that contributed the least, in other words the thinnest member. However, removing these members resulted in a disorganised and random frame that caused the structure to collapse. This is because we found that all members no matter how small are under stress, and all contribute to the integrity of the structure. If we were to manually remove a member of the truss, the force applied to that member would be transferred to another, resulting in an uneven distribution of forces.

Image showing how the compression and tension simulation determines which members to cull

Image of simplified truss system done through the cull component and the compression and tension simulator.





he main issue of this approach lay in the fact that the space truss constructed through the Lunchbox component is created as a single truss system. Any altering or manipulation disrupts this system and results in an uneven distribution of forces and ultimately causes it to collapse. As such, we resolved the problem not through manipulation of the individual members of the truss system, but rather the manipulation of the systems themselves. Through Grasshopper we experimented with the parameters of the component itself so that it created optimised truss forms that were subject to change. During the process of experimentation, it was important to consider that when altering the density of the space truss, its connections to the adjacent surface becomes irrational. In other words the nodes do not meet and the two surfaces become disjointed. We were able to fix this by simplifying the original “loft options� of both surfaces and by making sure the V value in the component stay the same. This allows each member to join as if it were one complete structure, therefore allowing us to reduce the members without disrupting the integrity of the truss structure.

Diagram showing a truss system that is complex. Contrast this image with the image below.

Diagram demonstrating the simplified truss created through the Grasshopper component.






s explained in past concepts, we believed that creating a simplified framed structure supporting the complex structure would be able to convey our notion of suspension. Initially we tried using a heavy complex system for the side supports and a light system for the top. The intention of the light system on the top of the structure was to suggest a sense of weightlessness, and the heavy system was to highlight the structural components of the structure. However we found that this strayed too far from our original concept, that which encourages a floating structure. The complex structure on the sides draws too much attention from the cantilevered area and the inquisitive nature of the suspended area is ignored. We found that the top area being complex draws the attention away from the side supports and creates a stronger impact on the user.


Diagrams showing experimentation with the orientation of complex and simple truss systems. Blue represents the simple trusses while the red shows the complex.



hile connecting our two surfaces through the grasshopper method, although the truss system was successfully able to combine by converging members on the same node, this only applied to the edge of each surface. This means the points were connected assuming that the component was a 2D flat surface, for our project this is not the case as our space truss has a depth that remains disconnected from the adjacent surface. As we finalised our form, we approached this problem by manually joining these points so that they will be able to act as a single cohesive structure rather than three separate structures. This was integral to the structural integrity of our structure as it allows the forces acted upon the top section to transfer to the side supports collectively and avoids uneven distribution of forces. We were able to achieve this by baking the vulnerable nodes; this enabled us to manually create a line between these points to brace the two structures. To fully integrate the manual bracing we used the Merge and Flatten component, connecting the custom lines to the existing form, as a result the combination of the two elements could be read as a single data structure.




Grasshopper definition showing how the lines were merged into one cohesive component.





s mentioned in our criteria, exploring the user’s line of view gave us the chance to explore patterning using the ball joints to further enhance the feeling of suspension. Until now, we have been concentrating on making the connections appear to be suspended, but by looking at the ball joints we are able to effectively create a constellation effect. Considering that the connections will be seen, we intend for the joints to be the main source of attraction. When we had the idea of a floating constellation, we were able to explore different precedents that were able to effectively convey the feeling that we were trying to achieve. Installations such as the BMW Museum installation,

or the “Bleigiessen” project by Heatherwick Studios demonstrated suspended balls that were able to create forms and patterns according to the degree of elevation. However we are not able to control the exact position of each ball joint without affecting the structure, therefore we cannot create such elaborate images. As such, we instead aim to imitate this effect through the size of the balls rather than the position; this allows us to use perspective to create an image through the different sized balls. At first we experimented with a gradation effect of ball joints slowly increasing in size, but we found that we should instead capitalise on the fact that our top section of the structure is complex, hence has more joints to manipulate. By

manipulating the size of the ball joints in conjunction with the complex structure also means that it will follow the curvature of the road. We then proceeded to create a concentration of large sized spheres instead of a gradation effect along the path of the road so it has more impact. By having small ball joints and a concentration of large joints, it directs the viewer’s line of sight to the large floating joints enhancing the feeling of suspension. By only using two sized balls, it exposes the differentiation in size a lot better than if it were to gradually change. The effect is more apparent and creates a more immediate reception from the viewer.

BMW Museum Kinetic Sculpture by ART + COM

“Bleigiessen” by Heatherwick Studios










SPHERE SIZE AND PATTERN Assign node points and set sphere radius parameter to 6 and 11 respectively

FORM FROM CURVES Curve Cmd + PointsOn Cmd to manipulate form curve

CREATE SURFACE Sweep2 Cmd + set to GH

LUNCHBOX APPLICATION SpaceTruss Cmd set to srf. Set to line conponent

FRAME MANIPULATION Assign constant value of 6 to V parameter of component

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FRAME OPTIMISATION Adjust U + D parameters to acheive intended effect


Apply UnaryForce physics Cmd on SpaceTruss component



Identify stress forces through pipe thickness

MANUAL BRACING Set lines as crv component and Merge and Flatten into a singular data component.





As mentioned in our contention, we aimed to create a sense of immersion by highlighting the suspended members of our structure and allow the user to fully experience the floating joints. These images demonstrate how it would appear to the user as they drive through the structure. The renderings try to show the emphasis on the suspended balls as well as the patterning on the joints. The night render shows how we plan on utilising lights to enhance the feeling during the night to create an image very similar to actual constellation. We plan on installing lights on the outside of the ball joints so that they highlight the shape and size of the spheres.




he following images illustrate how the user perceives the structure as they drive through. As they pass the entrance, the left side of the structure seems to disappear leaving a floating cantilever, this is achievable through the subtle curve in the road that blocks out the side supports on the right side of the road. Through this simulation you can also see the patterning of the ball joints, the large joints are much more apparent and appear to hover above the driver’s heads.






Use Pipe Cmd on line components with a radius of 1.5

BAKE SPHERES Bake the sphere components into Rhino

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SHORTEN PIPES Create a smaller sphere to shorten pipe members to avoid intersecting holes

BAKE PIPES Bake pipes members to Rhino

CREATE HOLES Boolean Difference the pipes andspheres to create grooves for assembly




o fabricate our model, we decided to use the same technique that we used in Part B. We found it the most efficient way of creating such a complex structure without 3D printing our entire model. Instead we 3D printed just the joints and created holes to configure the beams correctly. Learning from our previous model, we found that any error in the positioning of the holes result in problems when assembling the model. Therefore we decided to use the dust 3d printer rather than the polymer printer, this is because the dust printer was able to accurately read the file whereas the polymer printer was subject to error. It is also important to consider that fabricating our model through this method gave us a lot more control over the materials used. In our case, to enhance the feeling of suspension and to direct more attention to the floating joints, we decided to use 3mm thick transparent acrylic rods for the members. Looking back at our past mistakes, we made sure to number each joint correctly so that they were clear and easily distinguishable from each other. This was important as organisation was the main problem for the model presented in Part B, and considering the scale and complexity of our current model, organisation was crucial. We also noted the lengths of each of the members so that when we received our model, we could assemble it straight away. The acrylic rods were cut with a small hacksaw and each piece was cut to size, as the scale was quite large we had to purchase 48m of the acrylic rod. When we received our model, we immediately began sorting the ball joints numerically so that we could identify the rods connected to it. As each joint was identified we used the original Rhino file to align the joint and the rod so that they were in the correct position, when we confirmed the position, the rods were glued to the ball joints. This process was extremely time consuming but being able to manually assemble the model allowed us to come across issues that could occur in the real life construction.

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he most prominent problem which we came across was that when creating the digital model, whenever the pipes intersect, Rhino merges these pipes together as if they were welded to each other. This created holes in the joints that were cut assuming the pipes were joined together, this proved a problem as we were not able to manipulate the acrylic rods so that they merged together, therefore the rods could not fit in the holes. We found that this problem did not occur in our previous model as the form was more organised and simple, whereas our current model has members at a steeper angle and is larger in scale. As a result we found that the solution involved creating larger ball joints, this instead created holes in the sphere where the pipes do not intersect. Unfortunately we came across this problem too late, as it would take too long to fabricate new joints. Instead we utilised clay to increase the mass of the joints so that the rods could still connect to the joint. After fixing the joints with the clay, we found that our model was quite stable, even the suspended cantilevered structure was able to stand. Despite this we took precautions in case our model did fail, hence we put additional support to the elevated area so that we can still transport the model without it collapsing.

Image highlighting the problem areas which we resolved with the use of clay

Diagram showing how a larger sized ball creates holes that do not intercept each other



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3D model showing how the footings will look from an exterior perspective


or the footing system, we proposed a steel plate fixed to a combination of a strip and pile footing. The strip footings are placed beneath the truss legs lengthways to strengthen the lateral load capacity applied to the anchor joints. The load of the structure is then transferred to the pile footing, this allows the weight of the structure to be able to find a strong foundation and prevents the deflection in the anchor points.


The image above demonstrates the positioning of the footing system in relation with the assigned anchor points. The steel plate would be welded to a stainless steel column that continues up to connect to the pipe joint. Essentially the forces of the beams are to be transferred to the centre column and then to the pile footing.





ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) SPHERICAL SHELL




or the exterior shell cladding, we proposed ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene); the same material used in the Beijing water cube, we chose this material as it weighs 1-3% less than traditional cladding systems. EFTE also allows for large panels and is flexible enough to create a spherical shape. This material fits our criteria of a lightweight, strong material that is able to create the shape we need. It has the option of being transparent or coloured to potentially reveal or hide the interior structure.


For the pipe joints we needed a strong durable material that is able to be shaped freely, we chose stainless steel as it was able to be manufactured through welding or metal casting. This enables prefabrication of each custom pipe. The material we chose for the beam was hollow stainless steel pipes; this is because we could not find a transparent material strong enough to withstand the stress. Most of the transparent materials did not have

stiffness strong enough to withstand the weight of the entire structure and would ultimately buckle. We resulted in using stainless steel pipes sacrificing the transparent effect that we intended to express.


The custom pipe joints are prefabricated in two parts so that they can be welded together. The bolts are used later to fixed the members to the pipe joint.


nlike our model, we decided to construct our structure using a pipe joint, instead of the members being connected at a spherical node, they converge in a joint that is more efficient in size and more lightweight. This is because a spherical joint would be much heavier and could possibly contribute more weight onto the structure, we also have to consider the fact that we intend to use larger ball joints in certain areas. By using a pipe joint we proposed a lightweight shell which is connected to the pipe joint, this allows us to freely manipulate the size of the balls without adding additional strain on the members. The following diagram explains the construction process of a single joint. All other joints will be constructed in the same way only differing in the number of beams that intercept the pipe joint. Hence custom pipe joints and plastic shells would have to be prefabricated before assembling the structure on site.

A circular L shaped metal brace is fixed to the exterior of the pipe joint. This metal braced is bolted to the exterior shell.

The metal braced is fixed onto the custom made lightweight shell to create the openings for the structural members, only half of the shell is used so that the beams can be inserted and securely bolted to the pipe joint.

Finally once the members are connected to the pipe joint, the shell is fixed together, closing and hiding the pipe joint inside.



CUSTOM MANUFACTURING Mass manufacturing of custom pipe joints and EFTE plastic shell according to model specifications

PREFABRICATED MATERIALS As well as the custom parts, the stainless steel hollow pipes are prefabricated before bring to site

TRANSPORT MATERIALS All fabricated components are transported to site

INSTALL PIPE JOINTS Pipe joints are welded together and fixed to the footings


Site is excavated, bore piles are drilled and ready for footings


SET FOOTINGS Concrete pile and strip footings are set after excavation



A single panel of the shell is fixed to the pipe joint

The hollow stainless stell pipes are inserted in the pipe joint and then bolted

CLADDING The rest of the exterior shell is fixed to close the ball joint


Elements such as lighting is installed to the exterior of the shell




he feedback that we received from the panel was very beneficial in that it was able to highlight the areas of our design that were unclear or underdeveloped. Going into the presentation we were aware of many aspects which we either did not explore or did not explain well. The main criticism was directed at our presentation which did not explain fully the parametric approaches that we undertook to resolve our problems and achieve our overall form. Our presentation was very vague and our explanations did not necessarily match the images on screen, this prompted us to concentrate more on our visual communication, so that our full process of thought is translated clearly to the audience. This was taken into consideration for future reference and for documentation.




Another aspect which was questioned was the scale of our model, during our fabrication process we knew ourselves that the scale was unmanageable and highly fragile. We were questioned whether reducing the scale of the model would still be able to achieve the same effect. By creating our model in a smaller scale it still would be able to create the same result and would possibly make the structure more stable due to its compact size. However, the materials available limited the possibilities; the acrylic rods that we used for the members were only available in 3mm and 5mm meaning that we would have to increase the size of the balls even more to avoid the issue of intercepting holes (refer to page 89). We also found that we could have utilised the Grasshopper component

to create more complexity in our form. We were asked if the thickness of the members had to have a constant value, this challenged us in potentially altering the thickness in pipes according to the relative stresses that are applied each member. For our further development, we applied our previous evaluation of compression and tension to our structure, the resulting pipe thicknesses express the amount of forces that are acting upon it. This becomes a justification of varying the thicknesses in pipes as the structure will not only become a suspended immersive structure, but a physical representation of the very forces acting upon it and a demonstration of the structural limits of compression and tension.

Images demonstrating the compression and tension manipulation of the pipe thicknesses.




y perception of architecture has changed significantly during the course of this subject. The world of computational architecture and parametric design allowed me to see the how architecture is much more than the physical. To me architecture can also be seen as a physical representation of processes being developed and improved to achieve the best outcome. We hope this is apparent in our final model in that we try and find the best way to elevate and suspend a heavy looking structure as well as creating an optimised frame.


The use of Grasshopper also opened a lot of doors for me. This is because of the degree of control which it allows, certain elements are able to manipulate according to parameters with ease and processes can be documented and developed. The fact that Grasshopper documents the paths taken to achieve the result also enabled us to back track to past elements to further develop. For us this allowed us to continually reevaluate the integrity of each new form through the Kangaroo Physics plug-in. Another aspect which

this subject highlighted was the importance of teamwork, in architecture firms, most projects are handled in a team. I now find how this is beneficial as concepts and ideas are significantly enhanced when another opinion is included. By distributing the workload we are also able to take advantage of each of our strengths to complete the task at hand quickly.


ritically looking at our design, we could potentially have made several improvements that could contribute in enhancing our original proposal and the complexity of our technique. In terms of interrogating the brief to the fullest extent, I believe we could have pushed our design to have more relation to the site. For us I think that we concentrated too much on the physical relation to the site, the context relating our design to the community and social elements of Wyndham city were very vague and didn’t contribute to the overall form. Our main relation to the site was the manipulation of perspective and sight, hence giving us a starting point. In terms of relating our design to the social elements of Wyndham city I believe we could have added more depth and connectivity, this could possibly include looking at sustainable materials or even renewable construction methods.

Our concept itself I believe has a competitive advantage in its ability to challenge the initial perception of the standard space truss and create an effect that would normally be achieved using more organic techniques. In expressive forms that test the boundaries of physics, I find that the process is very concept driven in that the final form is created through parametric techniques, but the construction and application of resulting forms are resolved after. For example, many buildings such as Canton Tower, by IBA (Information Based Architects) are designed by the architect but the construction and engineering of the building are outsourced to an engineering company such as ARUP to resolve the structure. What our project explores is the development of immersive forms and its structural integrity simultaneously.

However, it is also important to consider that this project is not a heavily technical project, as we were able to manipulate and control the structural elements to achieve our contention and enhance the emotion of awe while simultaneously ensuring its structural integrity. Using computational techniques we were able to freely manipulate the form and create a structure that not only was structurally stable, but related to the site, immersed the user into feeling a sense of suspension and surrealism. It also plays on the notions of rational thinking and physics to create an illusion of levitating elements.

deduced from several prototypes and options as can be seen in our matrix exploration in Part B. Additionally, two concepts were also explored where the pros and cons of each were analysed and considered into the creation of the final form. There were several elements that displays the logic behind choosing this final form, during the reflection criteria on page 70, each element was broken down to reveal what the final form requires to successfully convey our overall intent.

We strongly believe that our final design is the strongest form to demonstrate our concept, not only in its ability to express the feeling of suspension and levitation but also in its structural integrity. This final form was



REFERENCES JA: The Japan Architect; Spring94, Issue 13, p166-169 Yehuda E. Kalay, Architecture’s New Media : Principles, Theories, and Methods of Computer-Aided Design (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004), pp. 5 - 25 html patrik-schumacher-parametricism/


2013 Studio Air Journal_541115_StanleyYeoh  
2013 Studio Air Journal_541115_StanleyYeoh