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INTRODUCTION BRIDGET: I was born in Melbourne and have lived here my entire life. Being from a family that loves to travel, I have been fortunate enough to go to many great cities around the world. The exposure to a large array of differing cultures, lifestyles, cities and buildings sparked and enhanced my interest in architecture. Not only the look of buildings but the way they can reflect, or indeed influence, a culture and society has always interested me. I am in my third year of the Bachelor of Environments. In first year I took Virtual Environments and began my relationship with Rhino and computer modelling. I cannot say it is a great relationship just yet, as I find my skills are limited and it can get quite frustrating, however I hope to improve on that greatly this semester. Often I found that what I had the ability to do and produce on the computer program restricted what I initially intended or designed. In the past I have used other basic computer programs such as SketchUp and this semester I am excited to use and explore the benefits of Grasshopper. With some help, I hope to be much more confident with the programs and digital design at the end of the semester.


“Above all, architecture ought to be seen as a discourse. Buildings as material facts are a small part of the overall field of architecture, a field which is better regarded a network of practices and debates about the built environment” – R. Williams1


‘Mountain Dwellings’ by BIG Architects, Denmark


ARCHITECTURE AS A DISCOURSE Architecture is a practice that contributes influential ideas to an ongoing disciplinary discourse and culture at large. There is an interesting and significant discourse surrounding architecture as architecture ubiquitous, unavoidable and of huge importance in our lives. As Richard Williams states, architecture frames our lives and defines our movement through cities and it is of huge social importance2. Elementarily, architecture contributes materially to our world. However just as significant, it contributes influential ideas to an ongoing discourse and culture at large. In essence, the discourse surrounding architecture is discussion of it; it is the understanding, the processing, and the thinking of the design or built form, of the design ideas or intent, of the materials and methods used. In the digital age we are in now, architects and are capable of producing ideas and contributing to the discourse more than ever before. Digital technology has had an impact and changed architecture and our cities. With new methods, new production, new materials and new achievable forms, come new thoughts and discussions and new concepts to consider. With algorithmic and parametric modelling, it is apparent that architecture does not necessarily have to be a completed building. Ideas, designs and concepts alone can provoke thought and discussion and can confront and change the way one looks at the world or surrounding space. Not all opinions will be the same or be positive, however as Williams states, as long as it has prompted discussion then it has been successful3. The value of architectural discourse cannot be overlooked. Architecture is as much as a philosophical, social or professional realm as material. In fact, as Williams believes, “buildings as material facts are a small part of the overall field of architecture”4. While there are different approaches to viewing architecture, considering it in manners more than the traditional ‘lens’ of viewing it simply as ‘art’ and on appearance, but as an urban and social experience, opens up a larger sphere and commutative dialogue between viewer, user, built form, ideas, architect and wider community. Architecture after all is more than just the material and design; it encompasses ideas and questions on place and climate, on politics, society and economy, on spirituality and emotion. The discourse on architecture, especially the current discussions prompted by digital design, pushes our society further, pushes us to consider things much more than bricks and mortar, concrete, glass and steel.



Rather than building two separate buildings of parking and housing block next to each other, BIG Architects proposed a vertical suburbia of sorts amongst Denmark’s flat topography with a ‘hillside’ created by the concrete parking lot covered by housing. The architects wanted to “merge the two functions into a symbiotic relationship”1. The parking is public as well as private and BIG Architects have created this mix of living, working, public and commercial integration. The design’s adaptability to needs, such as the desire for parking and parking close to living quarters (the residents will be the first in Orestaden to have the possibility to park directly outside their homes)2, demonstrates an active engagement in the discourse of the Scandinavian architecture and urban, social and cultural landscape.

space. It is the best of two worlds, closeness to the hectic city life in the centre of Copenhagen and the tranquillity characteristic of suburban life3. The North and West facades are covered in aluminium plates which have perforated holes that let light and air into the parking areas and also form a huge reproduction of Mount Everest. Digital technology was used in mapping and perforating this image.

The creative idea of building apartments on top of parking space prompts questions about architecture, contributing the perpetual discourse. It questions how people interact with not only buildings and architecture but entire urban landscapes. How people move within and around cities. Where the future of architecture and design will lead, especially in urban design and efficiency. It does not prompt these The apartments are a holistic design with questions lightly, but directly asks the users and generous views and sun-facing roof gardens viewers as they physically and visually interact including a terrace and garden, offering with it, another reason why architecture and its suburban qualities in a urban high-density living discourse is so important and relevant to all.


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Fig. 1: Mountain Dwellings. Fig. 2: Mountain Dwellings in section. Source:


Diller and Scofidio The Blur building, a tensegrity system of rectilinear struts and diagonal rods that cantilevered out over Lake Neuchatel, Switzerland, was constructed for the Swiss Expo 2002 in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland. Shrouded in a perpetual cloud of man-made fog, the form of the BLUR rejects the traditional assumption that architecture has a static form. Architects Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, ensure that the fleeting sculpture was visible in all weathers with some 31400 high-grade jets using high-pressure spraying to eject tiny drops of lake water from the metal construction, saturating the air with moisture and creating the effect of mist, or as labelled here, of ‘blur’. Computers are used to constantly adjust the strength of the spray according to the different climatic conditions of temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, changing the fog mass minute to minute. The Blur Building contributes to the discourse surrounding architecture in many ways. The structure expands and produces long fog trails in high winds, rolls outward at cooler temperatures, and moves up or down depending on air temperatures2, raising the idea of adaptable architecture as well as how outside elements, such as climate, can affect a structure. People are encouraged to consider forms of architecture as not entirely fixed, prompting questions of future directions of architecture and possibilities of adaptable materials and structures. This could be adaptable to a multitude of needs, including climate, social, cultural, economic and so on. The Blur building expresses a shift from the traditional view of façade as a skin to that of a more amorphous, sensuous and engaging entity. The project is a paradigmatic instance of the way contemporary architecture responds to the complexities of its broader social environment in terms of its specific medium, as Diller and Scofidio put it “the radicality of an absent building”, the audacious commitment to a building that was not a building at all but a manufactured cloud, “the making,” as they put it, “of nothing”4. Diller

and Scofidio committed to something “featureless, depthless, scaleless, spaceless, massless, surfaceless and contextless5. This concern was reiterated at the end of the design phase. Dillier says: “In contradiction to the tradition of Expo pavilions whose exhibitions entertain and educate, BLUR erases information. Expos are usually competition grounds for bigger and better… [and] bigger and better technological spectacles. BLUR is a spectacle with nothing to see. Within BLUR, vision is put out-of-focus so that our dependence on vision can become the focus of the pavilion6. Users navigate on ramps and walkways that make their way throughout the system, some providing a counterweight for the structure. Users are forced to interact with the architecture from the very approach. The intention of the architects is Approaching on a 400-foot long ramp, visual and acoustical references are erased, leaving only an optical “white-out” and the “white-noise” of pulsing water nozzles7. Once on a large open-air platform in the centre of the Blur building, visitors answer a questionnaire/character profile and receive a smart raincoat known as a ‘braincoat’ which is used as protection from the wet environment and also stores personality data from communication with the cloud’s computer network8. Tracking technologies are used to identify each visitor’s position and character profiles. In an interesting social experiment encouraging the discussion of social relationships within a community on several different scales, visitors’ coats compare profiles as visitors pass one another and the coats change colour indicating the degree of attraction or repulsion. Braincoats and character profiles compel visitors to consider how architecture affects social interactions. This includes how one is drawn or forced to move around a space, how the design and space changes the mood and influences not only one individual but the collective group of people present.


The focus of Diller and Scofidio is as much creating spaces as it is about the nature of space. Utilising design, performance, and electronic media with architectural and cultural theory as accompanying tools, they investigate architecture as a field of social relationships and remind us that architecture is everywhere.1


BLUR by Diller and Scofidio Sources:

COMPUTATIONAL ARCHITECTURE Computers have contributed much to the architectural design process. In the digital age we now inhabit, computers do not only aid the architectural design process, but also shape it making it more rigorous and efficient.


‘Green Void’ by LAVA Architects

Common in architectural practice today, computerisation is a method where existing designs can be put into the computer and then worked on. It is an act of entering, processing or storing information in a computer system and generally involves the digitisation of entities that are preconceived, predetermined and well defined1. Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is a famous example of this. Gehry began with sketches and paper-and-tape sketch models formed by hand, he then scanned his hand made sketches and models and used Computer Aided Three-dimensional Interactive Application software (CATIA) to create a 3D model on the computer that could be furthered manipulated. Computation, on the other hand, is the procedure of calculating and determining something by mathematical or logical methods. According to Kostas Terzidis, computation is about the exploration of the indeterminate, vague and unclear processes and because of this exploratory nature, computation aims at emulating or extending the human intellect2. Computation entails a more integrated approach where architects work on the design in the computer right from the beginning. This has vast benefits over a traditional approach where architects respond to a brief that the client initially presents and then the party undergoes a process that is halted by the input of engineers, builders and other professions who need to contribute their knowledge. With the traditional design process reversed, from the very beginning the architect now helps the client develop the brief and idea. This integrated approach allows a brief to be developed that is more suitable for our contemporary society, a society which requires techniques acquired by architects through their training, that clients may not have knowledge and experience of. Significantly, computation


provides flexibility. It offers a freedom where the traditional process of design is more constraining. It opens up a world of possibilities and space of design that were never achievable or, indeed, conceivable before. Complex forms, which in the past have been very difficult and expensive to design and materialise, can be explored and realised. With advancements in technology and Computer Aided Design systems (CAD), computation allows for a whole new range of opportunities. 3D modelling programs such as Rhinoceros expand the scope for achievable designs and geometries. Computation enables more complex curvilinear surfaces, continuous curves of ‘topological’ or ‘blob’ geometry. Computers are able to efficiently explore design ideas at the design stage of exploring design alternatives. Additionally with these systems, designers are able to test the design of non-standard materials and structures, developing a new approach to structural ‘form finding’3. The design of a project can now be integrated with the construction of the project, giving more power to the architect to work with more than just the design. The architect now has control, input and knowledge of the construction methods, viability and real material issues, avoiding a stilted design and production process of shuttling between various other professionals in the design stage. As Mark Burry comments in Scripting Cultures, digital tools allow feedback and change in the design process and for each party to make consistent changes in the design4. Additionally, we are now at a stage where it is possible for digital information to be directly converted into a real structure. With a computational approach, the Wyndham Gateway Design Project will be able to embrace an exciting and inspiring design, able to stimulate interesting ideas and further and enhance the discussion on architecture by all those who engage with it.

It can be seen that computation does not have the same freedom and flowing design approach as traditional methods, right from the imagination to paper, including the imaginative freedom in the initial design process with a computerisation approach such as Frank Gehry used. Some may see this as restricting the potentials of the design. As John H. Frazer believes, computers can be useful in the creative process but for many people “design computation is still only seen…as ‘just a tool’ and remote from the real business of creative design”5. However, if the programs are used correctly there are an immense number of benefits that computation brings to the architectural and design realm, including exploration into new unprecedented and achievable forms as well as design, construction and environmental efficiency. The computer will become more than what Frazer sees as ‘just a tool’, unable to take part in the ‘real business of creative design’, when the limitation of the ability of the user is eliminated. It is then that there are an unprecedented amount of design possibilities to be inspired to tap into and available to explore. It is a crucial complication of computation and something Terzidiz comments on; ‘the problem…is that designers do not take advantage of the computational power of the computer’6. Of course it is true that there is no benefit in highly advanced computers if those using them do not have the ability to use the advanced functions. However, we have to consider that the simple truth that in today’s technological age, computers govern so many complex problems and so many organisations and businesses. Learning not only how to use computers, but how to program them, are skills that need to be acquired. Computers are unavoidable in our future and to not consider them as a creative tool would be a huge constraint; one would be constrained by methods, by criteria and by material interfaces to name a few. Programs and plug-ins such as Grasshopper, that are a form of programming, enables one to enhance every human endeavour. However, controlling algorithms does not necessarily mean traditional approaches or ways of working need to be completely replaced, if used well, it can effectively enhance the design and process, making it more rigorous and efficient. A designer is not bound by the program’s possibilities; rather the program’s possibilities help push forward into a new spectrum of viable potential in design. These exciting design

possibilities that computation offers, are precisely what is needed in designing the Wyndham City Gateway Project, to create a unique and fresh installation, one that prompts new ideas and adds to the discourse, now and in the future. The 3-dimensional lightweight sculpture Green Void by LAVA architects, freely stretched all five levels between wall, ceiling and floor in the large atrium of Sydney’s Customs House in 2008. The installation demonstrates the benefits of computers in the architectural design process, allowing architects to explore new possibilities of design and fabrication, as well as being environmentally and time efficient. Sensual, green and digital, Green Void is a digital design derived from nature, inspired by the relationship between man, nature and technology. LAVA Asia Pacific Director Chriss Bosse states that the shape of the installation is “the result of the most efficient connection of different boundaries in three-dimensional space, which can be found in nature in things like plants and corals. We only determined the connection points within the space and the rest is a mathematical formula, a minimal surface…we are interested in the geometries in nature that create both, efficiency and beauty”7 Without computers, this design and its intent would not be possible. The design and fabrication procedure used a digital workflow that employed the use of computers in the architecture design process. In a true computation integrated approach, the process begun with 3D modelling. The design was engineered structurally in the 3D modelling stage before undergoing a process of computer controlled computer numeric code (CNC) material cutting and mechanical re-seaming. The computer model was based on the simulation of complexity in naturally evolving systems and fed directly into a production line of sail-making-software and digital manufacturing. This new way of digital work flow and approach meant that the creation of space out of lightweight material required minimal adjustments and installation time onsite. It also meant the project was more environmentally efficient with minimal wastage and offcuts and optimal efficiency in material usage, construction weight, fabrication and installation time. The installation is easily transportable and fully reusable.


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Fig. 1:Green Void installed at Sydney’s Customs House. Source: www.dezeen. com/2008/12/16/green-void-by-lava Figs. 2: 3D modelling of Green Void. Source: green-void-by-lava Fig. 3: 3D model unraveled for fabricatication. Source: projects/green-void

Lamella Flock, a research project by CITA, Knippers Helbig Engineers and that explores the new possibilities of creating freeform structures in wood, is another example of the benefits of computational design. Through computation methods of self-organisation the project investigates the structural abilities of the wooden Zollinger system; a structural lamella system distributed as a woven pattern of interconnected beams. Rather than using resource heavy production techniques, glue lam, complex joints and 5-axis milling, the computation techniques used demonstrate that freeform surface structures can be constructed by the use of straight beam elements. However, Lamella Flock exemplifies how traditional ways of working need not be eliminated entirely when embracing a computational approach, rather if there is an efficient balance between the two, optimal results can occur. The key in creating the complex wood structure, efficiently made and assembled using short straight beams, was the combination of traditional wood techniques with advanced computational methods1. Computer technology enhanced the design process with the ability of Lamella Flock’s design intent, material, tectonic needs and production to be visualised in realtime, enhancing the design procedure and exploration of the design. Challenges that arose, such as the complex interdependency of beam elements in the structure and the non-linear relationship between requirements of the structure, material and production, could be answered with the help of computation technology and utilising principles of self-organisation. This led to a development of generative digital tools informed by the physical 1:1 size of materials and output, production and material knowledge. The constraints of these physical matters looped back into the structures geometrical setup in the computer. Lamella Flock exemplifies how computational tools can help designers in the future deal with an ever-growing amount of complexity, integrate ‘bottom-up’ approaches and can realise complex structures that rely on material, tectonic and production properties.


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Figs 1. Models of Lamella Flock on computer design program created through computation techniques. Fig 2. Computers allows intricate material connections to be realised prior to materialisation.: Fig 3. Materialisation of structure This page: Lamella Flock complete. Source: Digital+Formations/Lamella+Flock+(2010)


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Parametric is a “set of equations that express a set of quantities as explicit functions of a number of independent variables, known as ‘parameters’”1 - Weisstein 2003, 2150. Parametric modelling offers much to architecture and design. Before we can analyse its contribution, we need to define and understand what parametric modelling is. Patrik Schuamaker from Zaha Hadid Architects claims ‘parametricism’ as a new style following post-modernism2. However, parametric should really be looked at as a path of creation, creating a solution responsive to architectural problems, definitions and constrains. Furthermore, parametric should be identified as a process, method and tool of organising relationships between values and geometries. According to Daniel Davis3, parametric has its roots in mathematics, it is more logical, mathematical and algorithmic than artistic or stylistic consideration. Primarily in parametric there is an explicit relationship between parameters and a piece of complex geometry, this is what Davis claims defines parametric modelling and makes it different. Its focus us on the relationship between explicit functions and independent variables.

parameters) are in direct correlation to the laws of physics (the equation) and together this generates the model (a set of quantities) as the result. Parametric modelling aims to address the limitations of computers in creative design. As Woodbury notes, computers can present almost limitless kinds of tools and can be programmed “to do much of what we call design…But not all”5 In parametric, rather than the designer creating the design solution by direct manipulation, Woodbury explains that the idea is that the designer establishes the relationships by which parts connect, uses these relationships to build up a design and edits the relationships by observing and selecting from the results produced6.

Parametric modelling is not without shortcomings, which Smith (2007)7 comments on. The designer may be constrained very early on in the design process with ‘front loading’ or being forced to think early on in the design process how the creation will take place. Parametric design is not a new idea, “great A second shortcoming is that parametric designs can architecture has always been aware of its social become so intricate on the computer that making major role…” (Farshid Moussavi)4. Architecture has always changes during the project can become a problem used parameters in creating a built form or design; as it can be difficult to identify the nodes that need parameters of material, construction, weather, culture, changing or removing and implementing and weaving society, economy and so on have always been in the correct changes. Unfortunately this may dissuade considered. Moretti’s 1960 Parametric Architecture the designers from making changes and the resultant design of a stadium was designed using parameters design ends up being designed not for the client or the such as the viewing angles towards the ground and designer’s wants but for the limitations of the software. how comfortable the patrons are, which then resulted Similarly, revising and sharing parametric designs is in the final design. Closer to Grasshopper and similar difficult as intricacies of the project make it extremely programming software, Antony Gaudi’s Güell Chapel difficult for another to understand exactly what is (1986-1906) also used parametric thinking, displaying going on. As stated by the Parametric Technology a relationship between parameters and equations; Corporation (2008), the weights in the design and points of the mode (the


Fig. 1: Smart Geometry fabricated. Source: University of Melbourne, Lecture 4 for ABPL30048 StudioAir 2013 Fig. 2: RMIT FabPod’s hyperboiloid geometry. Source: University of Melbourne, Lecture 4 for ABPL30048 StudioAir 2013 Fig. 3: 3D Parametric model for the Carpenter Centre Puppet Theatre. Source: http:// Figs. 4-6: Carpenter Centre Puppet Theatre. Source: blog/2009/07/07/puppet-theater-at-harvards-carpender-center, marchpics/puppet1.jpg

“Even after a model is created, other designers can’t easily modify the design because they don’t possess the knowledge about how it was created and the original design intent”8. The last shortcoming Smith mentions is the difficulty to see changes in the design. If something is passed over on the computer screen it can lead to major problems later, for ample when the design is materialised, the pieces do not fit together. This was an issue for the Smart Geometry acoustic panels project in 2011 (figure 1), where in the fabrication process it was discovered there was a slight discrepancy in the model that was accidently overlooked on the computer and the pieces did not fit together properly, resulting in a structural fail. Having a good understanding of parametric programs by exploration, training and trial and error is able to fix this problem. Woodbury also notes in parametric designing the designers are required to retreat from the direct activity of design and focus on the logic that binds the design together. However this is not necessarily negative as it actually can be seen to broaden the concepts of a designer, requiring a formal notation and introducing additional concepts that have not previously been considered as part of “design thinking”9. Woodbury comments that parametric design and its requisite modes of thought “may well extend the intellectual scope of design by explicitly representing ideas that are usually treated intuitively. Being able to explain concepts explicitly is a part of at least some real understanding”10.

connect together. The designer can embed logic within parametric models from the very outset and inception of the project to ensure only shapes that can be constructed are generated. The hyperboloid geometries of RMIT’s FabPod (figure 2) demonstrate the benefits of parametric design. Parametric models were required to analyse how certain configuration and hyperboloid geometries were to fit together. Without the use of a computer and parametric use, coordinating all the parts, the designing, cutting and manufacturing would be much harder and time consuming. The advantages of parametric modelling are great. Working parametrically efficiently allows us to quickly churn out information and duplicating things across the project and allows control over fine details, making things much easier and much quicker.

Parametric design means that much is decided in the beginning and whilst this has benefits of things such as cost efficiency, it can be seen that the design is constrained to a shape from the initial stages. However, this ‘constraint’ actually frees the designer. It is a simple truth that complex geometries are limited by physical, material construction constraints. By defining the sphere of physical possibility early on, there is no concern throughout the design process that the designs may not actually be achievable and that time and money is being wasted. “The system takes care of keeping the design consistent with the relationships and thus increases designer ability to explore ideas by reducing the tedium of rework.” (Woodbury)11. Parametric design offers exact and precise tight control over the project, opposed to sketching freehand and in the later stages realising that the geometries do not work or 22

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CARPENTER CENTRE PUPPET THEATRE The Carpenter Centre Puppet Theatre (2004) sits underneath he Carpenter Centre by Le Corbusier, the centre for the visual arts at Havard University, Massachusetts (figures 3-6). French conceptual artist Pierre Huyghe and Havard assistant professor of architecture, Michael Meredith, collaborated on the structure using the help of computer technology and a team of GSD students.

Parametric manipulation of elongated diamond shaped panel units produced the rounded form of the theatre. The main self-supporting structure is polycarbonate with moss cladding on the outside that adds heat and noise insulation. Each of the elongated diamond panels is individual in form and connected through the same set of parameters. The 500 diamond panels were CAM cut from a single piece of polycarbonate to minimise manufacturing times and wasted Parametric modelling was employed in designing materials. Labour and construction costs were the Puppet Theatre to explore designs and also minimised with parametric design enabling create the ultimate geodesic framework as well most of the theatre to be prefabricated and as making possible and easing factors in the assembled off site. digital design and fabrication processes. The design needed to factor in the site, material, Upon entering the theatre the elongated structure, program, lighting, acoustics as well as diamond forms and change of height create a ease of cutting, manipulating and assembling visual illusion. This invites the visitor in and draws of the pieces. As discussed earlier, parameters the eye towards the stage while heightening have been used throughout all of architectural the sense of theatre. The polycarbonate panels history and the Puppet Theatre is no different. create an important play of light that contributes The theatre was designed with a set of to the sensation and atmosphere of the space. parameters that were derived from a given These aspects combined, the space evokes brief and limitations of the space created by sense of magic, surrealism and curiosity, senses the Carpenter Centre itself. The need for selfthat could easily have been overlooked and supporting structural integrity was needed as not produced with the use of other materials or contact with either ceiling or the building of the construction techniques. Carpenter Centre was not permitted in order to avoid damaging it. Another key parameter to address in the design was a limitation of the site; the change in level of 1.25 metres between the street side and the courtyard, a changed produced because the theatre sits in a sunken exterior courtyard underneath the Carpenter Centre, something later overcome by incorporating the change in level to the raked theatre seating2. And of course another parameter was the use and restrictions of fabrication processes and materials. Through the use of a parametric system of analysis where the most efficient form was deduced, the ultimate geometry and form was created3. 23

MERCEDES BENZ MUSEUM UN Studio UN Studio’s Mercedes Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany (2006) utilised parametric modelling in order to create its innovative shape of two intertwining ramps spiralling around three cores. The design moves away from the regular and challenges the spaces, circulation paths and forms of a museum. The ramps and internal arrangement create a unique spatial experience for the visitor and are nearly impossible to describe in traditional floor plans and sections. On arrival, visitors are transported by lift to the top of the building and then circulate down the intertwining ramps. Similarities can be drawn with the ramp circulation of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim New York, however through advanced construction techniques combined with parametric modelling, the Mercedes Benz Museum is able to free the plan of the building, providing column-free spans of about 30 metres and allows for the display of heavy vehicles. The primarily concrete exhibition-area floors have steel construction at their centres to reduce weight and are supported by the circulation ramps and curved box girder ‘twists’. The twists transfer loads between the three vertical circulation cores that rise in the atrium, the floors, and a series of four-legged steel columns at the building façade2. The column-free exhibition space was of particular importance to the client with the need to have the capacity exhibit commercial vehicles3. As with all complex geometry and design, the trades and elements of construction, production, design and so on are highly interconnected. Using parametric design and models, the Mercedes Benz Museum demonstrates how these elements can be linked which not only improves time and economic efficiency, but

allows for further complicated designs to be explored and realised. UN Studio co-founder and director Ben van Berkel states that to create the complex geometry of the building, “the only solution was to control the geometry of the building as completely as possible using the latest computer technology”4. The museum could not have been created without the help and research of the company Designtoproduction and their parametric work, especially in the limited timeframe they had to design. From the basic geometry of 2D parametric modelling, the edges were transformed to 3D forms by layering levels; ultimately the 3D volumes 1 from the layering of of the structure began to Fig. rise plans. The parametric model of the whole building that Designtoproduction implemented was able to close the gaps between design and production, coordinating all subsequent planning steps of all the trades involved. During the building process, thousands of plans were generated from this ‘master geometry’5.


“Digitally controlling the geometry made it possible to incorporate any kind of change quickly and efficiently, immediately knowing the effects of that change on all other aspects of the building.� - Arnold Walz of UN Studio1


Figs 1. Mercedes Benz Museum external view. Source: This page: Mercedes Benz Museum internal view. Source:


By following the tutorial videos I created an arc between two cureves. I then proceeded to loft this arc creating a surface. I also included a number slider so I could have control and change the number of points as I wished. 26

Starting with the video tutorials to create a gridshell, I expanded and explored Grashopper . After followign the basics, I experimented with changing the numberlsiders for various results (eg. changing height of the ‘fins’) and lofted and baked the objects.

In the same project, I experimented further with shapes and sliders, adding more sliders to the vectors. I then experimented with the ‘pipe’ function to create some somewhat interesting and different designs. 27

CONCLUSION Throughout the first three weeks and Case for Innovation I of Architecture Design Studio Air, I have learnt much about the theory and contemporary discourse surrounding architecture, as well we developed skills in Grasshopper and Rhino that will be able to contribute grealty to the final project. Theoretically, I have looked at architecture through different lenses (as highlighted in week 1’s reading), and furthered my knowledge of the importance of architecture, not just materially but how it contributes to so much of our lives. I have learnt much about interesting buildings and projects and explored how they contribute to the dicourse on architecture. I have found it really interesting to explore the way digital design, in particular computation and parametric modelling, is able to allow new possibilities and futhermore, how these new possibilities then contribute to the discourse. I have also gathered a greater understanding on various digital design elements, such as computerisation vs. computation and what it is to be parametric. The algorithmic tasks have let me exlore Grasshopper while beign guided and this, along with the help sessions, has helped me gain a greater understanding. I think a most vital thing in Grasshopper is to understand precicely what is going on with each step, despite there not really being a visual image in front of you. This is where I aim to expand most and build on the base which has developed the last few weeks. I wish to further my knowledge and familiarity with the program so I am not hesitant or restricted in future designs. Grashopper evidently makes things a lot easier, especially with iterations and chaning elements and in the past, particularly in Virtual Environments, I could have used my new knowledge to speed up the design process and also be more inclined to try new designs.


REFERENCES AND FOOTNOTES ARCHITECTURE AS A DISCOURSE 1 Williams, Richard (2005). ‘Architecture and Visual Culture’, in Exploring Visual Culture: Definitions, Concepts, Contexts, ed. by Matthew Rampley (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press). 2 Williams, R. (2005). ‘Architecture and Visual Culture’. 3 Williams, R. (2005). ‘Architecture and Visual Culture’. 4 Williams, R. (2005). ‘Architecture and Visual Culture’. MOUNTAIN DWELLINGS 1






Wolf C. (2006), Lose the Building: System Theory, Architecture, and Diller+Scofidio’s Blur, Virginia


Wolf C. (2006)


Wolf C. (2006)


Wolf C. (2006)




Terzidis, K. (2006), Algorithmic Architecture, Burlington MA: Elsevier Ltd


Terzidis, K. (2006), Algorithmic Architecture


Carpo, M. (2013), The Ebb and Flow of Digital Innovation: From Form Making to Form Finding and Beyond. Architectural Design, 83: 56-61. Doi 10.1002/ad1525


Burry, M. (2011) Scripting Cultures- Architectural design and programming, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd


Frazer, J in Terzidis, K. (2006), Algorithmic Architecture


Terzidis, K. (2006), Algorithmic Architecture




University of Melbourne, Lecture 4 for ABPL30048 StudioAir 2013



University of Melbourne, Lecture 4 for ABPL30048 StudioAir 2013


Moussavi, F. (2011), ‘Parametric software is no substitute for parametric thinking’, Architectural Review, Volumne 230



Woodbury as quoted in


Smith (2007) as quoted from Lecture 4 for ABPL30048 StudioAir 2013, University of Melbourne


University of Melbourne, Lecture 4 for ABPL30048 StudioAir 2013


Woodbury as quoted in


Woodbury as quoted in


Woodbury as quoted in

12 Moussavi, F. (2011), ‘Parametric software is no substitute for parametric thinking’, Architectural Review, Volumne 230 MERCEDES BENZ MUSEUM 1






B.1 DESIGN FOCUS In order to create an “exciting and eye catching installation” we need something innovative, something that will stand out. This location is unique for a public sculpture as the viewing time is approximately 40 seconds and seen at speeds 100km/h. While there is no time to get up close and inspect the work itself, the aim is to leave an impression so lasting that it promotes viewings to consider the work after they have viewed it and they have driven past it. This will encourage “ongoing interest in the Western Interchange by encouraging further reflection about the installation beyond first glance” (as stated in brief). In order to do this and create this, we wish to produce something that can be appreciated on face value yet is complex enough to provoke further thought and consideration. Considering this, and also the unique idea that the majority of the audience will only view it while driving past at fast speeds, our project wishes to explore along the lines of complexity and blur, considering notions such as motion, experiential and the experience, repetition and asymmetrical geometry.

Situated outdoors as the Wyndham Gateway project will be, the ICD Research Pavilion demonstrates the benefits and opportunities of strips and folding as a design approach when exploring lighting and shade. As strips and folding allow for multiple and different sections or strips, lighting from the inside can create an interesting effect on the outside with the light coming through. This has a great effect at night, rather than having basic up-lighting of the structure from the outside, an entire new effect is created as the emphasis is placed on the gaps in between the form or ‘strips’ of the structure rather than the form itself as it would be in the daytime. Additionally, during the day the shade created by the form of the structure can not only be a by-product of the structure but become an interesting aspect incorporated in the design with the structure’s form and gaps. This is more prominent in Biothing. In this structure the thin strips raised above the ground cast notable patterned shadows that can add in another dynamic and alter with the light direction.

The design approach of strips and folding has a variety of opportunities to realise these intentions in our project. The idea of complexity can be increased by folding, provoking viewers to be encouraged to investigate and think about the different layers. By repeating strips we can enhance the idea of ‘blur’, as viewers pass so quick. We can explore positioning, heights, shapes and so on to provoke different responses from the viewers and create and change the experience while passing. Folding and strips have the ability to fold and intertwine with each other, increasing complexity within its own form.


The ICD Research Pavilion demonstrates the “latest developments in material-oriented computational design, simulation and production processes” in architecture. This results in a “bending-active structure” made entirely of “extremely thin, elastically-bent plywood strips”**. Computational generation of form is directly driven and informed by physical behaviour and material characteristics. The structure is entirely based on the elastic bonding behaviour of birch plywood strips. Loop 3 demonstrates the complexity folding can offer with its unique form and dynamic shape. The project evokes a sense of fluidity and movement, enhanced by the multiple folds and ripples, creating a smooth three-dimensional palette for the eye to move across. Loop_3 explores a use of rationality in complex shapes that “merges user spatial interaction, curvature as a structural and expressive strategy…the voluptuous ripples also strengthen the overall shape”*. Loop_3 also uses mathematical trigonometric functions explored through parametric software as a mean of aesthetic device*. The Archipelago Parametrically Design Pavilion is a good example to see the way strips are beneficial in creating interesting forms including the complete curve of form to create a cylinder. Strips can be created as flat objects in the fabrication process and joined together, curving and meeting up to form almost any form such as in the Archipelago Pavilion where the steel strips join together to form a curved shape. The folding in the Curved Folding Pavilion (In Silico Building) produces a work of real visual intrigue. The work is quite intricate and complex yet with the repetition there is a strong sense of harmony.

Fig. 1: ICD Research Pavilion. Source: pavilion_2010/pavilion_image_07.jpg Fig. 2: Loop_3. Source: Fig. 3: Archipelago Parametrically Design Pavilion. Source: archipelago-parametrically-designed-pavilion/ Fig. 4: Curved Folding Pavilion (In Silico Building). Source:







shapes, I decided to use a rectangle shape as I felt I could manipulate the length and softness of the edges to create interesting and different explorations. This Matrix 1: rectangle geometry was repeated twice in order to Started with the Biothing definition but stripped it have three separate rectangles to rotate on a centre right back to basic structure. The curves are divided axis in different directions. The axis of each set of into points, merged the field and created radioactive curves. This created a basis from which I thought I could three rectangles aligns to the hexagon grid. build on. The most interesting exploration is the last one Problems arose creating the axis in the centre of each where I exploded curves to get specific ones to convert set of three rectangles, opposed to what was originally happening with the entire grid of ‘Rectangle Shape to geometrical form. The angular shapes remind me 1’ and ‘Rectangle Shape 2’ rotating around a point in of the way the ICD Research Pavilion is put together the bottom left corner of the hexagon grid. This was with gaps in between parts. It is quite intriguing and overcome with giving each curve a plane to rotate appears as a puzzle or something that needs to be around. Altering the sliders and number scroller of ‘figured out’. However it does look quite static and drawn into itself, opposed to the next exploration which the original rectangle shape allowed for the length and edges of the rectangle geometry to change. is the opposite. While altering the sliders of each rectangle shape 1 or 2, changed the angle each shape rotated on the Matrix 2: axis. This enabled many different variations. Having This is really interesting and attributes from this the geometry rotated on an angle so from afar it exploration could be used in architectural practice. appears there are diagonal strips created across the The long ‘spikes’ belong to a cluster. The bottom half pattern is interesting as it evokes a sense of speed and of the design acts almost as a mirror of the top half, movement which is something we are looking at with the the clusters here facing down like a bell, while the top are opened up to the sky. As a whole the entire design Gateway Project. Although intriguing to look at, some appears more static. Another interesting thing looked exudes a sense of power, explosion, of force coming at is the intersect menu in Grasshopper which can be out from the centre, emphasised be the presence of seen with the last pattern. Although the same sensation a centre point and by the spokes coming out in all of movement and speed is not expressed here, as a directions. Yet there is also a sense of control rather pattern it is quite appealing. than chaos or mayhem. This is something that may be interesting to look at in further in our Gateway Project. Matrix 7: I wanted to make voronoi patterns 3D so that it stand Matrix 4: Although aesthetically as whole this probably would not up as a sculpture. I began by making points and creating a random pattern with the voronoi component. be used in real life architectural application, there a qualities in this that could be useful in achieving certain I then experimented with circular patterning to experiment. In the flat patterns there was no flexibility design goals. in making dynamic protrusions which was something I wanted to experiment with. For these extrusions I used Matrix 5: ‘unit A-Z’ so that its extrusions are related to the unit Using the Biothing definition, this exploration spreads out the points of the clusters to explore the difference it area. By “evaluating” I could control the extrusion makes. The result is like a caterpillar however it is quite lengths and then I used an equation to invert the extrusions (x/10 changed to 10/x). I experimented appealing from afar as it makes a nice pattern. with the extrusions by using a number slider to control them. Finally I added the colour graph to the definition Matrix 6: so that each different height is colour coded. These Furthering the exploration of Biothing, I became patterns are really interesting. What I find most interested in the patterning the strips can form and interesting is the way they are a random pattern and wanted to explore this idea further. Using a hexagon parts yet form an intricate whole. grid on Grasshopper to form the arrangement of the 35



Double Agent White demonstrates how spheres and other similar shapes can be created from a strips and folding design approach. At the same time an interesting and irregular pattern emerges on the entire sphere due to each strip containing parts of this pattern. In order for us to achieve and evoke the idea of complexity in our design, we wish to create a pattern that asks the viewers to look deeper, consider more, to see beyond the structure. The methods behind Double Agent White will be useful to apply to part of our design in order to create more dynamism with light and shade and also the holes create intrigue into what is behind. Another goal is for this gateway is to be experiential, to enclose the users, metaphorically and perhaps physically, in a way that asks for more than just a polite viewing of an artistic sculpture from afar. Our proposed site is Site A, situated in between the two travelling directions. We need a supporting structure for this form that will be situated up high for maximum viewing and impact statement. The voronoi pattern that we explored in case study one is able to provide an interesting structural form that can aid us in achieving our design intent. By having a structure with perforations and negative spaces, there is still a connection to the users’ fellow commuters on the other side of the site. The holes or negative space will allow flashes of the vehicles to be seen from both sides, enhancing the idea of blur and motion and increasing a the dynamic experience. Our idea is to have constricted sightlines initially, smaller holes and views to the other vehicles and views, then as the users pass for these flashes to become larger and longer and for it to open up. We wish to develop further from this original form and break out from the sphere shape. Double Agent White’s broken spheres are really intriguing and whilst we do not want to use the same geometry, we want to create a similar interesting and thought-provoking piece. Utilising more strips, we are considering to break up the structure towards the end (approaching Wyndham), having disconnected freestanding strips and parts, still having visual links to the main structure but to now the site-lines between the two roads become clearer and less constrained. 37


In order to create the holes on the surface of Double Agent White, we looked into creating a pattern that could provide abritary holes or areas for gaps. We thought that creating a voronoi pattern, filliting the edges and then using the negative spaces between the pattern would be able to acheive this. Several iterations were made by changing the sliders, varying the roundness of the fillited edges, the size and other factors to achieve the effect we wanted. We chose a pattern (Middle pattern, 3rd Row) that we thought most suit the Double Agent White projetct.



In order to recreate Double Agent White, we initially experimented with using ribs to create a simple structure with the intention to later morph the voronoi pattern onto it to be applied as the surface. We began with a sphere, as is the geometry in Double Agent White. We created two different versions of the sphere to demonstrate the difference in rib numbers by modifying the sliders. However as our design ideas grew we wanted to experiment with different shapes so we also so created an organic waved shape as well as a half dome. The half dome is a highly complex


definition allowing more flexibility in the spaces between the ribs and allowing better or worse stability over the structure. We decided to use the simpler ones for investigation because the surface we will morph on is light in nature. Unfortunately, trying to morph the pattern onto the surface of the ribs, the outcome was not as we intended, with the surface and pattern coming off the sphere entirely.

We then moved onto a simpler approach. As the geometry of Double Agent White is curved and appears to involve a lot of spheres, we chose to apply the pattern to the surface to a simple sphere. We then deleted the inside of the circular shapes. This was repeated and spheres were rotated, scaled, and moved into position, achieving a similar effect as Double Agent White. The similatiries between our project and the original design mainly lie in the positioning and overall appearence of the spheres, as well as the patterns and holes on the surface of this.


Although our final product has similarities to Double Agent White, there are also many differences. Double Agent White does not involve perfect spheres, but spherical looking objects with the bottom cut off, creating an open sphere or hemisphere effect. The pattern and holes of our design are not exactly the same as the original however they do have resemble it enough for the overall product to be somewhat recognisable as the original project.




As the brief grows, so do our design and ideas. Wanting to focus on creating a ‘no-mans’ land especially, we expanded our ideas. Our main focus and aim for this project is to create something that will create a discourse, prompt further thought despite the users only driving past for a brief moment and to generate questions and discussion. In order to do this, we wanted to further this idea of complexity and create something so different and unusual that it is no longer just complex and a puzzle that needs to be worked out, but that it is puzzling and needs to be questioned. In branching out and developing our ideas, we considered the experience we intend the user to undergo and what that means, hardening ideas as we explored.


From our explorations we began to develop this idea of ‘action and absence’. The idea of craters and an alien landscape is appealing to us our and design intent and what we want to achieve. We began to considering what occurs with a crater - action and force. What is interesting is that a crater is not the main event or object, it is just the remnants, and you have to guess and question what the object and force was that created it. Action and Absence. This is also the way we intend to create and arouse intrigue, curiosity, conversation and discussion.

Promps questions and consideration = generates interest, discourse

Strange/ Unusual Egg-Shells, Fractures

Site: Grass, dry, beige, emtpy landscape

Double Agent White (broken)

Spheres Hemispheres

Alien Landscape

Distortion Craters, Meteors Distorted Geometries

Anish Kappor’s work

Distorted Materials/ Surfaces

Jason Payne’s Mirror Balls 45

NICK VAN WOERT ‘Action’ implies a force and velocity. We wish to make these craters appear as if the plane they are has been slammed into, as if something really did hit the plane with such force the crater was the result. In considering this we looked at Nick van Woert’s artwork. By taking classical buts, turning them horizontal, dripping melted plastic on them, then standing the product back up right, van Woert has put a huge twist on something so well known and classical. With gravity, the dripping plastic all moves naturally in one direction and creates this sense of movement and dynamism in the work and with the bust standing up right, the direction of the movement has shifted from a gravitational pull to a horizontal plane. It is this effect, especially seen in the *first two images* of movement, speed, something pushed through and moving in force in one direction, that we want to achieve. Even the resultant of the plastic blobs in the last image has a feel of movement in one direction.


JASON PAYNE In a similar vein, Jason Payne’s disco balls have taken something so familiar and well-known and altered and distorted them. The work questions ideas such as, how much change do you need to make until it is not a copy? What are those changes? Scale? Materials? The changes are subtle but the result can be almost uncomfortable with having something that at first is so familiar but then seeming that little bit…different and distorted until it is actually something else. Payne’s mirror balls can be seen to touch on the idea of asteroids, with their organic geometry and edges. So we wish to capture a similar sentiment with our ‘alien’ landscape, make the viewers take a double take and keep them on edge. Derived but different.



ANISH KAPOOR Anish Kapoor’s work with the spherical shape and other curved shapes are really interesting for us to consider. What is really interesting about some of his work is not just the physical thing that is there but how it interacts in the environment. Most of his work is interactive in a way that the materials are reflective and with the way the geometry is shaped, the images you see change. Whether this be the sky, the surrounding landscape or you, the viewer, yourself. For example, Kapoor’s Sky Mirrors.

In creating craters, we wish to explore adding into this hemisphere shape by pushing geometry through it so it appears the velocity and movement is going through, in one direction.

The work has this another dimension in that it is not something you just look at as the physical object but part of its design involves this outside element. This hemisphere shape is a good idea for us, it’s a perfect geometry, symmetrical and balanced which is sort of the ‘familiar’ and ‘safe’ thing that the viewers can connect, yet you can actually do quite a lot of things with this ‘familiar’ shape, as seen in the way Kapoor treats the surface, smooth or rough, reflects the surroundings or distorts what you see from different angles and positions it.

a vertical billbaord. This idea is reinforced with the upright dish and rectangle shapes Kapoor has done. We want to create an idea of an invisible, vertical plane that has been smacked into by and object and what is left is what will be our physical design that you can see. We hope that the positions of the craters are what really make this alien landscape interesting and arouse curiosity. The actual object and force that created these things is not on site and is no where to be seen but instead what you get is this aftermath and makes you question and talk about after, what happened here?


Placement on the site is obviously vital in a design of scattered craters in a landscape. Not only placement of the craters but how the craters stand is part of the design. We need viewers to be able to see the structures while passing the site and we have been considering the idea of having upright craters such as

B.4 TECHNIQUE: DEVELOPMENT In order to create a crater we attempted to use We endeavoured to solve this in Grasshopper/Rhino by Kangaroo and drape a mesh over a geometry (sphere). changing the stiffness of the Springs. We were able to get down to around 500 on the number slider before Doing this we did encounter some things that could they became too stretchy and it no longer looked prove to be an issue in the fabrication process. By ‘draped’. This created some geometry that now could draping, the mesh was not stretching and instead was be fabricated and hold its shape however, even with just placing over the geometry without any actual keeping the Spring stiffness at the best numbers we structure If it were to be fabricated, it would just come could, this still looses the effect we want with action, out as a flat mesh. Also, whilst the draped meshes look absence, velocity and so on. It looks more like a pitched quite nice, they are not the exact effect we want. We tent than a force slamming into an invisible plane. want to ensure we are still expressing our design ideas of action and absence. To do this we want ensure the motion and velocity of something hitting an invisible plane and forming a crater is evident. The results of this drape is a bit ‘soft’.




We explored other methods that may help us achieve what we want and we experimented using mesh booleans. Starting with a sphere shape we populated the sphere with points. We then used the geometry of more spheres to assign to these points. Removing the intersection between the two resulted in crater-like hemispheres in the large sphere. We experimented with Mesh Int and other intersecting components to reverse where the indentation on the larger sphere is coming from (inside or outside). By have the spheres going in one direction, it appears more the velocity is moving that way. After baking this geometry and cutting the sphere in half in Rhino, we are now left with a large crater with smaller ‘craters’ in its surface. In Rhino we experimented further with able to experiment with the surface, deleting some parts and smoothing things here and there to create a non-universal effect on the one sphere/crater. This has the most interesting effects and we wish to explore this more. We created a crater/hemisphere (last image) which we think could be a good base for any further exploration and so we have chosen to get this 3D printed to see how it looks as a physical model.





B.5 TECHNIQUE: PROTOTYPES In wanting to create something that provokes further questions and thought past the first glance we initially looked at a strips-and-folding approach and the way the intricate nature of the technique can provide a complexity that may be able to do this. Furthering our design though, we developed strips-and-folding to the idea of casting and pouring. As we wish to develop our structure out of metal, we believe this will give us our ideal form as well as be able to reflect light and the surroundings to a degree. The model we had 3D printed is able to inform us of how our design will potentially look in real life. Importantly, it also helped us visualise light and shadows, which is something very important with the nature of our design scattered on site. 3D printing is also able to represent the way the structure will look by casting, rather than assembling the prototype from strips of card for example, it does have a different effect, especially with the smooth texture. Looking at these prototypes in 3D, we can now judge things we wish to change. We all agreed that more variety would be good, having a shallower dish would also be good and these are things we wish to explore further.



Our design is developing to revolve around the notion of ‘action and absence’. We have designed these crater like objects to sit on either side of the road in Site A and Site B. What we want to evoke is the image of: something was here and crashed into these areas, leaving the craters behind. Prompting further, if not conscious then subconscious, questions of, what was here? What was moving at such force? The idea that you cannot see the actual object, only the affect of it, is something we hope will prompt questions in viewers minds. Furthermore, we wish to position these craters in various vertical to horizontal positions. The majority will be upright to some degree, appearing as if there is an invisible plane that has been crashed into, arousing more curiosity, prompting further initial questions of ‘what exactly are these?’


B.6 TECHNIQUE PROPOSAL Exploring the potential of our design more on Grasshopper and Rhino, we looked at how we could make it more exciting, unusual and different. By adding sliders to the Grasshopper definition to adjust the number of sides on the sphere geometry, we were able to create triangle shapes. While this is interesting, it does look a little less like a meteor and more like armor. In Rhino we experimented further with able to experiment with the surface, deleting some parts and smoothing things here and there to create a nonuniversal effect on the one sphere/crater.


The location on the site is paramount with our design as they are various scattered geometries that make up a landscape. We explored with dough where these craters might end up if objects were spat out of an invisible place. We used golf balls as the objects and found some interesting results. Whilst this is not to scale and this experiment has not informed us how the site will look when the craters are vertical, we have been able to note the differences with the number of craters clustered together or not, the arbitrary locations of this when they were thrown from the centre, and gain an idea of how the site, this landscape and our proposed design will come together. The chains indicate the path and areas of action and velocity coming from a central point out. Although it will be invisible, we want this to be evident in our final design on site and this will depend the final crater design and how we sit it on site.


We are considering using metal such as chrome as we believe this material is interesting in that it has the ability to reflect and distort light and images, such as Jason Payne and Anish Kapoor’s work does. We are looking at casting where the metal would be melted into liquid form, poured into the mould and hardened into that shape. We looked at making a mould which is, of course, a major component of the technique as it defines the form of the geometry. On Rhino and Grasshopper, we experimented how to do this by creating a block and intersecting the desired form with it, then deleting this area (Fig. 1). We also have looked at the idea of vacuum forming, where a sheet of plastic is heated to a forming temperature and stretched onto or into a single-surface mould, held against the mould by applying a vacuum between the mould surface and the sheet. This idea

reminds me of the ‘drape’ experiments we did earlier using Kangaroo however as it can’t use metal in the way we desire we probably will have to consider a different type of fabrication Explosive forming is another interesting metalworking technique in which an explosive charge is used instead of a punch or press (Fig. 2). A way to do this is to place a metal plate over a die, with the intervening space evacuated by a vacuum pump, place the whole assembly underwater and denote a charge at an appropriate height above the plate. This is a really interesting method however it might prove to be too expensive and difficult for the project.

Fig. 1: Mould for casting

Fig. 2: Explosive forming set up Source:




Learning how to create my own patterns has been useful. Grasshopper allows you to make iterations and move things so the same geometry or base of the pattern is used but there are many different variations that can be produced. This is useful as we wish to involve some sort of complextiy in our design, and this potentially will involve the surface and creating an interesting and intruiging pattern 64

B.8 LEARNING OBJECTIVES AND OUTCOMES The feedback from the Expression of Interest Presentation is really valuable. We want to now take it into consideration and further our design.

The most interesting feedback I thought we got was the idea of encouraging the discourse by creating a story. The actual site, as discussed, is just the aftermath. What if we created artefacts of multiple One comment was to possibly not only operating scales and distributed them around Wyndham? using the sphere geometry. Although we lightly have This would be an excellent way to encourage experimented looking triangles, this is an area we discourse and create conversation. Another angle can explore more to give us new angles and add we can take is creating a series of images or video excitement to our design. Another comment referred of what supposedly did happen. These then have to the way Nick van Woert and Jason Payne’s work the potential to infiltrate social media and similar resembles qualities of a reference object and this platforms, creating curiosity and therefore putting is something I would like our design to focus on, a Wyndham in the spotlight. distortion, slightly uncomfortable or unusual, yet there still is evidence of something familiar. The This process so far this semester has enabled me to next step for us is to also look at more precedents, really gain an great understanding of not only the not necessarily art or architecture but things such technical programs but to develop capabilities and natural (or unnatural) processes such as asteroids, knowledge as outlined in the Learning Objectives. lunar maps and so on, considering how and why The subject has encouraged a better way for me they act as they do, what patterns they make and to go through a design process and has helped so on. Site and scale are vital and we looking at the me develop and understanding of relationships landscape itself is being destroyed by one object between architecture and air through interrogation and we want to explore if there are smaller and and multiple and thorough angles of approaching a different scale objects that came after. In terms of design. fabrication, we wish to explore the idea of moulds further, considering things such as splitting it into parts, and use this to introduce another layer of patterning.


IMAGE SOURCES Anish Kapoor: • • • jpg • • kapoor_scurve.jpg • Nick Van Woert: • • •

Jason Payne: • • • • • • Double Agent White: •



Melbourne Housing Estates


C.1 GATEWAY PROJECT: DESIGN CONCEPT Our primary interested is to create an installation that viewers will remember and that will provoke discourse, thought and conversation. In order to do this we have been looking at creating something that is unusual, intriguing and confusing enough on first approach that will draw viewers into taking a moment to consider it and work it out. The idea of creating an unusual landscape, a ‘no-man’s land’, of alien-like craters does this. However, we wish to develop this idea further and link it back to the context and to Wyndham more, we wanted our design to be more than just an unusual landscape, we wanted to make comment and provoke questions on social and cultural topics. We looked at Wyndham as a place, at its characteristics and history.

instead of just seeing farm, stretches of grass and the occasional paddock of animals, one usually passes entire communities and housing estates, pushed right up to the freeway. The houses are often, if not always, a standardised and repeated design. The City of Wyndham itself is home to numerous new housing estates in suburbs such as Williams Landing, Wyndham Vale and Tarneit. A house, such a familiar thing to everyone, can relate to everyone on some level. What we do with such a familiar object is what will provoke thoughts, ideas, discussion and discourse.

The idea in Jason Payne’s disco balls, inspired us to create the distorted sphere craters. Rather than regular geometry such as a sphere, we began to explore the idea of taking a more complex geometry yet still a familiar one and distort this. By taking something familiar to everyone, we could relate to everyone on some level. eturning to the brief, we considered the nature of the site. Not only the small area of the site, but the larger area it is situated in Melbourne and Victoria. Wyndham sits on the edge of Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary and, as all places, was originally largely rural in character. Being further out from Melbourne city, it stayed rural for longer. However, as often happens, suburban development encroached. Nowadays, driving through the outskirts of Melbourne,

Basic House Mesh Geometry


Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

Fig. 4

Fig. 5

Fig. 6


JASON PAYNE Jason Payne’s disco balls have taken something wellknown and altered and distorted it. The changes are subtle but the result can be almost uncomfortable. Something that seems so familiar at first but on closer inspection, it has been distorted until it is something else. There is a strong idea of taking something that is recognisable and giving them an identity of their own. Derived but different. (Fig. 1)

Fig. 8

Fig. 9

THE HOUSE IN THE SKY The House in the Sky, a current artwork in Melbourne, is a well-known work that makes a comment on suburban Melbourne and the typical Australian home, provoking similar thoughts as our design intends to. Its position on the freeway, especially with the way it is viewed differently from different vantage points, intrigues viewers and contributes to the interest and discussion of the work and topics. (Fig. 2) ANISH KAPOOR Anish Kappor’s work represents forms and distortion of forms. There is the idea of things pushed into each other and malleable forms. His work also considers how people and the site react to the unusualness of the work. (Figs. 3-7) THE WIZARD OF OZ We still wish for our design to be fun and exciting and looked to the well-known and loved story of The Wizard of Oz. The tornado scene involves Dorothy’s house spinning around in the turbulence and landing crookedly elsewhere. Knowing we would like to take houses then place and distort them so they are unlike houses we see in our world, we looked at this part in the film to inspire us and to contribute some ‘fun’ to our design. (Figs. 8-9)

Fig. 7



We experimented with the idea of pushing forms together to create an interesting outcome. We continued with the idea of a crater however with the different geometry of house in the place of the spheres.


Furthering this idea, we considered not just addition but also subtraction as a way to distort the geometry, similar to how we used a boolean function in the sphere craters earlier. We have created axonometric diagrams demonstrating our design process of taking the same geometry and removing one from the other. Starting from a simple block, we then experimented with the house shape. Making it more complex to suit our design goals, we did this with a lot of houses into each other at random. This resulted in something complex and much more interesting and intriguing.



Insert House Mesh


Repeat for Multiple House Meshes (Houses Overlap at Random)

Select 1/3 of the House Meshes

Save the House Meshes in Two Groups

Export in 3D Coat


Subtract Group of 1/3 Meshes From Main One

Insert House Mesh

Save Group 1

Rotate, Move, Scale Multiple Houses

Save Group 2

Subtract Group 2 from Group 1



Groups of House Meshes

Model on Rhino


In creating this design we continued to utilise parametric design and computational techniques as it facilitated our intrigue of manipulating and warping geometries and helped us achieve our design ideas. Initially we looked at having house-shaped craters placed randomly on site. This then developed into the idea of having the houses placed all over the place with a suggestion of turbulence and force; instead of having craters landing around on site, we want the houses to appear as if they are tumbling in a certain direction, not unlike the turbulence and tornado that tumbled about Dorothy’s house around in The Wizard of Oz.

We also used this method to dictate the random heights of the houses, and to create the highest point to be at the start of the turbulence so the other ones could sprawl out from this (Figs. 3 and 4). With the levels the points fell at, and with the subtraction of houses from one another, some interesting shapes were created such as arches underneath sections of houses that will be interesting for the viewers to look through and catch glimpses of while driving past (Fig. 5).

Using the Rhino and the Grasshopper and Firefly plugins, we distributed the differentiated forms across the site (Fig 1). We aligned the geometry with images of turbulence (Fig. 2) and the direction of wind and velocity; this is so the final positioning of our house geometries tumbled down the site would be able to accurately evoke this sense.

Fig. 2

Tolerance of Smoke

Create Surface

Apply Points on Surface

Apply Force

Fig. 3

Site Restrictions

Alter Smoke Pattern

Choose Desired Points Pattern

Fewer Points

3D Tolerance of Height 78

Selection of Points

Fig. 1

Fig. 3

Fig. 4


Design on Site


TECTONIC SYSTEM AND ELEMENTS Rather than creating a lot of separate craters, our idea has developed into large mass of objects tumbling in a direction and at this scale. Although we were looking at casting as a method for fabrication, with the current scale of our design, this method is not as viable or economical.

the skin of the houses. We have chosen aluminium as a good material as it is lightweight and the uniformity of the colour will be able to exhibit the uniformity of the houses seen in housing estates, linking back and reiterating this idea. Additionally, the distortion and positioning of the houses is very exciting and confusing, we do not wish to take A different avenue of construction of this design away from this or add another layer of confusion would involve creation of steel frames of the basic with bright, distracting or multiple colours. house shapes with aluminium sheets then clipped onto this frame. To do this we would need to divide the computational model into strips to fabricate

Fig. 1


Unroll Surface in Strips on Computer Model (Fig.1)

Aluminium Material is Cut into Strips (Fig. 1)

Steel Frame is Constructed in parts of Xm x Xm of model (Fig. 2)

Alumium Sheet Material Strips are Clipped onto Frame and Secured to Each Other (Fig. 3)

Ground of Site is Prepared for Installation (Steel bars to be placed in Ground, Electricty Cables for lighting to run to certain areas)

Bring Sections of Installation onto Site via Transport (Trucks size Xm x Xm)

Sections of Installation are Installed and Connected Together Via Steel Framework

Lights are Installed on Ground (for Uplighting at Night)

Fig. 2

Fig. 3






C.3 GATEWAY PROJECT FINAL MODEL Driving past our installation, it soon becomes clear that this pile and chaotic mass is repetition of a very familiar object. A house. As you pass, the houses become larger and piled up higher. The houses are not positioned regularly or as one would expect. They are not sitting upright or on a grid, as would usually be seen in a suburban development or housing estate. These houses sit on all sorts of angles, tumbling into each other, piling up. The houses are perceived differently from different vantage points as drivers navigate the freeway and turn off into Wyndham.

contradictions that this particular cultural condition entails, as well as commenting on the changing and developing landscape from rural to suburban. To emphasise the idea of a border crossing, rather than literally having a gate and booth, we want to create a no-mans land that is an unusual place, different to all the landscapes of Melbourne and surrounding areas.

The force, or turbulence or outside object that forced these houses to tumble into these positions can be seen as the gateway, the first thing to occur. Questions arise; What is going on? Why are The ‘no-man’s land’ between the two territories on these different sized houses all thrown around either side of the border, is this bizarre landscape. in this way? Not only this, but as you drive past As you pass through this ‘land’, the viewers achieve you realise that chunks of the outside of the as sense of ‘crossing over’ and ‘passing into’ a new houses have been extracted with the shape of land, like Dorothy opens the door into the world other houses. There is a sense of addition and of technicolour in The Wizard of Oz, the viewers subtraction, houses partially growing out of others, drive through a transitional space. houses removed from others. More questions arise. Why are these buildings distorted in this way? With all of this we wish to create something that jolts the viewers into remembering their Passing our design you get a familiar sense of surroundings, into being aware and appreciating seeing a repeated design of a house, a standard their surroundings, and asking questions, home, just like many of the housing estates along considering the actions that occur on the the freeway. However, these houses are not neat landscapes around them, and encourage them to and upright. The way they are tumbled about can look around and observe all landscapes they pass question the nature of urban growth, especially through, be it a large city or a smaller town. in the context and in areas such as the one where this installation is situated. It is a comment on the ‘Great Australian Dream’, of everyone having their own home with a big backyard, and the



Design under lighting from concentrated direction, casting shadows which enchance the bizarre and ‘other-wordly’ different landscape, effect.






A house, such a familiar thing to everyone, can provoke a lot of different thoughts, ideas and discourse. The tumultuous sprawl of houses, falling into each other evokes questions of where the houses came from, what phenomena caused them to sprawl and tumble out like this? There is a number of different ways one can interpret this. There is a fun tumbling of houses from a higher tower. There’s sense of turbulence not unlike the scene from the Wizard of Oz. And like the well-known movie, there’s a sense of a different place and bizarre situation- these houses toppled about unlike houses are in real world. Just like Dorothy opens the door of her house and finds the technicolour Land of Oz, the design offers the idea of- what is on the other side? What new place are you going to pass into? There are so many avenues in the imagination to explore. There is no other information but what is here on site and the amalgamation of these houses, no knowing what came before or what caused this, and this allows the viewers to use their imagination, question it and discuss it.


As Melbourne evolves and continues to develop and the idea of urban growth being questioned, the installation will continue question relevant topics. Not only this but, there will continue to be different senses evoked from different people; fun tumbling houses, questions of a different place, and sense of passing through to a different world. The installation has been designed to invite many potential readings. It raises the banal and ordinary to the level of extraordinary and recognises the suburbs as a source of fun and as a source of aspects such as artistic and cultural inspiration. We hope the installation can posit more questions than it can answer and we believe it will be an ongoing source of conversation, discourse and encouragement of interest in the area of Wyndham.




In exploring our design and possible desingn avenues I have learnt many things on Grasshopper and Rhino as well as plug-ins for Grasshopper such as Firefly. Something we found useful and learnt along the way was using Firefly, Grasshopper and Rhino such as seen with this definition. We learnt how to use and create this definition using Firefly as we wanted to experiment with using an image and placing points to this. Difficulty arouse with putting poitns to a surface versus a curve but we succesfully managed in the end. We found it an interesting and useful definition and something that we were able to use later on in our design process and place points onto the site itself.


C.5 LEARNING OBJECTIVES AND OUTCOMES One of the main pieces of feedback from our presentation was that design and model needed to have more correlation with the site. We have since placed the model on a bored with the site etched onto it so the placement would be easier to see visually upon viewing our 3D model. We also emphasised the points we chose to place the houses and we placed the model on site digitally so we could see how it would look in this view. The design project has taught me much about architecture and the roles of computation in the design process. Before undertaking this course, while aware that it played a large role, I was unaware of exactly what role and to what extent computation played in some aspects of architecture. I have now learnt that many things are affected, influenced and created by computation in the design process. This does not just apply the outcome of the final design but also to the process the architect and designer goes through and to the relationship that designers have with the client and other technical professions such as builders and so on. Whilst I cannot do everything, to some degree, I can now create, manipulate and design using parametric modelling and I am now confident in using parametric and computational techniques. This has been enhanced not only with the practical work done over the course of this subject but also with the theoretical work and with the new knowledge of how and why things in parametric modelling work. With a little help, I now feel confident in using computational methods to design and fabricate bespoke tectonic assemblies. Throughout this subject I have learnt to interrogate a brief by considering the process of brief formation in the age of optioneering enabled by digital technologies (Objective 1). This semester we had the opportunity to be able to interpret and interrogate a brief and develop directions in order to answer it from all areas. I have also developed an ability to “generate a variety of design possibilities for any given situation” (Objective 2) with the experience I have gained this 97

semester in visual programming, algorithmic design and parametric modelling as well as with design-space exploration. I have developed many skills in ‘various three-dimensional media’, specifically in computational geometry, parametric modelling, analytical diagramming and digital fabrication (Objective 3). Over the last 12 or so weeks I have gone from being completely unsure how to use Rhino and Grasshopper, to adventuring into plug-ins for Grasshopper such as Firefly (experimenting with aligning points to an image) and Kangaroo (experimenting with draping surfaces over geometry). Through this course I have developed an understanding of relationships between architecture and air (Objective 4). In creating this design we looked carefully at the site and the nature of it. It is positioned in the outdoors, alongside very busy roads with cars passing at top speeds. Although our final design does not focus on the way air or viewers pass through, we do focus on the way viewers pass by, and is has been a strong focus for us. Throughout the entire subject I have been conscious to keen in mind how contemporary architecture discourse can influence and be used as evidence and persuasive argument for our design choices (Objective 5). This developed from the very beginning and from Part A, where we looked at architecture as a discourse and precedents. With all of this the studio has enabled me to develop capabilities for conceptual, technical and design analyses of contemporary architecture projects, as seen throughout my journal, including Part A (Objective 6). The studio has also encouraged a development in the foundational understandings of computational geometry, data structures and types of programming. This developed a lot through the readings and information available on these topics and then also applying them to practice (Objective 7). Lastly, the studio has helped me develop a personalised repertoire of computational techniques substantiated by the understanding of their advantages, disadvantages and areas of application (Objective 8). This has developed over the entire semester, slowly increasing with each reading, lecture and practical attempt at the work.



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Jason Payne: - The House in the Sky: - Anish Kapoor: - - - - - - The Wizard of Oz: - -




2013 S1 Bridget O'Brien  

Design journal for Studio AIR 2013, semester 1, at the University of Melbourne.