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TOM CHIEW 542529



CONTENTS PART A: CASE for INNOVATION Introduction 4 A.1. Architecture as a Discourse 6 A.2. Computational Architecture 12 A.3. Parametric Modelling 16



TOM CHIEW I’m a third year architecture student. I have had barely any experience with digital design and as a result I am not skilled in any sort of digital workspace.

Through out that subject I struggled not knowing how to translate my drawn ideas to a digital medium. Eventually after many hours anguishing at the computer, my finished design was in a digital format ready for fabrication. I knew that the product of my digital design skills were definitely not what I had initially imagined.

I have lived in Melbourne for my entire life, although I have ancestry in Asia I often make extended trips back to Malaysia, HK and China. Most recently, I traveled to Japan for the first time. The culture was amazing and the architecture was exactly what I admire. The style was simple and traditional but mixed with the raw elements of materials.

From this experience, I felt that digital design was not a tool that could be freely used in architecture, rather it was a limiting factor that could not be used to fully explore my ideas and thoughts.

In first year , I undertook the percussor to this subject; Virtual Environments. My experiences in that subject were daunting and horrifying, as I found the learning curve to master any aspect of Rhino far too steep. I think that this is because I was overwhelmed by the vast amount of possibilities that the program allows.

Hopefully this semester with a bit of persistence and training, I can change my attitude towards digital design can change.



Shibuya, Tokyo (2013)1


Architecture is an ever changing art form that compliments and reflects societies needs of architecture. In other terms, innovation in the field of architecture, is driven by the necessities of our culture and society at large.1 “Architecture should speak of its time and place.” 2

Architecture is an art form that influences its users perception, interaction and emotion. It is also a critical component of human nature and our cultures. In today’s modern society the majority of the worlds population are congregating in urban cities and the influence that architecture has to those living in urban society is becoming greater. The cities that we inhabit, create and redefine our social and political identity and architecture has a key role in the production of ‘culture’. If architecture is to positively influence its users, architecture should be approached in two key ways: architecture as a form of art and architecture as a spacial experience.

In order for architecture to evolve, there will always be a need for discourse surrounding its goals and methodologies. Innovation is driven by necessity and necessity changes through time as both cultures and technologies develop. The shift to digital design tools is a current innovation and discourse that the industry faces. Digital design may be the next innovation that answers the cultural needs of our society.

It is important to take these two methodologies together as a single goal: architecture as an art form should provoke emotion and thought all via interaction in a spacial environment. I see this as the key to defining how architecture should function in today’s society.

The Gateway Project asks for a design that should be function to its social needs. If the design were to incorporate digital design tools it may be able to respond and recipricate that essense in a new form that would add to the current discourse that we face.


(above) Foundation Louis Vuitton Musem2


RMIT DESIGN HUB that is becoming a symbiotic relationship as without advances in construction, the complexities that we are now able to realize through digital design are not able to become reality.

PROJECT DETAILS Architect: Sean Godsell Architects Location: Carlton, Melbourne, Australia Completion: 2012 The design goal set for the RMIT project was to create a building that drew together diverse range of design research in hope of cross disciplinary collaboration. The building features large open plan creative spaces that aim to allow seamless collaboration both conscious and subconscious.

A design goal for the Design Hub was for it to become an example of environmental Excellence, and this was partially achieved through the use of the faรงade that works to optimize the environmental systems in the building. The circular panels which can be retrofitted with solar absorbing elements are motorized to follow the sun throughout the day, maximizing the cooling effect to the building and capturing the maximum amount of solar energy.

Its long hallways encourage accidental encounters with peers and also encourage exploration thought the many sections of the building. This is a prime example of how architecture aims to influence interaction within our society, education being a key element to the future development of culture. The building also demonstrates new innovations in digital design but also in construction. This is something that I think

The goal for environmental efficiency is one that is becoming much more common in modern architecture and digitally assisted design is a tool that can help to accomplish this. 8


(all) The exterior skin of Design hub 3

PRADA FLAGSHIP STORE, TOKYO producing a new way of constructing a retail space exploring and implementing interaction between users.

PROJECT DETAILS Architect: Herzog & de Meuron Location: Aoyama, Tokyo, Japan Completion: 2003

The design demonstrates the current trend in how the industry is currently using digital design to create geometrical skins for buildings.

Built early nearly ten years ago, the building shows an initial use and development of digital design tools. Designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron who have now developed a key standing in the push for integration of digital design techniques into the industry.

The skin also takes a leap forward in the ability to structurally engineer such geometrical shapes. Rather than acting like a curtain wall of glass, the tubular frame adds to the structural stability of the building.

The main feature of the building is of course the grid glass façade. The differing glass panels are intended to frame the actions happening within the building to give viewers an “almost cinematographic perspectives of Prada products, the city and themselves.”4 This motive adheres to creating innovation to respond to new necessities developed by social retail. Thus 10

(left/above) view of the store at night 4



Computation is an innovation that broadens and strengthens the possibilities of architecture. The shift to the digital is making the industry reconsider traditional design techniques and process.

use of computers to the conception and production of ideas. This level of integration was previously hampered by both lack of freedom in software available but also by the lack of ability to construct and manufacture complex geometrical shapes.7

Computers have been in the architectural industry for a substantial amount of time, although their uses have been limited to aiding current techniques of architecture. These would be tasks such as documentation and visualization. This mode of working is known as Computerisation and while it does increase productivity and work flow it is limited by the design intentions of typical pen and paper.5

Developing at a similar pace as design computerisation are construction and manufacturing techniques which also derive from a similar digital age. This has given the architectural world a green light to using digitally conceived design in real life manifestations. The advantages to using computers in the design phase are due to computers having the ability to record and recall almost unlimited amounts of data that humans simply cannot compute on their own.8 This opens up the possibility of conceiving designs previously too complex to draw or designs that are calculated and base on evidence and performance information. The use of computers can push architecture into the a much more relatable and logical field of design.

For large scale projects, computation in the design process has become a necessity. The amount of work that can become automated and simplified by computers allow projects to become realised in shorter more achievable time frames.6 The next stage in integrating digital aids into the design process is the use of computation, bringing the 12

(left) acoustic performance can be analysed in a visual matter providing the designer a constant cycle of feedback information in order to optimize the design 5

(above) the viability of components can all be tested if designed in a digital form 5


BEIJING AIRPORT This is where computation architecture has the ability to revolutionise architecture. This project was realised and constructed in only four years, an amazingly short period for a building of this size. 9 The sheer scale of buildings such as the Beijing Airport require countless documentation for its thousands of components. Digital conception of the initial ideas allowed for replication and multiplication of components to be created therefore allowing such tasks to be completed in shorter amounts of time.

PROJECT DETAILS Architect: Foster + Partners Location: Beijing, China Completion: 2008 Over the past decade, China has developed at an amazing pace. Its infrastructure needed to evolve in order to accommodate its growing connection to the rest of the world. Although this was no easy feat as the construction of new infrastructure needed to be rapid enough to deliver the solution to its needs in reasonable time.


“Computation is a necessary component to design and deliver the biggest building projects in the world�10


(all) Interior structural elements of the airport 6


utilise others work at all. I believe that such contradictive advantages and disadvantages are due to parametricism’s lack of integration to the architectural practice as well as its lack of emphasis in architectural education. When parametric modelling establishes itself as a resolute solution and method, I believe that many of its current downfalls will become less credible.

Parametric modelling seems to face clashing ideas of what it is defined as. There seem to be two key ideas on the matter. Many group parametricism as a style that is being introduced into the world, where as another group of minds class parametric modelling only as a method or tool.11 I am lead to believe that parametric modelling is a tool that is being introduced under the wave of new computational techniques. Although I can understand why others see parametricism as a style, as the use the method does manifest in a recognisable characteristics. As this tool is currently still in its early years of integration into the architectural world, many are quick to point out its short comings.

Even as such, parametricism does currently allow for innovative new solutions to today’s architecutural intentions. Parametric modelling creates rules that can be controlled by user inputted information. This information can relate directly to the use of the building and therefore allows for dynamic systematic solutions that can optimise many aspects of architectural space. Possibilities such as this drive the excitement of using tools such as parametric modelling, but it is still important to note the current downfalls of the method.

I find that both the advantages and short comings of parametric design often contradict each other. For instance, the shareability of parametric definitions are often praised since they promote collaboration and group thinking. On the other hand, this ability to share is also credited to limit originality and also limited by the users ability to even

The first hurdle any designer must face


with parametric modelling are their limitations due to ones ability. Skills to utilise the potential of parametric design are difficult to master.12 Not only does it require proficiency in design aesthetic, but it also requires a keen mathematical mind, which is something that not all architects have trained at during their education. Although even when experienced at parametric design, the process is still extremely time consuming. The biggest fear that many have regarding parametric design is that it will spawn a style that lacks originality and creativity. While there is a possibility that parametricism’s shared vocabulary may lead to a signature style and dilution of ideas, I believe that the dynamic nature of parametric modelling can lead the movement to avoid similarities and actually drive innovation and creativity.

When architects have a sufficient understanding of algorithmic concepts, when we no longer need to discuss the digital as something different, then computation can become a true method of design for architecture.

(below) view from above the pavilion 7


SHELLSTAR PAVILION PROJECT DETAILS Architect: MATSYS Design Location: Wan Chai District, Hong Kong Completion: 2012 The form was generated from parametric form finding based on processes similar to those developed by Antonio Guadi. Grasshopper and combination with a physics simulation engine created the form and allowed for perfect alignment and minimal error. The surface was then optimised to make the design into a

manufacturable object that could be assembled with ease. The engine to test for foreseen manufacturing errors were visualised with colour to feedback to the designer. The final form was then ‘unfolded’ into each component for manufacturing. This a key advantage to using such design methods as its digital relationship with manufacturing techniques allows for such ease of translation to reality. Since the form is modular, the method to assemble the pavilion was also optimised in development. 13


(above)The interior of the final constructed pavilion (left) Structural analysis of how the surface performs 8


SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION PROJECT DETAILS Architect: Foster + Partners Location: Washington DC Completion: 2007 The Smithsonian Institution is based in beautiful and classic historical greek revival buildings. The institution wanted to create a large event space in the central urban space of Washington. As part of ongoing renovations, Foster part transformed its central courtyard in to a open performance/gallery space by unifying the open courtyard with a single parametrically conceived canopy. To create the enclosing roof, a single computer program, written by Foster + Partners’ Specialist Modeling Group, generated the geometry of the roof. The computer code was used to explore design options and was constantly modified throughout the design process. It was also used to generate the final geometry and additional information needed to analyze structural and acoustic performance, to visualise the space, and to create fabrication data for physical models. 9 Just one of the possibilities opened up due to the use of Parametric design and computation.


(all) The parametrically define roof structure 9



Digital Design is a logical and exciting new innovation in architecture. It is the next step in the evolution of architecture that is a necessity to create buildings that reflect modern society. Although currently, the integration of such techniques are causing discourse in the proper uses and as to how architecture can change to incorporate these new factors. Through out my experience learning about the theory of architectural computing, I now have a sound understanding of what is defined at computation and what benefits it can bring. I am still weary of the limitation of computation but I believe that it is a hurdle that the industry and myself must overcome in order to push this innovation forth. The significance of using computation with the gateway project is the ability to directly relate driving parameters with the goals of the project resulting in functional relatable architecture.


REFERENCES TEXT 1 Pia Ednie-Brown, Mark Burry, Andrew Burrow (2013). The Innovation Imperative: Architectures of Vitality 2 Frank Gehry., Xplore Inc, 2013. frankgehry173206.html, accessed April 5, 2013 3, accessed March, 2013 4, accessed March, 2013 5 Brady, Peters (2013). Computation Works: The Building of Algorithmic Thought 6 Brady, Peters (2013). Computation Works: The Building of Algorithmic Thought 7 Burry, Mark (2011). Scripting Cultures: Architectural Design and Programming 8 Yehuda E. Kalay, Architecture’s New Media : Principles, Theories, and Methods of Computer- Aided Design 9, accessed March, 2013 10 Brady, Peters (2013). Computation Works: The Building of Algorithmic Thought 11 Daniel Davis (2013). Introduction to Parametric Modelling, University of Melbourne, 21 March 2013 12 Burry, Mark (2011). Scripting Cultures: Architectural Design and Programming 13, accessed March, 2013 14, accessed March, 2013 IMAGES 1 Tom Chiew, January 2013 2 Gehry Technologies 3 Sean Godsell Architects 4 Herzog & de Meuron 200/178-prada-aoyama 5 Kirkegaard Associates, (2013). Computation Works: The Building of Algorithmic Thought 6 Foster + Partners 7/8 MATSYS Design 9 Foster + Partners


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Design Studio Air Journal Tom Chiew 542529