ARCHITECTURE DESIGN STUDIO: AIR 2013
A0. - About Me 3-4
Architecture as a Discourse
A1.1 - Architecture as a Discourse A1.2 - Case Study 1 - CIRRIFORM A1.3 - Case Study 2 - Museo Soumaya
5-6 7-8 9-10
A2.1 - Computational Architecture 11-12 A2.2 - Case Study 1 - Kinetic Rain 13-14 A2.3 - Case Study 2 - Signal Box 15-16
A3.1 - Parametric Modelling 17-20 A3.2 - Case Study 1 - Foyn-Johanson House 21-22 A3.3 - Case Study 2 - London Aquatics Centre 23-24
A4.1 - Algorithmic Exploration 1 A4.2 - Algorithmic Exploration 2 A4.3 - Algorithmic Exploration 3
27-28 29-30 31-32
A5.1 - Closing Remarks 33-34
A6.1 - Images 35 A6.2 - References 36
A Personal Discourse My name is Tommy Heng and I am currently a third year architecture student studying at the University of Melborune. Architecture is a passion of mine. Having been exposed to the arts at a very young age, I was fortunate enough to have discovered my deep desire to become an architect. During my years in high school, I undertook a 4 year fine arts apprenticeship which equipped me with the skills to pursue my degree in architecture. Collectively, my interest in technology, the arts and craft has led me to pursue a design based profession. However, it is also party due to my desire to search for a career which incorporates ideas and information across multiple disciplines that inspired me to do architecture. Although I have yet to discover my own architectural design philosophy, I am greatly interested in designs and architecture which are critical and unique in the sense that they respond to the context through technology, sustainability, culture and form/morphology. It is fundamental for architecture to be functional, however, it is also of greater importance for it to possess its own unique character and identity - soul. It is often the small things and the attention to details that distinguishes a great and amazing piece of architecture from those that are simply forgettable. Apart from architecture, I also share a great passion for the arts where I occasionally do sketches, paintings, graphics and photography in my spare time. In this new age of digital media and technology, I still strongly feel that it is important to maintain and enjoy the traditions and conventions of hand drawing and rendering. There is no other way of describing my interest in learning new computational design softwares and technologies. Design software that I have knowledge of include - Rhinoceros, AutoCAD, Revit, SketchUp, Atlantis, Vray, InDesign, PhotoShop, Illustrator and recently some basic Grasshopper. Although I have had the opportunity to learn and use quite a few CAD and other digital design tools, I would say that I have only had the chance to use them in a very constrained manner. Virtual Environments back in 2011 was probably the most rewarding studio subject I went through as it introduced me a lot of new concepts with regard to the applications of digital design and fabrication tools. Since then, I have attempted to apply some of these techniques to my other studio subjects. Learning Grasshopper has definitely influenced my perspective on digital design theories through its ability of translating conventional design processes much more efficiently.
1. Photography experiment taken on Berkeley Street in 2011.
Architecture as a Discourse Often, when you ask someone outside of the of the architectural profession about what architecture means to them, you get the response: “Oh, architecture... architecture is about designing great buildings, interesting structures and beautiful icons...” Though the word “discourse” often slips our mind whenever we engage in a philosophical debate on what architecture is, it is difficult to view or see it as solely being a physical structure. Architecture is a profession which utilises and incorporates ideas and information across multiple diciplines. Anything and everything is applicable. Nothing is irrelevant when it comes to tangible architecture such as a built environment or the intangible ideas and concepts architecture consists of. Referring to Dutton in Reconstructing Architecture: Critical Discourses and Social Practices (1996), architecture is a social construct and a product of our political, social, cultural and economic values mediated by our built environment. Just as a painting, sculpture or contemporary art installation may communicate and express themes and ideas of their respective contexts, architecture as a discourse does so similarly in the grandest of scales. A good piece of architecture shouldn’t just be commended fo its physical attributes and attention to visual details. Instead, it should be valued and appreciated for the ideas and positive impacts it contributes to society and the community. Take for instance the absolutely stunning and beautiful new apartment block around the corner and the seemingly absurd paper architecture of “Walking Cities” by Archigram (Fig 1.) that had never been realised.
Comparitively, the work of Archigram’s would be considered to possess more value in its contribution to the discourse of architecture. Concepts such as the “Plug-In City” and “Walking City” stimulate ideas, recondition the way we think about architecture and ultimately contributes to the discourse through means of innovation as opposed to the mere production of a built fabric. Unlike what has been going on for the past 4 to 5 millenia in architectural history, society in the 21st century finds itself in an age of digital technology and communication where architects have to deal with an unprecedented network of data and information. Just as our problems have become a lot more complex and sophisticated, the methods of analysing and resolving them must also be of equal callibre. As a result, thinking about architecture as a discourse becomes increasingly important. Architecture should always be examined for more than its face value by engaging with the philosophical, cultural and social realms it embodies. Often, it’s the ideas that result from the intermediary processes of design and the dialogue we undertake when interrogating a design issue that allows to contribute to the discourse in innovative ways. It is only through our consideration of architecture as a discourse that we may truly engage, interact and appreciate architecture in a more wholistic manner.
Despite being a great addition to the local neighbourhood through its means of gentrification as well as fostering the devleopment of better infrastructure and services, what impacts does it have on the greater community and how does it encourage the generation of better architecture?
1. Walking City by Ron Herron 1964
CIRRIFORM by Future Cities Lab The project Cirriform is a site specific architectural installation which explores the applications of performance architecture in a very real and practical manner. It represents a new level of interaction between the user and architecture where the experience becomes the primary mode of communication. Despite being relatively simple in concept, the project serves as an excellent example of new digital and computational designs are contributing to the discourse around architecture. As performance and interactive architecture is still in its infancy, much of the experimentation, proposals and concepts are generating public discussion about the applications of digital technology and computation in architecture and design. This has led to the emergence of new strains of architectural explorations in producing buildings and structures which are dynamic, interactive, kinetic and responsive. This presents almost inifinite possibilities and applications in which architecture can be used in the future. The flexibilty and adaptability of architecture such as CIRRIFORM seems fitting and appropriate in a volatile and dynamic social, economical, environmental and politcal climate as the one we find ourselves in today. An early generation of responsive and kinetic architecture has already been realised with the example of the Milwaukee Art Museum in Wisconsin.
1. CIRRIFORM by Future Cities Lab interactive facade installation proposal. 2. CIRRIFORM by Future Cities Lab conceptual and technical diagram. 3. Calatrava, Santiago, Milwaukee Art Museum responsive and retractable roof system, Wisconsin, 2001 4. Milwaukee Art Museum interior of the roof system closed as a sun shading device, Wisconsin, 2001.
Museo Soumaya by FREE The Museo Soumaya is an interesting piece of architecture which contributes to the discussion of architecture as a discourse through its aplplications of parametric design and digital fabricative technology and the way in which it deals with cultural and social factors. With the designed intent of being an iconic structure, the museum fulfilled two objectives as set by the client - (1) to host one of the world’s largest private art collection and (2) remodel an old industrial area of Mexico City. In itself, the brief explicitly draws interest into the way architecture as a built environment impacts the social and cultural context of a city/ region of a large populace. It is interesting to note how a building such as this can quickly reshape the reputation and atmosphere of what used to be a suburban/industrial backwater. Drawing many similarities to the renowned Selfridges Building in Birmingham, the museum finds itself classified as part of a new style of contemporary architecture known as ‘blobitecture’. First coined by Greg Lynn in 1996, blob architecture refers to an emerging formal and geometric field of paramertric design which describes buildings which have an organic, amoeba shaped forms and hypocontinuous surface topologies. Composed of a double curvlinear surface/shell, the museum demonstrates how parametricism is able to translate subjective and experiential criteria into a physical mode of expression. It illustrates, with the aid of computational design, how architectural design can contribute and comment on discourse. However, further discussion on the viability of parametricism being considered as a style can be found in A3 - Parametric Modelling.
1. Future Systems architects, Selfridges Building, Birmingham, 2003 an example of blob architecture through its curvlinear exterior facade/ cladding system. 2. FREE architects, Mueseo Soumaya, Mexico City, 2011 - during construction with its structural systems visible 3. FREE architects, Museo Soumaya, Mexico City, 2011 - structural diagram showing the inner columns, structural systems and core that takes the gravitational load.
D I G I T A L C O M P U T A T I O N 11
Computational Architecture Before the invention of the modern computer, designers had little opportunity to stray away from logical and sequential process of design which required the Analysis of a given problem, the Synthesis of possible solutions and finally the Evaluation of the chosen solution against objectives and performance criteria. The factors of time and cost have been and still remains to be two of the biggest concerns for architects. They often determine the outcome of any design solution or project in the real world. As a result, much of the emphasis has always been placed on the decisions and outcomes produced during the initial stages of the design process. However, with the new capabilities of computational design and digital technology, designers have now been able to shift and restructure the design process as to provide a more flexible model/system in dealing with the ever increasing complex nature of problems related to design. The hassle and costly task of having to redraw a line or perhaps remodel a portion of a building by hand is a thing of the past. All of the inconveniences of manual and analogous methods of design can now be resolved with a few mouse clicks and buttons on the keyboard. With all this computing power and computational technologies, how and why is it that archtiects and designers are still needed in architecture? Why hasn’t the pen and paper become obsolete? As Yehuda explains in “Architecture’s New Media”, problems are defined as what they are because they don’t contain sufficient information that can be resolved rationally and they confront the designer with uncertainties that must be resolved. Although, computers serve as superb analytical systems capable of functioning indefinitely and following instructions precisely and faultlessly, they lack the creativity, innovation and intuition humans posess which ultimately provides architecture with a sense of character. Delving into a bit of Humean philosophy, I tend to agree that creativity can only exist as a product of rational and empirical knowledge. Try visualising/picturing a totally species of animal and you will often find that what results is simply a piecing together of features of animal parts that you already have knowledge of.
The introduction of computational architecture has had a significant impact in the way architects are thought of in terms of their role and profession in the global and public realms. One of the many areas surrounds the concept of new conceivable forms and geometries. Although the mind is capable of imagining and conceiving more complex geometries other than that of euclidean or platonic, traditional means of representing them in space has always been problematic. With the aid of digital and computational design tools, topologies such as blobs1, metaballs2 or klein bottles3 can now be expressed, defined and described accurately with relative ease. This is primarily made possible due to the level and degree of control we are able to have over complex geometries through the careful manipulation of control points and mathematical parameters which define them. The result of this is the ability for architects to design more efficiently by rapidly exploring and exhausting all potential design solutions so that the best candidate may be chosen for further development. Referring to Woodbury and Burrow’s Whither Design Space, more focus and emphasis should be placed on the research and development in computational design, particularly within the area of design space exploration in the effort of producing a more effective and efficient means of ciphering through the innumerable permutations and combinations of design solutions. As a result of the greater level of efficiency, computational architecture has also been seen to have an impact on the role architects have as a profession. The use of 3D modelling software and other CAD programs has not only provided architects with the capacity of describing and producing much more complex geometries, it has also redefined the way forms are generated. Where previously form-making was used to generate design solutions that best fit a set of parameters and constraints, architects can now engage in “form-finding” techniques. With the inexhaustible applications of computational architecture, communication then becomes paramount throughout architectural design theory and practice. It is with this case in point that architecture as a discourse becomes more relevant and appropriate than ever in the context of the 21st century where computation and digital technology has become inherently imbued into society and culture.
Whilst computation provides us with the logic and analytical means of processing and producing architecture, it is the invaluable and practical knowledge gained from human experience that breathes life to a work of architecture. Together they form what is often known as a symbiotic system of design. 1. - Lynn, Greg (1998) “Why Tectonics is Square and Topology is Groovy”, in Fold, Bodies and Blobs: Collected Essays ed. by Greg Lynn (Bruxelles: La Lettre volée), pp. 169-182. 2. - Geiss, Ryan, (200), “Metaballs (also known as blobs)”, http://www.geisswerks.com/ryan/BLOBS/blobs.html 3. - Klein bottle. (2013, March 18). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 04:02, April 4, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Klein_bottle&oldid=545239236
“Kinetic Rain” is an installation consists 1216 droplets made from copper coated aluminium spanning across a field of over 75 square meters. The design illusrates a relatively new concept in architecture known as kinetic architecture only made possible with the aid of computational design through the emergence of scripting and programming. In this case, the waves, patterns and gestures the colelction of raindrops produces is controlled and determined by a scripted program that most probably consists of some sort of parametric definition in the way they units respond and interact with one another in an orderly manner. An interesting concept which computation has recently attempted to mimic is ’emergence’;1 a complex system of organicism and biomimicry . It is a fine example of the applications of computational architecture in producing a piece of sculpture /architecture that is not only functionally and aesthetically appealing but also one that is performance oriented in its design in the sense that it is able to respond intelligently to its context and environmental conditions. Although it serves merely as avisual spectacle in the airport terminal, the computational systems employed can be adopted and made applicable to building environmental management systems such as sun shading devices. Another fascinating case study relevant to the realm of performance oriented architecture is the concept of “Metamorphosis”2. Designed by Philips, the project explores human living conditions and how we have become separated from the natural world in through the spaces we interact with on a daily basis. Using computational design, it is now possible to redefine flexible space in producing architecture that goes beyond movement to deal with the notions of growth, expansion and contraction. Metamorphosis Shimmer presents a direction within computational design and architecture towards creating intelligent architecture that can respond and quanitfy performance based criteria that transforms and adapts to the dynamic nature of environmental conditions we experience every day. Figure 1 - Art + Com, Kinetic Rain, 2012, Changi Airport, Singapore, performance/ kinetic architecture. Figure 2 - Philips, Metamorphosis, Shimmer Wall, 2010, interactive and responsive wall sun shading device/wall. Figure 3,4 - Philips, Metamorphosis, Wave Daybed concept, 2010.
- Emergence. (2013, March 18). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 04:38, April 4, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Emergence&oldid=545094605
2. - Philips, (20 May 2010), Philips Design - Metamorphosis, http://www.design.philips.com/sites/philipsdesign/about/design/designportfolio/design_futures/design_probes/projects/metamorphosis.page
SIGNAL BOX by Herzog & de Meuron Signal Box 1994 in Basel is a building designed to contain electronic equipment and apparatus to regulate signals for trains arriving and departing the station. It is an excellent precedent demonstrating the use of computational architecture in a realised project. The implementation of computational design is evidently noticeable through the geometry of the building. Contained between a bridge and the street, the building’s ground floor plan has a trapezoidal configuration defined by the railroad tracks. The overall form is completed in gradation where the trapezoid terminates into a rectangle at the top as to improve visibility for its higher floors. The strips of copper cladding which make up the exterior are spcifically twisted and distorted in certain areas as to admit daylight as well as give the building its aesthetic appeal. As a whole, the Signal Box is a piece of performance oriented architecture which utilises computational design in coming up with a design solution by processing the constraints and parameters set by the architect in producing a form and sun shading system most appropriate in its given environment. Without the aid of CAD, the accuracy and precise manipulation of distortion in the louvre system as well as the manufacture/fabrication of these components would not have been possible. Unlike many conventional buildings, the Signal Box is unique in that it critically responds to its context by presenting a relationship with the adjacent railway tracks. Explained by Kai Strehlke in the AD1, the Digital Technology Group at Herzog de Meuron use computational design explicitly as a tool or design aid to generate their established designed intent as opposed to using computation to inform their design. Just as each building design is specific to its site and context, so is the strategy and use of each computational tool. Viewed in this manner, Herzog de Meuron is a practice that embraces and addresses architecture as a discourse in their use of computational design. They do not superfluously copy, recycle and abuse a well defined algorithm, script or parametric model across their designs. With the example of the Signal Box, a specific script was produced by the design team to develop the louvres on the facade which responded to a set of performance driven criterias which considered light, views, insulation and so on.
Figure 1 - Herzog de Meuron, Signal Box, Basel, 1994, front facade. Figure 2 - Herzog de Meuron, Signal Box, Basel, 1994, copper facade loucre system.
- Furuto , Alison. “Flashback: Signal Box / Herzog & de Meuron” 24 Jul 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 04 Apr 2013. <http://www.archdaily.com/256766> - Peter Brady, Architecture Design Journal vol 83, “Computation Works - The Building of Algorithmic Thought”, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Parametric Modelling There has been great deal of debate and controversy recently surrounding the ideas of parametric design within the architectural discourse. However, upon closer inspection, engagement and critical discussion, the problem with the concept of parametric design or parametricism appears to be one of definition. This is hardly a surprise considering that we are still at the stage of infancy when it comes to our understanding of what parametricism truly embodies in terms of its ideas and concepts. As architects and designers, it is reasonable to say that our knowledge of parametrics is indeed shallow and until we become masters of discourse surrounding parametric design, we can only speculate its value and potential. Nevertheless, let us shed some light on what parametric architecture could possibly mean for us in this point in time. According to Daniel Davis’ definition, parametric design is simply a design process or a way of form finding that produces geometric models (design solutions) whose geometry is a function or result of finite set of parameters/constraints defined by the author or user. With this being said, it can be argued that the fundamental ideas of parametrics aren’t something new at all. In fact, they are so commonplace that we have been employing the system throughout history for centuries and if not millennia. In any design solution, whether it may be a piece of furniture or an entire house, the invisible forces of perceived constraints and parameters are always active in the form of common knowledge and conventions. However, what has made parametric design a sensation of late is its symbiotic relationship with computational and digital technologies within the past few decades.
Figure 1 - Etienne-Louis Boullee, Bibliotheque du Roi, 1785
With the aid of computational design, parametric architecture has enabled designers to exponentially increase the number of possible design solutions through the efficient and precise nature of managing and manipulating more complex parameters and constraints. This has provided designers with the liberty of being more open or flexible within the conventions of the design process. Complex morphologies and topologies such as the blob and metaball have been envisioned a long time ago, but it is only with the introduction of computational architecture that the radical designs of Boullee’s Bibliotheque or Tatlin’s tower can be realised. Referring to Woodbury, computation has undoubtedly expanded what we refer to as the design space. With such a vast space for exploration containing a seemingly infinite number of solutions, it is important that we also shift our focus to the field of parametrics in devising better means and methods of search within the design space. Thus, from here on, it would be more appropriate to consider reworking the title/topic of parametric design to incorporate the ideas of computational design or computational architecture. Perhaps we should really be calling it computational parametric architecture.
Figure 2 - Vladimir Tatlin, Tatlin’s Tower - The Monument to the Third International, 1917
Parametric Modelling Having established that parametric architecture is a method of approach, a system or design process and a new way of thinking about architecture, is it also fair to suggest that it embodies or expresses a new ‘style’? Referring to Schumacher’s article for the AJ1, should parametricism be allowed to completely replace modernist and post-modernist ideals? If you agree with Davis and Mayer then the answer is an obvious and definite no. Parametricism can’t and shouldn’t be thought of as a style. Styles are a form of lens that we put on that enables us to pass udgement or comment on something which in the case is architecture. It provides us with a means of comparison and a way to identifying with the subject. As Adam Mayer explains, classifying architecture by type of style is poor and pathetic. It really is the antithesis of architectural culture, morals and ethics especially when it only takes into account the formal and aesthetic qualities of a building. This further enforces our need to regard architecture as a discourse as it embodies so much more than the symbolism found in its physical and outward expression. Taking the modernists as a case in point, when Le Corbusier established the “Five points of architecture”2, he didn’t use them as a means to define a particular style. Instead, the pioneers of modernism such as Corb, Loos, Gropius and Mies, saw their contributions as more of an attempt or movement to realise an idea that sought to cure the poor post-war living conditions in Europe. As a result, it is an injustice to talk about architecture as a style without fully understanding the broader discourse in which cultural, political, economical and social factors are responded to. It has been proven throughout the course of history with the likes and success of movements such as the Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau and Modernists that the idea serves as a much more powerful driver for change as opposed to mere aesthetics and the desire to produce visual spectacles.
For the idea of parametrics or parametricism to evolve into a ‘true’ style, a lot more groundwork has to be established. There needs to be an element of practicability besides the designing the one-percenters of multi-million dollar theatres and convention centres. It needs to be fully exploited and understood and made into an economically, socially and culturally viable option. Although parametric designs (modelling) has its distinct advantages when it comes to its flexibility, efficiency, speed and accuracy. Hence, the notion of parametricism, when though of as a process rather than a style, is not inherently a bad thing. In fact, it is beneficial in serving as a tool for amplifying and enhancing design capabilities. However, it has yet to be really be able to quantify experiential, emotional and intuitive factors which for instance minimalism and modernism has been able to achieve. Furthermore, it is irrefutably a difficult language to learn and communicate with others. Often it is the case where it is only the author of an algorithmic definition that possesses the knowledge and capability of manipulating parameters and properties. Until the language of scripting and knowledge of algorithmic definitions is properly understood and known to a larger community of people, parametric architecture will continue to be viewed as an exclusive or elite branch of architecture which will remain inaccessible to the masses. In a world filled with multiplicities and pluralisms such as the one we live in today, it is becoming increasingly difficult for architects to come up with a definitive style of architecture. Within a global community and such a vast discourse it may perhaps be that the new style is to not have one at all and instead embrace the pluralistic and individualistic that is. There may be no universal solution or style. Perhaps we should return to ideas of critical regionalism where universality is to be a summation of locality – think local act global.
- Schumacher, Patrick, 2010, Architectural Journal, “Parametricism - let the style wars begin”, last modified 6 May 2010, http://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/the-critics/patrikschumacher-on-parametricism-let-the-style-wars-begin/5217211.article
- Le Corbusier. (2013, March 31). In Wikipedia,The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 05:46,April 4, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Le_Corbusier&oldid=548062894
Foyn-Johanson House by Harrison and White The architects Harrison and White were recently awarded by the Australian Institute of Architects Victoria for the design of this house in Northcote in 2011. Situated in a typical Victorian suburb, the Foyn-Johanson House provided the architects with a challenge to maintain and integrate some sort of relationship between the living space and natural amenities of the site as well as to take into consideration the key issue of utilising sunlight to improve both the new and existing construction of the home. With limited space, the project also makes an evident attempt to address the idea of preserving light into the small garden space where the users/owners have the opportunity to enjoy a well-lit garden throughout the day. In the context of and discussion of parametric design, the house illustrates the benefits and advantages parametric modelling in the way it is able to resolve complex design issues. In the process of generating an appropriate form for the house, the constraints and parameters were defined by the criteria found within the design brief set by the owners â€“ a larger living space and the desire to maintain good solar access to the garden. Having established the parameters, the design process utilised the application of a parametric subtractive solar technique (Subtracto-Sun)1 that was able to generate a form defined by sun path analysis to provide maximum light penetration. The result is a design solution that is able to address and synthesise a number of site specific and performance based issues that could not have been achieved through conventional means of design. As opposed to the flamboyance and exuberance of ZHA parametric designs, the Foyn-Johanson House by Harrison and White serves as a fine example of how it can be applied to a common and broader context of institutions. Intelligent and parametric design does not necessarily have to result in blobs or hyposurfaces all the time. It also need not respond to abstract and arbitrary fields and attractors to produce good and visually interesting structures.
Figure 1 - Harrison and White, 2011, Foyn-Johanson House, Northcote, rear sun path deduction facade. Figure 2 - Harrison and White, 2011, Foyn-Johanson House, Northcote, stairwell and lighting treatment. Figure 3 - Harrison and White, 2011, Foyn-Johanson House, Northcote, axonometric diagram of rear facade 1. - White, Marcus, 2011, MUSSE, Foyn-Johanson House Northcote, http://musse.unimelb.edu.au/august-11-67/ marcus-white
Zaha Hadid London Aquatics Centre The London Aquatics Centre completed in 2011 is a good representation of the parametric modeling and its ability to generate complex forms and geometries. Serving as the main venue for the swimming events of the recent Olympics in 2012, the facility houses two 50m swimming pools and a 25m diving pool. As described in the ZHA website, the overall concept of the building was inspired by the “fluid geometry of water in motion”. The single and continuous undulating roof surface encloses the pools in a unifying gesture that responds to the surrounding environment and the landscape of the river of Olympic Park. Undoubtedly, without the aid of computational design, the construction of a structure of this magnitude and scale consisting of such a complex surface topology would not have been possible. The sheer amount of components would have caused an organizational nightmare, not to mention the degree of precision that is required to fabricate the steel frames and precast panels for the roof. However, this only further accentuates parametricism as an excellent tool or design process for producing architecture. Beyond the scope of an iconic landmark and a visually breath-taking piece of architecture, the works and designs of ZHA (Zaha Hadid Architects) has come under fire and has been heavily criticized by the media and the likes of individuals such as Mayer and Davis1 2. Is it suffice or appropriate to claim that a building is parametrically design simply because it was conceived/generated with a parametric software? Apart from its fluid symbolism and its physical constraints with regard to site parameters, there isn’t any evidence to suggest that it inherently responds to the context as the Foyn-Johanson House has. It may very well have fulfilled or surpassed performance-based criteria in terms of its structural integrity, which may have also been parametrically determined, however, it lacks a site-specific contextual response and consideration of discourse especially when you place all of ZHA’s work side by side. The repercussions of a world renowned and iconic practice such as Zaha’s is particularly evident in the attention to detail. With the London Aquatics Centre critics have accused the curvaceous roof as a design blunder that has obstructed views from many of the top rows from viewing certain events. Another example can be found in the design for the Guangzhou Opera House. Despite being awarded by the Top Architectural Record, the building shows many flaws in terms of finishes and panels which don’t quite fit together in certain areas. This illustrates how blind ambition and designing for design sake can lead to the ignorance of the small things that matter. 1. 2.
Figure 1 - ZHA, London Aquatics Centre, London, 2012, Diving Platform render Figure 2 - ZHA, London Aquatics Centre, London, 2012, parametric roof structure Figure 3 - ZHA, London Aquatics Centre, London, 2012, building under construction
- Mayer, Adam, 2010, “Style and the Pretense of ‘Parametric’ Architecture”, Adam Nathaniel Mayer_ Style and the Pretense of ‘Parametric’ Architecture.pdf - Davis, Daniel, 2010, Digital Morphosis, “Patrik Schumacher - Parametricism”, http://www.nzarchitecture.com/blog/index.php/2010/09/25/patrik-schumacher-parametricism/
Algorithmic Explorations 26
Algorithmic Exploration - 1 This section of the algorithm is responsible for overlaying the geometrical surface patterns onto the lofted surface. A cull sequence is used to provided an alternating grid arrangement for the 2 different geometries.
The repeated group of defintions which is responsible for offseting and duplicating each layer of contour. Sliders are used to control the degree of rotation and offset distance.
The source node which defines the base geometry from Rhino.
The definition created here is a good example how computation and parametric modelling can produce complex forms and geometries very quickly, efficiently and precisely. Just from the one algorithm, I was able to produce many variations of the same basic model/vase. As opposed to the conventions of having to engage in form making, the parametric model allowed me to explore the design space through form-finding or form generating processes. Extending my research from the tutorials made available on lofting and basic curve generation, I was able to develop an extension to the basic algorithm which enables patterns and geometries to be overlayed onto the surface. By then applying it to the model, I got a better insight as to how particular practices such as Gehry or ZHA might have gone about modelling their organic forms and buildings.
Algorithmic Explorations - 2 This particular algorithm was successful in the sense that it demonstrates how simple and basic forms can be constructed from one single point in Rhino. It introduced me to the concepts of Grasshopperâ€™s logic and data structure. Grasshopper is a highly mathematical modelling system that synthesises and weaves basic mathematical expressions to produce complex definitions and nodes such as the Voronoi. The exercise also demonstrated the mutiplicities and many different ways of producing the same outcome. A square can be defined through a single node or a network of nodes which describe points, offsets and moves.
1. Describing a simple rectangle by manipulating the X and Y inputs about a specified plane.
2. Moving the base geometry in the Z direction x units as controlled by the number slider. The corners of the geometry is then extrapolated as points and joined to form a cube.
3. The surface is then extrude form and solid cube.
ed from the base geomtry 4. to The geometry is then popularted with a random set of points and voronoid to produce a set of arbitrary points and surfaces.
5. The wireframe is extracted to illustrate the algorithms end result of converting/reinterprating the form produced into simple curves and points.
Algorithmic Explorations - 3
To produce a gridshell or another similar type of form, the Grasshopper definition can become complex and chaotic. Although parametric modelling has its beneifts and advantages, it also has its shortcomings an issues. This particular algorithm is a good example of how the scripting and algorithmic language can make parametric modelling inaccessible to many. As much as it makes things easier to describe forms like this, it is also just as difficult to learn how to do it. Having an extensive definition may allow you to have a greater degree of control over the form, an error in the data structure can have serious repurcussions. It is very difficult to trace the error back to its source and then make appropriate adjustments. Nevertheless, the algorithm was successful in producing a highly sophisticated hexagonal gridshell.
This Grasshopper definition simple overlays a hexagonal grid pattern onto the lofted surface. I had plenty of issues trying to lay a hexagonal or triangulated grid onto the surface, hence I borrowed someone elses and attached it to the definition i had created earlier. The biggest issue I had was trying to figure out how I could define a plane to allow the grid nodes to function. However, it seems that you would need to customise and generate your own algorithm to do this.
Closing Remarks - Case for Innovation CONCLUSION
In tackling the Case for Innovation with regard to the Wyndham City Gateway design competition, it is firstly paramount that the design solution should consider the broader discourse it embodies. Rather than producing something that is solely visual and aesthetically interesting, the response should be one that is site specific and contextually oriented. With the example of Herzog de Meuronâ€™s practice, the computational component along with any use of digital tools and technology should only aid the design process. The established design intent should be key in informing the tools, definitions and algorithms, not vice versa. Likewise, the use of parametric modelling tools, in this case Grasshopper, should serve only as an extension to the design intent. With this in mind, I would like to propose a design that contributes to the architectural discourse surrounding the concept of mobility and kineticism in the context of a project that is explicitly linked to the highway. The design solution should be performance based where its success should be made quantifiable in terms of experience.
Architecture Design Studio Air, thus far, has served as an invaluable extension to the experience I had from Virtual Environments. Learning Grasshopper has been challenging but rewarding as it has provided me with a powerful tool to design with which I will most definitely utilise in future design projects. Prior to the studio, parametric modelling and computational architecture to me was something only to enhance the capabilities of what could be produced, however, it is now clear that the discourse around design bares a lot more responsibility as to how architecture is to be perceived and viewed by others outside of the profession. It is something our generation of designers cannot escape from and thus must be engaged with critically. In the last 4 weeks of exposure and discussion, it is evident that parametricism and computational design will be the topic of debate in the years to come.
As a group, we generally agreed upon pursuing sectioning as a design approach or system in developing a solution for the Wyndham City Gateway project. We found this approach to be most appropriate and appealing as it offered us with a pragmatic means of thinking about how certain geometries and forms can be fabricated and built. Of the multitude of other design approaches such as geometry, biomimicry, tasselation etc., sectioning, we believed, was capable of generating forms that were both visually dynamic and structurally rational. Furthermore, the approach enables for complex forms and geometries to be described by breaking them down into panels/sections. There is also a great degree of versatility and flexibility in the approach in that patterning, folding and other techniques can be incorporated or overalyed onto contour models. As the design is targeted at an audience that will be viewing the structure at speeds of up to 100km/hr, a contoured design would serve as an interesting experience for drivers/passengers by considering the concept of viewing a design that changes over time.
CASE STUDY 1.0 36
Banq Wood Restaurant by Office DA The Banq Restaurant by Office dA serves as an excellent example of parametric sectioning by transforming what is a relatively rectangular room into one that is vibrant and dynamic. Responding to the relationship between the functional dining spaces and the services located in the ceiling, the striated wooden panels system functions not only contributes to the interior design and fine dining experience but also acts as a canopy that conceals the equipment above. The system of sectioning here overcomes many concerns that come with fabrication. Instead of having to create moulds to produce a large monolithic surface, which would be both time consuming and costly, the contours and sections allow each of the panels to be milled by a CNC machine.
Definition Matrix 1.0 The definition used to generate the models was relatively straightforward. A base geometry/surface is first referenced in Rhino where it is then divided into a grid of points where lines are interpolated and extruded to produce the lofts and contours. To produce the various variations of the base model, I added a number of controls so that vectors, points and lines could be controlled. Some of the inputs which be controlled include the direction/vector in which the contours are extruded towards, the number of grid divisions, point attractors, and scale. To further extend the degree of control of the surface geometry, I had attempted to produce a definition which defined a surface from a grid of vectors determined by point charges.
Definition Matrix 2.0 These models are the result of a second definition I developed to replicate the form in the Banq Restaurant. Instead of producing the contorus and sections from a defined surface in Rhino, the definition utilises a black and white image as a sampler. The image is sampled for values from 0 to 1 which defined the amplification of the contours in a localised region. The image sampler is an interesting method of incorporating values and inputs which can correspond to things like sunpath, lighting and shading factors of a site. The series of wall surfaces below is the result of a definition that warps and distorts a surface according to the specified distance between points and a surface grid. By adjusting the amplitude of the distances, the surface becomes increasingly distorted. This is a useful way of creating non-uniform surface geometries.
Urban A&O This project was an innovative outdoor structure produced by the Washington university School of Architecture which focused primarily on the explorations of sectioning, divison, marking and assembly of a parametric design. It is particualrly useful as a precedent in illustrating the formal and compositional possibilities of sectioning as a design aprroach. The design is interesting as it consists of multiple layers of reticulated surfaces that differs from the conventional ribs and portal frames used in most architectural structures. It demonstrates the flexibility, and adaptibility of sectioning in incorporating other methods of subtraction, solid differentiation and field distortions. In my attempt to reverse engineer this particular model, a set of curves were firstly defined, distanced, scaled and then finally lofted. The distortions were controlled by a series of vectors at each curve. A possibly random set of points about the model was then used to define spheres and elipses which were then subtracted from the surface.
Reverse Engineering The process of reverse engineering is a process of exploration whereby the technological principles of a devide, object or system is reproduced through the analysis of structure, function and operation. In this specific example, I produced a parametric definition which attempts to reproduce the Urban A&O sectioning sculpture. The process fundamentally follows an algorithm which transforms a set of curves step by step into a series of contours and sections and finally into a riblike cylinder. Adding a slider wherever possible, the definition was successful in having a great degree of control over the base geometry. This enabled me to produce a great variety of variations. A number of additonal supplementary definitions were plugged into the main definition for panelling, extrusions and other experiments. There were however several issues and outcomes that could not be produced. For instance, the subtraction of spheres from the basic lofted geometry could not be achieved to produce the concaves as seen in the A&O example. There were also several problems in the way the curves produced overlapping and intersecting ribs in certain areas.
The overall exercise was useful in informing the group about the possibilies and disadvantages of pursuing sectioning as a design approach. Contouring and extrapolating sections in a complex geometry isnâ€™t as easy as it seems. There are often sequences and lists that need to be resolved for the model to actually work. However, the approach does provide flexibility in how we can treat surfaces and produce a wide range of forms.
Manifold by Matsys
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