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ADSair wenjunwei




Wei Wen Jun The University of Melbourne Bachelor of Environments Architecture (3rd year)


y name is Wen Jun Wei, a third year architecture student born and raised in Taiwan. Since moving to Melbourne in 2012, I have developed a strong interest in creative designing and architectural theories throughout the course. My first exposure to digital design came in the first year whilst studying Virtual Environments. This course involved using Rhinoceros 3D digital modelling software in conjunction with panelling plug-in tool to manipulate designs. Throughout the course, I was able to transform a virtual design into a physical one from complex NURBS surfaces into rational surfaces for fabrication, in order to build an architectural piece to the scale of human body. The experience with digital design was rewarding and it had attributed me insights into the complexity of digital world. Despite having the previous experience of digital modelling and paneling design, I consider myself still having a lot more to learn and grow. I see this course, Architecture Design Studio Air as an opportunity to broaden in both theoretical and technical knowledge in architecture. Despite the knowledge of digital architecture I gained in the past two years, myself is still fresh to the parametric language, piratically in Grasshopper. Knowing to comprehend this new language is not going to be easy, but I believe such tool will add my creativity and free my imagination in a computational sense.




parta conceptualization


Design Futuring


Part A1

Design Futuring Design Futuring l Land Art Generator Initiative


he climate change and destruction of the planet’s natural environments are now being more widely recognized as challenges today. As a matter of fact, we human beings are facing our nemesis. We have created this condition unwittingly as we have been taking resources from the planet for granted. While innovative practices such as sustainable designs have emerged, efforts towards change remain unacknowledged. Fry argues this relation between creation and destruction is not an issue when a resource is renewable, but it is a disaster when it is not.[1] The notion of revaluing design as a world shaping force is vital in order to have a sustainable future. The reason being is that design plays a significant role in shaping every part of our lives. To understand the true power of design, we need to redefine its identity. In Fry’s words, design is not an independent entity but it influences, and is influenced by social, cultural, ethical and political means[2] ; thus, design can be rethought as futuring, to acknowledge the move from passive consumption to active participation. I agree with his view as followed by such way would reveal the power of design - to redirect practices to sustainability.

In a much closer discussion, the reception of the importance of architecture seems continually growing as a decisive role in our future. Indeed, what makes architecture great is not about its capability of being sustainable, but rather an influential force to educate users being sustainable. This notion will be my conceptual intent that drives the design of this project, which will be further explored in the journal. Going back to the notion that architecture as a design practice that contributes ideas to the ongoing disciplinary discourse and culture at large. To expand future sustainability, it is important for a degree of engagement to take place between the user and architecture itself. Certainly, I believe that design futuring is not about achieving a sustainable equilibrium, it is rather changing the attitude by which our lives are sustained.

Design Futuring


supertees Grant Associates Singapore 2012

The colossal Supertrees are found in the Bay South garden in Singapore. The Supertrees act as vertical gardens and are embodied with renewable energy and water technology integral to the conservatories. The government intends to transform Singapore into a vision of “city in a garden� in contrast to its dense urban environment. It aims to symbolize the importance of revaluing natural balance and raise awareness of the environment globally.

Left: Supertree by Grant Associates in Singapore (2012) Right: Bridge and Skywalk of Supertree by Grant Associates in Singapore (2012)

Design Futuring


The very powerful picture behind Supertrees is that they breathe life into Singapore’s urban oasis and expands future possibilities. Supertrees are a rich fusion of nature and technology taking inspiration from the form of the orchid. They act as cooling ducts for conservatories, collect rainwater for irrigating vegetation and are embodied with photovoltaic systems to generate solar power on-site. These sustainable features are appreciated because they refocus society from passive material consumption towards an active participation by a mean of ethical use of design as a force in repositioning the habitats.

This is a successful project for the reason being that it encapsulates the notion of design futuring, providing both leisure and education to the nation. The features of bridge and skywalks connect taller Supertress allow users to engage with nature from a spectacular height. Through the engagement with users, it changes the attitude by which our lives are sustained. In Fry’s words, ever design decision is future decision.[3] In light of contribution to the ideas, this project is remarkable in educating sustainable energy rather than merely sustain energy.

Design Futuring


Urban Adapter Rocker Lange architects

Hong Kong 2011

Through a series of various seating arrangement, Urban Adaptor seeks to achieve an adoptive realm that reacts and interacts to its site and inhabitants. The variation of its style is obvious where there is a lack of uniformity in its formal expression. Each of them is designed to convey different set of formal expression. It seems to foster a unique Hong Kong identity, a culture that is international. These generated functional surface are being appreciated and engaged. As they invite multicultural users to new seating and communicative arrangements in the urban space to establish the connection to Hong Kong’s unique identity in both functional and educational manner. One important note about this parametric precedent is that it is a holistic scheme that utilizes site information and programmatic data to react and interact with its environment. Instead of offering a fixed form of single static design, this scheme expands a futuring thinking that suggesting multiple solutions to adapt to different site conditions and programmatic needs. This suggests that the development of computational simulation creates more responsive designs and allows more new design opportunities can be explored. This approach has became more appreciated today and the idea behind can be adapted to future design projects. This notion is engaged with Sean Ahlquist’s theory about computation in which he suggests that “processing information between elements that constitutes specific environment is able to provide a framework for influencing the interrelation of information with the capacity to generate complete order, form and structure”. [4] By seeing how this project achieves its adaptive nature through parametric approach, I realize the need for engaging computing in designing in which to expand future possibilities. To unfold the benefits of using computers in the architectural design process, two different design techniques, ‘computerization’ and ‘computation’ will be explored and compared in the next section Part 2 - Design Computation.

Design Futuring


Left: Detail of Urban Adapter (2011) Above: Variation of Urban Adapter (2011)

Design Computation


Part A2

Design Computation

Theories of the Digital in Architecture l Architecture’s New Media l Architecture in the Digital Age


orking with computers to aid in architecture design process becomes apparent in the recent years. Digital modeling constantly changes the world of design and engineering, increasing the complexity and capability of what can be designed and built. It seems exploring and exploiting new methdologies of computation is key to fabricating innovative designs and expand boundaries of possibilities.

The evolution of digital in architecture in interaction with new technologies also causes ongoing changes within design and construction industries. Digital in architecture was merely the operative model of formal generation in design within the last decade, it had emerged beyond representation as Rivka and Robert suggests, “recognition of computational processes emerging technologies of materialization in generative processes.” [2]

The use of digital modeling software is shifting architecture from the drawing to the algorithms in designs. Brady describes computational design “attributes designer’s intellect to capture not only the complexity of building a project, but also the multitude of parameters that are instrumental in a buildings formation.” [1] Rather than designing in conventional ways, computational design has opened new territories of formal exploration in architecture in which forms are designed by generative process.

In synthesizing materiality and technologies, the relationship within computer and architecture is redefined from ‘design to production’ to ‘form generation to fabrication’.[3] The shift of technology changes the constructability in building designs to a function of computability. Complex geometries like NURBS curves and surfaces become constructionally possible by means of fabrication process, which opens up opportunities for exploration of new geometries.

Design Computation



Edifici Torre Espiral Zaha Hadid’s architects



Dimitrie Stefanescu, Patrick Bedarf, Bogdan Hambasan

Computerization approach is a more traditional approach that utilizes computer as vidual drawing tools to execute existing procedures that are already preconceived in the designer’s mind. To illustrate this approach by Zaha Hadid’s Edifici Torre Espiral. Its conceptual design in of design process was already conceived and sketched out on paper prior to being manipulated by computers. On the other hand, computation uses digital model to digitise information through a generating code. To explore architectural spaces and concepts through algorithms. Rather than designing the outcome, it engages more directly with the result of generated system to explore further design potentials. An illustrated example here is ZA11 Pavilion in which the design was elaborated upon the system of Biomimicry that mimic hexagons. This mode of working is redefining the practice of architecture, which taking on an interpretive role to extend the capability of dealing with highly complex problems.

Left: Biomimicry of Hexagons (2011) Above: Conceptualization of Edifici Torre Espiral (2000)

Design Computation


Yellow River Art Centre we architect anonymous

Yinchuan, China 2014

Right: Yellow River Art Centre (2014) Below: Conceptual Design (2014)

1 mass

4 layer

2 split

5 fracture

3 landscape

6 pitch

Design Computation


The Yellow River Art Centre put attention on the geomorphology which is an observation of natural land formations. There is no doubt that a huge amount of digital aided elements are employed to visualize layers and textuaries the facade in order to implant an identity that echoes characters of the riverbank. Rather than defining the framework to influence the interrelation of information in the design process, its use of parametric techniques adds significance to its architectural form and the gradation of elements in the building facade. Upon its

underlying principles in the design process, this precedent is argued to be designed from an approach that is more computerised rather than computational. This case study suggests that emerging of a digital materiality in design, ‘fabrication technology’, has became a leading technological and design issue in the architecture design process. The Yellow River Art Centreis is constructed with GRC (Glass reinforced concrete) technologies. This construction technique allows for the seamless

transition of data from digital materiality to fabrication, removing human error from the construction process. It was employed with CNC milling machines, in which each panel was fabricated as a form to which concrete was poured with fiber-glass in order to create a very thin strong mould. [4] The digital materiality in architecture lifts up the capacity to solve complex design issues. As Mouzhan Majidi said: “This hasn’t simply transformed what we can design – it’s had a huge impact on how we build.” [5]

Design Computation


Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport

Massimiliano Fuksas Architects Shenzhen, China 2013

Below: Panel Morphing (2013) Right: Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport (2013)

Design Computation


The Bao’an International Airport in Shenzhen is the largest parametrically defined free form structure and facade in the world, which covered on a perforated cladding consisting of 50,000 different facade elements and 400,000 individual steel members. [6]

This precedent is a clear example of computational approach where a defined algorithms is computed to give rise to the final design of the Bao’an International Airport. A parametric data model, panel morphing, controlles the size and slope of the openings, which were adapted to meet the requirements of daylight, solar gain and viewing angles, as well as the aesthetic intentions of the architect.

The highly sophisticated tectonics of the building is suggestive of its complex composition. A conventional approach would be difficult to compliment man’s creativity whereas computational approach has the potential to provide inspiration and go beyond the boundary of intellect. This is supported by Brady Peters’s discussion of algorithmic thinking as he describes “computation augments the intellect of the designer and increases capability to solve complex problems.” [7]

composition generation


Part A3

composition generation

The Building of Algorithmic Thought l Definition of Algorithm l Guild to Renewable Energy Technoloies


he use of digital tools in architectural design process has existed for quite some time. However, conventional approaches by means of simply digitizing entities that are preconceived in man’s rational becomes inefficient to couple with the emergence in complex systems. In responding to such phenomenon, computation undoubtably is redefining the practice of architecture, which had given rise to the shift of architecture practice from drawing to algorithm, in parallel to the shift from composition to generation. The action of empowering computers to generate complex forms furthering the intellect of a designer’s creativity and capability to solve complex problems. The algorithmic thinking takes an interpretive role to design the process of generating system rather than the outcome from itself. This allows the exploration to be versitile during the design process to achieve desired outcomes in a shorter period of time. In this important way, the shift from composition to generation propels architecture into a new paradigm of innovative designs. In reacting to the shift from composition to generation, computation had evolved as an integrated architectural form. Especially given complexities of architectural

form and construction today, parametric modelling not only works but has became essential to build large projects. Unlike conventional approach, computation as a new design approach that is developed to link the virtual environment with the physical environment where architects increasingly have the capability to explore building systems and building environments as a whole. [1] This could lead to a future where architects are able to capture and communicate designs through performance feedback between users and habitats that are updated in the digital model. At a higher degree of ability to generate designs, the computational architecture is no longer just a focus on the formal aspect of design. The shift from composition to generation certainly had given rise to freedom in our current position to explore beyond the surface qualities. Particularly, scripting language such as RhinoScrip and Grasshopper allows architects to customise their design environments in which further opportunities can be explored through modification to the program. As suggested by Brady Peter, “we are moving from an era where architects use software to one where they create software.” [2]

composition generation


“Behind every structure is a personality. Behind every personality is an algorithm.� - Dr. Milos Dimcicw

Computational approach

Materialization Fabrication

Upon earlier researches of architectural precedents, I have came to appreciate the use of computational approach in architecture more and gained a strong interest in materialization and fabrication in particular. As suggested by Jan Knippers, computational design requires a new interpretation of construction process and such invention of technologies will continue to cause shifts in our discipline’s definition and boundaries. [3] I believe that these computational tools and fabrication techniques will even more greatly affect the processes of design and delivery and the connection of the architecture to users and to the society. To support this argument, precendents designed using parametric software in relation to perfomative wood and fabrication will be examined in this section.

composition generation



office dA Boston, USA 2008

Computation certainly plays an important role of redefining the practice of architecture in the shift from composition to generation. In contrary to the predominate use of Computer Aided Design (CAD) today, computation design externalizes the relation between digital materiality and material fabrication. Arguably, it is important for architecture as a material practice in understanding of form, material, structure and environment as a complex system that can be explored through integral computational design process and fabrication.[4] BanQ is an computational design that exhibits reciprocities of form, material, structure and environment. It unfolds plywood’s performative capacities from the synthesis of computational design and physical materialization.

This project was challenged with the task of creating the functional aspects of a dinning space. The architect took a computational approach by sectioning the form into a waffle grid structure to create a fluctuating activities of the restaurant space between ceiling and ground. A striated wood-slatted celing was generated through the use of parametric modelling, which results a seamless landscape that conceals the view of the mechanical, plumbing, and lighting systems above. The linkage between conception and production was eventually realized through CNC (computer numerically controlled) fabrication. Computational design information is used in fabrication that driving rapid prototyping and allowing for precise positioning of cut outs. This suggests that material fabrication has now emerged as a leading technology that affects the process of design and delivery.

composition generation


Above: Exploded Axonometric Diagram (2013) Left: Interior of BanQ (2013)

composition generation


Custore Pavilion Anna Dobek Mateusz wojciciki Warsaw, Poland 2013

A similar approach was taken for the Custore Pavilion designed by Anna Dobek and Mateusz Wojcicki. This commercial pavilion reveals the aesthetics of celebrating horizontal attitude rather than the vertical one like BanQ. One important note about this parametric precedent is the interpretive role of algorithm plays in the design. The use of algorithmic thinking to shape the pavilion led to the exploration of new ideas. Regardless of its interior sahpe, the scripts defined in Grasshopper gave them opportunities to continuous experimenting with the properties of pavilion joints and material consumption. Through the manipulation of initial parameters, included its size, material type and desnsity of its application. It eventually achieved a theme that is appropriate for

the commercial market in which a translucent barrier between a strongly geometrically defined exterior and a soft interior.[5] The emerging contemporary design culture might lose its capacity to accommodate tectonic expression as a “poetics of construction� as described by Frampton in his critique of the Virtual Materiality of Digital Design. [6] On the one hand, within the renewed relation in materialization and fabrication from these two built examples, it can be argued that the ability to model the structures of material systems as tectonic systems has given new meaning to the discourse in the architectural design practice. The integration of digital materiality now theoretically tectonic expression to be derived from the realm of materialization and fabrication.

composition generation


Above: Scheme Diagrame (2013) Left: Exterior of Custore Pavilion (2013) Right: Interior of Custore Pavilion (2013)


Part A1 1. Tony Fry, Design Futuring: Sustainability, Ethics and New Practice (Oxford: Berg), pp. 1-16 (p. 4). 2. Richard Farson, The Power of Design: A Force for Transforming Everything (Atlanta: Greenway, 2008) 3. Tony Fry, pp. 1-16, (p. 3). 4. Brady Peters, ‘Computation Works: The Building of Algorithmic Thought’, The Building of Algorithmic Thought, 83 (2013), pp. 8-15, (p. 10).

Part A2 1. Branko Kolarevic, Architecture in the Digital Age: Design and Manufacturing (New York; London: Spon Press, 2003), pp. 3-62 (p. 13). 2. Rivka Oxman and Robert Oxman, Theories of the Digital in Architecture (London; New York: Routledge), pp. 1-10, (p. 3). 3. Rivka Oxman and Robert Oxman, pp. 1-10, (p. 5). 4. dezeen Magazine, Yinchuan Art Museum by WAA (8 June 2012) < yinchuan-art-museum-by-waa/> [accessed 19 March 2014]. 5. David Jenkins, Norman Foster Works, (Munich: Prestel Verlag, 2004), (p. 28). 6. Milos Dimcic amd Florian Scheible, Controlled Parametrical Design Over Double Curved Surfaces, (Berlin: Design Modelling Symposium, 2009), pp. 1-5, (p. 1). 7. Brady Peters, ‘Computation Works: The Building of Algorithmic Thought’, The Building of Algorithmic Thought, 83 (2013), pp. 8-15, (p. 10).

Part A3 1. Brady Peters, ‘Computation Works: The Building of Algorithmic Thought’, The Building of Algorithmic Thought, 83 (2013), pp. 8-15, (p. 14). 2. Robert Wilson and Keil Frank, ‘Definition of Algorithm’, The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences (London: MIT Press, 1999), pp. 11-12, (p. 11). 3. Brady Peters, pp. 8-15, (p. 14). 4. Rivka Oxman and Robert Oxman, Theories of the Digital in Architecture (London; New York: Routledge), pp. 1-10, (p. 5) 5. Archidaily, Custore Pavilion / Anna Dobek + Mateusz Wojcicki (10 May 2013) < http://www.archdaily. com/370542/custore-pavilion-anna-dobek-mateusz-wojcicki/ > [accessed 26 March 2014]. 6. Rivka Oxman and Robert Oxman, pp. 1-10, (p. 6)

image credit

Part A1 1. Archidaily, Garden by the Bay Grant Associates (2012) < bay-grant-associates/> [accessed 10 March 2014]. 2. Designboom, Grant Associates: Bay South Gardens By the Bay (18 June 2012) <http://www.> [accessed 10 March 2014]. 3. dezeen Magazine, Urban Adapter by Rocker-Lange Architects (8 January 2010) < http://www.dezeen. com/2010/01/08/urban-adapter-by-rocker-lange-architects/> [accessed 22 March 2014]. 4. eVolo, New Parametric Urban Street Furniture for Hong Kong (18 August 2011) < architecture/new-parametric-urban-street-furniture-for-hong-kong/ > [accessed 22 March 2014].

Part A2 1. Buildpedia, Zaha Hadid Architectsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Edifici Torre Espiral (19 September 2011) < aec-pros/featured-architecture/zaha-hadid-architects-edifici-torre-espiral > [accessed 24 March 2014]. 2. Archidaily, ZA11 Pavilion (05 July 2011) < > [accessed 24 March 2014]. 3. Archidaily, Yellow River Art Centre / Waa (17 June 2010) <> [accessed by 19 March 2014]. 4. Milos Dimcic and Florian Scheible, Controlled Parametrical Design Over Double Curved Surfaces, (Berlin: Design Modelling Symposium, 2009)

Part A3 1. Archidaily, BanQ / Office dA (03 December 2009) < > [accessed 26 March 2014]. 2. Archidaily, Custore Pavilion / Anna Dobek + Mateusz Wojcicki (10 May 2013) < http://www.archdaily. com/370542/custore-pavilion-anna-dobek-mateusz-wojcicki/ > [accessed 26 March 2014].

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