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CONTENTS 1. Introduction


CASE FOR INNOVATION 2. Architecture as a Discourse


3. Computational Architecture


4. Parametric Modelling


5. Algorithmic Explorations


Hello, My name is Sheehan Yu and I am a third year student currently studying Environments majoring in Architecture at the University of Melbourne. My deep interest in architecture came into light in a much later part of my life as most of my life, I had been living by the laws of my parents. However, when it came on deciding on a profession, architecture appealed to me in the greatest manner. Originally, my knowledge of design and architecture related subjects or topics were minimal as I transitioned from the mindset of science and mathematical subjects to this. I soon realised it was an intrinsic process that required a large amount of time, imagination and persistence. My knowledge is slowly expanding, but being the non-tech savvy person that I am, learning new softwares has always been a hassle for me. However, it is my belief that with evolving technology, the ability to utilise digital design programs is essential. Not only does the digital enable us to experiment with more possibilities, it can also highlight to us the limitations of certain designs and easily alter variables to explore new worlds of architecture.

I have taken a few design studios throughout my learning at the University of Melbourne, and have obtained some small understanding of the softwares Rhino and Revit. Not being the most tech-savvy person out there, I found it difficult to learn much of the capabilities of these softwares and thus, my knowledge is not quite extensive. Though my software knowledge is not quite adequate as my colleagues, I do believe that the power of an idea triumphs the knowledge of programs to create forms. But the knowledge does help considerably in establishing one’s idea, which is why I believe that being capable with the evolving technology is essential for designers. Fig 1.1 Fig 1.2 Fig 1.3

‘The Living Knot’ by Polymur Architects, constructed in South Korea. Interior Design of a modernised traditional Japanese house. Yokohama Port Terminal.

Fig 1.1

Fig 1.2

Fig 1.3



Previous Design Work This was a project completed in Design Studio: Water. The brief required us to design a form which would satisfy the functionality of the previous building while promoting the relationship between the natural and the artificial. What I tried to establish most in this project was this bond between the location and the structure that was going to be build. Views and atmosphere became the most important element of my design.


Fig 1.5

Fig 1.6

My understanding of Architecture as a discourse is that it is an organisation of space, atmosphere, imagination, feelings and bonds. Each of these elements relate to one another in an attempt to create the desired space to deliver a certain idea or function. What has captured my interest the most intensely is the bond between the natural and the artificial which the Japanese and other asian architectures do so well. The Japanese’s appreciation and rever- ence for the natural inspires my work and thus most of my favou- rite architecture are those that bond well with the natural. And this becomes the drive for my ultimate long term goal of creating a kind of residential building which incorporates traditional organisations of space from the Japanese with modern aesthetics and values. Individuals such as Patrik Schumacher and Greg Lynn have strived for the architectural direction to be pointed towards ‘parametricism’ and these leading advocates of the movement look to computation as a new form of design which receives many different views; both of approval and condescending. Fig 1.4 Fig 1.5 Fig 1.6 Fig 1.7 Fig 2.1 Fig 2.2

Fig 1.4


Previous Page Plans and sections of Sheehan Yu’s Water studio model. View from the proposed cafe of Sheehan Yu’s Water studio model. View from the proposed Restraunt of Sheehan Yu’s Water studio model. Proposed Model in response to brief by Sheehan Yu. Greg Lynn, A leading advocate of parametric design and modelling. Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher, from Zaha Hadid Architects, Advocates of ‘Parametricism’ as a style

Fig 1.7


Japanese Pavilion ‘92

Beijing Water Cube This building in conjunction with the ‘Bird’s Nest’ was constructed for the Beijing Olympic games in 2008. Designed by an association of groups; PTW architects, Arup international engineering group, CSCEC (China State Construction Engineering Corporation) and CCDI (China Construction Design International). This design was brought about with the thought that the cube was the most representational shape of China’s culture and values. Symbolically, the cube represents the earth, while the adjacent stadium contexualises heaven, and this heaven-earth relationship is one of the architectural values of China.

This was a building designed by Tadao Ando for the world expo in Spain in 1992. When Ando designed this structure, he wanted to embody the spirit and ideals of Japan’s culture and history into the building and this is what he accomplied. with a frontage of 60m, depth of 40m and height of 25m, it boasts itself to be the largest wooden structure consisting of almost entirely wood as its material. Ando’s previous works highly centralised around concrete as his main material in his works, so for this project, he wanted to express the history and values of his country through traditional means expressed in a modern manner1. The source of this design is the Ise Shrine of Japan which is a wooden shrine that is rebuilt every 20 years to express the immortality idea. Similarly, he utilises the power and abstraction of the use of wood at Ise to use in his design. According to Ando, while the type of material used to create a space is important, the utmost important aspect is the space in which it is organised. In this design, from the images, I see the power of materials and construction methods being the major contributor in this structure. Throughout the history of Japanese architecture, they have always reverred this bond with the natural, especially from the shinto belief. As such, Ando 6

probably wanted to reestablish the history and values of traditional design by building the whole structure with purely timber. To promote the beauty of his country’s values and ideas, Ando constructs the large opening from the true north of the building to the south, which is almost like a bridge from one realm to the other, just like seeing over the horizon. And once in the building, descends through it, being lead on a journey though Japan’s history in the form of art, space, form and design. This is quite synonymous with numer-

Fig 2.3 Fig 2.4 Fig 2.5

View within the Pavilion, with the strong use fo light Japanese Pavilion, Spain 1992 Front view of the ‘bridge’ through the building

This precedent is a powerful example of what digital design is capable of as from a documentary that the complex was designed using 3D modelling programs and that each component was carefully calculated to ensure that the loads were not overbearing2. This shows the power of digital technology as without it, calculating the way in which loads bore would have been almost impossible or at the very least immensely difficult. Fig 2.6 Fig 2.7

ous of Ando’s work, such as the Church of Light, where he attempts to use simple geometry overlapping to lead visitors on a pathway.

Fig 2.8

Perspective photo of the Water Cube in Beijing 2008 A close up of the wall consisting of EFTE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) Sheets Tourist photo taken of both the water cube and Bird’s Nest


COMPUTATIONAL ARCHITECTURE Traditional design and architecture centralises around the pen and paper. However, with the ever changing knowledge that humanity gains, technology becomes far more sophisticated exponentially. With the change in technology, comes the change in the way we present particular ideas and methods in design. As with all change, the values of what it encompasses brings dischord to the community and thus emerges the need for the discussion of such changes. The discourse of the emerging computational architecture involves people examining the amount of power it has to offer or the inappropriate application of it to the design process. Computational architecture comes in two major forms; computerisation and computation. While both involve having part of the design process on the computer, strictly speaking they are very different. Computerisation is the digitisation of exisiting procedures / entities which have been developed in the mind of the designed. Thus in essence, the virtual world becomes the drawing board of precision and control for the architect or designer. ‘Computation’ is within the same digital realm, however it revolves around using parameters and equations. This process considers given complex situations and forms a framework for the rela8

tionships and subsequently create natural forms and structure. The new process of thinking within the design profression involves more problem analysis and solution synthesis and evaluation. The problem analysiscomponent is where the designer tries to identify the problems of a brief and also attempts to determine the goal. Solution synthesis follows, with it being the design process which tries to find the relationships between the problems and establish possible solutions. And evaluation looks at what outcomes have been generated in the process and relating back to the design intent, select the best generated result3. Since the traditional method of designing looks at the idea being constructed after the brief has been given, computing as the new process allows for a ‘preemptive strike’ of sorts. This allows one to create many different forms and ideas based on a certain variables, but unknown parameters. Then the selection and refinement comes after to mold the design idea to the brief. Within the design industries, there are progressively more computer assisted usage. AutoCAD, rhino, grasshopper, Revit and other programs perform precision measurements for plans, sections, detailing and 3D modelling just to name a

With evidence oriented designing (I presume that this is proposing new designs based on precedents and successful structures) computation allows for optimisation of previous ideas and enhances it further to fit the parameters of a design brief. Performance based designing focuses more on the given parameters and restrains, then attempts to model certain algorithms in response to the situation. Louis Sullivan’s well known proclamation that “form follows function” is described as no such casual relationship between the two elements, but rather an intuitive step for designers4.

few. With the future generations developing their computation skills a lot more than the past, being more fluent in technology than their design masters, the limitations of creativity of new students will eventually reveal new trains in thinking about the design process. In relation to the construction industry, if the design process progresses to ‘computation’, more buildings with complex shapes will emerge and thus development in the construction methods will have to occur and adapt to different building elements. Take Zaha Hadid Architect’s works, where the majority of the structures have these curves, smooth surfaces and unique geometry, the parametric attributes pose a problem for construction engineers where they must develop ways to ensure that these structures will become physically stable. ‘Computation’ is able to go beyond the realms of what is possible as what is created in the digital world is not subjected to the laws and physics of the real world. Restraints such as gravity, weight, loads and materials may restrict what geometries are realistically feasible and which are not. There are programs which model certain patterns and physics and apply them to models created in the digital realm, but these are still susceptible to debate due to the law of uncertainty. One cannot be entirely sure of what will occur in the future.

Fig 3.1 Fig 3.2

Zaha Hadid’s Beko Building for the former Beko factory in Belgrade, Serbia ‘Seeds of Change’ project at Wyndham City 2003.

With the Wyndham City project in mind, precedents like the ‘seeds of change’ should be considered as the idea and meaning behind the design is their reply to the parameters of the brief. In the same way, the new response for the Western Gateway should understand and identify the given parameters and what idea or meaning wants to be discovered and put in place. Many different solutions to the given problem will be found, but the select the most idealistic and representational of the values wanting to be presented will be chosen.


PARAMETRIC MODELLING To understand what the term parametric design means, one must look at the epitome of its understanding. From the basic definition of ‘Parametric’, we probably think of mathematics, where it is constant or variable in a function that determines the final outcome and can change accordingly. When put into a wider scope of understanding, it’s now used within society in the form of ‘a family of entities’. Parametric design, there are many different views and understanding of this so-called ‘style’ as defined by Patrik Schumaucher with a wide range of responses. On one end, we have individuals who look to parametric modeling as a new realm of architectural design. Schumaucher deems that the new ‘style’ which is emerging is ‘parametricism’ and this is the subsequent evolution to deconstructivism. Deconstructivism involves sharp angles and tilted planes as opposed to parametricism, which is more ‘blob-like’ morphed structures. To embrace the possibilities that ‘parametricism’ has to offer as an aesthetic expression. In response to Schumaucher’s definition of the new style, Adam Nathaniel Mayer refutes Schumaucher’s nation of parametricism, insinuating that ‘Schumaucher continues the tradition of myopic insularity within the avant-garde


circles of architectural profession’. He quite adamantly suggests that while parametric modelling is used quite profoundly as a tool in architectural design, to establish the the whole process as a new ‘style’ is unorthodox. 3.12: T h e i n it i a l sk etch es ((a) & (b) in th e m a rg in ) le d to th is p a r a m e tric sk e tch, w hos e p urp o s e was t o b u ild a nd u n d e rs t a n d h o w a s urfa c e c o u ld re act to obje cts u n d e rn e a th it.

“Initially, a parametric definition was simply a mathematical formula that required values to be substituted for a few parameters in order to generate variations from within a family of entities. Today it is used to imply that the entity once generated can easily be changed.” Yessios 2003, 263

T h e scre e n e le m e nts s p a n nin g th e surfa c e (c) w ere b u ilt , lit e r a lly , o n t o p o f th e sk etch. T h e r e la tiv e ly lo w r e s o lu tio n o f th e sk e tc h im a g e re fle cts its e p h e m e ra l ro le in th e de sign proce ss - w h a t e v e r gets saved in th e m o m e n t d e te rm in e s th e h is to ric a l re cord . Source: M a rk D a vis and Stephen P itm a n.

A t th e 2007 A C A D I A confere nc e , B ra d y P eters pre se nte d a p a p er o n th e design


and c o n s tru c tio n o f a ro o f o v e r th e c o u rty a rd o f th e S m ith s o nia n In s tit u tio n P ate nt O ffic e B u ild in g (Peters, 2007) b y F oster + P artn ers. D u rin g his t a lk , he

Fig 4.2

A design process of parametric design leading the final product A representation of recursive varations of a simple idea.

While there are skepticisms and debates on the future of parametricism, it is undeniable that they have provided architects and the like with the ability to present ideas and representations in a new dimension.

In a similar project, the Beijing Bird’s Nest is an indicator of the power parametric modelling is able to offer. with its intricacy and detail. Despite the power of parametric modelling, there are also limitations of its use to architects. For instance, with a set of equations and parameters, in a single glance would one be able to ascertain what is exactly happening in the system? There is this contradiction between parametric modelling enabling a series of functions to work together and easily changing the variables dependant on restraints, and the illegibility of a whole set of parametric equations by anyone outside the original input owner.

show e d some o f th e c o m p u t e r cod e th a t ge nerated th e design altern a tiv e s. I t was h ig h ly re p e titiv e . E n tir e b lo c k s o f a lm ost id e n tic a l code appe ared again, and again. T o an audie nc e q u e stio n ( O K , it was fro m m e) a b o ut w h y he, as a s kille d pro gra m m e r, w o u ld n o t have made his code m ore cle ar, he re spond e d s im p ly “ I d id n ’t need to do th a t.” P eters w a sn’t b e in g la z y o r u n c r a ftfu l; he was b e in g a de signer. T hro w -a w a y cod e is a fa ct o f p a ra m e tric design.

3 .3.3

C o p y a n d m o d if y

D e sign ers m a y t h ro w t h e ir o w n m od e ls away, b u t w i ll in v e st consid era ble tim e in fin d in g e xis tin g m od els and using th e m in t h e ir o w n c o n t e xt. T h is is h a rd ly s urprisin g . R eferences such as A rc h ite c tura l Graphics Standards (R a msa y and Sle eper, 2007a) and t h e ir re c e nt d ig it a l v ersions (R a msay and Sle eper, 2007b)

Fig 4.1

was constructed by Gaudi using a set of strings and balls hanging upside down. In this way, the natural form could be altered in any way deemed fit with any changing variable. This design method reveals the stable parabolic shape when weights are placed on the string and thus, the natural mechanics and function of gravity does its job in creating the ‘natural’ form.

“Parametricism aims to organize and articulate the increasing diversity and complexity of social institutions and life processes within the most advanced centre of postFordist network society” Schumaucher 2010.

3.19: A sin gle re cursiv e s tru c tu r e w it h m in o r v a ria tio n s prod uc e s a w id e ra ng e o f d esigns. T h e c e n tr a l d i a gra m d e m o nstra te s th e basic tre e s tru c tu re o f t w o m o tifs r e p lic a tin g at each re c ursiv e le v e l. A lo n g th e u p p e r bra n c h , th e lo c a tio n o f th e m o tifs change s w it h each successive fig ure . F o r th e last f o u r figure s, th e m o t if cha nges fro m a lin e to a tri a n g l e a nd o n ly th e fin a l le v e l o f m o tifs appe ars. In th e lo w e r bra n c h , o n ly lo c a tio n changes; th e lin e m o t if re m a ins th e same. In th e fin a l fig u re o n th is bra n c h , th e n u m b e r o f le vels in th e r e c ursio n incre ase s and o n ly th e fin a l le v e l o f m o tifs appe ars. Source: W o o d b u ry (1993).

A geodesic c urv e is th e shorte st p a th o n a surface th a t jo in in g tw o p o in ts p and q also o n th e surface . F o r spheres, th e geodesic curv e b e tw e e n p a nd q is th e sh orte st arc li n k in g th e tw o p o in ts ta k e n fro m th e gre at circle d e fin e d b y th e t w o p o in ts a nd th e sphere c e ntre . D iscre t e p o in ts a long a sphere geodesic curv e can be fo u n d b y pro je c tin g p o in ts o n th e 3 D lin e b e tw e e n p and q to th e sph ere’s surfa c e . G eode sic meshes can be ge nerated b y s u b d iv id in g p o ly h e dra l

With parametric modelling, the dogmas centralise the concept of functions interacting with each other, with each system having its own independant identity. The amount of control and efficiency that parametric modelling has to offer is substantial and invigorating. The fact that each set of equations and functions work together as a whole system means that when a single parameter is changed, the overall equation will change accordingly: A mutual relationship. A fabulous example of this control mechanism is Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. This cathedral

Fig 4.3 Fig 4.4

Hanging Ball model of the Guell Chapel by Gaudi The Guell Chapel as it stands, incomplete.

With both factors in mind, parametric modelling does have its advantages in the architectural design industry as it is used all around the globe. Though, there are certain nuances that should be considered and as a result, should be careful of. 11

Here we have two project submissions for the TaiChung Metropolitan Opera house compeitition. Above by Toyo Ito Architects and the one on the left by Zaha Hadid Architects. A comparison of the two submissions provide an interesting comparison between the parametric elements and utilisation. Ito employs different dimensions of cyndrical-curved shaped elements to define a set of space and parameters. Hadid’s form has a more sleek whole notion where it seems to be more of a unified entity as opposed to Ito’s where it appears to be a series of altered functions working together. Fig 4.5 Fig 4.6 Fig 4.7 Fig 4.8

Zaha Hadid’s Entry for the TaiChung Metropolitan Opera house competition. Came 2nd TaiChung Metropolitan Opera house, Toyo Ito, 3D model of basic shape. TaiChung Metropolitan Opera house, Toyo Ito, 3D represntational model with finer details and in context. Generation of the parametric structures of Toyo Ito’s design.

ALGORITHMIC EXPLORATIONS With the increasing usage of technology today, we see the use of programs such as Rhino and Grasshopper as a means to create a possible project. While learning about the program Grasshopper in Rhino, it became apparent that the potentials of computing were substantial. By understanding different nodes in the form of equations, we are able to construct or alter models in ways which remain in the realms of given parameters. An example as seen on the right, where a few rectangle blocks are fused together, and with the set of equations made by grasshopper, we are able to create an organic model by erasing the straight edges and having this unique curvatured form. Towards the end of the process, we see a possible representation of a model which could be created only in the digital realm due to the complexity, but it is through this complexity that we can achieve innovation. Fig 5.1


Series of algorithmic expressions and challenges. Explored using Grasshopper and Rhino, Completed by Sheehan Yu



After searching for definitions of the many possible forms that parametric odelling has to offer, this one by Diego Xavier particularly caught my eyes, where it was a structure of repeating torus’ of the same proportional dimensions, scaled down. This model figuratively gives me the ideal of a central void and there are many pulses of gravitational fields drawn to the centre. This is just a single example of what the digital realm has to offer for us. While it may have been within the possibilities of human imagination to think of such a form. Ultimately, computing with parametric equations is what has given birth to such a piece of work.

Fig 5.2 Fig 5.3

Waller’s Torus, a definition by Diego Xavier Reconstructed model of Waller’s Torus with varied parameters.


Learning Outcomes

With technology becoming the epitome of our era, it would be unjustified if it would not be applied in an area which could fully utilise this power. While there are its shortcomings, and the amount of control digitial modelling has to offer, I do still believe that the human mind’s imagination and creativity are the roots of a design. Hence, my design approach will be to create a design through computing with the given parameters while still visually encompassing the vividness of the human imagination; Essentially, Abstraction within truth. This in turn will hopefully give future designers not an aesthetic model precedent, but rather an idea precedent. And for visitors, a chance to ponder about the relationship humans have developed with technology and their influence on our lives. This is the basis of my design and idealogy for the Case of Innovation.

At the beginning of the semester, my understand of the digital realm of design was that it was generally used for the final optimisation of finished forms; Computerisation. However, as I learnt through the lectures, tutorials and readings, the possibilities that computing may provide is nothing short of expansive. The learning of the program Grasshopper has changed the way I think about the limitations of computing and I do believe that it will have a place in the future. To a certain extent. Personally, a completely digitally generated form doesnt fully encompass what is known as architecture as it doesn’t have any sort of deep meaning or symoblism. If I could have used this to assist in my past projects, I would have had a much wider range design thoughts and processes.


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Studio Air  

My Journal so far