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CONCEPTUALISATION A.1. Design Futuring A.2. Design Computation A.3. Composition / Generation A.4. Conclusion A.5 Learning outcome A.6 Appendix - Algorithmic Sketches




Tia Chan

I’m Tia, a third-year environment student majoring in architecture at the University of Melbourne. I was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan. I spent my high school life in Brisbane and then I moved to Sydney to pursue my studies. Not long after, I moved to Melbourne where I currently reside. My parents love traveling and due to this I’ve been to numerous different countries and cities since I was a little kid. From experiencing the various diverse cultures and environments through travelling, I realized from there that my main interest was to walk along the street and observe the architecture and city infrastructure. I was once a person who didn’t know what direction to head in the future and often felt confused of what I should be doing up until I met a person who was studying urban planning. This gave me an opportunity to understand in depth what urban planning, landscape architecture and architecture was about. Furthermore, I have always loved drawing since I was a child and from my conversations with him, I knew that this could potentially be my future.



The experience and the knowledge I gained from studying landscape architecture in Sydney before I transferred to the majoring in architecture had an immense impact on how I went about constructing my designs.For example,often when I design projects I will combine them with the usage of vegetation as this was one of the most important factors to consider when designing for the landscape. During these few years at the University I wish to and will put all my effort on learning architecture design ‘tools’ such as architecture languages, concepts, presentations etc. and the more technical tools including AutoCAD, Rhino, Photoshop and etc. I believe that the upcoming lessons of this unit will take me to a new level of understanding. In the future I hope I can utilise the tools and knowledge that the University provides to create a design that is unique and belongs to me.

Studio Water. Digital Model Making of Carina Shop

Studio Earth. Section Drawing. My Design of Light Pavilion

Studio Water. Collages of Carino Store







What is the most important aspect of a “good” design? I have thought about this question numerous times while studying design and initially thought that the aesthetics of the design is the number one priority of a “good” design and anything that comes with is a bonus. Now that I have progressed further into the field of designing, my thoughts have changed and I now believe that rather design as just a simple expression of art, it is a platform that we designers use to accomplish a purpose while also considering the importance of nature. The majority of designs have said purpose but do they all incorporate sustainable practices? Tony (Fry, 2008) shares a similar opinion by mentioning how “we have done too much ecological damage,” and that “most designers have so far failed to recognize, or take responsibility for this fundamental quality of design.” Due to design ethics being extremely underdeveloped. We as human beings should recognize our faults and not be blind to our flaws to improve and implement change. That begs the question:

“How do we secure our future through design?”

1. Tony Fry. 2008. Design Futuring: Sustainability, Ethics and New Practice, (Oxford: Berg), pp. 1-16






hen the numbers of our population were not as great as they are today, our means of utilizing resources through technological methods were extremely limited. Nonetheless with the growth of the population, the use of materials and resources are constantly increasing and the need of living places are expanding. However, we humans are treating the planet as if it were made of infinite resources and after a long-term pattern of thoughtless consumption, we face a problem that Fry (Tony, 2008, p2) describes as: “our nemesis – a defuturing condition of unsustainability.”2 We as designers should thoroughly think about the influences that are brought to the environment in design practice and secure our future through efficient usage of materials, forms, functions and design.

“Why wouldn’t we want to build with a strong More importantly, it is the world records natural fiber that takes 5 years to grow fastest growing plant, which is found to grow instead of 20, 40 or 80 years?”3 – CRG Architects up to 91 cm (35 in) 7per day and takes only With the increase in our population, a trend of constructing high-rise buildings has become popular amongst residential properties. The Bamboo Skyscraper (Figure 1), is a series of skyscrapers that was attempted by Carlos R. Gomez and designers at CRG Architects, was crowned a semifinalist in the World Architecture Festival. It consists of a series of bamboo towers spiralled together - recalling a traditional bamboo forest of tropical climates.4

five years to mature. The Bamboo is a plant which holds rhizomes. Sometimes rhizomes are unwanted but in the bamboos case it is actually wanted. When the bamboo tree matures and is harvested, the rhizomes will replace it with another bamboo tree which exterminates the necessity of replanting it.8 Bamboo has been proven to be an environmentally friendly building material in various countries. However, its use has so far been limited to detached single houses and mostly rural applications. The bamboo skyscraper is a design that has responded to the current trend while at the same time considering about the sustainability. This responds to a notion in Fry’s (Tony, 2008, p4) Design Futuring saying that:

This design interprets the development of sustainability through the use of sustainable and renewable material. The skyscraper is made out of bamboo, one of the lightest materials on earth, flexible, earthquake – resistant5 and last of all an environmentally friendly material that “The ‘state of the world’ and the state is as advantageous as steel in some of design need to be brought together.”9 ways in regards to physical properties.6

2. Fry, Tony. 2008. 3. CRG Architecture Consultants. 2014. CRG Architects. Architect’s Village – Bamboo Skyscraper – Singapore. <http://www.crgarchitects.  com/bamboo-city>  [Accessed 2018] 4. Artefact Studio. 2018. 7 Great Examples of Environmentally-Friendly Building Designs. < examples-of- environmentally-friendly-building-designs> [Accessed 2018] 5. Itzkowitz, Laura. 2017. Vogue. Is Bamboo the Sustainable Building Material of the Future? < building-bamboo-bali>  [Accessed 2018] 6. Beagley-Brown Design. 2011. Designosaur. Is Bamboo Environmentally Friendly? < environmentally-friendly/>  [Accessed 2018] 7. Guiness World Records. 2015. Fastest growing plant. <>  [Accessed 2018] 8. Bamboo Botanicals. 2018. Bamboo Anatomy And Growth Habits. < growth-habits.html>  [Accessed 2018] 9. Fry, Tony. 2008.



Figure. 1




the sustainable treehouse / MITHUN / 2014 SUMMIT BECHTEL RESERVE, UNITED STATES

Figure1. The sustainable treehouse


Figure2. Cross-section of the treehouse



he Sustainability Treehouse is situated in the Summit Bechtel Reserve and is a unique and innovative design focusing on the importance of environmental stewardship. The AIA (American Institute of Architects) states that the treehouse “captures the wonder of childhood adventure and places environmental education at the forefront of meaningful and immersive outdoor experiences for thousands of annual visitors.”10 This treehouse has fully demonstrated the notion of design futuring in numerous ways. The project has changed from what it once was - a place for resource extraction through mining and logging and now has restored to a site where the importance of conservation and the environment is displayed. The first thing you notice of the treehouse is the complete steel structure. The significance of this is to highlight the industrial heritage of the area – for example the vertical conveyance relicts belonging to the mining industry. Rather than this

being noted for resource extraction, it will also provide a form of natural shade is used as a symbol to teach about the by cooling through filtering the light. environment and conversation of resources. In terms of water usage, sustainable water Oak that has been salvaged on site and systems have been put in place for the locally harvested black locust were used tree house. Two of the main examples to create the sidings and decking of the is a composting toilet system to reduce project – this is to create an environment the amount of water that the tree house which blends in with the outdoor area. needs and a rainwater collection system Not only is this a simple setting to the which collects water which will be treated features and exhibits of the site but the and sent to parts of the tree house which selection of materials also emphasizes require water. Any grey water as a result and brings attention to the importance of water usage will also be gathered to be of sustainable practices. These naturally dumped into a black water tank nearby. weathering materials also reduces the The sustainable treehouse has fully necessity of the use of finishes and further demonstrated the notion of design futuring protects and improves the environmental through its sustainable design and it covers the quality. This structure is a perfect example eco-friendly architecture design concepts: of a sustainable design which minimizes use of recyclable and renewable material; the affects to the local environment. use of local material that drastically reduces Furthermore, another sustainable factor the embodied-energy; a water catchment of the tree house is the fact that it uses system; low maintenance electricity; renewable and/or energy sources found on energy efficiency and etc.11 Ultimately, it site to provide for itself. This design takes offers a realistic method of education and advantage of the natural light and will only possesses the very meaning of sustainability. use electric lightings when said natural light is scarce (night time). Additionally, the deciduous tree canopy of the site

10. The American Institute of Architects. 2018. Sustainability Treehouse. <> [Accessed 2018] 11. Wines, James and Jodidio, Philip. 2000. Green architecture. (Köln: Taschen). pp. 65-66







â&#x20AC;&#x153;Over the last 10 years, the field of computational design has taken the building industry by storm.â&#x20AC;?12 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Lucas Epp The difference between computation and computerization is that computation starts designing from the computer and the entire design process uses it. Computerization is designing through both the computer and traditional ways of drawing. Computers, by their nature, will never tire, never make arithmetical mistakes and can follow a line of program to its logical conclusion thus compared to computerization, computation can achieve a more complex design in a faster period of time and decrease the chance of error that can occur.

12. Epp, Lucas. 2017. Wood Design & Building. Computational Design with Timber. pp. 39






ne example of design computation is the OnGreening Pavilion concept. OnGreening is a new web-based platform devoted to the research and profiling of green building technologies. 13 The egg-like geometry shell model was built and designed in Grasshopper. 14 The complexity of this geometry form and the grid pattern of the shell has been clearly presented through the program (Figure 2), where hand drawing might not be able to demonstrate as clearly or as precisely as a computer.

Design computation allows the design to accurately calculate the parameters that may need to be known in the construction process such as material lengths etc. and to have a basic concept of whether the design can be completed in reality. This is something hand drawn and design computerization can achieve but much more work is required.

The whole structure was made out of timber, the timber laths are aligned along geodesic lines between pre-seeded generation points set out using a parametric model. In this way, the connection points between one piece of timber to another will be more precise, in order to guide the construction. The primary geodesic members are restrained by secondary laths of the same narrow and thin profile of plywood with a simple bolted connection. This method allowed the use of straight and short length pieces of timber, making it more practical to purchase and build compared with other similar looking structures.15

Figure 2. Computational model

13. RCD. 2014. Ramboll Blog. OnGreening Ecobuild 2014 pavilion. < projects/ongreening-plywood-egg-steals-show-ecobuild-2014.html> [Accessed 2018] 14. Ramboll Computational Design. 2014. Grasshopper Blog. Ongreening Pavilion. <https://www.> [Accessed 2018] 15. RCD. 2014.


Figure 1. OnGreening Pavilion





nother example is this Hybrid Tower located in Guimaraes, Portugal. The main focus of this project was to design for as well as with material performance.16 To be able to create this design and succeed, it is important to consider what must be done during the digital fabrication and assembly process.

‘Hybrid Tower’ innovates the making of fabric structures by developing said software. Commonly, the production of textile architecture follows an inefficient process of cutting out the needed amount from large sheets of fabric and to apply and finish the details at a later time.17 Everything from the shape and materials is precisely controlled and calculated through design computation.

The resulting Hybrid Tower was a project which demonstrated that the use This structure is primarily made of of design computation is advantageous.

two components – glass fibre reinforced polymer rods and knitted fabric. Parametric design is still relatively a new concept in designing but in this project, it has been introduced in the form of computational software to lay the foundations of the overall material and structural systems. For example, the automated processes of producing possible fabric patterns needed for the tower as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3 Fabric patterns produced by computers

16. ArchDaily. 2017. Hybrid Tower / CITA – The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. <> [Accessed 9 Aug 2018] 17. ArchDaily. 2017.







A large number of industries in modern day society will utilize technology for their benefits. As time goes by, more and more people realize the advantages of using such technology and have started to integrate it with their own work. In the designing world, digital design is somewhat a new concept and has only emerged more recently. As designers we should also “evolve” and welcome computational technology into our industry to assist us in designing a “better” future. Through digital design, it is possible to imagine and create projects that have never existed and unheard of. However, as Peters (Brady, 2013)18 puts it, “for computational techniques to be useful, they must be flexible – they must adapt to the constantly changing parameters of architectural design.” - we should think carefully about how said techniques can be used in conjunction with our current process of designing. Regardless of what approach we take to include computational designing in our work, one final question still remains:

“…At what cost?”

18. Peters, Brady. (2013) ‘Computation Works: The Building of Algorithmic Thought’, Architectural Design, 83, 2, pp. 08-15





wo years ago, the Elbphilharmonie construction was completed. It is a concert hall featuring one of the most acoustically advanced auditoriums in the world. This is a perfect example of what happens when computational technology meets design, this is the potential of complex systems and calculations.


The greatest achievement of this project is the auditorium. When designing, sound has always been one of the lesser concerns and not a common priority. In the case of an auditorium, it is the number one priority. The very shape of the hall and the linings of the walls are of utmost importance and was very carefully calculated through the use of parametric modelling and algorithmic thinking as shown in Figure 4. The generation of this cell is to provide a space where the “perfect” sound can be produced. 10,000 of these acoustic panels made up of a million unique cells were created and placed in this hall – something unimageable if done manually by hand. Even Benjamin Koren who is the founder of One to One, a studio which worked with the architects Herzog & De Meuron to design the panels quotes: “It would be insane to do this by hand. That’s the power of parametric design. I hit play, and it creates a million cells, all different and all based on these parameters.”19 However, like many endeavors, one must also consider the downsides of digital designing. Another example which uses said techniques to design a complex system is the Riverside Museum of Transport in Glasgow.

Figure 4 Auditorium cell parameters

19. Walter, Alexander. 2017. Archinect News. How algorithms designed the sound of the new Hamburg concert hall. <>[Accessed 9 Aug 2018]



Elbphilharmonie Hamburg

Interior of auditorium

Close-up of the acoustic panels



Close-up of the central auditoriumâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s parametric acoustic panels



sing algorithms and parametric modelling may sound decent but what use is it if it only provides aesthetic advancement? Like the Elbphilharmonie, the museum is also a visual spectacle but what other advantages does it hold? Is it any better than a contemporary museum? Is it easier to navigate around? As you can see from Figure 5, if you just look at the interior only, there is not much that is different to a normal museum apart from the shape itself. Despite being aesthetically pleasing, the advantages of using this approach in this project specifically were minimal. Peters (Brady 2013)20 says that “When architects have a sufficient understanding of algorithmic concepts, when we no longer need to discuss the digital as something different, then computation can become a true method of design for architecture.” By saying this he implies that we architects do not have sufficient understanding and have not quite grasped the concept nor are practiced enough in algorithmic thinking. If we did, that is when we are capable of using computers as a method of design. The museum has only proven this fact by taking mostly aesthetic factors into consideration without thinking about other aspects such as sustainability.


We should not be afraid of these mere problems but to embrace them and advance as designers just like technology advances.

Computation in design is still relatively young but already there have been successful projects constructed globally. We as designers should transition gradually into using these techniques to further improve on our designs not only aesthetically but also sustainably. The transition is may be an obstacle to designers as some may prefer traditional methods. In the Theories of the digital in Architecture, Woodbury (Robert F. 2014. p163) states that “the sheer distance between representations familiar to designers and those needed for algorithms exacerbates the gap”.21


Figure 5 Cross section view of Riverside Museum


Riverside Museum of Transport

Interior of museum

20. Peters, Brady. (2013) 21. Woodbury, Robert F. (2014). ‘How Designers Use Parameters’, in Theories of the Digital in Architecture, ed. by Rivka Oxman and Robert Oxman (London; New York: Routledge), pp. 153–170



A4. CONCLUSION Design futuring is a notion of designing to achieve the purpose of a secure future. Since we have faced the most dramatic changes in our mode of early habitation (Fry, 2008, p6), sustainability is something that we as designers should know. With the advancement of technology, the design approach method has also reached another level, the computing design software has also developed into a more convenient mode and we can use the concept of parametric modelling to complete the design without understanding much of engineering knowledge. Algorithmic design can develop something that hand drawing cannot as it can calculate the characteristics of the material, make the construction better, more “complete” and will demonstrate design ideas with more precision to make the design process more efficient. By understanding the reasoning behind these methods and utilizing design computation, we can adopt a completely new technique in order to further improve our designs. Traditional methods do not have to be replaced but rather can slowly be used in conjunction with or integrated with technology to generate design ideas. As soon as we designers learn to embrace the very tools that we humans have made, we can strive for a future absent of ‘defuturism’.

A5. LEARNING OUTCOME Through the lectures, tutorial discussions, analyzing and learning while forming the journal I have learnt the importance of designing towards the future and sustainability. I have also learnt the algorithmic ways of thinking in the design practice. Unlike other studio classes that I have taken, this unit focuses more on the environment and sustainability of design rather than learning design concepts that revolve around the ‘human’. Furthermore, I have learnt to think beyond the appearance and performance while designing and this is the first time that I have encountered computational design.Through the use of computers and traditional hand drawings for my design approach and studying precedents,I have a better understanding of parametric and computational design.Not only this but by understanding the role of parametric modelling in design, it can solve and help in the process of designing and by completing the appendix, I started to play around with parametric software to gain a preliminary understanding of the usage.I hope by progressing further in this unit’s journal, I will begin to understand the software at a deeper level.

22. Fry, Tony. 2008.



References Fry, Tony. 2008. Design Futuring: Sustainability, Ethics and New Practice. (Oxford: Berg). pp. 1-16 CRG Architecture Consultants. 2014. CRG Architects. Architect’s Village – Bamboo Skyscraper – Singapore. <> [Accessed 2018] Artefact Studio. 2018. 7 Great Examples of Environmentally-Friendly Building Designs. <https://www.artefactinc. com/blog/7-great-examples-of-environmentally-friendly-building-designs> [Accessed 2018] Itzkowitz, Laura. 2017.Vogue. Is Bamboo the Sustainable Building Material of the Future? <https://www.vogue. com/article/sustainable-building-bamboo-bali> [Accessed 2018] Beagley-Brown Design. 2011. Designosaur. Is Bamboo Environmentally Friendly? <http://www.beagleybrown. com/is-bamboo-environmentally-friendly/> [Accessed 2018] Guiness World Records. 2015. Fastest growing plant. < fastest-growing-plant/> [Accessed 2018] Bamboo Botanicals. 2018. Bamboo Anatomy And Growth Habits. <> [Accessed 2018] The American Institute of Architects. 2018. Sustainability Treehouse. <> [Accessed 2018] Wines, James and Jodidio, Philip. 2000. Green architecture. (Köln: Taschen). pp. 65-66 Ramboll Computational Design. 2014. Ramboll Blog. OnGreening Ecobuild 2014 pavilion. <http://blog.ramboll. com/rcd/projects/ongreening-plywood-egg-steals-show-ecobuild-2014.html> [Accessed 2018] Ramboll Computational Design. 2014. Grasshopper Blog. Ongreening Pavilion. <https://www.grasshopper3d. com/profiles/blogs/ongreening-pavilion-1> [Accessed 2018] ArchDaily. 2017. Hybrid Tower / CITA – The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. <https://www.archdaily. com/805969/hybrid-tower-cita-the-royal-danish-academy-of-fine-arts> [Accessed 9 Aug 2018] Peters, Brady. (2013) ‘Computation Works: The Building of Algorithmic Thought’, Architectural Design, 83, 2, pp. 08-15 Walter, Alexander. 2017. Archinect News. How algorithms designed the sound of the new Hamburg concert hall. <> [Accessed 9 Aug 2018] Stinson, Elizabeth. 2017. Wired. What happens when algorithms design a concert hall? The stunning elbphilharmonie. <> [Accessed 9 Aug 2018] Frearson, Amy. 2011. Dezeen. Riverside Museum by Zaha Hadid Architects. <https://www.dezeen. com/2011/06/10/riverside-museum-by-zaha-hadid-architects/> [Accessed 9 Aug 2018] Woodbury, Robert F. (2014). ‘How Designers Use Parameters’, in Theories of the Digital in Architecture, ed. by Rivka Oxman and Robert Oxman (London; New York: Routledge), pp. 153–170 Glasgowlife. (2018) Riverside Museum. <> [Accessed 9 Aug 2018] AIR JOURNAL











Skill gain: Set reference image geometry from rhino + Create grids + break up solid shape by grids. The reason why I selected this computational sketch for inclusion in my journal is because its a combination of rhino and Grasshoper designing. Other sketches were more focused on the utilization of grasshopper then baking the design out into rhino. When designing this sketch, I began with deciding how many blocks I wanted it to use then started to move them around to see how it went.

6.2, 6.3, 6.4

Skill gain: loft, the significance of parametric in design By exploring these series of sketches it has made me understand that a small change as subtle as a 0.5 degree rotation can be done in parametric modelling. This is not something that a traditional design approach can achieve easily. Through utilizing computation in design it allows us as designers to change our designs by sliding a number slider or changing a parameter on the computer. This is very efficient both in performance and time aspects. 6.5 I started on the design for the house of Kingsfisher. Further information will be provided afterwards.