Structuring Architecture at Oxford Brookes University

As part of his role as a part time Structural Engineering tutor at Oxford Brookes School of Architecture, Stephen Melville will be giving a lecture on Thursday 2nd February on the subject ‘Structuring Architecture’. This is a great opportunity to help convey the principles of collaboration and critical thought in the overlapping space of Architectural Design and Engineering Optimisation.

Computational Design Lecture at TU Delft

Stephen Melville recently gave a lecture to the Architectural faculty of the Technical University of Delft on Computational Design and the practical application of the RCD team’s on-going research to live projects and future directions such as urbanism. The lecture was at the invitation of the high rise unit of the school.

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Riba forgotten spaces competition

With Texere Studios, this was the first time we applied the research into digital urbanism and the science of emergent behaviour. taking the free roaming ponies in the new Forest as a inspiration for a traffic calming measure in a london site we helped with a design which created an inner city farm with sheep instead of horses.

Maljevik Bay, Montenegro

Working with Foster + Partners we developed an in-house routine to automatically determine the optimum three dimensional roof form giving the right degree of internal solar shading in the new villa structures on the coastline of Montenegro.

 

The application automatically shapes the roofs of villas in relation to the solar shading needed. We were able to prove to Foster + partners the absolute minimum of roof overhang needed for this purpose.

See the application in action here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O01umT6jy5s

A number of different parametric design tools were then used to set map the structure in an efficient manner on the doubly curved roof form such that the minimum amount of timber was used with the simplest orthogonal joints.

 

The physical modelling of electrical repulsion was used to try and determine an efficient configuration of structural members on the doubly curved roof shell

 

 

London funnel sculpture

A least energy structure the form being determined by rcd’s own routines together with principle curvature mapping to form efficient framing

 

The timber members were set out in relation to the lines of principle curvature on the efficient surface. we developed the routines to do this and it enables a simple orthogonal structure to be set out on a complex surface.

 

London funnel structure

Riga Airport Competition

Computational analysis of caternaries enhances 3D modelling capability

 

On a competition submission for Riga Airport, the RCD group used computerised analysis to model the undulating roof structure which was inspired by the catenary form. In the 19th century Gaudi defined the form of his iconic La Sagrada Família by making scale physical models using chains with hanging weights – catenaries.

In the case of the Riga Airport roof the form was found using the modern day computational technique of dynamic relaxation – a digital modelling tool ideal for analysing catenaries. The rationale behind Riga airport’s undulating roof surface was that it should dip where there are check-in desks and rise where natural light is needed to channel into the space below. At one end of the building the roof needed to drape down to the floor to create a sense of enclosure.

The initial geometry was created by the architect using some simple structural rules. Engineers then developed the geometry, maintaining the integrity of the shape but optimising the structural performance significantly using dynamic relaxation.

As a result the final design achieved the architects’ vision for an irregular curving roof while optimising the structure.

Presidential Library Astana

An algorithm inspired by electrical behaviour of sub-atomic particles rationalises a complex facade

 

Both archive and museum, the National Library will be a place for work and study, as well as education and tourism. A place for progress and a place for pleasure. As a national concentration of knowledge about the Kazakh culture and history, geography and demographics, government and presidency, the National Library will be a place for the people to learn about the president, as well as a forum for the president to meet with the people.

The initial scheme for the façade of the new Presential Library envisaged a triangulated diagrid of steel members set out in the form of a Möbius strip. If a ‘traditional’ rectilinear grid pattern were to be adopted for the setting out of the cladding panels then every panel and member length would be different making the façade package extremely expensive. The engineers’ challenge was to refine this complex and expansive steel façade structure to make it simpler and less costly to construct.

By applying an optimisation routine based on the theory of electrical repulsion engineers were able to refine the design so more panels were the same area and more supporting members were the same length.

The engineers created an algorithmic software script that ascribed to each nodal point in the facade a simulated electrical charge. Following the principle of electric repulsion, the nodes ‘repelled’ each other until they were evenly distributed, thus creating steel members of a standardised length.

A second algorithm was then used to push nodes towards areas of high stress, thus tuning the structure to the forces flowing within it, making it more structurally efficient.