High Rise Explorer

RCD recently teamed up with some of our tall building specialists for a two-day hack on high rise digitalisation.  The result was a new parametric tool for the exploration of tall buildings.  The tool draws on the framework of our Dynamic Masterplanning toolkit to enable the rapid generation and evaluation of tower design options to a number of engineering criteria.  We can adjust a variety of different control parameters and see in real-time the impacts of those changes on the key performance indicators of the building.  This gives us the power to rapidly explore design options live with the client and other members of the design team.

What makes this tool unique is not the geometry generation (which is relatively straightforward) but the amount of embedded engineering expertise which allows the tool to produce results with the benefit of expert judgement.  What makes it useful is that while the relationships between some inputs and outputs can be intuited, others are difficult to predict without calculation.  For example, different combinations of parameters will require different numbers and sizes of lifts, which then has major knock-on effects on the size and shape of the core, which in turn affects available floor area and structural stiffness (which may the necessitate further changes).  Calculating all of this by hand could take a long time and would typically involve several different specialists.  By automating the process adjustments and iteration can be performed near-instantly with data on the potential impacts of design decisions available immediately.  This allows for the various considerations of tall building design to be easily understood and balanced to enable a holistic approach to finding the optimal design solution.

Christmas Tensegritree

For our office Christmas tree this year we decided to do something a bit different and build our own.  We also needed a new centrepiece for our London reception area after the Leadership Bridge moved to our new Birmingham offices.  The design team behind that earlier project was reconvened to tackle this new challenge and once again RCD took responsibility for the geometric design.

We decided to take the opportunity to combine two of our favourite structural forms; tensegrity and hyperboloids. Continue reading “Christmas Tensegritree”

A beginner’s guide to visual scripting with Grasshopper

In this tutorial, I will provide a very simple demonstration of the use of Grasshopper, a visual scripting environment embedded into the 3D modelling package Rhinoceros and a very useful computational design tool.  This example is intended to give a brief overview of how the software works to people with no prior exposure to it and explain the core theoretical principles.  Some basic prior knowledge of Rhino itself is assumed, however (i.e. you need to at least be familiar with the general interface – this video will cover most of what you need).

The example should take under 30 minutes to run through but will teach you everything you need to know in order to start using the software by yourself.  Each step is accompanied by an animation showing exactly what you need to do. Continue reading “A beginner’s guide to visual scripting with Grasshopper”

RCD Tadpole (Ramboll Load Take-Down Tool)

A Load Take-Down is a procedure frequently performed by structural engineers to assess the amount of loading carried by the columns of a building into its foundations.  It is an important early-stage analysis necessary to inform the choice of column layout and foundation system, but it is also a notoriously tedious and time-consuming process that is regarded as something of a ‘rite of passage’ for young engineers to endure. Continue reading “RCD Tadpole (Ramboll Load Take-Down Tool)”

Ramboll Leadership Conference 2017 Bridge

For the 2017 Ramboll Leadership Conference in Copenhagen, which took place on the 22nd and 23rd of January, RCD was involved in a collaboration between the Transport and Buildings departments to design and construct a ‘bridge’ installation between their respective stands.  We had a little over a month to develop and manufacture the design so timescales were tight and we had several key criteria to consider – the bridge was to support a model train running between the two stands (in reference to the Holmestrand Mountain Station project), it needed to be light and easily demountable enough for us to carry from London to Copenhagen, build in an afternoon, break down in an hour and then return back to London (for later re-assembly in our home office).  We also wanted it to form an interactive part of the conference rather than merely being a static display piece.

We approached the project the same way we would any other – pulling together a team with relevant expertise, brainstorming ideas, analysing and developing them.  For the interactive element, we realised that business cards made an ideal impromptu craft material and were one of the few things we could rely on most of the attendees to be bringing with them.  The decision was thus made to allow people at the conference to leave their business card, folded into a specific 3D form, as part of the bridge’s cladding. Continue reading “Ramboll Leadership Conference 2017 Bridge”

Parametric Engineering Course at Imperial College London

From January 2017, Imperial College London will be running an evening course on Parametric Engineering, co-taught by RCD lead Paul Jeffries.  The course will cover the application of Rhino and Grasshopper for computational design within an engineering context and is open to anybody in full time education or academic employment.  To apply contact Simply Rhino.

What is Computational Design?

If you’ve arrived at this blog, you will probably have had some exposure to the concept of ‘computational design’.  You may also have heard some of the related terms that fall under this heading – ‘parametric design’, ‘algorithmic design’, ‘generative design’ and so on.  As computational design is still a relatively young and evolving field the meanings of these terms can be a little vague and are used by different practitioners in different ways. This article presents the vision of computational design that we have in Ramboll and the role that we see it having in the future of the industry.  This is what *we* mean by computational design. Continue reading “What is Computational Design?”