Smartgeometry 2014

Kristjan Nielsen of the RCD team has recently returned from Hong Kong, where he helped run the SG2014 workshop cluster entitled: The Bearable Lightness of Being. The goal of the cluster was to design and construct a flexible, light-weight and optimised pavilion, through the use of grasshopper plug-ins Karamba and Octopus.

More information on the cluster can be found here.

Paper accepted at Advances in Architectural Geometry Conference

The RCD team have recently had a paper accepted at the AAG Conference, held this year in London on 18th-22nd September. The paper describes the work done by RCD during the Ongreening Pavilion project, constructed in March this year. In the paper, the form-finding process of a bending active shell structure is described, as well as documenting how the assembly method was influenced by real-time structural analysis using Karamba (plug-in for Grasshopper).

More information about the conference can be found here.

OBU Rain Pavilion paper accepted for eCAADe 2014

RCD’s work on the intelligent modelling of voids in the stems and canopies of the Oxford Brookes School of Architecture Rain Pavilion has been accepted as a paper to the eCAADe 2014 conference in November. The paper Populating surfaces with holes using particle repulsion based on scalar fields will be presented at the annual gathering at the University of Northumbria and contributes to the overall theme of fusion; data integration at its best.
Details of the conference can be found here

Presentation – Bartlett Plexus 8

As part of the Bartlett School of Architecture Plexus series of lectures John Harding of the Ramboll Computational Design team spoke about structural form-finding at RCD. The talk focussed on how computation can help to bridge the gap between architecture and engineering at the early stages of projects where there is most to be gained.

The Bartlett Plexus series is an initiative to bring together the creative talent of different disciplines to share techniques, solve problems and build networks of collaboration. The events will happen every other month inviting young designers, architects, engineers, programmers, game designers and visual artists.

For details see here

John Harding to present Trada pavilion at IASS 2013

John Harding of the RCD team will be presenting our work on the Trada pavilion at the International Associate for Shell and Spatial Structures symposium in Wroclaw, Poland on the 23rd September 2013. The talk, simply titled The TRADA Pavilion – A Timber Plate Funicular Shell will be given as part of the session dedicated to Structural Morphology – Faceted and origami structures.


Photo 23-09-2012 19 56 57_low res


RCD talk at Building Envelopes Asia

Duncan Horswill and Mark Pniewski represented Ramboll Computational Design at the 4th Annual Building Envelopes Asia conference in Singapore on the 17th and 18th April.

The conference is in its fourth year and brings together 25 world class speakers to discuss cost efficient design as well as engineering and material technologies for high performance building envelopes.
Together Duncan and Mark used the work of the team to demonstrate the advantages of a computational approach to the design of complex glass envelopes. The presentation drew on our experience of working with complex architectural geometries on projects such as the Astana National Library in Kazakhstan and the National Holdings HQ building in Abu Dhabi to demonstrate the inherent issues with the application of traditional facade solutions to complex surfaces and how, with the help of computation, we can meet these challenges.

As well as the above case studies we will be presented our latest research which has been developed over the past four years in collaboration with the University of Bath, the EPSRC and AG5 Architects in Copenhagen to develop a digital design strategy which allows the designer to experiment with novel form whilst retaining an underlying engineering and construction logic. This work is at the cutting edge of its field and combines dynamic 3D modelling with genetic programming and analytical tools to create a virtual environment where building forms evolve from the bottom up as a result of the requirements of the designers, client and site.

Searching for Innovation and Elegance in Complex Forms paper presented at Prototyping Architecture 2013

Harri Lewis and Stephen Melville of the Ramboll Computational Design team presented their paper ‘ TRADA Pavilion – Searching for Innovation and Elegance in Complex Forms Supported by Physical and Software Prototyping’ (authors Harri Lewis, Stephen Melville and John Harding) at the the Prototyping Architecture conference at the Building Centre, London. An e-book of the conference papers can be downloaded here

Thinking Topologically for Early Stage Parametric Design

John Harding’s current EngD topic looks into the inflexibility of parametric modelling software for the early stage of design. By using techniques in genetic programming (GP), a new way of working with parametric models is proposed. The idea was recently published at the Advances in Architectural Geometry Conference in Paris. Abstract:

“Parametric modelling tools have allowed architects and engineers to explore complex geometries with relative ease at the early stage of the design process. Building designs are commonly created by authoring a visual graph representation that generates building geometry in model space. Once a graph is constructed, design exploration can occur by adjusting metric sliders either manually or automatically using optimization algorithms in combination with multiobjective performance criteria. In addition, qualitative aspects such as visual and social concerns may be included in the search process. The authors propose that whilst this way of working has many benefits if the building type is already known, the inflexibility of the graph representation and its top-down method of generation are not well suited to the conceptual design stage where the search space is large and constraints and objectives are often poorly defined. In response, this paper suggests possible ways of liberating parametric modelling tools by allowing changes in the graph topology to occur as well as the metric parameters during building design and optimisation”

A Preprint of the paper can be downloaded here here




Structural form finding using zero-length springs with dynamic mass

Paper presented at the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures Symposium, 2011. Abstract:

“This paper describes a new method for the form-finding of funicular structures in two or three dimensions using a zero-length spring system with dynamic nodal masses. The resulting found geometry consists of purely axial forces under self-weight, with zero bending moment at nodes for both shells and tension net forms. A real-time solver using semi-implicit Euler integration with viscous damping is used to achieve system equilibrium. By using a real-time solver, the designer is able to alter the gravitational field or apply new point loads without re-starting the analysis, leading to an interactive experience in generating design options. The advantages of this method over existing approaches are discussed, with its successful application in a recent real case-study project also shown.”

A Preprint of the paper can be found here.

Real time engineering feedback during conceptual design

With input from several Architectural practices in Denmark we are currently working on an application which models and evaluates alternative commercial tower typologies in real-time, giving instant performance feedback during the early design stages where the most important decisions are made but also when the least amount of time is available.

Evaluation criteria include solar gain, heat loss, structural performance, gross floor area, etc… as well as site specific impacts such as shadow casting of neighbouring buildings. This quantitative performance data (which can be numerically optimised) is then combined with the qualitative aspects of design such as aesthetics, social impact, iconography, etc. when making informed decisions in how to progress the design. Different modes of representation including physical models are also implemented to allow integration with existing tried and tested methods of working.

As the design space is so large at concept design stage, modelling variations in different tower ‘types’ has meant us going beyond traditional optimisation of numerical sliders in parametric models, and as a result this has opened up interesting avenues of research.