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”

Henderson Colloquium

Building Structures Director Stephen Melville was recently invited to the Digital Design-themed Henderson Colloquium.

The aim of the annual event is to bring together a select group of industry experts to discuss a subject of topical importance with a view of making recommendations to the engineering and construction industry.

The invitation to attend the roundtable reflects the growing perception of Ramboll as digital design and thought leaders within this cutting-edge field. Other guests in attendance represented firms including Arup, Foster+Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects and Laing O’Rourke.

IABSE has held the two-day colloquium annually since it began in 1975. The event sees a specially invited group of invited guests taking part in a topical discussion of a structural engineering theme, with each participant making a presentation which is designed to stimulate a lively debate.

A summary of discussions and recommendations made for industry will be announced at the IABSE conference in Madrid this September. Whilst the recommendations are confidential until then, Ramboll’s involvement in the event (including a presentation on ‘Meta Parametric modelling’)  and debates demonstrate that our focus on importance of design using digital tools and strong philosophical approach to the subject position us as leaders in the rapidly evolving and specialised discipline.

Oxford Brookes Rain Pavilion

RCD have collaborated with the staff and students of the Architecture and Fine Arts departments at Oxford Brookes University on a striking new urban intervention/sculptural pavilion at the entrance of the new Abercrombie building. The structure compromises 20 extremely tall and slender steel ‘trees’ that support a thin folded steel plate ‘leaf’ or canopy. The overall impression is that of a wooded glade where light is filtered through varying diameter circular voids in the canopies and the stems bathing the visitors to the installation in a dappled light. RCD were an integral part of the conceptual design process following the initial student competition.

The extreme slenderness of the stems (only 89mm diameter and 6000mm tall) required extensive input from Ramboll’s fluid dynamics team in Copenhagen and fatigue analysis by our Advanced Engineering team in Southampton to model the complex wind interactions in order to prevent dynamic failure and to keep the structure as slim as possible. The canopies are 2500mm at their widest but only need very thin steel plate (2mm) because of the inherent stiffness provided by folds and creases in the form.

We developed routines to allow the circular voids to intelligently self organize on the surface of the stems and canopies in relation to the level of stress. High stress in a particular area meant that voids were fewer in number. Dampening factors were built into the initial coding to ensure that the overall impression of the holes was a gradual fading rather than unsightly bunching. The work will be extended to include our work on integrating a lightweight finite element solver within the automatic void generation and movement process in order to give more control and instant feedback on structural performance. A technical paper will be presented at a future paper conference.

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KREOD wins best temporary structure at the Surface Design Awards

The KREOD, a temporary exhibition space designed by Pavilion Architecture and Ramboll Computational Design, has won the best temporary structure at the 2013 Surface Design Awards.

The Surface Design Awards recognise progressive design and the use of innovative surfaces in design projects, both in the UK and internationally. The awards also highlight the wealth of creativity and innovation in the industry.

KREOD is a sustainable, portable, demountable and multi-functional indoor or outdoor exhibition space. The project was led by Pavilion Architecture with its organic form inspired by nature, resembling a seed.
The structure sits on castors, allowing the structure to be moved and rearranged into different forms and spaces to create a versatile event space with practical considerations for transportation, storage, disassembly and reassembly.

The structure is made up of three reciprocal timber gridshells that implement a number of geometrical optimisation and fabrication algorithms that have not been previously applied to a real structure. The form is a creative response to the need for a building that can be easily erected and subsequently demounted by hand, uses Kebony timber – a previously untried material – of a given size and limited thickness, and had to be delivered within a strict budget.

Using digital technology to its fullest, KREOD was delivered in a collaborative manner with each member of the design team understanding the innovative work and challenges of the other contributors and designed accordingly.

The awards were presented at the Surface Design Show, which took place at London’s Business Design Centre.

Arts Alliance mobile venue

In this unique project the client, digital film distributor Arts Alliance, wanted a lightweight, easily transportable venue to house its new performance of ID: Identity of the Soul on a worldwide tour. The brief required a structure that would meet the technical requirements for video projection and surround sound during live performances, as well as accommodating up to 3,500 people without impeding views of the stage. The structure had to be capable of being erected within two weeks and when demounted it had to fit inside a reasonable number of shipping containers for transportation across the world. It also had to be of the highest architectural quality.

 

Oslo-based practice, Various Architects proposed a dynamic oval form within an inflatable hexagonal PVC outer skin and drum-like fabric roof. Together with specialist contractor ESS, we developed a structural concept that has met the challenge.

 

After evaluating a number of different structural options an arrangement of radiating spokes, akin to the wheel of a bicycle, formed by tension cables running between inner and outer steel ring beams supported on steel lattice columns was chosen. The resulting structure is ultra-light, easily transportable and quick to assemble, whilst providing a large, clear space for the theatre area.

 

The exterior skin is self-supporting and consists of a web of inflatable fabric tubes coated in PVC, with translucent inflatable pillows as infill. To help generate the hexagonal pattern of the pneumatic skin, Generative Components software was used to parametrically control the size and scale of the hexagonal tessellations.

The Arts Alliance theatre is believed to be the largest mobile entertainment venue in the world measuring 90m by 40m on plan and in 2008 won the Spark Award.

 

Belvedere Vodka RED sculpture

Rambøll Computational Design (RCD) and artists Loop.ph have completed the design and erection of a 6m tall carbon fibre and perspex arch structure for Belvedere Vodka’s RED street party in New York, USA.

Taking over Manhattan’s Meatpacking district with a dramatic light show and music, the event was a one of a number of international celebrations in the run up to World AIDS Day on 1st December. World AIDS Day was first ever global health day, providing an opportunity to unite in the fight against HIV, show support for people living with it and commemorate those who have died from the disease.

Guests watched the area become illuminated in red against a backdrop of 20ft white neon trees to helpBelvedere Vodka and (RED)™ raise awareness of the campaign to eliminate the transmission of the HIV virus from mothers to their babies and achieve the first AIDS-free generation born by 2015.

The teams worked intensively for a month and collaborated on parametric 3d models in order to develop a form initially based on a flat pattern of 85 number, thin carbon fibre rods which was then warped and twisted to give the shape a natural stiffness. Perspex ribs linked the carbon rods together to ensure that the sculpture acts as coherent entity. The carbon fibre rods acted as natural conductors powering LED lights fixed in the corporate logo of Belvedere Vodka. Rambøll Computational Design provided structural engineering, 3d modelling, construction advice and practical assistance.

Just an hour before the production deadline, the Loop.ph and RCD teams finished assembling the structure and were able to pivot it into its final position. Shortly afterwards the New York public filled the square off Gansevoort and Hudson Street, milling around and under the arch, for a set by electro-funk DJs Chromeo to promote the cause.

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Trada Pavilion

Ramboll’s Trada Pavilion, a plywood structure inspired by the efficient curved forms of Frei Otto and Heinz Isler, was unveiled to the public for the first time this week at the Timber Expo 2012. The exhibition is the premier show in the UK for all those involved in the timber sector.

Trada commissioned Ramboll’s computational design team to design the timber pavilion, which was the focal point of the Timber Expo 2012 stand and one of the biggest draws at the exhibition. After this exhibition, the sculpture will showcased again on TRADA’s stand at the 2013 Ecobuild exhibition.

The team set themselves the challenge of creating a planar three-valent mesh approach for the double curved surface, rather than the conventional triangular mesh. A hexagonal mesh has the advantage of fewer connections and greater structural efficiency, but requires coding from scratch and a great deal of research. The final design utilizes techniques from the computer game industry coupled with engineering intuition.

Based on the team’s previous research into funicular form finding, the design uses weak springs to automatically generate a zero bending moment surface, enveloping a large trade stand and allowing the public to circulate underneath. It uses a mesh of thin plywood plates joined via simple expressed hinged pin connections. The structure was modelled with the extensive use of generative 3D systems with the output linked to a CNC router.

 

KREOD Pavilion

The KREOD (formerly known as Dpod) pavilion, located at the North Greenwich Olympic site, has now been completed – a significant event as it marks the culmination of a challenging design and fabrication process.

KREOD is a sustainable, portable, demountable and multi-functional indoor or outdoor exhibition space that will be installed in multiple locations within London. The project is led by Pavilion Architecture with its organic form inspired by nature, resembling a seed.

KREOD will sits on castors allowing the structure to be moved and rearranged into different forms and spaces to create a versatile event space with practical considerations for transportation, storage, disassembly and reassembly.

The structure, which has taken some time to come to fruition, is made up of three reciprocal timber gridshells that implement a number of geometrical optimisation and fabrication algorithms that have not been previously applied to a real structure. The form is a creative response to the need for a building that can be easily erected and subsequently demounted by hand, uses Kebony timber – a previously untried material – of a given size and limited thickness, and had to be delivered within a strict budget.

Using digital technology to its fullest, KREOD has been delivered in a collaborative manner with each member of the design team understanding the innovative work and challenges of the other contributors and designing accordingly.

KREOD will be launched and unveiled to the media today at its current site, adjacent to the North Greenwich Arena in East London, where it will remain for six weeks before being moved to its next site.

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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.

D_pod pavilion joint passes test

The D_pod pavilion took a step closer to reality recently with the completion of the joint testing at Cambridge University. The pavilion has changed a great deal since the first iteration back in 2010. The mesh is hexagonal rather than quadrilateral meaning a different approach has been needed to the engineering of the joints in order to keep them cheap, to use the material on hand and to give them a ‘furniture like’ appearance. RCD specified a reciprocal joint fixed with hidden bolts, which because the Kebony timber was being used for the first time in a load-bearing structure had to be validated by testing. After several tweaks to the detailing we are glad to report that the connections performed as hoped and it’s straight into construction in time for the opening at the Greenwich Olympic site in June.