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.

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.