Video: Computational Design at Scale

The recording of the lecture ‘Digital Transformation: Computational Design at Scale’ which I gave recently at the IStructE in London has now been posted to the institution’s YouTube channel:

The lecture starts with a basic summary of the core principles and philosophy of Computational Design and builds up through project examples to show how these techniques can be scaled to different types and sizes of projects (including a sneak-peak of our SiteSolve design platform).  It ends with a set of practical tips and ‘first steps’ to help you to upskill and integrate these technologies into your design practice.

Unfortunately (though understandably) this recording does not include the Q&A session after the lecture, which is a shame as there were many interesting questions (and a few challenges) and the discussion touched on a variety of areas including the computational skills ‘generation gap’, the role of institutions, the application of artificial intelligence and the commercialisation of software.

A lot of these are things that I frequently get asked about but which are not discussed much in the literature, so I’m going to take this as an excuse to, over the next few posts on this blog, pick out some of these questions and write up my thoughts on them.  Check back over the next couple of weeks as these go live.

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.