3D Lab has set an ambitious target to develop platform technologies and associated tools that enhance the creativity and productivity of architects and designers working with early building concepts. The team has set out to explore the feasibility of a new digital concept design workflow supported by novel modelling, evaluation and data exchange tools. Intended platform supports a new kind of computational form-finding approach where the designer’s modelling actions are paralleled by near real-time computational design analysis and evaluation, giving immediate feedback to designers’ decisions.

Problem definition

Creative design decisions taken at the concept modelling stage have strong impact on the final form and performance of buildings. In creating new design concepts architects often rely on intuition and perhaps not enough on well-grounded analytical knowledge made available through numerous suites and packages of building analysis software. Architects are faced with a plethora of choices and technicalities involved in testing their designs against environmental, structural and economic criteria. It simply takes too much effort to truly calculate the performance of design solutions at the concept stage.

Our solution

We have started to develop intuitive software to extend the creative search for good building envelopes and massing solutions beyond the current possibilities by incorporating quantitative analysis seamlessly into creative processes of concept modelling. Linking modelling to evaluation can be done via an independent local or cloud service working respectively on a single workstation or over the network. The suggested technology integrates building performance assessment into the creative design process, allowing the architect to make changes to the building concept at runtime while observing the effects of modelling actions on building performance. Thus, modelling and evaluation are bound together into a constant loop from the early stage on. The architect becomes an active agent operating within this feedback system, orchestrating the real-time evolution of computational design processes. The proposed approach supports the notion of an architect as a creative decision maker and an interpreter of the evaluative feedback in a real-time cycle of algorithmic modelling and building performance assessment.

Beyond the state-of-the-art

We aim at pushing state-of-the-art architectural concept modelling tools beyond their current boundaries. Increasingly more popular graphical algorithm editors such as Grasshopper and Dynamo allow architects to explore 3D designs by numbers and computational definitions. However, these applications focus mostly on modelling complex geometry. We believe that the creative exploration of building concepts based on aesthetic and performance criteria can be extended to better suit the workflow of concept design processes. While graphical algorithm editors make it possible to couple modelling with assessment routines, they also constrain the creative people to a certain way of technical thinking stopping the creative minds roaming free. Additionally, the nature of graphical algorithm editors makes it difficult to share their work with the team and collaboratively test and develop different scenarios during live modelling sessions.

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Posted by Kadi Karine