Monthly Archives: March 2013

P2C_Trey V Meyer

Computational Adaption:  “The Importance of the Human Element”

The processes of parametric design as a form driver can only be as effective as the designer’s understanding and ability to create correlations between the input data generating the final product.  I believe simulations focusing on varying parameters could then be overlayed and combined to create results responding to multiple social, economical, etc. factors.  The capability to generate large quantities of solutions through computational methods allows for the opportunity of the human element through evaluation and deciphering of these solutions by the designer.  What data is input to parametric simulation, how the data effects the rules determined by the designer, and how results focusing on different socio-economic factors are fused together are all examples of the ‘human element’ dictating the results of computational design.  Professor, Ming Tang, speaks of this topic in his 2007 ACSA essay:

“We don’t believe this constraint can be overcome by the growth of artificial intelligence in the near future. It is still necessary for City Generator to rely on the evaluation from human, and more importantly, the creativity of human.” (City Generator: GIS Driven Genetic Evolution in Urban Simulation, Ming Tang)

I believe this statement is stressing the role of the designer to understand the processes of computational adaption, evaluating the results without losing the creative element in the judgment and decision making.  This lends itself to the idea that parametricism’s successfulness lies in the utilization of the proper parameters being identified, then implemented in order to create a desired finish product.  With this being said, one must not lose sight that the goal of computer aided design as a tool used to generate form is based on creating a set of rules that can be modified to adjusted to respond to varying factors.

The premise of Parametricism is that all urban and architectural elements must be parametrically malleable. Instead of assembling rigid and hermetic geometric figures  – like all previous architectural styles –  Parametricism brings malleable components into a dynamical play of mutual responsiveness as well as contextual adaptation” (“The Parametric City”, 
Patrik Schumacher)

“This thesis is a comparison of some of the main “parametric” software and a study of the implications of the new approach that Patrick Schumacher (Zaha Hadid Architects) calls Parametricism, defining it as the new architectural style after modernism. The way that it is changing Urban Design, in particular, is analyzed through three projects that belong to deeply different realities, reaching  interesting reflections on how the architect should use at the best the new technologies in his hands.”

My strategy in the developing a simulation as a system of fragmentation was intended to be affordable to a variety of scales and functions.  I used a system that subdivided surfaces with the input data being represented and quantified in the form of points and lines, thus a point -> line -> surface work flow concept.  The Voronoi script allowed for this computational adaptivity along with a large quantity of solutions based on the parameters being identified such as circulation, solar factors, gathering hubs, etc.  The script could then be run with the various input factors, creating ideal results for those variables.

The final results of the simulations can only be reviewed in regard to how successful the designer was in determining the malleable factors generating the form.  With the Voronoi simulation offering the opportunity to function on a variety of scales, one may begin to create a fluid language ranging from the human to the urban scale.  With the results being created with similar processes, it becomes the designer’s role to dictate how the different scales of simulation may begin to relate.  Along with connecting results of different scales, the designer must also evaluate the ideal solutions based on varying input data within the same scale may begin to integrate in the most reasonable manner.  The relationship between computational adaption in the architectural and urban landscape can therefore be scrutinized based on the effectiveness of the ‘human element’ as the designer must determine the parameters, evaluate the results, and integrate the solutions with complimentary simulations and contextual factors.

Voronoi Simulation of Site, Circulation, & Gathering Hubs Generative Studies Fragmenting the Surface and Demonstrating Line -> Point -> Surface Concept


P2C – Jacob Klapper

Frei Otto is an architect who decided to experiment with a new urban form and in a way pioneered parametric design. In his study he determined the urban landscape was made up of settlements and the paths connecting them. Otto wool-thread experiment was to find the ideal solution that might form when all the paths to all the points are forced to merge together. The resulting paths from the experiment reduce the overall length of the path system but leaving enough paths to give each point a relatively direct route to each other point. This simulation can provide divisions for a parametrically designed city and creates an endless amount of flexibility to the divisions as the simulation can be run multiple times to produce a different pattern as there is not one ideal solution. It can also adapt across time as the points used to calculate the paths change. If the simulation is run again it will reflect these changes as opposed to a traditional city grid that is static and unchanging.

Zaha Hadid Architect’s Kartal-Pendik Masterplan for Istanbul uses a technique similar to Frei Otto by using the Maya hair dynamic tool to create pathways for their site. Since the site sits between two existing urban fabrics, the major parameter driving the paths was incoming circulation from them. The resulting grid provides parcels of different size, which the architects then decided to use to drive building size, and major paths that would connect the two parts of the city in an ideal fashion.

Zaha Hadid Archiects, Kartal-Pendik Masterplan, Istanbul, Turkey, 2006

I used the idea of the path simulation to determine the best location for my hotel on the Cincinnati riverfront site. Major pathways were put through the site, connecting points people wanted to travel to. The resulting divisions provided parcels to choose from. The site I chose for the hotel was along two major pathways through the site allowing it to receive as much exposure it could from people passing through the site.

Otto’s simulation can tell us about the ideal street grid but it also had influence on the smaller scale of individual buildings. Manuel Delanda compares the way architects can find the ideal design of a building to evolution and breeding of species to get desired traits. The Galapagos function in Grasshopper for Rhino is one such genetic algorithm, which can be used to find the ideal form of the building based on several parameters. It slightly changes the form of the building to find a solution based on specified parameters and it will continue to test other arrangements and will always display the best solution discovered so far. Like the wool-thread simulation, the calculation can be run again to find a different yet completely valid result

In the case of the hotel a parameter can be put in to determine the size of the building based on its needs throughout time. The hotel might have a busy season where more guest rooms are required but then need to be removed when they are not needed. The number of guests can be a variable in the Galapagos calculation so it can recalculate the space to its proper size based on this. A module can also be developed for the building that can be scaled by the Galapagos function based on the purpose of the space. For example a public event space will require the module to be larger than a private office but each still uses the basic architectural element. I will then translate the modular component into the city scale. Such modules will also be scaled based on their use. Residential units will be smaller than institutional units but both would use the same initial module. This will give people a sense of the function of a building based on how large they perceive it.

The fabric structure is ideal for an adaptable and variable architecture as it is a material that is relatively easy to set up, take down, move, and form into the desired shape. The incorporation into the hotel allows for the possibility of expansion and introduction of spaces that were not initially conceived at the time of design in a quick and affordable way.


Patrik Schumacher, Parametricism – A New Global Style for Architecture and Urban Design

Manuel Delanda, “Deleuze and the Use of the Genetic Algorithm in Architecture”

It is widely spread, attempted and explored, at the meanwhile, criticized, but undeniable that contemporary architecture as other fields of humanity discourses like media, entertainment, advertisement, as well as science discourses, is dominated by computers and computation paradigm. While the notion of computerization was first step, digital modeling is now certainly v into the era of computation in the process of calculation and reasoning of information. Contemporary designers are dealing with “genetic algorithms” as an approach of potential new interpretation of architecture. According to Manuel Delanda, demonstrated in his lecture of “Deleuze and the use of the genetic algorithm in architecture”, “genetic algorithm” is simply a set of simulations and rules in evolution of processing data in the computer. While in conventional design systems, there are various parameters such as topography, programs, facilities, structures, circulations and so on, which are supposed to be considered during the design process. The Algorithmic, and Parametric design is thinking method of transferring all these information and factors into algorithms to generate a logically or mathematical best solution for the design.

As we can see and experienced this whole semester of accomplish what we have in our crazy little brain, I found that design, manipulation and control of geometry of complex objects is very much well-developed and incredible accessible for all designers with different aspects. But unlike the theorist, and thinkers, the design by itself is not what practical architects and designers looking for. It is the building, or the actual space is what makes most of architects devote their life for. We now have witnessed and experienced some of this amazing technological driven approach of architecture design. The question is how practical this kind of design could be. Is it possible to build these complicated, curvy, blobby objects without costing ten times of the price, which only applicable for signature architects like, Frank Ghery, Zaha Hadid and so forth. And what is the social value, aesthetic value, humanity value of this type of architecture besides the exciting form. Is it true we can call this type of architecture adaptive? How about places with deep religious belief and rich historical value? Or, this system of thinking is supposed to adopt historical and religious parameters into the simulation, thus no conflict should be pop up? How about if we interpret this technology thing as a means to create an architecture that adapts to its occupation, on the one side it could mean that design is embodied within our experiences of spaces, palces, and the components of design are transparently embedded within the environment; on the other hand it could be depicted as which “society and space are combined as a unitary entity, brought together through a knowledge and understanding of computation as applied to our presence in the world.”(which reconnect me to our experience of parametric urbanism, where the preexisting factors and artificial manipulations, as well as the our new, proposed parameters are all unioned as one and being processed in the computer through the computation platforms like maya and grasshopper.

It becomes very important to consider all environmental proterties and material effects in design, to develop material systems which have the potential to mediate environment. From what I experienced during the process of produce the work with my stubborn mind of reasoning and programing, I also found that this genetic algorithmic think may start from generating forms with interesting looks. As it goes to the urbanism, the analysis factors including human behavior, economical value and development, larger view of the city political values started to involved into my process of generating the form and pattern. At the same time, all these factors have given me feedbacks I was expecting and they criticized themselves during the process as well.


P2C_Andrew Campbell

Is Computational Adaptation and Parametric Urbanism Appropriate at the Human Scale?

Performance driven analysis and computational adaptation technologies have given today’s designers a completely new set of tools to work with.  With the application of products like Grasshopper, Maya and Ecotect, architects can consider and react to external environmental and social forces and then utilize them to control building form like never before.  The use of parametric modeling has been effectively applied to small-scale designs in the form of functional installations or as a building’s skin, responding to forces like sound, heat or light retention.  Large-scale adaptive projects are much more complicated and respond to more than a few variables.  This begs the question:  is parametric urbanism appropriate at the human scale or are parametrically designed sites arbitrarily conceived?

Adaptive Urban Fabric by Andrew Kudless  <>

Parametric urbanism has recently found itself under the spotlight of architects.  Spearheaded by designers like Zaha Hadid and Patrick Schumacher, this relatively new line of thinking attempts to incorporate demographics, cultural and human variables in one comprehensive and adaptive computational design.  Parametric design encompasses a simplified conditioning process that contrasts the complicated urban circumstances in the real world.  So should parametric adaptation determine an entire design or should project specifics be considered individually?

How important is human creativity in design?  And at what point should we get involved?  To simplify this idea we can think of getting involved in a parametric design at two separate points, at the start or at the end.  We can either start by designing a humanized form to then be enveloped by a parametric skin, or the form can be parametrically derived first and then humanized later.  Not many large projects today do a great job combining these principals in a way that is seamless, as if both humanism and parametric evolution were simultaneously considered.

Sketch by Andrew Campbell

My personal belief is that parametric urbanism is arbitrary at the human scale and can instead be better used to optimize smaller-scale aspects of human scaled designs.  For instance, the solar retention of a building’s skin is directly related to its environment, this includes surrounding buildings as well as geographical location.  A city with a roman grid layout is subject to a well-defined and conditioned environment, depending only on surrounding buildings and not orientation, but a parametrically arbitrated layout has the possibility to optimize solar retention for each individual building site without compromising its individuality.  However, designing from the top down might endanger the overall circulatory, transportation, electrical, or plumbing system.  These factors can be brought to consideration in the design process, but will they advance the design’s overall productivity or will they interfere with an otherwise unconsidered variable?  And can we possibly understand and optimize all variables associated with urbanism without them compromising each other?

As a species we’ve been building cities from the ground up for thousands of years, and it’s taken us this long to develop a city’s layout for optimum urban development.  Parametric urbanism challenges what we’ve learned through history in terms of what makes a productive city, which I believe is a good thing.  Not only can we use these challenges to better understand why we build the way we do, but we can also use them to optimize what we know already works, and improve on everything else.

For more information see:

Tang, Ming.  “Information Urbanism.”  April 24, 2011.  <>


Regina Stack – Project 2B

studio project 2b presentation

Project C

Adaptive architecture can play a large role in the development of the urban landscape.  The fabric structure of a building can be adaptive and react to various conditions of the natural and artificial world.  The fabric structure of Project 1 deals with the wind that is accelerated by the urban landscape and works visually to show the effects of the wind on the structure. The adaptively of the panels allows the conditions of the natural wind patterns to dictate the façade treatment pattern.  This approach can be used in many multiple facets of design with many different driving factors in any location.  For example, the way that sunlight, temperature, noise, or view affect the space can all serve as a driving force of architecture that adapts as a reaction. Fabric is what allows for the flexibility that leads to adaptive architecture.  Fabric structures can move, twist, open and close, and then return back to their original position in ways that traditional materials cannot.  By designating fabric structures in to an archetype, designer could make used of this material in order to accommodate the desire for a more adaptable architecture that reacts to its environment.

Through the development and use of fabric structures, evolutions in this type of building would continue to allow for more adaptability to the urban landscape.  The nCloth tool in AutoDesk Maya, allows for easy control of the fabric structure as well as presents the material in a realistic light that enables the user to experience real world reactions in a fabricated environment. Constraints act as pins that can simulate a pinned, hinged, or fixed connection. Also collisions allow real life interferences play out on the computer screen.  The nCloth also allows for the varying materials to be used and experimented with.  Fabric structures also allow for pre-engineered structures to be individually designed to suit the needs of the urban landscape.  Adaptive architectural uses allow the changing of the structure to respond to the desires of not only the environment, but also the people who inhabit the structure.  By reacting to the environment and the conditions of the urban landscape, the fabric structure can only be sustainable, but also positively affect the way the users of the building experience the building.  Through building flexibility and dynamic fabric structures, designers can provide the urban landscape with active and responsive buildings that not only interact with nature but also provide the best space for its occupants.

P2C Guande Wu


“One cannot step into the same river twice”  – Heraclitus

This implies that no one design is the same due to the continuously changing. Everything is changing including architecture. The adaptive technology has been more and more influential in architecture because it can help human being to organize and analysis the design based on parameters, which can be the high of ceiling, the size of door, exposure of light, and FAR. It becomes a powerful important tool.


I think architecture is a design that satisfied the human being’s internal needs, which could be space, security, aesthetic, meaning and etc. Nowadays, the architecture has been standardized, branded, and commercialized. It is lack of creativity and flexibility. It seems like that we are mean to live in a box for the whole life while we all have lived in uterus(round) for almost a year.

Therefore, I think that adaptive architecture can be a solution to meet people’s need because all the requirements can be parametrically calculated and generated. This concept is similar to Embryological House, which also is seeking for a flexible form to meet the satisfaction of individual desire. Dynamic Tower in Dubai can be a great example of using kinetic adaptive system in architecture. The floors will slowly rotate based on need of every floor, meteorogical factors, that makes it has rotating and ever changing form in every direction.

( 1.1)

My Project I also supported the adaptive architecture computation.  I experimented the simulation of fabric tensile structure driven by gravity and tension. The motion of fabric can be recorded and mortified parametrically. A fabric this stage can be considered as a genetic or dynamic prototype from which an infinite number of iterations can be generated.



I think people are the essential in the urban landscape. Because of people’s dreams, imaginations, and desires create motivations for better lives, our society(mirror) is able to reflect their works. However, since we are different, and have different needs. I think that architect should have responsibility to provide the urban space for constantly changing circulations. Adaptive Spaces by kiev UKRAINE did a great job analyzing the circulation of pedestrians and form it a space or structure.

“1st stage – creating the static transit space.
2nd stage – filling the public space with an array of adaptive elements. It is them that will response to a human creating dynamically changing functional zones.”(1.2)



P2C – Anders Rustin

Performance-driven design has been the primary focus of our projects this semester. Neri Oxman said that ‘performance driven design views design as more than a purely aesthetic pursuit but as a holistic  process that drives tangible environmental, economic, and social benefits through innovation and creativity.’ Performance driven design is not the robbing of the creative iterations, but a means to more and more complex iterations. Where our previous designs have had aesthetic or superfluous design reasoning, computational design gives an incredible driver to our process. A way to forecast design and the environment based on what we know, and the algorithms we instruct the program to use.

I tried to keep this idea in mind while I was creating my designs this entire quarter. When working on project one, I thought about fabric design not as a limitation but a new way to become creative. Fabric is smooth, collapsable, stretchy, and flowing. So why not create drivers that help facilitate this behavior? I designed a large sweeping wall that was filled with numerous hexagon windows in which fabric could be stretched to block or allow sunlight into the southern facade of my hotel building. This creates a welcoming and special space (which came from my design ideas, not necessarily from the program itself) inbetween the building and the wall itself. I noticed during design that while computational design is often seen as non-organic, algorithms applied to the design can actually produce very organic, nature-logical designs and iterations for increased beauty and functionality.

This concept came into play a lot in my second project, where we began iterations of city generation based on grids, zones, and the environment. I realized that I could use this design method to produce a mountain-esq city profile to mimic and complement the real mountain right next door. I was able to implement a traditional chinese symbol, the yin-yang, into my design to help generate zones and streets that follow along the curves of the overlaid symbols.

Within the Data Driven Trasmutation paper, it is stated that ‘ Traditional method [of design] is deficient because: (1) the method may include simplified assumptions based on rules-of-thumb that may be inaccurate; and (2) the method may not provide performance measurement/evaluation of a certain design solution. This seems to imply that traditional design has no place within computational performance, but the data driven process actually helps augment and assist the traditional design processes. This can easily be seen in Zaha Hadid’s project ‘Edifici Torre Espiral.’ The original design is simply a group of curves swirling in and out, but through computational assistance and evaluation an entire logical, beautiful building is produced that still has the same feeling and design intent of the sketches that created it.

While not always being a main driver, in an industry dominated by 3D modeling, it is essential to use data-driven design to evaluate and enhance your building designs. With it, designs are tighter, more coherent, realistic, and yet still fantastical. Computation design can take architecture design away from the ‘build a box’ process and into new forms of structure and egress.

Data Driven Transmutation
City Generator: GIS Driven Genetic Evolution in Urban Simulation
Performance Driven Design

P2C “Architecture As Infinity” Luke Erickson

architecture as infinity – luke erickson

Adaptation can be defined as conditioning to make suitable to a changing environment. In architecture this might be assumed to be incredibly important, yet architects often take a different approach. Instead of absorbing and learning from the environment, many buildings are built merely to weather the storm; to last as long as they can without falling down. Architects and their creations are applauded for designs meant to last “100 years.” With the use of parametric design and incubating adaptive approaches to architecture, buildings could last thousands of years. Nicholas Wade of the New York Times notes that, “Even the bones endure nonstop makeover. The entire human skeleton is thought to be replaced every 10 years or so in adults, as twin construction crews of bone-dissolving and bone-rebuilding cells combine to remodel it.” The human body is able to replace it’s own structure approximately every 10 years due to the rehabilitating infrastructure in place. Architecture can mimic the human reconstruction process by recycling materials as they decay. If a maintenance system of this efficiency were implemented in architectural design, a building would not just be an investment rendered archaic in at most a few lifetimes, but a place for many future generations.

This theory cannot only be applied to singular buildings, but also to complexes of architecture and even cities. A key word here is generation. Generation as group of people born in a similar time span and (re)generation as the birth of new cultures that is inherent with each new society. Whether the differences of generation are purely aesthetic or extend to program, architecture can respond to these changes. As technology advances and the construction of skyscrapers shortens from years to weeks, architectural permanence should not be assumed. Architecture is born of the values of those who created it, so why should those who did not create it be suppressed in an environment that does not progress contemporary agendas.

There is something to be said here for nostalgia. Not all past influences are negative, and therefore not forgotten. This hypothesis of regeneration does not cover the past, good or bad. Adaptations are grown and constantly referencing past successes and failures. In this way, regenerative environments are imbued with considerably more historical value than most architecture today, merely built on top of “the site of” some other historical landmark. Adaptive architecture argues for a new collaboration between historic preservation and architecture in an unprecedented fashion. Too often, preservationists and progressive architects clash over the ideals of the past and the future, making the present a battleground. Through regenerative architecture both sides can be appeased presently, without compromise.

Architecture does not have to be about the past, the present, or the future. Through regeneration architecture can define all and none. Inhabitants control the environment in an unprecedented way. When mistakes are made (or discovered as in the case of many progressive designs) they can be incorporated into the next generation flawlessly and quickly. This is architecture as infinity; architecture as a true morphology endlessly in flux.


P2C_Kate Bogenschutz

Adaptive architecture can take on various meanings for different people. In the context of my project one and two, I saw it as an opportunity to redefine form, material, and space as they exist on an architectural and urban scale. In contemporary architecture, adaptive building systems include fritted glass that changes densities based on program, interior partitions that move independently to create ever-changing space, and dynamic building facades that interact with social and environmental conditions. Adaptation in architecture has branched from biomimicry to computer-aided design to parametric forms. As technology advances, so do the ways in which architecture grows to fit a changing world.

>> Petra Blaisse: Adaptive Curtains << Click for Video

Above is a video with Dutch designer Petra Blaisse. Here she discusses her work in the Dutch Pavilion in Venice where she uses the dynamic movement of curtains to recreate an otherwise empty and generic space. Her adaptive systems utilize movement, transparency, color, and light to re-envision a space that’s becomes new every time you visit it.

I saw the prompt for project one, fabric in architecture, as a platform to experiment with the ways fabric is traditional used at an architectural scale. Fabric by itself is inherently non-structural and completely dependent on other forces. It stretches to the will of its supports and moves in the wind where not tethered down. It is this non-static nature that originally drew me to the material. It can be moved, cut, and altered. From here, the problem I recognized with the use fabric in architecture was in its integration, or lack there of. Fabric tensile structures are most often thought of as canopies or tents, there are very few examples of fabric truly being integrated into a building and it’s structure. By taking a fabric, in my case crocheted yarn, and dipping in plaster I was able to infuse some structural capabilities into the material and giving it the adaptability of becoming more than just a canopy tethered to supports. It was my thought that the crochet would take on a gradient, where the holes in the pattern would grow smaller or larger depending on program and the fabric would go from soft to hard and back again depending on where it was in relation to the façade. At its most rigid moments, the fabric would become a part of the building skin, fully integrated and almost unrecognizable as fabric. As the program changes from private to public and inside to outside the fabric would gradiate from hard to soft, beginning to pull from building, unwrapping into the landscape and adapting to its surroundings as a soft, fluid, and dynamic fabric piece. It is through this change in material that the building and its skin can adapt and move.

Project one became more of an analog interpretation of adaptive architecture, an exploration in making physical adaptations. Project two took on a different meaning. It was an exploration of adaption in the technological sense, a utilization of grasshopper scripting to adapt a city grid to zoning regulations and buildings. It was an experiment in how to take plots of land, generated by the lines of the surrounding environment, and translate them into a functional, successful city.

From these two projects, it became incredibly apparent how important adaptive architecture is. It is the architecture, the process, the materials, and the buildings. It’s in everything we create and allows us to formulate architecture that is most reflective and useful to changing program and people.