Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Last working session Monday we had a discussion with Andre about our projects. I was at the point to make a decision between two point of interest. I could proceed designing a free form design building and do a kind of research by design. But my initial goal was to create a toolkit for architects and it remains a question if the results of this design process will bring any good.

Therefore I shifted my focus on the constructual aspects. Some of today’s freeform design buildings use concrete, this is pored on site or in other cases just used as a cladding. In general the process is time consuming and expensive. Off site production and separation in a 'standard' panel would be much cheaper. Today there is a lot of development in the creation of double curved surface panels. Let's assume there is a affordable and good way of building them, the problems remains how to put these panels together. It would be nice if these concrete elements can interact in such a way that they won't need any extra primary construction elements.

So the research question and hypotheses corresponsive to this will be:
Research question:
How can/should a parametric-associative model be constructed out of prefabricated concrete which assist designers in exploring free form buildings?

The construction will be made out of prefabricated double curved panels. These will be connected by a system in such a way that it keeps structural integrity and a fluidly curved facade. There will be no primary or secondary construction to support the panels so that they will carry the loads themselves.

Currently I'm going through the generative components tutorials so I'm trying to have a model at the end of this week.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Refining the research question 2

To continue from the last post I was refining the research domain by using the comments given by the research tutors. I already talked about the materials but for the further development scale and shape are also important aspects. The difficulty lies in the fact that the basis is on free form design. Litterly this could be any form or shape, but usually is based on rounded shape forms with double curved surfaces. So how to make a model / multiple model that can be used as a tool for architects in a early stage of design. First of all let's keep it with one model because the time for research is limited. So the idea is to make a model of a basic shape and make this a starting point for the design model. I don't want thing to be too complex, so I choose to scale down the project to a footprint of approximately 100 square meters. Also I would like to add one floor , this will make the design off the constructive façade much more interesting.

The concrete construction methods for free form architecture is of course much more expensive then common used column and floor based designs. I will not try to equivilate the cost off these these to methods, but still the building has to be build in some way. So I will definitely give it some thoughts and maybe the best way of making a new toolset for architects is to come up with a totally new construction method.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Refining the research question

Last Monday we had a presentation with the group together with almost all the research tutors. In total there where about 8 I believe, so the pressure was on there. But fortunately it was a relaxt atmosphere, there was some debate and every body got comments on there issue.

In my presentation I tried to state the things that where important for me. Construction, architecture, integration, materials, free form design are some of the terms stated. This free form design thing developed rapidly and based on the last comment from Andre I got just the extra inspiration needed. The design question stated in the presentation was:

"How can/should a parametric-associative model be constructed which assists designers in exploring integrated ways of structuring free-form buildings - i.e. building them out of relatively homogeneous materials?"

Still a bit complex maybe but it was of course still a proposal. The idea is that the construction of such a free form design, should be totally encapsulated in the façade, so it results in a free floor plan without any construction walls or columns. A nice discussion with the research tutors started after my presentation and I got some usable comments from that. A brief result of the discussion was that the research domain was still way to broad and I had to narrow down my research. Some keywords of this discussion where: material choice, scale, shape, construction method and related to that the cost.

I already had some idea to base the design on a single type / homogeneous material, but wasn't quite sure which would be interesting to use. Because steel and wood use relatively common construction methods (Columns and beams) my focus turned to concrete. In theory the façade could be slimmer when using a material that covers the entire façade in comparison with materials that uses a column/beam structure, so my main focus is on concrete. Still I'm doing a bit of research to maybe use some new technical materials like polymers, but till now the material strength and durability of these materials is a bit questionable.

To be continued...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Design and more

Busy period last week, moved into my new room and had to do a lot of organisation stuff. Unfortunately it wasn't quite improving my blog results. So I'm trying to put this straight today.

For example, what is exactly the definition of design? It is used as a noun or a verb and can be applied to almost anything that is a creation of a person/group. Of course in architectural terms it usually refers to the values and intentions of the architect, only it still remains an expression of art and it is therefore very subjective to a qualification of good or bad. Therefore my proposed line up of buildings earlier stated on the blog with construction / design / environmental values would probably be highly debatable because of the subjective decision making. So what about the research question?

My idea was to make a list of design values that state high architectural quality in combination with structural design. These values could be extracted from reference building and be applied as a set of rules for a small design project where it could be made to practice. The reflection of this little design project can then be used to shape the rules to better perfection. An example of such a value would be for instance “a total encapsulation of the construction in the façade”, so the facade and construction merge as one. Maybe you are directly thinking of high-tech architecture and free form blog designs, such as the i-web building in front of the old Architecture facility here at Delft, or others will think of something totally different. The problem is that if you don’t specify these rules correctly you will get a collection of extremes. For the “encapsulation of the construction” we could also select a plain normal brick building or a building like the new Lehrter Bahnhof in Berlin (GMP Architekten)

I-Web Building    Lehrter Bahnhof

In fact many railway stations will fit this description, mainly because the typology of a railway station usually describes a open tube like building. Will a railway station automatically be high quality design, surely not. So more rules are needed. Speaking of typologies and architecture movements, it would therefore be wise to confine the project to one type or movement. If not it will just be a no go, definitely in the given amount of time. For this I was thinking of the a building based on modern a concrete building structure. The usual construction layout used today for this kind of building is the basic grid column and floor construction initial based on the work of ‘le Corbusier’. In this architectural era you see a lot of experimenting with the new material of concrete and it is used in the most bizarre forms and shapes. Unfortunately the common building today hasn’t got that much of an structural expression and is based on the standard grid design. And in fact by using a construction type like this, a separation is made between the building, the outer skin and the construction. That is of course a shame. Today where almost anything is possible, free form design double curved surfaces and so on, it would be very interesting to research the possibilities in which way integration between a concrete building structure and the architectural building can be achieved!

Grid based column structure, le Corbusier

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The start off

The course standup architecture makes it very interesting to develop new architectural and technical ideas and technique in a scientific way. It’s a course where you can research almost anything of your importance related to architecture and design. But the kind of freedom given makes it also a bit hard to start off with.

As I'm following the master Architectural Engineering for me the integration between construction and architecture is the most important. Construction and architecture, the two are linked together in a special way. Take one out and you get a horrific or dangerous building, so integration is essential! Unfortunately to some architects construction is seen as a restriction, a limitation to their design freedom. I see that different, when correctly done the two can enhance each other and bring the total design to a next level.

With this idea in mind a was thinking of maybe trying to determine some rules that would make sure there would be a fine integration between the architecture and construction of a building. But still the idea includes a wide domain and is not easily transformed into a design question, so the task for me here is to get some grip on this matter and make a overview. As said in the lecture it would be a good idea to make a kind of scheme with important aspects. An example would be a line of reference buildings in a arrangement from total integration off the construction to no integration at all. But off course other aspects could also be of interest like thermal performance.

So the coming days I will be working on this little research project. Which makes it possible to narrow my search and to formulate a main research question this weekend.