Friday, June 24, 2016

Mini-Review of Proposed Architectural 3D Printed Home

Branch Technology recently announced the prestigious Chicago firm WATG Urban Architecture Studio winner of their Freeform Home Design Challenge. Leaving aside the debate over how The Perfect Architecture Company would have fared had we known beforehand, at least now we have the opportunity to reflect and compose a response much like we did back in April.

The challenge to design a “55 to 75 square-meter single-family home that would rethink traditional architectural aesthetics, ergonomics, construction, building systems and structure, from the ground up” sounds like one of many architectural studio assignments given in grad school. The winning proposal, “Curve Appeal”, loses a point right off the bat because of the pun in its title but that’s hardly a death knell for its architectural merits. I’m pretty open minded when it comes to radical design and applaud the extreme form though question its choice of materials; the exterior shell in particular seems hard and metallic, contradicting claims the form is organic in nature. Being somewhat familiar with the classification of curves and surfaces the form to my eye moves away from organic shapes and is better defined as hyperbolic.

There’s also some practicalities to consider: the extreme form leaves no straight lines for art or books which makes this house truly outside the mainstream. The extreme form also depreciates some of the exterior spaces around the structure creating inhospitable voids. I’d probably turn to Feng Shui to flesh out these ideas more fully but ultimately the sustainability goals of modern architecture dictate these sorts of uninviting non-functional areas be avoided in favour of excellent multi-functional design. I will reserve final judgement, however, until I see some floor plans since maybe this design really does offer a powerful interpretation of modern home life in architecture.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Euler Line in Computational Architecture

There are many connections between circles and trigonometry so when I found a great example of this in a new book I got I wanted to try it for myself in Dynamo/REVIT. The theorem, named after the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler, can be constructed several different ways but in essence describes a line created by the following three points derived from a triangle inscribed in a circle:

  1. The center point of the circle;
  2. the intersection of each side’s midline bisectors and;
  3. the orthocenter created by each side’s altitude line when each side is split into two right angle triangles. 
If it’s hard to explain, it was even harder to code for a novice programmer like myself. This geometric proof holds for any 3 points on a circle. I can’t image how long one would have stare at a triangle to uncover a relationship like this but it does indeed hold when experimenting with the code as shown in the images accompanying this post.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Software for High-tech Structural Engineering Applications

While I’m still struggling to understanding Dynamo for REVIT gracing the blog yet again is the good work of structural engineering software consultants Oasys Software who I’m sure would be happy to instigate a full-scale engineering attack on your next engineering mega-project. AEC Magazine highlights two projects featured in the 2015 Structural Engineering Awards which showcase custom applications of advanced structural modelling software.

SSE Hydro is a 12000 seat sports and entertainment complex Glasgow, Scotland with the roof geometry parametrically defined by Oasys GSA software and the remaining structural modelling done by Bentley Solutions. I’m not sure how common it is for the same high-profile building to use different two software approaches but the finished structure is stunning and I’d love to see Radiohead play live there (should the opportunity ever arise). 

Recognized in the Arts or Entertainment Structures category, the second featured structure is the Vegas High Roller described as the “tallest observation wheel in the world”. Because of the pun in the title I will spill the beans and admit 1) it’s just a ferris wheel 2) I’ve never been to Vegas and 3) I’m not particularly drawn to designing novelty entrainment structures. That said, the structure is notable for two engineering reasons: The wheel resists horizontal forces with a single graceful arm to the side and secondly note the lovely use of delicate spokes brace the rim. The total effect of which is a transparent, light and delicate structure, all of which screams innovative high-tech design.