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Energy Concept

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Solar Radiation

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Design Progress [proposals]

1 December 2013

Geometry preview of design proposal for meeting on 2 December

3D Files


Typological & Programmatic Proposal

11 November 2013

Design process proposal

31 October 2013


Rheotomic surfaces / function oblique / smooth (vs striated) (theoretical background)
Rheotomic surfaces
Flowline stuff
Deleuze: smooth vs striated blog
Virilio & Parent: function oblique
Many interesting videos
Crowd behaviour
Self organising curves

Explorations on the design process

The Building

Towards a choice of optimisation

In order for a data drive design process to work, one needs to come up with some kind of process design. In the diagram below I attempted to kind of display a strategy to deal with a data drive design process.

A building is essentially a relator between people and the environment. Of course, the people and 'the environment' do influence each other. For exaple: the climate dictates in large part where public life takes place and thus effects the public sphere heavily. In warm countries, such as (in Europe) the Mediterranean countries, public life takes place on the streets, in the city; it is quite the opposite case in colder places. It is clear that climate is only an example, as well as 'public life' is only an example.

Humans, on the other side, influence their environment by building roads and buildings, by adding public WiFi or by occupying the space in their cars, on their bicycles or just on their own.

The human needs

So, if a building relates between the environment and the people, what is it that exactly needs to be related? These are the human needs/preferences and the environmental performances as displayed in the diagram above. It is interesting to see that both are dynamic.

The human needs that could be distinguished are:

comfortable (inner) climate

To be split up in temperature; light; humidity; sound; smell; (taste)


Beauty is a need.


To make sure our devices work: laptops, phones, tv screens, etcetera. Basically this could come down to electric energy. Of course, there is also energy needed to provide a comfortable inner climate, but the 'goal' is not energy per se. (Maybe this also applies for the 'need' for energy).


As defined by some other entity. Humans have programmatic needs: a place to sleep in would be a different space than a place to work in (although this isn't absolute).

The environmental performances

The enivornmental performances are:

Outer climate

To be split up in temperature; light; humidity; sound; smell; (taste). Part of this can be influenced, such as the sound, (to an extend) smell and taste. Temperature, light, humidity are to directly influencable.


The shape of the terrain; the shape of the building surround the (proposed) site.


There must be more parameters.

The Designer

The designer then has to assess these parameters and needs to make a decision on what is more important. This is a subjective process, so by no means this way of designing 'guarantees' a good design.

Objectifying parameters

The designer can use a concept to test his assessments upon. In this case, the concept is optimisation. However, this is not enough. To 'objectify' the assessment, objective parameters are necessary. They need to be measurable. Regarding the environmental parameters this might not be a problem: it is easy to measure temperature objectively. The human needs side is a whole different matter though. Each human has different needs. Well, maybe not all different needs, but certainly different preferences. How is it possible to deal with this issue? One approach is to take a large group of people and measure their preferences and then design on the average. This, I think, is not the right approach, though.


So, now that the concept 'optimisation' is chosen, it is needed to find the optima. The idea of optimisation comes with assumptions. These can be phrased as "as ... as possible"


Since both human needs and preferences and the environmental performances are dynamic, it is obvious that a building, in order to be efficient and (thus) optimal, needs to be adaptive. Adaptiveness can be seen in a variety of ways: geometrical adaptiveness, climatice adaptiveness, etc. The most optimal from the adaptiveness point of view is 'unlimited adaptiveness'; which doesn't exist, except for a virtual world.

little material

For an optimal building as little material as possible is used. Why is this optimal? Since the amount of raw materials is not endless, there is a need to use as little as possible of it. The most optimal from the material point of view would be no material, almost implying no building.


This relates to the 'little material' assumption. With an integrated design less material is needed, but also less space is needed and possibly less construction time. There might be other advantages to integrated design. The most optimal would be a design that consists of one material that can do it all.

much energy production / little energy use

This relates to the 'little material' assumption in the sense that this one is also about the sustainability of the resources. The most optimal would be a building that produces the full amount of (e.g. solar) energy as it can possibly produce while at the same time not using any energy. This, of course, is all relative: there might be not an active energy use but a passive one.


This relates to the 'adaptive' presumption. Every human finds a different climate, different aesthetics, etc. pleasing.

Finding the optima

Optima for one parameter are quite easy to define. However, in a building they all come together. This leads to some contradictions. With no material used (optimum for material) one cannot provide a pleasing inner climate, since a making a building would be impossible. So where lies the optimum of all parameters? The designer has to decide. Slide them from left to right and see what happens. Some have implications on the others. Do we want the building to be more optimal material wise or more optimal in its adaptiveness? Or maybe there is a solution that doesn't need us to make a choice.

Optima from a structural point of view --> research questions


Tensegrity structure found on

To use as little material as possible can be associated with a construction that is based upon tension forces instead of compression forces. Not having to deal with buckling and internal moments can save up a lot of material. Constructions that allow a maximum (optimum?) of tensile loaded components are tensegrity constructions, a contraction of 'tension' and 'integrity'. This could be an interesting point of research.

On I found some interesting examples of Grasshopper generated tensegrity constructions.

Another very interesting link I stumbled upon is another wiki, but then on tensegrity alone:

Adaptiveness and scale

From a perspective of construction geometrical adaptation is the most interesting aspect. This can happen on different scale levels. There is the scale of

the entire building (the project of the seven groups together);
the sub-building (the project per group);
the building component;
the scale within the building component.

Adaptation can be both static and dynamic. For example, on a total building scale, the building might adapt statically to the sun arch whereas on a building component level a building adapts dynamically to a change in light. Then again, there are gradations of dynamism. Building components generally can react more quickly to changing conditons than the entire building can.

From a purely structural point of view, the question of scale is very important. If one wants to design an integrated building, then should all the functions be within the building components? That is: climatic producers, light producers, energy producers and the structural system. Or is a secondary (or should you say: primary) structure possible? Thus resulting in a less integrated design, but maybe more optimal in other aspects? That way the structural system of the building would be: the entire building plus the components, rather than just the sum of the components.

Set of topics to research

- How to make a light weight (tensegrity) structure in which;
- The building components in itself are on the optimal level of integrated design and
- A structural/building design that dynamically can adapt to its environment and users

Thus resulting in the following questions:

1) which material within the building component is optimal to perform optimally;
2) how is a building component shaped to make use of these materials in an optimal way;
3) how are the building components configured to form a most efficient structural design (note that the 2nd and 3rd question influence each other very much)
4) how is the configuration of the group building part of the building designed structurally optimal in relation to the other building parts.