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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Smartgeometry 2013 London kicks off

April 22nd, 2013 by Susan Smith

This year’s Smartgeometry event (sg2013) was held at the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment UCL and the Institute of Education in London from April 15-20. The event began with a description of how the group began and how the Bartlett School architects were the inspiration for this year’s conference.

I was in London for a few days before the beginning of the conference and was impressed by the amount of construction there. The question that came to my mind was – how do they create structures that can complement the vast and rich history of this old city? There are many skyscrapers that are interspersed with historic buildings, some of which may be finding an unusual peace with the existing infrastructure.

There is a peer review process of choosing the teams who will present at sg each year.  Out of 200 applications, there are 10 workshops comprised of ten people in each who will be the lucky ones chosen to present.

This is the first year an sg event has been held in London. According to Shane Burger, this year’s program entitled “Constructing for Uncertainty” builds upon what has been accomplished in past years. This year’s teams are using data in design, working with the environment, are much more information-centric, recognizing that there are “only a subset of relevant factors that can be modeled in a traditional design CAD package.” The built environment must last for generations.

Topics such as how we explore efficiency, environmental or program changes, and bridging the gap between digitally fabricated calibration and construction tolerance and the “uncertain future of occupant behavior” were part of the day’s discussion.

Huw Roberts, director of Core Marketing at Bentley, spoke briefly about Bentley’s Applied Reseach group which has a $112 million of investment done in partnership with their software companies and users. “Our “syndicated development’ takes something the user wants to do, defines what the software needs to be and Bentley will test it,” said Roberts. “This relationship model is a direct descendant of how our relationship model was for sg. GenerativeComponents was the first child of our research activities. We’re now integrating that with our optimization engines, like Darwin Optmization Framework. It was previously in our water products, used to tell where pipes are going to leak based on the data system. The framework is a very complex bunch of math that allows a bunch of iterative processes to run.”

Augmented reality allows us to  see what is under streets, in pipes, or show sections of inside the walls, looking at the construction model and seeing where pipes and conduits are inside walls, using iPads and other mobile devices.

Because the work done in the Smartgeometry clusters appears to be a far cry from real world applications of technology, several examples were given of projects completed using GenerativeComponents and other tools used for iterative design.

Park House, London – Robin Partington Architects

Park House Oxford Street combined workflow and embodied the evolution of parametric modeling and how they use it. The original shape was generated by its textual constraints, and they  generated the curve through 3D modeling with a good understanding of geometry.

The 3D model then progressed through smart models and the next evolution of Bentley models. It has 39 apartments,  office buildings, and shops. The challenge was to make it all come together as it is a city block and integrate it into the townscape.

“Dimension driven design came in looking at how we play with curves to give us final form of a  main entrance, with tangential curves ,” said Paul Rogers, architect.

“The roof is angled, and how you start to bring elements together is interesting using parametrc modeling and GC and to start to understand how you put flat paneling on tight geometry.”

Without GC, John Ball, architect said, this building wouldn’t be built because “people would refuse to take the risk. We did this straight out of the box with some fair amount of help from Bentley, a little guidance to make a building possible.”

Design in the Digital Machines Age

Lars Hesselgren, Director of Research at PLP Architecture, and Director of the SG Group, talked about the building in front of Victoria Station, a very constrained design solution, sloped on one side so that it doesn’t block the view to Buckingham Palace. Victoria Station is of course also under construction.

Hesselgren said that “Optimization is the next frontier – evaluations via genetic algorithm.”

Machine Learning by Sam Wilkinson sponsored by PLP,  is about trying to teach the machine when to recognize the face change using actual fluid dynamics and learned mode and comparison between the two.

They used GC to model components for this project.

Vladimir Masinsky, formerly of BDP, presented a IICC Beijing roof using GC translated in to MicroStation, drawings created in Bentley Structure, also using Environmental analysis to come up with a formula telling you about thermal comfort.

In this project they were able to deconstruct the model. They could use the same skills, techniques, materials, diagrams and approach for the IICC Wuhan project, so they profited because they didn’t have to do the design over again.

They used GC to do a simple design that can be used by the contractor and gives architects control over the outcome. “If they hadn’t been able to simplify it they wouldn’t have been able to build it that way.”

Bricks and Mortar

Without the research and development arm of Bentley, products like GC would not have been developed. GC is now being used in many of the Smartgeometry clusters to explore cutting edge possibilities in architectural design of structures for the future.

Cluster teams spent several days working on their projects, which involved simple materials such as foam, bricks and mortar, as well as computer programs and software. In the project depicted below, a Spanish mason was hired to come in to put the structure together. The project was an exploration of strange forms and tolerances using complex shapes and simple technology.

Look for more on the Smartgeometry event in an upcoming blog.

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Categories: AEC, architecture, Bentley Systems, BIM, building information modeling

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