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.