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sg2011 – Day Six investigates structural behavior, design for data and more

Friday, April 8th, 2011

SmartGeometry held in Copenhagen was all about architectural research. The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture brochure states that one of the most important purposes of architectural research is to “develop new models for the way we build and design the world in a time characterized by new technological possibilities and great challenges.”

Day Six of SmartGeometry (sg2011) in Copenhagen kicked off with a talk by Mette Ramsgaard Thomsen, professor and head of CITA, on the topic “Materializing the Invisible.”

She said they have built a series of speculative models in textile design, where they made iterative models over and over again, so they can return to one single description to bring together as one soft shell construction.

They learned two things from doing this: the unfolding of the complex surface is very complicated to do with the computer but extremely easy to do with your hands, “the simplicity is immediate to me,” she said. “The relationship between the digital and craft is not necessarily immediate. The drawing changes in its role; rather than thinking of drawing as a section cut, it becomes a section, the detailing and creases are inscribed, it’s the way the material is given its performance.”

The parallel project for this is “It’s a Small World,” which is an exhibition they were asked to create to show something all the way down to small design. This is about how to organize models and they used fractal order to achieve it.

“Our interest became how we could organize different elements, trying to develop a model that performs. Using GenerativeComponents, we developed a parametric design environment that could take us from design process all the way through to fabrication,” said Thomsen.

It’s A Small World created an economy that really isn’t present in research. They implemented non-traditional design practices to make new use of old materials. These surfaces were highly inhabited. “Therefore there was a rift between systematic thinking of these structures and the design intent of the curators. We had to adjust the way we were working with these structures,” Thomsen explained.

Another research project, DevA, investigated the structural behavior of bent steel sheet and how it be used in architectural design.

In contrast, Lisa Amini, director, Smarter Cities Technology Centre, IBM Research, Worldwide Smarter Cities Program talked about her program which she is building from the ground up. She quoted Steven Spielberg: “Invisible infrastructure is the most radical change.”

“The economies of scale are in cities,” said Amini. “We believe this is where people will live.” It is therefore prudent to design for data, and have your designs be influenced so they can collect data, to be able adapt to missions and the environment.

She sees a “Citizen centric vision” where citizens use mobile devices to collect data and will become very active data producers.

Ben Van Berkel, founder of Unstudio, talked about how the architect can rethink his position. His organization is a specialist organization that specializes with specialists around it. He spoke about the Mercedes Benz Museum 2001 for which there was a short time to design and build it. Used on this project was an animation technique could make 300 changes within the 3D model so people could stay working on the development of the model, and everyone updated the same day. So the need for compactness made it possible for those involved in the project to rethink the project.

SmartGeometry Workshop tour

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

At the SmartGeometry Conference in Copenhagen, last night the press were treated to an informal tour of the SmartGeometry Workshop, at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, CITA/Centre for Information Technology and Architecture.

The projects were impressive and really push the boundaries of what is architecture. Some quick examples:

Cyber Gardens is a robotic arm model with sensors embedded that will read biological behavior of a city. This project envisions a gigantic cybercity of the future in which bacteria such as algae will be self growing in the arm shaped structure, and may provide shade and produce energy and oxygen. The bacteria will need more or less nutrients that can be sprayed on the model. It is not something that is just built and forgotten; the user will remain an active participant in the sustainable ecology of the gardens.

Another project, Reflecting Environments, dealt with energy sources as well, where people will receive their energy sources through heat based tracking cameras that are boxes on the ground.

One project involved fabric embedded with sensors draped over metal skeletons, using fabric in walls that would then sense temperature, environment and other needs of the occupants of a building.

sg2011 conference (SmartGeometry) comes to Copenhagen

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

I am here in Copenhagen for the annual SmartGeometry Conference, sg2011, hosted by Bentley Systems, from March 28-April 2.

The event will come in three parts, a Workshop (28th-31st March), a public Talkshop (1 April), and a public Symposium and Reception (2 April).

Speakers include: Ben van Berkel (UN Studio), Usman Haque (Haque Design + Research), Billie Faircloth (KieranTimberlake), Craig Schwitter (Buro Happold + Adaptive Building Initiative), Lisa Amini (IBM Smarter Cities Lab), and Mette Ramsgaard Thomsen (CITA)

http://smartgeometry.org/

I have also covered GenerativeComponents, the technology that actually spawned the SmartGeometry Conference in a recent issue of AECWeekly:

http://www10.aeccafe.com/nbc/articles/2/924925/Future-Design-Overlap-Design-Computation

Look for conference updates in the coming days.

Bentley’s first annual corporate update

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Bentley Systems held its first annual corporate update yesterday, which was not an earnings call, as they are a privately held company. Coupled with that update was the announcement of the acquisition of SACS, an integrated finite element specialized offshore structural analysis software, the launch of iWare Apps to facilitate the use of Bentley iModels, and new sustainable licensing through what the company is calling “annual portfolio balancing.”

Each product launch announced – SACS and the iWare Apps – circles back to structural analysis, an area that Bentley is focusing on a lot. SACS opens up offshore oil & gas industry to Bentley, where previously they have focused on onshore accounts. iWare Apps extend iModel which provides integrated structural modeling (ISM) methodology for the creators and consumers of structural project information across multiple vendors’ apps.

Intergraph to be acquired by Hexagon AB

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

The recent announcement that Intergraph has signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by Hexagon AB, raised questions among the media. Hexagon AB is a global measurement technology company, and the transaction is valued at approximately $2.125 billion.

According to the press release, “Upon closing of the transaction, Intergraph will operate as a separate Hexagon division under the Intergraph name and branding.  Intergraph will become Hexagon’s core software platform and will continue to provide differentiated and vertically-focused software solutions to its core industries.  Intergraph software will also be integrated into Hexagon’s existing measurement and precision technology system markets to provide a visual presentation layer for the management, analysis and sharing of the vast amounts of critical data produced by these products.”

Intergraph customers are assured that “upon closing of the transaction, Intergraph will operate as a separate Hexagon division under the Intergraph name and branding.  Intergraph will become Hexagon’s core software platform and will continue to provide differentiated and vertically-focused software solutions to its core industries.  Intergraph software will also be integrated into Hexagon’s existing measurement and precision technology system markets to provide a visual presentation layer for the management, analysis and sharing of the vast amounts of critical data produced by these products.”

One question that arose among those of us who have followed Intergraph since the days when Bentley Systems was owned by Intergraph, is: does Intergraph still own 30 percenet of Bentley Systems, and if so, how is Bentley affected by the recent news of this acquisition?

Chris Barron, vice president of corporate marketing for Bentley, responded:  “As a privately held company, Bentley does not routinely report on the identity of its minority stockholders or the stockholders or the size of their holdings. However, in response to your question, we can advise you that the Bentley shares previously held by Intergraph were transferred to an affiliate of its private equity owners following its going private transaction in 2006 and we have no indications that those shares are part of the sale to Hexagon.” 

In 2006, Intergraph was acquired by an investor group led by Hellman & Friedman LLC, TPG Capital and JMI Equity.  Pending regulatory approvals, as well as satisfaction of other customary closing conditions, the transaction is expected to be completed in the third or fourth quarter of 2010.
Incidentally, Hexagon AB is also the parent company for ERDAS, Inc., a company that focuses on incorporating geospatial information into businesses’ existing systems and data. ERDAS states that they do not see any change in business as a result of the Intergraph acquisition for the immediate future.
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