Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland by Populous

July 25th, 2012 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Bentley Systems, Incorporated

When sports architecture firm Populous was selected to design Aviva Stadium, a more than $575 million soccer and rugby stadium in Dublin, Ireland, it had to ensure that the unified form of the building’s concept was maintained from design development through to construction. With such emphasis placed on maintaining the purity of the original concept, functional considerations were made to serve the building’s form.

Image Courtesy Populous

  • Architecture Firm: Populous
  • Project: Aviva Stadium
  • Location: Dublin, Ireland
  • Structural Engineer: Buro Happold
  • Local Architect: Scott Tallon Walker
  • Marketing Editor: Carol Minton
  • Company: Bentley Systems, Incorporated

Image Courtesy Populous

For example, the skin’s basic geometry was coded into the design at the beginning of the process. Buro Happold, the structural engineer, collaborated on critically important geometric issues of the structure and architecture, and the solutions were part of the fundamental design goal. Using GenerativeComponents, Bentley’s generative design software, designers could quickly assess schemes and layouts over complex forms in less time than traditional methods to reach the desired solution faster while eliminating basic human error.

The seating in the new stadium, which opened in May 2010, is sheltered by a sinuous form that combines roof and façade in one shimmering, organic shell. As the stadium’s structural underpinnings and functional details were finalized, the mesh underlying the roof and façade could be reorganized as needed, without changing the shape that the mesh assumed. Eventually, information from this model was exported to multiple Excel spreadsheets that listed the size, shape, structural member index, and placement details of each translucent panel used in the exterior cladding. These panels could then be manufactured off site and shipped to contractors as needed.

Image Courtesy Populous

“Certain variables and base principles were established within the GenerativeComponents model, allowing Populous to maintain control over the final form of the model,” explained Populous Senior Architect David Hines. “This allowed the model to be parametric—having internally defined variables—and also constrained the geometry to certain grids and base extremities. For Populous, this was the most critical aspect of the parametric design, as the finished construction derived directly from the shape of the parametric skin of the building.

“There is no doubt that the whole process could have been done in a nonparametric model and developed through extensive redrawing and remodeling of forms and geometry,” Hines continued. “But given the complexity of the design in hand and the numerous elements that were coordinated across different offices, following a non-parametric approach to this design would have allowed room for numeric errors, which are dealt with through computing, and also taken a humanly unfeasible length of time.”

Image Courtesy Populous

In addition to serving as spec sheets for panel manufactur­ers and other project participants, Excel spreadsheets based on GenerativeComponents proved to be an excellent way to communicate with Buro Happold on structural issues. Teams from both firms worked together to establish the principles governing the relationship between the skin and structural roof members.

“We needed to develop a framework by which the information between both forms could be translated, with Populous ultimately driving the form and cladding of the building, and Buro Happold driving the sizing and positioning of the structural members,” said Hines. To do this efficiently, the Populous team created a simplified GenerativeComponents script that would produce the stadium skin based on setout figures from an Excel spreadsheet.

“In that way, Populous and Buro Happold could work simultaneously on the model in different offices, with Buro Happold further developing the structural members on top of the same file, and Populous further developing the cladding layout on top of the original GenerativeComponents file,” said Hines. With the underlying frames to both firms’ models being dependent on the base figures within the Excel document, ultimately Populous could amend and refine the skin’s forms by altering the established variable figures within Excel. Coordination between the two firms relied on the transfer of a single Excel file.

Woven into the Neighborhood

The Irish Rugby Football Union and the Football Association of Ireland own Aviva Stadium and both are being good neighbors on Lansdowne Road. For example, the north end of the stadium has just one tier of seats, rather than four, to lessen the impact on nearby homes. Close attention was also paid to acoustic properties to confine event noise largely to stadium grounds.

Similarly, local roadways and the Lansdowne Road train station were renovated to smoothly accommodate traffic and lessen congestion. Several visualization programs were used to render the MicroStation model into 3D displays, which helped the development team and community organizers communicate their concerns about accessibility.

Aviva Stadium also features several green initiatives. The remarkable roof and façade shell minimize environmental impact by collecting rain water, which is stored and used later for watering the field. The new stadium is on the site of the previous stadium, which keeps residential communities intact, and encourages the continued use of mass transit facilities —reducing fuel use, noise, and pollution. Other green design elements include low environmental impact concrete, intelligent controls for escalators, and low-energy lighting.

The Aviva Stadium design by Populous delivers an innovative architectural form that is in harmony with the surrounding cityscape. The union of form and function demonstrates that GenerativeComponents can be used for rapid prototyping of sophisticated designs to deliver modern, sustainable structures.

“The Aviva Stadium project would not have been possible without GenerativeComponents,” Hines concluded. “The program has given the architects and engineers the ability to deliver the complexity and beauty of the stadium within the given time frame and budget.”

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Category: Stadium

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