This article demonstrates how we used computational design tools to realise a unique and innovative typology for a soffit, in Fremantle, Western Australia.
Form Finding Techniques in Architecture and Design
In recent years, the rise of computational tools in architecture and design industries has resulted in new and innovative ways to realise forms. These new methods of design are allowing architects and designers to disrupt the status-quo, and instead enable the generation of new typologies.
These new design opportunities are often referred to as ‘parametric design’, ‘generative design’ or ‘algorithmic design’. Each of these terms can be used interchangeably, depending on which definition you go by.
“Generative design, can be described as a design method where generation of form is based on rules or algorithms, often deriving from computational tools, such as Processing, Rhinoceros, Grasshopper and other scripting platforms.” (Asterios Agkathidis)
Creative Application of Computational Design for Form Finding
The form finding process for the Liv Apartments artwork soffit involved preparing a custom script within a physics-based software, Kangaroo , which was used to simulate a sail blowing in the wind. The surface was hung from the soffit of the entrance corridor and then the wind simulation was used to generate the unique form.
The entire project was conceived, developed and delivered via computational design workflows.
The form finding process can be broken down into 4 steps.
1. Base mesh: The simulation began by creating a mesh that fit within the designated artwork area, including some of the vertical elements (walls, columns etc)
2. Relaxation: The next step of the form finding simulation was to dynamically relax the mesh geometry using Kangaroo.
3. Wind simulation: Using Kangaroo, our custom script allowed us to simulated the effects of the ‘Fremantle Doctor’, which was then applied to the relaxed sail-like mesh.
4. Selection: Over 1000 iterations were produced through the software, and due to this being a public artwork without functional or performative requirements, the final geometry was selected based on an aesthetic assessment of its fluid sculptural qualities.
About the Project | [ANEMOI]
Anemoi is a collaboration between Artist Rick Vermey (www.rickvermey.com) and computational design specialist Daniel Giuffre (if/LAB) to simulate the way the Freo Doctor moved through the Queen Victoria Street entrance corridor.
Fremantle’s character has largely emerged from its connection with the coast. Conceptually, our intent was to develop a playful nod to Perth’s connection with the ‘Freo Doctor’, Fremantle’s dependable summer sea-breeze.
Building upon this observation, we focused on the unseen but tangible forces of coastal winds, weather systems and oceanic currents and swells, to guide development of this soffit treatment artwork. A cohesive abstracted sculptural form evolved, informed by representations of wind movement and direction such as meteorological mapping, bathymetric contours, the undulating ocean surface, charting of tidal swells and oceanic current flows, wind-filled sails, draping fish nets, emergent patterns in shipping route paths, billowing flags and shipping pennants.