Tag Archives: Architecture in Combination

SPM Vector Components: Update

So, I realize that this is the third release of the SPM plugin in 7 days, but since we won’t be able to work on the project for a week or two, we thought it best just to get it out there…

In this release:

  • Added a boundary Brep option in the settings component. Very useful for clipping the integral  lines
  • Added two orbit detection parameters: distance and angle. If not zero, then these determine how closely the position and direction of a given step in the integration must match the initial point before the orbit snaps to being closed. Very useful for maintaining stable simulations.
  • Added a utility that acts on the output of either the dynamic or static integrator. If orbit detection is turned on, then you’ll want to sort the lists of integrated points in to lists of closed and open curves….this utility does exactly that. You may need to remove null trees from the list.

And that’s it for now…I’ll work on getting some examples of these new functions in the near future. Download it here…

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Filed under Architecture, Architecture in Combination, Geometry, Grasshopper, SPM Vector Components

Royal Parks Fountain Competition

Here was our submission to this very interesting competition:

Design Team:

Daniel Hambleton/Crispin Howes/David Lieberman

“That no fountain be erected or promoted by the Association which shall not be so constructed as to ensure by filters, or other suitable means, the perfect purity and coldness of the water.”

                                                                      The Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association 1859

The provision of fresh drinking water has an important history in the City of London, a history shared by Liverpool, Sydney, Australia, and Portland, Oregon all of whom have sought to provide their citizenry with the most basic of necessity .  Fons  or fontis, meaning fountain or more importantly source;  the first settlements in many cultures and in many parts of the world had their origins as a shared space, the village square, the place of the well, the source, the spring, and the fountain.  Water was the necessity of sustenance and the square was the space of community, the space of congregation and gathering for discourse and transaction.  Water is no less necessary and no less symbolic in the cities of the contemporary world, and to provide that resource in the illusory nature of the urban park is a reminder of its source and the responsibilities to the maintenance of the natural world.  Water is also the material of ablution, both physical and spiritual and the lens of contemplative reflection.

The proposed collection of drinking fountains evolves from the prototype as drawn; drinking fountains calibrated in height to the range of access from the standing adult to the small child with provision for those less physically able without compromise.  The multiple machined arms of stainless steel rise from a machine carved or milled stone dish which catches the overflow to provide for the pets of the visitors to the Parks.  The  base is equipped with a valve control to the drain maintaining a bowl that is always full.  The arcing water jets are activated by pressure sensors at each fountain head or nozzle with pressure governors to ensure a constant flow accessible to drink or to fill a vessel, a water bottle or flask.  It should be noted that the tallest variant allows for a full gown adult to stand and drink; most conventional drinking fountains require an awkward bending of the spine to an uncomfortable height in order to drink.  The fountain as presented is a composite of many arms; installations throughout the parks can be limited to a single fountain and modified to accommodate site or installation conditions.

Materials are chosen for longevity, durability, and the most stringent of health standards.  The moulding,  shaping,  welding, and fastening of the stainless steel including the specific alloy composition and finish employ fabrication techniques used in the healthcare industry in supplying hospitals and laboratories.  Plumbing fittings and valves are modifications of existing available technologies and products. The base is an as yet to be determined non porous stone; it should be noted that synthetic or composites will be considered providing  a secure weighty base concealing a below ground set of plumbing connections and valves with a tooled access for seasonal shut off.  Preliminary discussions with fabricators suggest that prototyping an initial installation is within the requirements of the competition budget parameters and that that the machining of dies and molds for fabrication of multip0les will result in an affordable set of variations on the initial proposal.

The design is playful and graceful echoing the lines by the water it provides and with its reflective surface echoing the subtle excitement and brightness of its refreshing and sustaining elixir. Although delicate in its form,  the intent is to create an iconic presence and recognizable and tempting, or subtle seductive identity beckoning visitors to pause and to drink at the source.

“we have come to the fountain, I no longer need to look for water”

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Filed under Architecture, Architecture in Combination, Geometry

Idealization and Abstraction

Let me start by saying thanks to everybody who came out and participated in last week’s event – it was an extremely interesting session led by Dr. Anjan Chakravartty who focused on what it means to represent things. 

Looking back, there are couple points that resonated with me the most.  In his talk, Anjan emphasized the difference between “abstraction” and “idealization”. For him, abstraction is (and I hope I don’t get this wrong…!) the process of extracting certain aspects of the object in question and dealing with them in isolation, a method that is effective when studying things that have a strong underlying structure which dictates the fundamental behaviour of the object, but that also have a large amount of detail that can potentially confuse the issue. Of course, this also sets the scene perfectly for drawing incorrect conclusions due to having simplified the system beyond any degree of realism. In contrast, the notion of  “idealization” is the process of transforming the object or how the object is perceived so as to bring forward certain important aspects of the system.

Despite the somewhat abstract setting, these two concepts seem come up all the time in parametric modelling.  In in any parametric model, the overall output is controlled and generated by a collection of parameters:  does it follow then that parameters are an abstraction of the model but are chosen by how well they “idealize” it?

In any case, the result of the most lively discussion following the presentation was that the abstract notion of representation is of fundamental importance to the modelling and design community as a whole.

Thanks for coming!

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Filed under Architecture, Architecture in Combination, Discussion Series, Geometry

Architecture in Combination with Representation, April 8th. @ 5:30pm

Dr. Chakravartty has kindly provided some words on the upcoming session:
Architecture in Combination with Representation
Picasso’s mural Guernica represents the aftermath of the bombing of a Basque town during the Spanish Civil War. Watson and Crick’s cardboard cut-out model of DNA represents the double-helical structure of the molecule. The Gothic arch represents the spiritual aspiration of reaching towards the heavens. Examples such as these are ubiquitous, and my aim is to step back from them so as to ask a philosophical question about representing: what *is* a representation, precisely, such that all of these examples count as instances of it? Are there conditions that are necessary or sufficient to make one thing a representation of something else, and are these conditions shared across different domains of human endeavour such as art, science, and architecture? I will review some proposals for how representation should be understood, with the goal of shedding light on these questions. Some of the issues raised concern whether intuitive relations such as similarity or mathematical ones such as isomorphism are required, whether the emphasis should rather be on the cognitive activities we perform in connection with representations as they relate to the things they represent, such as interpretation and inference, and how matters are complicated by the ways in which representations abstract from and idealize their subject matter.

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Filed under Architecture, Architecture in Combination, Discussion Series, Geometry

AiC 3rd session

Granted the details for the second session haven’t been announced, but the AiC needs your input as to who to invite as our guest speaker for the third session.

Any thoughts?


Filed under Architecture in Combination, Discussion Series

Musical Sequences

Does anyone know why they’re called that? The name is so suggestive and the theory is so nice, that I can’t help but hope there’s some underlying connection, but so far, I can’t find one.

To explain, a musical sequence is an infinite list of two symbols, usually L and S (denoting “long” and “short”). In addition, this list has the property that no section of it can be copied in a regular way so as to create the full list. Another way to say the same thing is musical sequences are non-periodic. They can be generated by repeatedly sending S to L, and L to LS. So, for instance:


The incredible thing is that they seem to pop up everywhere in the world of non-periodic and aperiodic patterns (Grunbaum and Sheppard). In fact, once 3d versions of aperiodic tilings were discovered, sure enough, 3d versions of musical sequences were also found. I also haven’t found a good explanation as to why this is the case, but it seems that musical sequences create a kind of underlying organization for less organized, aperiodic, patterns.


Their role as organizers is actually what is so useful to design. Frequently, the design intent requires a facade or plan layout to be “random”. The problem is, true randomness is a pretty ugly and unwieldly thing, so more often than not, a pattern that gives the appearance of randomness is used instead. In fact, if such a pattern were to be guided by musical sequences, all sorts of pragmatic issues, like whether or not the nodes of the glazing have any relation to the nodes of the structure that holds it up, get resolved. My personal favorite 3d aperiodic tiling, developed by L. Danzer, is currently on display in a Cecil Balmond exhibition.

The point is, here is a very nice mathematical principle that will improve the constructability of certain kinds of projects while maintaining a certain aesthetic and seems to imply some connection with music. It would be perfect, except that the connection to music is still a mystery to me.

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Filed under Architecture, Exhibitions, Geometry, Tilings

But what’s the link?

It’s been just about a week since our first session (Architecture in Combination with Music), and despite an extremely  interesting presentation by Mani Mani (www.fishtnk.com) on his Tunable Sound Cloud, I still have questions on what it means to combine architecture and music. Granted this is a rather old debate, but judging from the number of projects that use some aspect of music or sound to drive the design, it seems to still be an active one. So here it goes.

Firstly, what is the role of music in design? Is it purely to produce data that can be fed into a geometry producing script? Can any of the emotional content of the music be revealed in the design? Should it be? And secondly, are there any practical advantages to having music as a design driver?

I’d say the most solid connection between music and architecture comes from the world of acoustics. The idea is that acoustically driven forms will enhance the performance (or at least try to), and conversely, every aspect of a given geometry can be valued in terms of how much it contributes to that performance. Unfortunately, this is a very idealized state and any acoustician will tell you that it’s just not that simple. It also completely ignores the content of the music.

Maybe there’s a kind of organizational principle hidden inside the rhythmic structure of fugues? Who knows….?


Filed under Architecture, Discussion Series, Launch, Music