During our summer internships, we researched various emerging technology and their applications to design to further our skillsets. The technology we researched includes parametric design, digital fabrication, aerial photography, and augmented reality. All of these bring different strengths to how we provide design services to our clients and the community.
Digital Fabrication is more than integrated technology. It’s also the thought process, understanding of materials, and solutions that can be created with mass customization and manufacturing. In the field of architecture, it allows for fluid creativity to reach beyond ninety-degree angle thinking. Digital Fabrication uses Computer Numerically Controlled (commonly known as CNC) processes to bring fabrication methods to life, such as 2D, additive, subtractive, formulative, and assembly. Understanding an end-goal sets focuses research to material choices that will truly achieve the overall composition and rigidity of the design.
Architects can also take back some of the construction process through direct manufacturing and efficient construction. Together, a pursuit for a parametric idea and an ambition to integrate numeric technology will further the architectural building parameters we have today. The breakdown of this topic, along with cited projects, conditions, processes, and other architectural trends, helped guide my research and bring a better understanding to the DC team.
Analyzing the precedents and specific fabrication methods in the architecture field made a significant impact on my understanding, and hopefully my co-workers’ as well.
Architecture and Drone Usage
Drone usage in architecture firms is growing rapidly, and DC is no exception. As a firm, we have explored all of its potential uses, and the valuable imagery it’s able to output throughout the design process.
It can be used to survey sites, create more site-informed renderings, assist in our design development process, evaluate construction progress, and create more options in marketing materials. While there are FAA regulations on drone usage in commercial applications, a few employees at DC were recently certified as drone pilots, so we’re able to legally utilize this resource.
One of the main workflows we can use is creating 3D point clouds and meshes using many pictures of an existing building or site to both site verify different parts as well as import existing conditions into renderings in order to more accurately portray the site surroundings.
DC previously used a drone to assist in the design of CityScape Flats and Skyline Tower, exploring what views potential placements and heights of units would have. More recently, we took some pictures and videos of recently completed projects to promote on social media, as it brings a whole new viewpoint to the built world. Utilizing this emerging technology will bring more value to both our workflow and to our clients in the future.
Parametric design is one of many tools utilized by architects. While designing parametrically, the focus is using algorithms to create constraints and variables to shape a design. This differs from the traditional design process. However, because the algorithm is what determines the design, there’s room for efficient modification and experimentation on a large range of scales.
Parametric Design has the ability to not only affect Design Collaborative’s workflow, but allow a whole new world of design to be engaged. A few projects that showcase the potentials of parametric design are Data Moiré by Synthesis Design and Architects, and Elbphilharmonie by Herzog and de Meuron. These are great examples because they show the adaptability and experimentation capabilities of designing parametrically. Both projects were able to create something beautiful while ensuring that the application wasn’t compromised.
Ultimately, the greatest goal for architects is to create a blend of form and function. The use of parametric design in the design process allows for both form and function to be engaged simultaneously. It can also be applied to any stage in the design process: from modeling mass volumes in schematic design, to making cut sheets in construction documentation. While parametric design is not the solution to all design problems, it can improve the process when it’s thoroughly engaged.
I’ve been researching Augmented Reality, or AR, and its applications in the field of architecture. Augmented reality is technology that allows for the real-time blending of digital information processed by a computer, with information coming from the real world by means of a suitable computer interface. It can be broken down into three main types: SLAM based, marker based, and location based. The possibilities of these three types of AR are incredibly broad, so in order to keep it more relevant to DC, the main ways I believe AR could be used lie mainly in marketing tactics.
Using marker based AR, DC could be taking advantage of the stellar buildings we’ve designed by placing them on business cards, coasters, or anything we can fit a marker on! With location based AR, the city of Fort Wayne could be a testament to our innovation and collaboration. With AR becoming a more easily accessible technology, this will become a more feasible and viable option for spreading the word about what we do and what we’re about as a company.
Mechanical Engineering Intern
Looking closer at each part of DC, we've found different ways these technologies can better the way we work to improve people’s worlds. Parametric design opens up a new way of thinking and designing to allow experimentation through all of our markets – from small construction to the entirety of a building. Digital fabrication allows for organic design thinking to be efficiently manufactured with creative solutions and new ways of using materials. This would allow DC to branch into design build methods as well as offer more services. Aerial photography allows DC to more effectively evaluate the built environment through all phases of a project. AR would be a new way to market ourselves to the world. This opens the door to increased collaboration and communication amongst DC, contractors, and our clients.