Bits + Pieces : Investigating the Procedural Ideation of Architectural Massing for Early Stage Design
The architectural discipline is constantly experiencing change to the way in which its practitioners operate. The continual evolution of computing hardware and the substantial development of Computer Aided Architectural Design (CAAD) has seen Architecture shift from a discipline of predominantly analogue techniques to one that relies almost entirely on the digital medium. As a result, the role of the practicing architect has seen considerable change. Architecture, once a discipline of pencil and paper, now shares creative techniques and tools with Computer Science, Film, Visual Effects, Interactive Media, Robotics, and Computer programming. Such new partners are providing alternative views of what it is to be a creative practitioner, challenging the discipline of architecture to step beyond the preconceived boundaries and means of operating embodied within conventional practice. Architects now have the opportunity to adopt new methods for the production of the built environment. This research engages with developing computational techniques designed for film and interactive media and explores how they can be utilised to augment the way in which architecture may be produced. This body of researches adopts the technique procedural generation as a vehicle for this investigation; a technique used for content creation in interactive media and game design. This research also adopts the use of a computational design software called Houdini - an industry standard procedural software used widely within film and game. Through an architectural lens, it explores the re-purposing of this software and procedural design, developing an understanding for how they can both aid in the ideation of built form during the infancy of the design process. This research initially addressed the question: ‘how can conventional architectural practices be augmented by procedural computational design techniques, to further explore the impacts of opportunity and ideation on architectural design?’ As a result of refinement, it came around to focus on asking ‘how can the application of procedural generation design techniques augment the ideation of architectural massing for early stage design?’ It identifies how procedural techniques can be used in the process of ideating architecture and aims to investigate how procedural generation offers an alternative methodology to the production of architecture in early design stages. It explores, through computational design, the limitations and constraints that occur in the process of mastering design orientated procedural techniques. It subsequently develops, through computational design, an understanding of how procedural techniques can be applied to the early stage design of architecture. Finally, through architectural design, it examines how procedural design techniques can be partnered with specific architectural conditions such as site, function, and form, in order to augment the architectural ideation process.