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My analysis of the Venice Biennale for ARCHITECT magazine.

My article for ARCHITECT magazine on why architects are more productive than statistics indicate

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I’m coming to New Zealand to give five keynote speeches on the future of architectural technology (Tauranga, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown from the 9th to 13th of June).

A summarized version of my thesis that appeared in ENR.

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An article I wrote for AEC Magazine about the potential for big data in the AECO industries.

My first piece for ARCHITECT magazine examining the ways indoor positioning technology will impact the architectural profession.

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I’m moving to New York and joining CASE!

I’ve been thinking about publishing a lot lately. What it means, why we do it, and where it is going.

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I introduce the central issue of my thesis: parametric flexibility. I outline the research method and the structure of the thesis.

I expand upon the challenges associated with parametric modelling that I have outlined in this introduction. I first examine the various definitions of parametric modelling and consider how these frame an understanding of what a parametric model is. I go on to reveal the numerous challenges architects have faced when using parametric models in practice. Aggregated together, these accounts reveal an array of problems that tend to be overlooked in many of the discussions around parametric modelling.

I contrast the challenges of parametric modelling to the challenges associated with software engineering. I introduce the body of knowledge associated with software engineering and hypothesise about which knowledge areas may also help the practice of parametric modelling.

I discuss a research method for applying aspects of the software engineering body of knowledge to the creation of various parametric models. I outline criteria for selecting the case studies and I discuss how a variety of quantitative and qualitative metrics can be used to observe parametric flexibility.

I explore the differences between creating a parametric model with a logic programming paradigm compared to creating a model with a more conventional dataflow paradigm. The logic programming paradigm enables the reversal of the parametric process by turning static geometry into a parametric model. However, outside this niche application, logic programming proves to be a difficult modelling interface.

I consider how the principles of structured programming apply to the organisation of parametric models. Splitting models into hierarchies of modules appears to increase the legibility of the models and improve model reuse. Perhaps more importantly, the structure seemed to allow ordinarily pivotal decisions to be made much later in the design process – in some cases, moments prior to construction.

Drawing upon innovations in software engineering Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) to create an interactive programming interface for architects. The interface enables designers to modify their code and immediately see the geometry of the model change. This case study positions the scripting environment itself as a important site of innovation, a site where many programmers have already provided numerous useful innovations.

There is a close relationship between software engineering and parametric modelling. This relationship has implications for how parametric modelling is taught, for how parametric modelling is integrated in practice, and for how we discuss parametric modelling.

In many ways the conclusion to this thesis is simple: software engineers creating computer programs and architects designing with parametric models share similar challenges, which can often be addressed with similar research methods and similar design practices.

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A failed attempt to apply parametric modelling to typography as part of my thesis. Includes a discussion of parametric logos, and source files for six parametric fonts in Processing.

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A long and incomplete history of parametric modelling. Starting in the nineteenth century with James Dana’s crystal drawings, and ending up in twenty-first century by way of Gaudí, Moretti, Ivan Sutherland’s Sketchpad, and other more recent technological innovations.

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As of today, nzarchitecture.com is now danieldavis.com. In this post I look back at the various incarnations of nzarchitecture.com and explain why it was time to retire the name.

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Why I haven’t posted in a long, long time.

Revisiting a year-old post about WebGL. A look at the new tools, new business practices, and new frameworks that have sprung up in the past year.

An interview with Andrea Graziano, better known as Digitag, about the shifting of architectural discourse into new media.

David Fano and Federico Negro of CASE Inc. discuss the organisational challenges of computational design.

An interview with Chin Koi Khoo about his responsive architecture installations that use material properties to sense, move, and glow.

A review of Antoine Picon’s new book, Digital Culture in Architecture, which in my opinion focuses too much on the superficial cultural outcomes of digital architecture without digging into the technical causes.

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A look back at the software, the quotes, and the projects that helped define 2011.

Parametric modelling is hard

13 December 2011

Six quotes that begin to expose some of the rarely discussed problems with parametric modelling.

The iPad has become a primary consumption device in just 18 months. In this post I examine how the much slower architecture industry is adapting to tablet based computing.

A summary of Mark Burry’s latest book, Scripting Cultures.

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MacLeamy’s curve implies that designers are most effective when they shift their effort forwards on a project. In this post I draw upon software engineering to suggest how MacLeamy’s curve can be manipulated to prevent this shift in effort.

Datamining Grasshopper

20 September 2011

Analysis of 2035 Grasshopper models. A look at the most popular nodes, the unpopular nodes, and the biggest models.

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Evolute’s recent patenting of freeform planar surfaces and what it means for architecture. Evolute respond, as do many others, in a long debate in the comments section.

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28 August 2011

A video tutorial about using Yeti, the live scripting interface for Rhino.

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A summary of a few papers and workshop at CAADFutures 2011.

DesignScript is a new programming interface developed by Robert Aish. Its development has been closely guarded and to date there has been almost no publicly accessible information about the project. In this post I uncover what DesignScript is and I speculate on where it might be going.

Yeti is a live programming interface for Rhino. This is the first public release.

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WebGL enables three-dimensional objects to be easily drawn inside a web-browser. Although the technology is still in its infancy, it is set to disrupt the CAD industry. In this post I explain what webGL is and why it is important.

An advanced tutorial for squeezing performance out of a Grasshopper model with threading – which doubles as an explanation for why CAD isn’t getting any faster on most multi-core machines.

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Some of the trends seen at SmartGeometry 2011. The rise of the amateur & the respective market shares of Grasshopper and Generative Components.

An early sneak peak at a project I have been working on: live parametric programming for Rhino.

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Photographs of the Responsive Acoustic Surface from SmartGeometry 2011.

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Two projects I have been working on in Copenhagen. Dermoid: a wooden reciprocal frame. SmartGeometry: a wall made from plaster hyperboloids.

Eminent computer scientist Fred Brooks’s latest book, The Design of Design, reframes programming as a design discipline. In this post I consider what architects can learn from this relationship and from this book.

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A fairly unfavourable review of Lars Spuybroek’s book, The Architecture of Continuity.

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Three interesting clusters happening at the upcoming SmartGeometry 2011.

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A look back at the algorithms, software, quotes, and projects that made up 2010.

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Patrik Schumacher’s comments on my previous blog entry were worthy of a post in and of themselves. So in this post I summarise what they mean for the name of parametricism, for the lack of context to parametricism, for Zaha Hadid being parametric, and other arguments leveled at Schumacher.

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William Mitchell’s The Logic of Architecture is considered seminal to computational design. In this post I put forward the argument that it was actually far from perfect and that the holes in this book can tell us much about the discourse pertaining to computational design.

A brief summary (with pictures) of Jane Burry and Mark Burry’s latest book The New Mathematics of Architecture.

In the past week there have been three new software projects launched. Draftsite – Dassault’s free clone of AutoCAD. AutoCAD WS – AutoCAD for the iPhone. Evolute – software to optimise surfaces in Rhino.

Patrik Schumacher recently claimed that parametric design is the successor to modernism. He named the movement parametricism. In this post I explain why Schumacher is wrong and explain how Zaha Hadid Architects are just jumping on the bandwagon. Schumacher responds to this criticism in the comments — his points are well worth reading.

A review of Robert Woodbury’s latest book Elements of Parametric Design. The result of twenty years research into parametric design, it is probably the most significant book on the subject.

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A look at the code that powers Grasshopper. User interface is a surprisingly large part of Grasshopper, is interface what defines a CAD tool?

Parametric flexibility is more than being able to do something, it is the ability to actually do it. In this post I describe a recent situation when the parametric model failed me or, alternatively, when I failed the parametric model.

How to make better Grasshopper models: six methods for increasing model speed.

How to make better Grasshopper models: avoid spaghetti through the use of modules.

Trending topics

19 July 2010

New materialism and mashups, two prominent topics at a PhD symposium held between CITA, SIAL and the Bartlett.

A method for creating a swarm of points on a surface. Useful for evenly distributing points across a surface without imposing a topological connection between the points.

I joined twitter @nzarchitecture and I am off to Copenhagen.

A discussion of the favourite computational design problem of the 1960s: the distance occupants walked. Why this problem captured the interest of so many researchers, and the non-orthogonal way it was eventually solved.

A method for visualising directed graphs using Processing.

Neil Leach is one of my most beloved authors. This is a guide to his work and where to find it.

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Videos from the Intensive Fields conference held at the University of Southern California. Neil Leach and Manuel Delanda discussing parametric urbanism.

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1 April 2010

This easter, a look at some of the latest developments in Rhino, ubiMash, and Generative Components.

Idle speculation that the global financial crisis was somehow caused by digital simulation in the same ways architects often deceived by digital simulations.

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A look at Spreadsheet 2000, a program that tried to better Excel by exposing the parametric relationships in a graph.

Virtually every CAD program has a Graphical User Interface. While they undoubtedly make computing easier, have we lost something through our reliance on them? In this post I posit that interfaces limit as much as they enable.

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The Voussoir Cloud Installation by IwamotoScott Architecture carries on Gaudí and Otto’s tradition of using hanging chain models as form finding tools.

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A classification and review of currently available parametric software.

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18 January 2010

One of my favourite lectures, Manuel DeLand’s talking about Deleuze and the Use of the Genetic Algorithm in Architecture – no Powerpoint just an hour long rant without any cues.

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A brief look at the birth of CAD. Ivan Sutherland’s 1962 Sketchpad was the first interactive CAD system, which laid the groundwork for much of what we do today, fifty years later.

How a-periodic tiles (identical tiles that join to make a pattern that never repeats) can be used in architecture.

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Graphemes is this weird tool that allows the manipulation of a spring based topology while it seeks equilibrium in real time.

A look at one of my favourite projects, Caliper Studio’s Genetic Staircase. In this project they use a genetic algorithm to optimise the a truss that forms the stringers of the stairs.

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Code to recreate Pablo Carranza’s ArchiKludge. A project that uses genetic algorithms to layout rooms.

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A suggestion for how to start programming using Processing.

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A brief review of three important computational books: An Evolutionary Architecture; Algorithmic Architecture; and Tooling.