Has computational design truly reshaped the workflow in the AEC industry? Have professionals in the AEC industry fully embraced computational design? To what extent has it reshaped their workflow?
Mon Aug 14, 2023
“We shape the buildings; thereafter, they shape us.”
– Winston Churchill
The rapid evolution of technology in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry is transforming how we work. The integration of computational design in architecture has further accelerated this evolution.
From centralised machines to decentralised applications, we've come a long way. In 1943, one computer served many people; in 1974, it was one computer per person; and now, in 2023, we have multiple devices per person.
But how far have we come in our tech journey?
Has computational design truly reshaped the workflow in the AEC industry?
Have professionals in the AEC industry fully embraced computational design?
To what extent has it reshaped their workflow?
Keep reading as we explore the pivotal role of computational design in architecture and the ways it transforms our workflow.
Computational design is an innovative approach that leverages algorithms and software to enhance design and construction processes. It optimises and streamlines the creation of complex, sustainable structures with improved precision and efficiency using advanced tools like Blender, Dynamo, Rhinoceros, Houdini and more.
Traditional design methods are like time-consuming puzzles!
Despite their strong foundation, traditional methods have many limitations compared to computational methods. They rely on manual processes and are prone to human error, resulting in design inconsistencies and inaccuracies. Designers may find themselves stuck in a slow-paced loop, lacking the precision and accuracy needed for modern design demands.
Computational design is revolutionising our approach to design, reshaping its impact on the built environment and influencing our workflow profoundly.
Why repeat the same tasks when you can automate them?
Computational tools can automate repetitive design tasks, saving time and effort for architects and designers. It can generate and modify design elements based on predefined parameters, reducing the need for manual, time-consuming adjustments.
For example, using parametric design software, architects can automatically generate multiple iterations of a building façade based on different design parameters such as solar orientation, material properties, and energy performance requirements.
Experimenting is unlimited—think outside the box like never before!
Computational design tools can enhance innovation and creativity by enabling architects to explore unconventional solutions that are impossible through traditional methods. It generates quick design alternatives, allowing the architects to experiment with different design ideas and push the boundaries of creativity.
For example, using generative design algorithms, architects can explore numerous design variations for complex geometries, resulting in innovative building forms and spatial configurations.
Why limit yourself to one or two options when you can generate multiple designs in a snap?
Computational software facilitates efficient design explorations. It allows architects to quickly generate and evaluate multiple design options based on parameters, like building performance, cost, and aesthetics. Efficient design explorations lead to optimised design solutions that meet project requirements while saving time and resources.
For example, using parametric modelling, architects can easily create and evaluate different design options for a building's structural system, helping them identify the most efficient and cost-effective solution.
Fail-proof your designs by testing them for potential risks while designing them!
Computational tools enable architects to simulate and analyse design scenarios before execution, allowing for informed decision-making. These tools can test and experiment with various design aspects, such as structural performance, energy performance, daylighting, and acoustics, helping architects optimise designs for performance and sustainability.
For example, using building performance simulation software, architects can analyse the energy performance of a building design and optimise it for energy efficiency, reducing the building's environmental impact.
Communicate your ideas with better visualisation!
Computational design tools facilitate visualisation and communication, helping architects convey design intent to stakeholders. Realistic visualisations, renderings, and virtual reality experiences can help with decision-making, reduce misunderstandings, and improve collaboration among team members.
Advancements like generative AI can automate many repetitive visualisation tasks, such as modelling, texturing, and rendering, speeding up the creation of complex structures. Generative AI algorithms analyse large datasets to generate new and unique visualisations, pushing the boundaries of traditional methods. This significantly reduces the time and cost of visualisation, leading to more efficient communication of ideas and better design outcomes.
For example, architects can unlock new modelling limits using modern tools like Maya, Houdini, Blender, etc., to create complex structures. This allows the clients and team members to visualise the design in its intended context leading to more accurate, detailed, and innovative designs.
Source: Nj Optimal
Communicate your ideas with better visualisation!
Computational design tools enable seamless collaboration among stakeholders, allowing real-time sharing and editing of design files. It promotes efficient communication, coordination, and integration of design changes, leading to streamlined and cohesive design processes.
For example, using cloud-based collaborative design platforms, architects and designers can work together in real-time, making changes to the design and providing feedback to each other, leading to a more collaborative and integrated design process.
Hold on tight because the future of construction is here, and it's taking the industry by storm!
But are you updated with new tech in the industry? If not, it's high time!
Embracing computational design can unlock new levels of innovation, creativity, and business success with its automation, efficiency, simulation, and collaboration capabilities.
Architects can integrate computational tools into their workflow by learning the software, understanding their interface, and experimenting.
In common, there are three types of computational design approaches. Parametric Design Algorithmic Design Generative Design
Architects need skills and knowledge in parametric modelling, algorithmic thinking, scripting, and data analysis to use computational design tools effectively.
Opting for computational design online training courses on platforms like Futurly, workshops, webinars, and blogs can help you upskill and gain expertise in computational software.
No, computational and procedural design are not the same. The computational design uses algorithms to generate design options, while the procedural method relies on predefined rules or procedures to guide the design process.
An Architect + Writer, Saili has worked as an Architectural writer & brand storyteller where she has collaborated with firms, studios, organizations, luxury brands, events & educational institutions to communicate in the real estate & travel industry. Her recent initiatives include curating an online workshop on communication and networking within the AEC industry. She is a commentator on the design industry’s upkeep through her social handles while also being an avid reader and traveler.