Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

January 31, 2015

‘FracShell’: A Grid Shell Design based on Fractal Geometry

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‘FracShell’ is an output of a computational design workshop held in Politecnico di Torino, Turin in Italy in 2014. This workshop was based on a theme which was to find a novel form for designing a shell structure using unique geometric shape, and ‘fractal geometry’ was the best choice we had for representing radically a new type of form system and exhibiting its potency to produce an innovative structural system.

Archimedes’ famous ‘midpoint displacement method’ was used in our project to automatically design the basic form of the shell structure. Usually, Archimedes’ method is one of the classic mathematical tools to produce a parabola in the two dimensional space and a paraboloid in the three dimensional space. In Archimedes’s method, the value of height factor ‘w’ (midpoint displacement value) is 1/4 which is the key responsible for producing a parabola and a paraboloid from a straight line and a flat polygon respectively.

Later, in 1910, Teiji Takagi modified Archimedes’ method and replaced the ‘w’ value by 1/2, and found a remarkable change. The smooth curve of the parabola or the smooth surface of the paraboloid turns into unsmooth and rough with statistical self-similarity, which was later defined by Mandelbrot (1983) as a ‘fractal’. This new fractal curve is known as ‘Takagi curve’ and its three dimensional counterpart is known as ‘Takagi mountain’. (Mandelbrot 1987) Much later, George Landsberg further modified the Archimedes’ and Takagi’s method, and generalized the ‘w’ value to a changeable floating number that ranges from 0.25 to 1.0. Parametrically, the changing of ‘w’ value changes the texture of the surface of a paraboloid. In grasshopper (parametric) software embedded in Rhinoceros3D (CAD software), it can be shown animated way that ‘w’ value exploits the dimension of the paraboloid’s smooth surface, thus changes the fractal dimension ( which is fractional and non-integer) of the surface from 2 to 3, especially when ‘w’ ranges from 0.5 to 1.0.

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fractal shell 1

Based on this geometric venture of exploiting a regular geometric shape into a fractal shape, we intended to apply this shape morphology for structural form design as a gridshell structure, and see how it mechanically reacts and changes structural behavior with the changing of ‘w’ value.

However, after finite element analyses process, as a structural feasibility check, we had decided to make its real scale physical prototype by taking ‘w’ value as 0.5. ‘FracShell’ was a design team which devoted their times to fabricate the structure by facing some critical challenges. However, in the end, we were able to complete the job, and see the physical realization of a mathematical entity as an innovative structural form in architecture.

FracShell construction 3

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Ref:

  1. Mandelbrot, Benoit B. The fractal geometry of nature. Macmillan, 1983.
  2. Mandelbrot, Benoit B. “Fractal landscapes without creases and with rivers.”The science of fractal images. Springer-Verlag New York, Inc., 1988.

Note:

Special thanks to , Bruno Iorio, Elisa Pitassi, Gabriele Bonnet, Gabriele Fusaro and Samuele Marino

August 20, 2013

Design by Coding: Parametric Wave Pavilion using Python Script

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‘Water Wave Pavilion’ was an entry for an international design competition ‘City by Dreams’ hosted by New York City Councils. The concept was to create a pavilion literally under the water by using garden hose pipes. The intention was to make a waveform, and to give it a shape a flexible and transparent water pipe was coiled by wrapping up three main structural wooden curves.

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To do it, there was a need of parametric approach so that by changing the parameters of structural curve geometry and their thicknesses, and by altering the number, radius and curved depth (due the weight of water inside) of hose pipe, I could get a desirable design output based on the needs and suitability.

It was also the occasion for me for attempting to apply scripting knowledge first time to create some algorithmic architectural design.  After some efforts, I was able to write a simple scripting code, i.e., an algorithm in Python language which could be visualized in Rhinoceros. Python component ‘GhPython’ in Grasshopper was an advantage for me which helped me to offer different design outputs by changing the parameters very easily.

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May 25, 2013

Fractal Tower: A Mixed-Use ‘Bridge-Tower’ on Hooghly River (an Utopia?)

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This design proposal was my entry for the ‘CTBUH International Tall Building Design Competition‘ in 2012. It was not selected as a winning entry 😦 .But it was a very good experience for me for daring the first time to externalize an Utopian design idea for the urban regeneration, considering a case of Kolkata, India. I know, there are so many things to be criticized; but as I have said, it is after all an ‘UTOPIAN’ IDEA 😉

The aim of designing the ‘Bridge-Tower’ is to REGENERATE the city Kolkata (in India) by improving the riverfront of holy Ganges, to bring back the glory of the ‘CITY OF JOY’, and to connect the people from city to river in contemporary way but by keeping its tradition and culture alive. Kolkata, once known by ‘Calcutta’, is one of the largest metropolitan cities in India, HAS BEEN SUFFERING from a number of urban related serious issues since mid-twentieth century. Once, it was one of the major commercial and intellectual (art and literature) hubs in 19th and early 20th centuries.  Hooghly River (a branch of Ganges river) crossing the city centrally was the main artery of Kolkata in every sense. During high time, the energy of Hooghly RIVER WAS PULSATING THE URBAN life of the city; it was the major mode of commercial transportation and shipping; jute mills along the river was the busy commercial place; TRADITIONAL GHATS (open platform with series of steps leading down to holy river) with Hindu temples along the river were the main community places (religious and cultural). There was an innate RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN URBAN PEOPLE of Kolkata and HOOGHLY RIVER. But, the city started decaying from the second half of the 20th century because of several unfortunate reasons (geographical, political, economical, etc.). Jute mills, which were one of the main sources to fuel the city economically, were shut down. Gradually, urban people had started isolating from the river and concentrated towards urban centres away from river, and the ghats and river banks had become dirty places. River water has become severely polluted by city’s sewage waters, garbage and drains. It was the river which pulsated the city, and it is the only RIVER WHICH CAN BRING BACK THE BEAUTY AND GLORY OF THE CITY again. I have selected this location of ‘Sobhabazar-Banda’ Ghat area across the river, because this LOCATION has the POTENTIALITY TO ATTRACT URBAN PEOPLE, connect again with the river and revive the city once more.

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Only landscape improvement of the riverfront is not sufficient to truly connect the people with the river, because people use to come and relax in the parks and at open spaces only at free times and in weekends. But if we put some DAILY AND REGULAR URBAN ACTIVITIES on the river then we CAN PHYSICALLY CONNECT the people with the river. That is the reason a MIXED-USE HABITABLE BUILDING TOWER has been proposed for the various immediately needed programs like residence, office, shopping, hotel, restaurant, cinema, cultural events, health, etc. In addition, VERTICAL COURTYARDS FOR COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES has also been proposed. At present, these immediate needs of infrastructures cannot be accommodated inside the city because of overcrowd and lack of available urban spaces inside the city. For building a river bridge only for SINGLE USE – TRANSPORTATION, It costs huge amount of money as well as structural materials and labors. So, why don’t we think about utilizing this massive structure for MIXED-USE purpose too?

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‘NAMASTE’, the unique hand gesture of GREETING, is the inspiration of the building’s overall shape which represents the Indian long-history of tradition, and welcoming of visitors as well as the holy Ganges. The FRACTAL-LIKE BRANCHING PATTERN at the lower part of the bridge-tower is symbolizing the river branches of Bengal’s delta, and inspired by the the tree’s root-branches which supports the weight of the whole tree. The branches of the DIVERSITIES of different cultures, languages, foods and lifestyles of India MERGE INTO AN UNITY and make an unique harmony. This design is the MANIFESTATION OF THIS UNITY IN DIVERSITIES of India.

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India’s traditional wrestling ‘KUSTI’ is the STRUCTURAL CONCEPT of the main form of this structure. Besides, inspired by the structural phenomena of root-branches of a tree, INVERTED BRANCHING STRUCTURE at the lower level of the building has been designed which will AVOID THE STRESS CONCENTRATION of the main tower load on the arch-road and DISTRIBUTE THE FORCE FLOWS UNIFORMLY. Because of the HIGH HUMIDITY of the local climate in Kolkata the tower has been designed with PERFORATIONS at lower part where main public activities are allotted. These perforations are like VERTICAL COURTYARDS which will allow to pass RIVER BREEZES. These vertical courtyards are the places for traditional (folk arts, baul, etc.), cultural (drama, dance and music) as well as contemporary COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES. The lost treasure of the traditions of art and literature of Bengal and Kolkata can be revived through these HANGING COMMUNITY-COURTYARDS above the holy Ganges ..  !!

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March 17, 2013

Fractal Forest (‘Monalisa’) Pavilion: MadeExpo2012, Milan

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Last year in 2012, it was an amazing experience on working in a workshop conducted by ‘Wood Lab’ of ‘Politecnico di Torino’.  A poplar plywood company financed WoodLab for designing a pavilion to exhibit and promote their architectural, sculptural and furniture products. It was a heavy creative exercise to come up with a unique but sensible design idea. Finally, an interesting design concept came to mind and took shape as ‘why don’t an architectural piece can be a manifestation of a story of poplar tree itself’? Poplar grows from its seed, and then gradually it becomes young plant and finally turns into a perennial woody tree.  Poplar trees altogether live in a family making a forest, and finally they are used for making plywood needed for building construction, furniture, and so on. This whole story had to be turned into a shape, a design, a pavilion.

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The challenge of composing this story was done by using two different mathematical design vocabularies –  ‘Algorithms’ and ‘Fractals’. Algorithms helped us to represent the ‘growth’, whereas  fractals helped us to represent the ‘nature’, the forest by tree branches.

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The representation of seed was a small ply panel. Then the panel started growing by increasing its size, then it was budding with two new small branches, it kept on growing and then started taking shape of a tree with the increasing of more branches. Functionally, the seeds were designed for sitting benches, whereas the networks of branches provide the feeling of shelter under the shadow in a poplar forest. Poplar fruited us with furniture and it was represented by benches.  Curvilinear shapes on plan represented the sense of nature.

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To realize the concept into design form, we used computational and parametric techniques in computer by using ‘rhinoceros’ with the help of ‘grasshopper’ and ‘python’. In ‘python’ we scripted the shape of trees with growing branches. Then ‘grasshopper’ was used for making algorithmic benches and arrangement of trees.

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However, after the exhausting creative and designing phases, the next main challenge was how to construct the pavilion by showing the versatility of poplar ply. For this, a structural analysis program ANSYS was used for assessing its stress and bending strength behaviors.

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We started making small scale model to show the freeform character of poplar ply. We made the model in FabLab by using CNC cutter. After that, we made a real scale prototype of one tree module to test its bending strength including other structural potency.

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In October 2012, finally the pavilion was installed in prestigious international ‘MadeExpo’ Exhibition in Milan, Italy. An awesome outcome was ready, and our hardworking were ended by attracting and fascinating a large crowd of visitors !!

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