Posts tagged ‘Fractal’

May 25, 2013

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


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.


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?



‘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.



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 ..  !!



March 17, 2013

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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March 15, 2013

Fractal Architecture and Nature’s Geometry


Fractal geometry, a branch of mathematics developed in 1970s [Mandelbrot 1975, 1984, Edgar 1993] studies abstract configurations characterised by self-similarity patterns and recursive growth [Mandelbrot 1984]. Fractal objects show the properties of being exactly or nearly the same at every progressive scale. From the mathematical point of view, fractal objects are sets that have fractional dimension, so that they are intermediate objects between one and two dimensional shapes (as lines and surfaces) or two and three dimensional forms (as surfaces and solids) [Batty 1985, Falconer 2003]. Recently, thanks to the development of advanced computers, the domain of fractal geometry applications has covered a wide set of scientific discipline, ranging from mathematics [Berkowitz 1998], natural sciences [Vicsek 1994, Sornette 2004], pure and applied sciences [Peitgen 2004], biology and medicine [Losa & Nonnenmacher 2005], to engineering [Dekking, et. al. 1999, Leung 2004, 2011] and architecture[Bovill 1996, Ostwald 2001]. Fractal geometry is specifically used as theoretical as well as technical tools for the analysis, interpretation and description of complex, natural and human phenomena, where continuous or Euclidean geometry are failed to describe.

Architecture is closely associated with geometry, and that is the reason this new concept of fractal geometry can be used for the advancement of architectural and urban designs. In a very wide range of phenomena, the geometry of nature displays fractal-like properties [Mandelbrot 1975, 1984]. Any form, shape and pattern of a natural object are its phenomenological outcomes [Bertol 2011] and therefore, it is believed that there is a strong correlation between biological forms and mechanical phenomena [Thompson 1917, Turing 1954, Durgun 2007]. Accordingly, fractal geometry of nature possibly has a connection with nature’s structural and mechanical behavior. But, there is a recent debate about the fractal geometry and its definition to explain the form and pattern of nature. Adrian Bejan critically argues in his much acclaimed ‘constructal law’ that it is the ‘laws of thermodynamics’ which decides the geometry and form of the natural objects [Bejan 1994], and there is no logical connection between nature’s forms and fractal geometry [Bejan 2000].

For many centuries, a variety of nature’s forms, which in many cases present fractal geometry in their structural appearance, such as trees, cells, crystals etc., have been creatively used by architects and engineers in projects like shells, light-weight structures, arcs, tents and bridges (e.g. Stuttgart Airport, Stuttgart; Galleria & Heritage Square, Toronto; Heart Tent, Riyadh) [Blanco 2001, Otto 1995, Portoghesi 2000]. In the past, several technical ways were exercised to connect fractal concepts with architecture by the method based on physical modelling process. But, nowadays, a procedural generative approach based on a composition of mathematical functions can be practiced by using the advantages of contemporary computer technology for connecting the fractal concept with architecture (e.g., Federation Square, Storey Hall in Melbourne; etc.) [Huylebrouck & Hammer 2006].

The main intention of my research is to increase the knowledge and understanding of nature’s fractal phenomena and forms, and try to apply the results for a better comprehension of human and social behaviour and to the architectural design. Biomimetics is the study of the structure and function of biological systems as models for the design and engineering of materials and machines. Therefore, the area of my research is oriented towards ‘Biomimetic Architecture’ but by means of computational and algorithmic techniques, used as advanced tools for the study, analysis and forms generation.



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