Complex Modelling

The four year Complex Modelling research project investigates the infrastructures of our design models. By questioning the tools for integrating information across the expanded digital design chain, the project asks how to support feedback between different scales of design engagement moving from material design, across design, simulation and analysis to specification and fabrication.

The project focuses on the integration of material performance as a particular challenge opening up new horizons for a sustainable building culture. The ability to design for and with material performance is a core resource for design innovation closely tied to material optimisation. The project introduces three scales of design engagement by which to examine material performance: the structure, the element and the material. Positioning feedback as a central concern cascading through all scales of engagement, the project asks how dynamic modes of organisation including self-organisation, multi-scalar modelling and self-adaptive modelling can introduce new logics into the design of architectural information models.

The project objectives are:

 - To examine how the inter-relationship and feedback loops between different scales of design engagement: the structure, the element and the material can allow for new insight into the use of materials in architectural practice.
 - To investigate how computational systems for the dynamic modelling of complex interacting sys-tems can allow new practical as well as conceptual tools for understanding design process.
 - To query the role of geometry in these new representations and how we can retain the intuitive, creative and communicable dimensions of architectural design practice.

The investigation is fundamentally interdisciplinary. Bringing together the fields of architectural design, computer science and engineering, the project embeds two new collaborations with Prof. Mark Pauly, Head of the Applied Geometry Group, Computer Graphics and Geometry Laboratory, EPFL, Switzerland  and Prof. Christoph Gengnagel , Chair of Structural Design and Technology, UDK Berlin, Germany.

The project is led by Mette Ramsgaard Thomsen and undertaken in collaboration with the existing research team in her research group CITA (Centre for IT and Architecture). The project expands and develops CITA’s existing research practice, strengthening their inquiry into computational design and material performance while creating new opportunities for investigating the real challenges that emerge as architecture enters a new material practice.

The project is a Sapere Aude Advanced Grant research project supported by The Danish Council for Independent Research (DFF). The grant was awarded Mette Ramsgaard Thomsen and the project started in September 2013 and will run to August 2017.