The project is structured around three sub-projects each examining a particular scale-relationship; the structure, the element and the material. Each project undertakes a particular investigation embedding design-led examinations of the complex computational modelling of structural systems.
The sub-project investigates how principles of self-organisation can be used for structural optimisation. Taking point of departure in large scale timber construction, the project examines how the FE analysis of the material dynamics (flex and bend) embedded in the single element can be parameterised so as to inform feedback loops within a complex model composed of interacting sub-systems and used in the design of a load bearing surface-membrane.
The sub-projects examine the interdependencies that appear in friction based structures. Taking point of departure in timber based macro-weaving systems that scale up textile principles, the project aims to devise novel ways of computing the complex feedback in the stress-forces that characterise these systems. Using evolutionary systems of computational learning, the aim is to devise an adapting system in which goal states self-parameterise thereby allowing greater design control.
The sub-project investigates how multi-scalar modelling can be used to understand complex feedback loops between different levels of material organisation. The project takes point of departure in fibre reinforced composites and examines how three levels of modelling: the material, the element and the overall structure can be interfaced and calibrated for use in an architectural design environment. The project employs computational strategies from material science to develop dynamic feedback mechanisms for inter-scalar design control.
The project employs a research-by-design methodology focussing on design-led physical experimentation and full scale prototyping. The physical experiments act as material research inquiries by which the concepts and technologies of the research inquiries are tested and evaluated. The emphasis on the design and implementation of material design experiments allows the project to engage directly with the investigated techniques and technologies moving along the digital chain from design and analysis to specification and fabrication. This integrated approach positions the research inquiries within a similar network of interconnected expertise and practice that make up architectural design practice.
The material experiments generate shared empirical data that can be tested, analysed and evaluated by the research team. The project identifies three kinds of material evidence:
- Speculative design probes allowing ideation and blue-sky thinking
- Material prototyping enabling direct full scale testing of defined design criteria against real-world methods of realisation and production
- Demonstrators acting as proof-of-concept testing design criteria in a direct spatial manners