Generative Design

The future of CAD

Vasari : Autodesk gets it right

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Early CAD was about replicating the drafting board. Latter it become a visualisation tool. But engineers have been using it for long as an analytical tool. Now, it’s all coming together in a potent way.

Vasari is a surprise – because it is well conceived for modeling designs (instead of drawing) in an integrated analytical environment. But this is something that could have been done two decades ago. All the bits and pieces were available then. But corporations tend to take their time for theirs is a captive audience, that first have to be stepped out of the drawing board and gently into 3D from 2D.

Most software companies that I know are driven by users requested  features added on top of each other. They   lack   what Clinton called the  “ The Vision Thing ” .  But that’s dangerous, because you can get it wrong. Autodesk now seems to have vision. It has proven that vision can be acquired. The acquisition of companies and people seem to have given Autodesk now a distinct advantage in structuring architectural design tool in a way that they should be.

Building are the most poorly conceived of all man-made objects. Millions of dollars worth of materials are moved into position currently with turbo charged drawing tools. The thinking behind signature buildings specially is so much tied to the ego of the architects and their signature styles that help brand their services at the clients expense. Very little exploration is done at the early stages of the design process in terms of the performance of buildings. It is only at the conceptual stages of design that significant performance gains can be made. Vasari can change that. It can help avoiding the making of big bad decisions early. Most firms have batteries of engineers to optimize poorly conceived designs. They know how to do it.

I do not see the use of cloud computing as a major break through for early stage performance analysis. Simple PC based packages can do the same – if the main intent is to avoid is to avoid big dumb mistakes.  Too often, poor computational approaches are compensated with brute computational horsepower. The use of cloud computing may be  a business decision.  business advantage. Good early stage decisions can be made with low computational capacity.

Vasari perhaps marks a turning point.The drafting board automaters have now included tables on their UI – without trying to hide it. It smack of an undesignerly approach to design. I guess the design community is now mature enough to know, that whether they see it or not these damn things are driven by numbers. Perhaps designers are now willing to accept the fallacy of the false creative freedom that comes with blank screens.

99.9% of buildings are fundamentally similar to other buildings. They use very similar materials, have similar internal structure and have similar requirements. The deviations are minor – if you look at it from a genetic perspective (where you do not get too carried away with form variation). It is only a few buildings that are of funny shapes. As they the covers of magazines and flood the walls of design crits, they give us a false sense of how the majority of buildings are evolving.

The normalcy of Vasari, I belive is its greatest strength. It seems to have absorbed or replicated most of the good aspects of its competitors.  It is built on the underlying  commonality of the vast majority building types. For example it assumes that buildings have floors . It is such assumptions that makes it easy to use perhaps att he expense of slanting floors. Vasari is clearly and thoughtfully designed for the early stage of the design process – for which CAD packages have so far been useless.

Vasari sets the stage for mains streamisation of generative design – as it has made the stuff that should have been simple – simple.

It will now be so much easier to explore the performative effects of design variations. Tool that are clever enough to handle the mundane aspects of designs based on file formats that are open enough are a boon to generative design, because they make it much easier to explore design possibilities – which is what generative design is all about.

Written by Sivam Krish

January 9, 2011 at 12:37 am

2 Responses

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Z Outten. Z Outten said: Vasari : Autodesk gets it right […]

  2. Vasari does have a different UI from Revit, but that’s where the differences truly end. Everything you can do in Vasari, you can do in Revit. Through Vasari, and its UI, Autodesk is able to “test” certain features, but at it’s core, it is Revit. As long as the incorrect impression of Vasari being a different software than Revit is out there, for at least the non Revit users, it can’t be a bad thing for Autodesk…

    Luigi Coletta

    December 10, 2012 at 2:57 am

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