Generative Design

The future of CAD

Digital Sketching

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Computers are great for finalizing designs and lousy at developing them. In the the early stages, the design is under evolution. Early stage design exploration mostly happens in the designers mind inspired by incomplete doodles. CAD is cumbersome. It cannot provide  the magic fluidity of the pen,pencil and mind combo. But this seems to be changing. Thanks to tools like grasshopper it is now possible to rapidly sketch designs and consider variations collaboratively. This is now beginning to take hold in architecture. Thornton Tomasetti -presents some excellent examples;

Interestingly, the work processes of  this engineering firm was inspired by seeing students use grasshopper in schools of architecture. Grasshopper is now reaping the benefits of its open approach (the ease of interfacability  for pumping data in out to various analytical packages)  and large and dedicated user community. So architects and engineers can now share same early stage geometric data and build on it.

Tools like grasshopper are now making the very same transition that open sourced software made. People asked the same questions. Would you run a commercial application on free software ? Whom can I call if I have a problem ? This stuff is good to play around, but would you build a building worth millions of $ with it ?  The answerer is yes, and it is happening now.

Once engineers start using it, it will acquire an aura of reliability and respectability (despite its insect name). When engineers ask architects to provide them with grasshopper models architects will assume that this is serious stuff – this is good not only for sketching but also for building stuff, analysing stuff and further along the line for contracting stuff. But there is nothing to get excited, it’s all still parametric play (mistakenly called generative design).

I can see these engineers highly amused by what they can now do with the tools  they picked up last year. They are yet to see what is to come. Such cleverness will soon be commonplace. Cleverness will soon be about using the cleverness of computers. Getting computers to explore, instead of them driving the designs . But we must thank these folks because they have taken the first step in demonstrating what can now be done.

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Written by Sivam Krish

July 25, 2011 at 1:27 am

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