Sensors and Systems
Breaking News
NASA Smallsats Can Aid Hurricane Forecasts with GPS
Rating12345Eight briefcase-size satellites flying in a row may be...
CareConnect Selects Woolpert to Integrate, Manage Google Maps Platform Enterprise Account
Rating12345The expanding software solution provider will leverage the platform...
Blue Marble seeks presenters for its online geo-conference
Rating12345Hallowell, Maine  – Blue Marble Geographics ( bluemarblegeo.com) is...
  • Rating12345

Perspectives Header

A recent debate included discussion on the use and application of software developed specifically for design related applications – architecture and infrastructure. Members on one side believed that software enabled them to develop many more potential designs quicker and more effectively. The other side suggested that the design process itself was impacted because of the software focus which limited possibilities outside the software functional capabilities. Are there limitations for design with CAD and GIS software?

A recent debate included discussion on the use and application of software developed specifically for design related applications – architecture and infrastructure. Members on one side believed that software enabled them to develop many more potential designs quicker and more effectively. The other side suggested that the design process itself was impacted because of the software focus which limited possibilities outside the software functional capabilities. Are there limitations for design with CAD and GIS software?

(Photo: l to r - Martha Tsikari, Bruce Bell, Jens Andersen, Lars Hesselgren)(Photo: l to r – Martha Tsikari, Bruce Bell, Jens Andersen, Lars Hesselgren)During a debate at the recent Bentley Be Inspired event in Amsterdam moderated by Lars Hesselgren of PLP in London, three presentations were given relating to the topic ‘Simulation, Fabrication and Generative Design’. The basic questions being asked including the following:

  • How is indirect design (software, scripting, optimisation) better than hand-waving intuition? (Martha Tsikari)
  • How will digital fabrication impact the economics of construction ‘and how will it remain the playground of the leading edgers?’  Will construction move from factory to site? (Bruce Bell)
  • How will digital simulation tools impact the professions? How do we collaborate in this new age of intimate interdependencies? (Jens Andersen)

Martha Tsikari says, “architecture is architecture, and design is design.” In her view software is only a tool. It leads to many structures that all look similar and or inheriting similar properties because of the software from which it originates. “Every parametric design involving tools shares similar rules and behaviors,” she said. “If the rules change, then the design changes” – but that should not be confused with conceptual design which architects practice. She provided a real analogy to drive home her point, “we liked the telephone but the real goal was communication.”

Bruce Bell takes a different perspective. “Why is design only for prestigious projects?” he wonders. An industrial designer, Bell says that even vacuum cleaners have design. It was interesting to hear him suggest that only those companies with research and development departments are capable of both design and manufacture – thus controlling the process and products to achieve their highest forms. Bicycle company’s are an example of this.  All of the work is designed in-house.  Apple makes a mobile phone, but also designs it too. Although, Hesselgren was quick to point out that much of that manufacturing takes places in Asia. Nevertheless, the closeness of design to fabrication makes sense, although not essential.

“The construction site is unique, it is the design site,” says Bell. He is currently involved in a building project through his company that attempts to bring designers and construction people together on-site as the building is erected, thereby intervening in what is usually a process where design happens then construction begins.

Jens Andersen is an architect. He suggests that the process is about “creating a recipe for the way forward.” In his view “what comes before complexity is the notion of how we get there – to the design.” Working with 3D parameters, for example, he is able to focus on light – something integral to architectural design in his view.

While Tsikari asks, “what do you mean by complex design,” she reckons that all projects can become complex, or not.  Meanwhile, Bell starts to speak about how designers should enjoy the experience and others talk about sketching with restraints – combining both design and the value of tools into the process. The later enabling a sort of integrated design that inherits rules, but perhaps not too strictly.

If we step outside the CAD design community today and into the geographic information system (GIS) communities, we can see many of the same arguments the debate table puts forward. Some people feel GIS should not be only for selected prestigious GIS software people – just like architects with CAD.

Meanwhile, some people see too much complexity in GIS, suggesting that it is a step away from the creative process that actually supports good design.

Then we see others beginning to voice that optimisation, rules and other elements are what tools bring into the design process. Still others seek to look at the entire work flow and lifecycle processes, and suggest that design and construction are moving closer together – just as map producer and user are too. Both sets of approaches effectively being re-engineering to new approaches and ways for completing tasks, often driven by tool efficiencies.

While architecture professionals interested in creative designs and GIS personnel, seeking to understand the relationships of separate features and objects both seek their solutions in managing (and producing) within a singular environment, the relationships between CAD and GIS, although never mentioned directly, are related and similarly oriented around tools that include rules, behaviors and shared collaboration.

Are there limitations for design with CAD and GIS software? I do not know exactly. But if anything, I see the combination of CAD and GIS as augmenting to the potential numbers of solutions, thereby furthering the research and development of alternatives. Whether or not designing a building has anymore prestige than designing a transportation system is beyond me – but judging from some of the awards I saw given at the event and the projects involved,  the design of a coal terminal, harbor yard, expressway, water network or even a bridge requires talent and creativeness.

The concept of processes moving closer together rings true when we begin to consider field technologies and mobility services. These break down work flows, expedite processes and force new thinking for resolving problems – in interesting ways. Mobility fractures old ways of production, sheds new light and adjusts the way forward in all designs.

———————————————————-

(Photo: l to r – Martha Tsikari, Bruce Bell, Jens Andersen, Lars Hesselgren)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *