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Parametrie Associative Design

Free Form Architecture


submitted in partial fulfillment of the

requirements for the degree of




P. Th . Vermeij
barn in Bergen op Zoom, the Netherlands

, /

Delft University of Technology

Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences
Building Engineering
Structural Design Lab (SOL)


In the last decad es, the computer has taken in a prominent position in the day to
day life. Also in many professional worlds, computers have become indispensable
for efficient business processes. The field of structural design has followed this ten-
dency. Computers have become a tooI a structural designer cannot do without. For
efficient structural design processes however, computational power is not yet being
used in the most efficient manner. Structural engineers still have difficulties with
using available software in an efficient structural design process.

Coenders and Wagemans [2005] have proposed a new approach toward use of com-
puters in the structural design process: the Structural Design Tools approach . The
Structural Design Tools concept should enable the structural designer to utilise the
power of the computer better in the structural design process. The Structural De-
sign Tools concept doesnt strive to be an all-comprising model, but a collection
of simple tools that can be chosen by the designer to build his design. The tools
should be simple to use, parametric, reusabie, able to communicate with software
used in the design world and able to communicate with the user. Instead of using
the computer for engineering purposes. the computer can be used for design pur-

An important aspect of the Structural Design Tools concept is the parametric as-
sociative character of the design tools. Parametric design is used for the rapid
generation of computable design representations describing design alternatives. Po-
tential design alternatives are generated and evaluated in order to obtain insight
into the impact of the structural parameters on the final integral design. With
adding associativity to the structural design process, design steps are linked and the
possibility of adjusting the parameters in the end of the design process is reached .
With designing structures for Free Form Architecture, this ability is very valuable .
Since there is little design experience with these kind of structures, it is hard to
predict what the impact of a design decision on the final design is. The ability of
defining the values of the structural parameters at the end of the design process
can lead to a more efficient structural design.

Architects, structural engineers, manufacturers and contractors have proved to be

able to design and construct free formed buildings. Progressive developments such
as 3D digital modeling and CNC manufacturing techniques have created possibil-
ities for facilitating the design and fabrication process of Free Form Architecture.
Although several free formed projects have been realised, the development of an
integral design for a free from building in an efficient design process leaves to be
desired. Current structural design experience, education , software and production