Archive for November, 2010

November 30, 2010

woman and child hospital, abu dhabi

united arabian emirates (uae)

ordering party

united eastern group

international competition

winning project

building data

gross floor space  84.100 m²

beds  300

– emergency room
– radiology with 2 computer tomographs

and 2 magnetic resonance tomographs
– operation area ( 8 operating theaters)
– diagnostic areas
– children polyclinic
– gynecological polyclinic

with 6 delivery rooms
– labs
– physical therapy
– occupational therapy

November 29, 2010

Double Duty: A two-skinned façade combats intense heat


Chicago Architect


Double Duty: A two-skinned façade combats intense heat

By Travis Soberg, AIA, LEED AP

Environmentally responsive exterior walls are key elements in the design of modern, energy-efficient office buildings. This is especially true when designing for regions subjected to extreme conditions like the United Arab Emirates, where daytime summer temperatures can reach upward of 115ºF. Here, building facades not only must mitigate a 40ºF interior/exterior temperature differential, they must also be able to protect themselves from intense sand storms and the constant corrosive mist of the neighboring Gulf coast.

In Abu Dhabi, Goettsch Partners has designed a unique response to these climatic conditions as part ofSowwah Square, a five-building, 3 million-square-foot development.  Using a combination of a mechanically ventilated cavity and a double-skin façade system over large portions of the building, Goettsch Partners provided a solution that both buffered the temperature differential and protected the more delicate components of the façade.

A double skin for a desert climate is fundamentally different than the version more commonly implemented in cooler, northern regions. While both systems rely on creating a cavity of air that cushions the interior from the exterior, a cool-region system is designed to minimize the heat loss from the interior spaces and relies on the increased temperature of the cavity air to do so. In the UAE, however, the opposite is true and the air cavity is called upon to minimize the radiant heat gain from the exterior to the interior occupied zones.

This is important not only from an energy-saving perspective but also as it relates to the occupants’ comfort level. The ability to deliver the appropriate air temperature is only half the battle on occupant comfort. Another 50 percent of an occupant’s thermal comfort can be attributed to the temperature of any nearby radiant source, such as a glass facade.  This is easy to understand if you imagine standing in front of a window on a cold winter night, feeling the chill of the darkness in front of you. Despite the temperature of the air around you, the temperature of the radiant source that your body “sees” provides an equally strong sense of your thermal comfort.

At Sowwah Square, the double-skin cavities run uninterrupted along the entire height of the 31- and 37-story buildings (two of each height), starting from the fourth floor and extending to the penthouse mechanical floors. Within these cavities, active solar shades continuously track and adjust for the sun angle in order to provide optimal shading to the building’s interior. While the shades themselves are robust enough to withstand the expected exterior conditions, the gears that operate them are not. As happens with most gears, corrosive and gritty particles are detrimental to their long-term operation and will cause them to bind, locking the shades into a fixed position. So it was imperative that the double-skin cavities be sealed from the outdoor environment, isolating the shades from airborne particles such as sand and sea salt, which would have compromised their ability to follow the arcing sun.

To meet this need for a sealed cavity, a technique was required that would prevent the cavity from heating up like a greenhouse and increasing the internal radiant temperature. The first step was to minimize the amount of solar energy penetrating the outer layer of the double-skin system. Utilizing an outboard lite with a very high shading coefficient, the design team was able to effectively block 76 percent of the solar energy from ever entering the air cavity. The remaining energy was then blocked from reaching the inner façade by the active shading, although its presence contributed to an elevated air temperature within the double-skin cavity.

To alleviate the accelerated temperature and achieve the moderating air buffer, the warm cavity air needed to be flushed out using an air source cooler than the natural air temperature. The solution Goettsch Partners developed was to collect the exhaust air from the tower offices and, instead of allowing it to escape into the atmosphere, redirect it back down the double-skin cavities, where it is exhausted at the fourth floor mechanical level. Sensors within the cavities will modulate dampers at the top of the building, directing the air to the optimal zones of the cavity depending on the time of day and outdoor temperature. Additional dampers will allow filtered exterior air to enter directly into the cavity during economizing periods, such as night and winter, when the outdoor air is lower in temperature than the collected exhaust air.

Through these efforts, the design team expects the double-skin cavity to be an average temperature of 89º F when the exterior temperature reaches 115º F. This will allow the high U-value of the insulated inner glazing to more easily block the air cavity’s radiating energy.

Most importantly, calculations estimate that the double-skin system designed for Sowwah Square will generate a savings of 7200 kwh of electricity per day (for all four buildings) and provide a more comfortable thermal environment near the perimeter wall, all while protecting itself from the harsh external elements. For Goettsch Partners, these are the results that make environmentally responsive facades such a key element of modern office design.

Travis Soberg is an associate principal and director of sustainable design at Goettsch Partners.

November 28, 2010

Zaisa Tower / Hoz Fontan Arquitectos

Zaisa Tower - Hoz Fontan Arquitectos © Jose HeviaZaisa Tower - Hoz Fontan Arquitectos © Jose HeviaZaisa Tower - Hoz Fontan Arquitectos © Jose HeviaZaisa Tower - Hoz Fontan Arquitectos © Jose HeviaZaisa Tower - Hoz Fontan Arquitectos © Jose HeviaZaisa Tower - Hoz Fontan Arquitectos © Jose HeviaZaisa Tower - Hoz Fontan Arquitectos © Jose HeviaZaisa Tower - Hoz Fontan Arquitectos © Jose Hevia

Architects: Hoz Fontan Arquitectos
Location: Irun, 
Partners in Charge: Angel de la Hoz, Cristina Fontan
Collaborators: Gurutze Aldanondo, Angel Alvarez
Rigger: Juan Murua
Structure: Jose Antonio Gurruchaga
Contractor: Altuna y Uria
Photographs: Jose Hevia

Located close to the border between  and France, the new office tower is the last building of the Zaisa transportation hub in Irun, and houses Zaisa’s headquarters and rental office space.

The tower is inserted in front of a building that has a crescent like façade, and over a previously existing underground parking. When the parking was built, some pillars were raised from the ground level waiting for a future development.The first volume of the tower is an elliptical base that groups the pillars that came from the parking. On top of this ellipse, eight stories of offices are located. The two volumes have a different structure that is connected by a W that also points the entrance of the building. Zaisa´s headquarters are located in the two upper floors, which are connected by a double height space. The last floor provides two garden terraces, accessible from the meeting rooms.

Zaisa Tower - Hoz Fontan Arquitectos © Jose HeviaZaisa Tower - Hoz Fontan Arquitectos © Jose HeviaZaisa Tower - Hoz Fontan Arquitectos © Jose HeviaZaisa Tower - Hoz Fontan Arquitectos © Jose HeviaZaisa Tower - Hoz Fontan Arquitectos © Jose HeviaZaisa Tower - Hoz Fontan Arquitectos © Jose HeviaZaisa Tower - Hoz Fontan Arquitectos © Jose HeviaZaisa Tower - Hoz Fontan Arquitectos © Jose Heviafloor plans floor planseast elevation east elevationsouth elevation south elevationsection 01 section 01section 02 section 02exploded axon exploded axon

November 28, 2010

Jewish Museum, Berlin / Daniel Libeskind

JewishMuseumBerlinAerialwikicommons Courtesy of Wikimedia CommonsDSC_0107edit © Cyrus PenarroyoIMG_3380 © Mal BoothDSC_0102edit © Cyrus PenarroyoIMG_3358 © Mal BoothDSC_0180edit © Cyrus PenarroyoDSC_0094edit © Cyrus PenarroyoDSC_0163edit © Cyrus PenarroyoDSC_0162edit © Cyrus PenarroyoDSC_0138edit © Cyrus PenarroyoDSC_0124edit © Cyrus PenarroyoDSC_0119edit © Cyrus Penarroyo

In 1987, the  government organized an anonymous competition for an expansion to the original Jewish Museum in  that opened in 1933.  The program wished to bring a Jewish presence back to  after WWII.  In 1988, Daniel Libeskind was chosen as the winner among several other internationally renowned architects; his design was the only project that implemented a radical, formal design as a conceptually expressive tool to represent the Jewish lifestyle before, during, and after the Holocaust.

The original Jewish Museum in  was established in 1933, but it wasn’t open very long before it was closed during Nazi rule in 1938.  Unfortunately, the museum remained vacant until 1975 when a Jewish cultural group vowed to reopen the museum attempting to bring a Jewish presence back to .  It wouldn’t be until 2001 when Libeskind’s addition to the Jewish Museum finally opened (completed in 1999) that the museum would finally establish a Jewish presence embedded culturally and socially in .

For Libeskind, the extension to the Jewish Museum was much more than a competition/commission; it was about establishing and securing an identity within , which was lost during WWII.  Conceptually, Libeskind wanted to express feelings of absence, emptiness, and invisibility – expressions of disappearance of the Jewish Culture.  It was the act of using architecture as a means of narrative and emotion providing visitors with an experience of the effects of the Holocaust on both the Jewish culture and the city of .

The project begins to take its form from an abstracted Jewish Star of David that is stretched around the site and its context. The form is established through a process of connecting lines between locations of historical events that provide structure for the building resulting in a literal extrusion of those lines into a “zig-zag” building form.

Even though Libeskind’s extenstion appears as its own separate building, there is no formal exterior entrance to the building. In order to enter the new museum extension one must enter from the original Baroque museum in an underground corridor. A visitor must endure the anxiety of hiding and losing the sense of direction before coming to a cross roads of three routes.  The three routes present opportunities to witness the Jewish experience through the continuity with German history, emigration from , and the Holocaust.  Libeskind creates a promenade that follows the “zig-zag” formation of the building for visitors to walk through and experience the spaces within.

From the exterior, the interior looks as if it will be similar to the exterior perimeter; however, the interior spaces are extremely complex.  Libeskind’s formulated promenade leads people through galleries, empty spaces, and dead ends. A significant portion o f the extension is void of windows and difference in materiality.  The interior is composed of reinforced concrete which reinforces the moments of the empty spaces and dead ends where only a sliver of light is entering the space. It is a symbolic gesture by Libeskind for visitors to experience what the Jewish people during WWII felt, such that even in the darkest moments where you feel like you will never escape, a small trace of light restores hope.

One of the most emotional and powerful spaces in the building is a 66’ tall void that runs through the entire building. The concrete walls add a cold, overwhelming atmosphere to the space where the only light emanates from a small slit at the top of the space.  The ground is covered in 10,000 coarse iron faces. A symbol of those lost during the Holocaust; the building is less of a museum but an experience depicting what most cannot understand.

Libeskind’s extension leads out into the Garden of Exile where once again the visitors feel lost among 49 tall concrete pillars that are covered with plants.  The overbearing pillars make one lost and confused, but once looking up to an open sky there is a moment of exaltation. Libeskind’s Jewish Museum is an emotional journey through history.  The architecture and the experience are a true testament to ’s ability to translate human experience into an architectural composition.

“The Jewish Museum is conceived as an emblem in which the Invisible and the Visible are the structural features which have been gathered in this space of  and laid bare in an architecture where the unnamed remains the name which keeps still.”  – 

Architect: Daniel Libeskind
Project Year: 1988-1999 (opened 2001)
Photographs: Mal BoothCyrus PenarroyoWikicommons





November 24, 2010

Revit and CFdesign

Moving to Building Information Modelling does not just assist in the co-ordination and production of plans and elevations. With an accurate 3D model, simulation and analysis can lead to better designs. Blue Ridge Numerics has recently hooked up its Computational Fluid Analysis solution, CFdesign, to Revit, writes Martyn Day.

Computational Fluid Analysis (CFA) sits at the high-end of the design analysis technology tree. It plays a major role in aircraft and automotive design, providing feedback about airflow and reducing drag. It similarly assists the aerodynamic design of Formula 1 cars, with access to wind tunnels limited by the regulations of the competition. However, CFD is not limited to just those cutting-edge professions, but has regularly been used by high-end engineering construction firms and consultants for many years.

With the focus of building design now largely pointing towards greener buildings, maximising efficiency and lowering energy usage, architects have a need to understand the physics of their designs. Like solar, lighting and heating analysis tools such as Autodesk’s Ecotect, CFD can play an active role in shaping the conceptual form, which is decided early in the design process. Putting analysis at the back end of a design process, if at all, when all the key decisions have been made and documented is a fundamental design-process error.

CFD can emulate gases and liquids, heat and mass transfer, multiphase physics, fluid-structure interaction and acoustics throughout any meshed 3D computer model. The move to Building Information Modelling (BIM) in the industry is providing the essential raw material for analysis and 3D models. For architects, a CFD solver would help solve traditionally tough design challenges: thermal comfort, energy audits, solar loading, condensation, smoke egress, occupant safety, thermal bridging and external wind loading. It is due to the increasing need for accurate physical modelling and the consequences of design decisions that Blue Ridge Numerics has built an integration between CFdesign and Autodesk’s popular Revit design suite.


Revit offers the potential to build a single digital model of a design, from the initial concepts to a full building, containing all the Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing (MEP) and structural components. At each design phase, CFD tools have an active role to play.

On installing CFdesign 2010, a CFdesign icon is added to the Revit toolbar. When an analysis is required simply click on the icon and the design study manager window is brought up. Here one selects which geometry is allocated to the various simulation options. Once selected, CFdesign launches with the corresponding geometry, where various simulations can be run to analyse the airflow, heat, smoke and a number of other possibilities. With each change to the design, the geometry can be resubmitted to CFdesign for analysis. As the design progresses, the CFD analysis will provide valuable feedback on the performance, indicating problem areas that need to be addressed or are introduced by design teams or client changes.

CFdesign displays two wind analyses of the faces of a building side by side, showing the velocity magnitude profile for the design. Results like this will quickly alert the designer to any issues that can be rectified early in the conceptual design phase.

For instance, at the initial concept stage, the wind pressure may be a concern. A 3D model, with or without terrain, can be exported directly into CFdesign, together with weather information for the location. The more geometry that is imported the longer the analysis will take, so elements like trees or small building details should not be selected for export for quick ‘what if?’ scenarios.

As this is the first version of the link, CFdesign only deals with the geometry, ignoring any additional building information that Revit holds, this is expected to be leveraged in future releases.


CFdesign is a very rich visual package and pretty easy to use. The thermal and airflow results are provided in colour-banded 3D models, which feature all the forces or temperatures on building surfaces together with arrow and ribbon animations, indication of wind speeds, directions and any currents or vortexes that the form generates.

The software provides results in a graphical feedback with many options for how to display the results, arrows, ribbons, animation and a variety of graphs, which can immediately provide clear feedback for design refinement. The results are projected onto the 3D model in CFdesign and they can be interacted with and the view can be manipulated. It is even possible to bring up the 3D solutions of two different analyses side by side, which is really useful when trying to understand the results or the effectiveness of proposed solutions.

From my experience I have seen firms use CFD analysis for conceptual design of complex tall buildings that have louvre systems for shading. Obviously in a city and at considerable altitude, the louvre systems need to stay attached to the building and not buckle under extreme wind loads. Here, a CFD analysis can give critical and accurate feedback to determine the loads that any design will have to survive.

CFD is complex as there are many levels of interaction, together with the complexity of fluid physics. In this example it is not just the interaction between the airflow and the louvre, or the air and the building skin, but also how the surrounding buildings impact the airflow prior to reaching the building’s envelope. When considering large-scale analysis such as these, CFD is also used in pollution analysis, as well as the wind deflection impact of new building designs to existing buildings.

CFD tools can model the movement of hot and cold air for thermal emissions and MEP analysis. This can be used in the simulation of residential, commercial and industrial building scenarios, including natural solar heating as well as heat from equipment like servers and PCs. Obviously, CFD is highly useful for simulating the cooling and heating provided by MEP systems. Here complete high-efficiency heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) building systems can be simulated and the complex interactions between airflows understood, which will hopefully minimise building running costs.

HVAC and MEP analysis is where CFdesign really excels. Here a floor at Yale University has been analysed as built. The colour mapping shows the lack of consistency in the coverage. The analysis depicted next to it is after this information has been used to optimise the ducting design, providing consistent coverage.

CFdesign offers excellent tools to simulate the effect of smoke from a building fire throughout a model, as demonstrated on page 20. This will help establish the visibility in the event of a fire and any design changes that could be made to give occupants the maximum possibility of escaping.


Historically, CFD solutions not only cost tens of thousands of pounds, but also have typically been licensed per year and at additional licenses per individual processor. Blue Ridge Numerics has a reputation for bucking that trend and have brought the price of CFD down, but it is still a significant investment of many thousands of pounds.

I would envisage an architectural firm having one licence of CFdesign, which would be used by multiple teams as a central resource, providing quick design results, as well as more detailed analysis as the design progresses. Should the practice be mixed with MEP, then that is more users and more benefit from the investment.

The move to 3D in design construction is still in its early days but is now starting to benefit from years of research in other design fields. While the AEC 3D modelling tools are now reaching a mature and usable level, in only a matter of years, high-end, bullet-proof analysis tools are now available for enhanced iterative design.

CFdesign is a very, very impressive tool, its results are as visually appealing as Autodesk’s Ecotect and intuitive to use. The comparison function and design-test-edit methodology will undoubtedly lead to rapid improvements in the creation of performance-driven, energy efficient buildings.

Written by Martyn Day

Published 25 January 2010

November 24, 2010

Rhino Grasshopper

Popular among students and professionals, McNeel Associate’s Rhino modelling tool is endemic in the architectural design world. The new Grasshopper environment provides an intuitive way to explore designs without having to learn to script, writes Martyn Day.

Generative modelling is undoubtedly becoming one of the most exciting CAD developments adopted by the industry. While architectural practices lagged mechanical designer’s appetite for 3D by about 20 years, there has been a sharp increase in the use of 3D and advanced form-creation tools and Rhino is one of the more popular solutions.

Zaha Hadid’s Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, Vilnius. This will be the new centre for international art house pieces from collections of both the New York-based Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the St Petersburg-based State Hermitage Museum.

Rhino has played a predominant role within that move to 3D because of its low cost, ease of use and powerful feature set. Bob McNeel, the man behind McNeel and Associates, developer of Rhino, estimates that it possibly has around 50,000 architectural users worldwide. However, Rhino is developed to be a non-industry specific surface modelling tool, at home designing a yacht, a ring, a shoe or a skyscraper it produces surfaces that are useful for all designers.

McNeel has developed a number of Rhino add-ons and plug-ins, mainly offering additional broad-functionality for rendering and animation in the guise of other animals ‘Penguin’ and ‘Flamingo’, as well as ‘Bongo’ and ‘Brazil’. The latest enhancement is called Grasshopper and comes free of charge while it is in development. Aimed at the emerging generative shape designers, Grasshopper is tightly integrated into Rhino and allows the user to interactively drive geometry via a plug and play interface, removing the need for learning the RhinoScript language.

Bob McNeel said that Grasshopper was developed as an attempt to make scripting more accessible to users that wanted generative modelling tools. “During the design process, designers set-up sophisticated relationships between the parts of the design problem. Before Grasshopper, Scripting, .NET, or C++ code was the only way to do that in Rhino. Writing code is not something designers really want to get their head into. It seemed like most bigger firms have a few ‘scripting geeks’ that could not keep up with the designers’ demands. So more and more designers were asking for scripting training… but then they hated it once they figured out how tedious coding was.

“Grasshopper is a way for designers to look at design problems as a set of sophisticated relationships and to map those relationships graphically and programmatically into a system that allows them to interactively play with alternatives. At first Grasshopper was very simple but, based on user feedback, it now allows for very complete systems, including the ability for expert users to extend the system with C# and Visual Basic components.”

Grasshopper works within Rhino and uses standard Rhino geometry but has its own slick interface window. Algorithms and manipulators are dragged, dropped and connected, as if they were being wired together like effects pedals. It is about as easy as it gets to use but still requires a methodology and understanding of geometry to get a desired result.

Rhino in London

Rhino is particularly popular with expressive London-based architects, such as Zaha Hadid, Buro Happold, HOK Sport and Foster + Partners. Fostering Grasshopper’s usage in London is SimplyRhino, the largest Rhino reseller.

The company runs the annual Shape to Fabrication event which focuses on the use of Rhino and Grasshopper in modelling forms and shapes, through to complex engineering analysis and final manufacturing. McNeel programmers and even Bob McNeel usually make an appearance and are very accessible. The Simply Rhino Shape to Fabrication events are always complete sell outs and well worth attending.

Grasshopper works within Rhino and uses standard Rhino geometry but has its own slick interface window. Algorithms and manipulators are dragged, dropped and connected, as if they were being wired together like effects pedals.

Globally, Bob McNeel knows of 12,000 active Grasshopper customers, 90% of which are architects but admits there may well be more as users do not have to register to download. This liberal attitude permeates through McNeel’s business model and means the company is very customer focussed, leading to a very active user community.

One of the stand-out messages from Grasshopper was McNeel linking the modelling to fabrication. While other CAD vendors seem to only concentrate on the modelling aspect in creating the 3D forms, McNeel has always talked about what happens once the design is complete. “Our assumption is that Rhino is all about ‘design for digital fabrication’. Rhino has always been about free-form shapes that are accurate enough to manufacture. Architecture is the only market we are in that still requires complete 2-D documentation. In all of the other markets, the Rhino 3-D model is used in all phases of design through to fabrication. In many cases without any 2-D documentation.

“AEC is only beginning to catch up. Many of the limitations are not related to the CAD technology, instead the problem is with the AEC business model where everyone is trying to protect themselves from being sued by the other members in the process. Lucky for us, free-form architecture has become very fashionable and it is not possible to fabricate those buildings from 2-D drawings alone. In general, I would guess that more than half of all Rhino users are on the fabrication side rather than the design side.”

Grasshopper is being used and talked about by the same people that had advanced geometry needs and bought into Bentley Systems’ Generative Components (GC). However, GC is script-based and requires training. It is also based on MicroStation, which has a parametric modeller, while Grasshopper uses a very visual plug and play interface to automate the scripting and is based on Rhino, which is a non-parametric surface modeller.

Bob McNeel admitted that the company does not know much about GC, “except that people tell us that it is harder to learn and use than Grasshopper. Since Grasshopper is very flexible, users can set up most any kind of relationship they like, so I guess you could say some of those relationships are parametric. But if the user wants to organise their generative model more like a script, it is more script-like. We are trying not to limit anyone’s shape generation process by forcing them to think about it in a certain way. In most cases, Grasshopper is instantly interactive when you change an input (geometry or parameter) or when you change the definition.”


One of the biggest limitations of all parametric modelling tools is performance, it is very easy to create a script that forces the computer to make thousands of calculations and slow down. The shipping 32 bit version of Rhino suffers from the 2GB RAM limit. To access 64 bit it is suggested moving to the ‘work in progress’ Rhino 5 builds that are available. Bob McNeel explained the strategies to limit performance degradation: “Our goal is for the generative process to be completely interactive. If you make any change to the Grasshopper definition or an input, you see the change instantly. Of course, as the definition gets more complex and the model larger, it slows down. There are options to not regenerate every time you make a change. Also, it is easy to ‘disconnect’ part of a definition while you are working on others.”

The Mac

McNeel has said that Rhino is available as a ‘work in progress’ for the Apple Macintosh and it may be some time before Mac customers will be able to use it. “Grasshopper is a .NET application. It is not clear how we will be able to get Grasshopper over to OSX. The Rhino for OSX is still in development and we haven’t addressed any of the issues related to plug-ins yet,” said Bob McNeel.


Rhino has always been an impressive modelling tool but with Grasshopper, it becomes a very powerful design exploration conceptualiser. The interface for developing the generative designs is worthy of an ‘ease of use’ prize and shames established products like Bentley’s Generative Components. However, users still need to know what they are doing and how to get what they want from the geometry mathematically. The amazing work of Grasshopper users speaks volumes.

While Grasshopper is currently free, it may incur a cost in future. “Grasshopper is still in development. It will be free to all Rhino users as long as it is in development… at least another year. We are not sure yet if at some point it will be an option, or included with Rhino, or a special version of Rhino, or there is a basic version with Rhino and a full version option! In any case, it will not be a financial burden to anyone that wants to use it,” said Bob McNeel.

McNeel has recently launched a new website for the Grasshopper community, which offers tutorials, a gallery and an active forum.

Written by Martyn Day

Published 02 June 2009

November 24, 2010

modeLab | Advanced Parametrics Workshop

Advanced Parametrics is a two-day intensive design workshop (with an optional third day) to be held in New York City during the weekend of December 04.

This workshop will cover advanced parametric topics such as data structure manipulation as well as design strategies that incorporate Simulation and Genetic Algorithms in a fast-paced and hands-on learning environment.  An optional third workshop day is offered to those participants desiring further time to develop individual projects or lines of research.

Rhino, in conjunction with the parametric modeling plug-in Grasshopper and its multitude of add-ons, offers the possibility to explore parametric and computational design with unprecedented fluidity. Leveraging this capacity, we have structured this workshop around a series of architectural design strategies with supporting content to foster a fast-paced and productive learning environment. As part of a larger online infrastructure, modeLab, this workshop provides participants with continued support and knowledge to draw upon for future learning.

Attendance will be limited to provide each participant maximum dedicated time with instructors. Participants should be familiar with the basic concepts of parametric design and interface of Grasshopper.

modeLab is graciously supported by the following sponsors:


Instructors | Ronnie Parsons + Gil Akos | Partners, Studio Mode.
All experience levels are welcome. Participants should be familiar with the basic concepts of parametric design and interface of Grasshopper.
All participants are required to bring their own laptops. Trial software will be made available.
Registration Pricing (limited enrollment) : $550/$650.
Workshop Location :  modeLab | NYC.
Workshop Hours : 10AM-6PM.
Examples of Previous Workshops.

modeLab Workbook | Printed + PDF Documentation
modeLab Exercises | Annotated Pre- and Post-Exercise GHX Files
modeLab Primers | Annotated Primer GHX Files
modeLab Strategies | Annotated Parametric Strategy GHX Files
modeLab Utilities | Custom Parametric Design Workflow Utility GHX Files

Parametric Design Logics
Computational Geometry
Modularity + Recombination
Data Structures + Manipulation
Simulation + Genetic Algorithms

2010.November.01 | Workshop Announced + Registration Opens.
2010.December.04 | Workshop Begins.
2010.December.06 | Optional Workshop Session.

To register for the workshop, please complete payment through the button below.

Registration Options
2Days $550.00 3Days $650.00


November 24, 2010

Pedestrian bridge for La Roche-sur-Yon by Bernard Tschumi and Hugh Dutton

A pedestrian bridge designed by American New York-based architectBernard Tschumi and French firm Hugh Dutton Associés has opened in La Roche-sur-Yon in France.

The tubular lattice bridge connects the old centre of Atlantic coast town with newer districts across the TGV railway tracks.

Photos are copyright © Christian Richters/VIEW

Here’s some info from the architectural team:


LA ROCHE-SUR-YON, FRANCE March 9, 2010: A public ceremony on February 6th inaugurated a footbridge in La Roche-sur-Yon, France, designed by Bernard Tschumi Architects and Hugh Dutton Associates. The bridge’s cylindrical structure aims to express the loads and stresses on the bridge while creating an original and contemporary statement for the town, located near resort communities of the western coast.

The extension of the TGV train to La Roche-sur-Yon and nearby towns bordering the Atlantic marks not only an important moment for the modernization of the European and French train network, but also  an occasion to initiate civic improvements.  Linking the historic city founded by Napoleon (“the Pentagon”) with new neighborhoods, this pedestrian bridge crosses above high-speed railway tracks, providing an important urban connection for the town.

Conceived through joint collaboration between the fields of architecture and engineering, the bridge was designed by Bernard Tschumi and Hugh Dutton, with their respective teams in Paris and New York.  The teams developed the design for La Roche-sur-Yon as both a utilitarian vector of movement and a symbol of contemporary urban relationships.  The intention of the designers was to demonstrate an integration of an original structural system with an architectural concept developed from urban scale research of neighborhood identity and carried through the expression of the minutest details.

It has been said that there is no architecture without movement.  A pedestrian bridge is not just a static object, but represents a dynamic vector in both its usage and urban perception.  The designers have sought to express this dynamic characteristic, as much through the structural system as through finishing materials (interlaced polycarbonate surfaces protect passengers from weather conditions, while lighting follows the rhythm of the structure).  Even the bright red-orange color was chosen to emphasize the urban significance of the bridge as a pedestrian vector.


The new bridge replaces an existing structure, a standard railway design that can be found all over France, contemporary with and inspired by the work of Eiffel, using lateral beams composed of a diagonal mesh of small plate strips that are riveted together.  The design of the new bridge uses the same language of a diagonal mesh, but in a tubular from, to create a complete cylindrical volume through which the users pass. Footbridges over railways require lateral protection for safety of both the users and the trains below. The complete volume provides a single structural solution that possesses the necessary inertia to span between the available support points as well as provide support for the required protective screens and a canopy cover.

Robert le Ricolais, a distinguished thinker and innovator in architectural and engineering design was born in La Roche-sur-Yon, worked in France before World War 2 and then moved to the University of Pennsylvania. He is known for his research work in the development of spatial three dimensional structures, studying structural concepts such as weightlessness and the infinite span.  His work extended beyond architecture and engineering to painting and poetry. The bridge design is an homage to him.

The triangulated mesh of the main structural tube is articulated to distinguish between the tensile and compression forces by using simple tie rods for the tensile members. The ties have no compressive capacity and express therefore the tensile zones. The compressive members are in ‘T’ or ‘H’ sections corresponding to the magnitude of forces in them. The section sizes of the members vary as a function of the loading to optimize the steel mass and further express the forces in the system. Mid-span, the lower chords are tensile, while the upper members are compressed. The inverse is true at the support points, where the bending moments are inverted. The shear forces in tubular truss are generally greater at the support points and tending more and more vertical the closer one approaches the supports. The pattern of triangulation of the truss follows this change in direction of forces. The general objective is to find a harmonious geometric composition that expresses the natural passage of forces.


The complexity of the project required the expertise of in international team. Team leaders included Bernard Tschumi and Hugh Dutton, associated architect Veronique Descharrières within BTuA, and Pierluigi Bucci and Pierre Chassagne, engineers at HDA.  Jean-Marie Garnier of the SNCF managed the project for the client and coordinated implementation.

La Roche-sur-Yon, France

Bernard Tschumi and Hugh Dutton

Bernard Tschumi Architects (BTA), joint representative, including general design and preliminary urban studies.

Hugh Dutton Associates (HDA)

Schematic Design, Design Development:  Francoise Akinosho, Ben Edelberg, Kim Starr.  Construction Documents / Site Supervision : Véronique Descharrières, Vincent Prunier, Rémy Cointet, Alice Dufourmontelle

Pierluigi Bucci, Pierre Chassagne, Francesco Cingolani, Maria Angela Corsi, Pietro Demontis, Gaëtan Kolher, Cathy Shortle, Romain Stieltjes, Carla Zaccheddu

City of La Roche-sur-Yon

SNCF  – Engineering Department, Jean-Marie Garnier

Renaudat Centre Constructions

© Christian Richters

November 24, 2010

Railway Footbridge at Roche-sur-Yon

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The project for a footbridge located in Roche-sur-Yon was commissioned as a collaborative work in between HDA Paris, who has a previous experience with the footbridge they did in Turin for the Olympic Village in 2006 and Bernard Tschumi, who recently finished the Acropolis Museum.


The program for the extension of the TGV network in southern  includes a passage through the town of la Roche sur Yon. The town is modernizing the train station and replacing an 1890’s footbridge over the railway tracks. The town is separated by the railway tracks into two parts: the historical central neighborhood, which contains the ‘Pentagon’ planned by Napoleon and it’s contemporary counterpart with its modern facilities (stadium, school and residential zones).The ambition of the town, is not only to create a symbolic link between the two neighborhoods, but equally to celebrate the arrival of the TGV.La Roche sur Yon is the birthplace of Robert le Ricolais, engineer, architect, poet and painter, known for his theoretical research on trellis structures and tensegrity during the 1950’s. This heritage, both intellectual and historical, has inspired the design of the new footbridge by attempting maximum lightness. During the design process therefore HDA combined structural optimization with the architectural concepts by creating a full height filigree lattice tube, that provides not only a support for safety meshes as required by the railway authority, but also maximum structural inertia.The diagonal lattice design recalls the existing old riveted footbridge. At the support points, the stresses are mainly shear, in the predominantly vertical direction, and at mid-span, the stresses become principally bending and the direction tends towards the horizontal. The natures of the forces are highlighted by ‘T’ or ‘H’ section profiles for compression and simple rod ties for those in tension. The transition between supports and mid-spans is also underlined by the presence of vertical circles that recreate links for the shear force transfer. The architectural result is an expression of the natural forces.

It is interesting to consider that the structural optimization process that permits, saving tons of material is not only driven by practical, aesthetic and economic objectives, but also has an ecological dividend.  itself is a recyclable material to begin with. From the initial analyses, where all  sections were identical, the tonnage was reduced considerably using subsequent iterative analyses, and notably by replacing the tension members with thin rods. This also significantly contributed to a delicateness in the architectural quality.

A real scale prototype is now complete and the footbridge construction is in progress and the final delivery is planned during 2009.


November 21, 2010

Skandia / Brunnberg & Forshed Arkitektkontor AB

Green Building / Brunnberg & Forshed Arkitektkontor AB © Robin Hayes

Architects: Brunnberg & Forshed Arkitektkontor AB
Location: Kungsholmen, 
Principals in Charge: Hans Bergström (Partner)
Project Architect and Manager: Staffan Corp (Partner)
Project Team: Håkan Brunnberg, Fredrik Liljeström, Charlotta Turesson, Louise Rangmark, Björn Holm, Bosse Nilsson, Stefan Brink, Marianne Jonsson, Walter Wangler, Olga Allpere-Stinzing.
Project Area: ~35,000 sqm
Project year: 2006-2010
Photographs: Robin Hayes

Green Building / Brunnberg & Forshed Arkitektkontor AB © Robin HayesGreen Building / Brunnberg & Forshed Arkitektkontor AB © Robin HayesGreen Building / Brunnberg & Forshed Arkitektkontor AB © Robin HayesGreen Building / Brunnberg & Forshed Arkitektkontor AB © Robin Hayes

Skandia’s new headquarters is located in an expanding part of central . It establishes many companies, many new homes being built and its status is increasing rapidly. The building is located on a property where it originally was a very run down office building that was difficult to develop according to modern standards. The property owner chose to demolish and build a new office building for maximum flexibility and economy.

In conjunction with the Skandia is currently several office buildings from the early 2000s with predominantly glazed facades. Our goal was to connect to the aesthetic, but with higher energy-efficiency and comfort for those who would work here. The choice fell on precast concrete, which then were plastered or covered with stone and glass.The Glass facade, facing Lindhagensgatan, has a screen print with a textile linen texture. The glass is mounted outside of the rough concrete. The effect is significantly three-dimensional. Other materials in the facade is black granite panels of laminated wood and white plaster.The interior of the building is organized around a large glazed atrium. In the atrium facing meeting room and communications assets. In this way the workplace is separated from the sound and feel calm and almost library-like.The ground floor is occupied by a meeting and conference venue with many varied meeting rooms and a large auditorium for 200 guests. A building with so many people in the function almost as a city and we have also planned the layout like that. With streets, squares and meeting places. The auditorium is as the town hall in the village.

The office floor plans has an extremely efficient layout with plenty of rooms for meetings and project work. There are som separate office rooms but most emplyees work in landscapes.

The building, which is rated “Green Building”, was introduced in spring 2010.