Playing the field featured

Playing the field

Buildings 12 June 2009 | 10.00am

The May/June edition of Architectural Design presents an unusual take on generative architecture based on field theory. Sean Lally offers a new way of thinking about the design of environments. Instead of conceptualising indoor environments as a space defined by its surrounding surfaces (e.g. a curtain wall glass facade), Lally conceives of a space as the boundary (isovalue) of a spatial field at a specified value.

For example, we might use particular arrangement of hot and cold panels to generate a radiant field, and if we could visualise the isosurface of a particular temperature then we’d be generating a form within which the environment was controlled without the use of boundary surfaces.
Various articles in this edition of AD explore a fluid dynamics solution as part of the generative process.

It’s an idea that we’ve been playing around with for a while too and this seemed like a nice opportunity to see what could be created. I’ve used a computational fluid dynamics package (ANSYS-CFX) to set up convection currents within a box shaped volume and visualised the isosurface of a constant temperature. This has then been exported, translated and rendered using the Radiance visualisation package to produce the image above, with a rather unlikely sky. It’s an interesting problem to contemplate how the people within the space would modify this environmental boundary, i.e. there is an interdependency at work here …

Jon Morgan

Melbourne, Australia

“I have always wanted to explore the principles behind the way things work. I began in automotive and aerospace engineering but my work is now in architecture and the design of buildings and urban systems. I’ve always looked for ways to disassemble and re-connect stuff, anything from the purely physical (like push-bikes and computer programs) through to the theoretical (like ideas about economics, people and cities).”

View all posts by: Jon Morgan