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Ecotect Analysis:Sound Analysis

Sound Analysis of an amphitheater project was given to me during my Internship period by BIM Studio Department at United Design Group (UDG), Shanghai.This project was jointly governed by UDG shanghai and BDP groups.During this task I was asked to analyse the acoustical interior features (mainly False Ceiling ) by using  Autodesk Ecotect.My objective of the Analysis was to ensure the Noise Reduction Coefficient(NRC value) of the ceiling for a good quality of the sound

Importing the Model to Ecotect

Importing the model that is an amphitheater in my case from a whole building was quite a difficult task.I tried to import in .3ds file format than to other model formats like .dxf and .dwg but all of this meant for no use to Ecotect.Thereafter I thought to cull the model by discarding the layers etc but the geometry imported here on the Ecotect canvas was far way too difficult.It actually divides the cylindrical object into a triangular planes which eventually made the model a bit heavy and was very difficult to analyse, I mean it took hell lot of time to go for 1% of its any analysis.

Lastly I tried to model it on Revit Architecture,a BIM product developed by Autodesk, which was in a bit more useful model making techniques than modeling itself in an Ecotect software because if transferred the file in a .gbxml format it collects the energy related information along with the file.In order to transfer any model to these energy file scripting you need to “tag the rooms”  option in Revit.But the problem was still not resolved due to its cylindrical form.The sub division of triangular plane still continued to show on the ecotect canvas which was imported by using Revit Architecture.But this modeling method has atleast started my analysis part and was quite smooth as compared to directly imported model in other formats.

Modeling Adjustments:

Inside the hall of the theater I managed to simplify my model as far as possible.Latter after going through the slides you might come to know that it affects not much to the analysis.Because I reflected my acoustical rays directly to the ceilings as I was only concerned about that.

I would prefer to avoid complex modeling while working with any kind of Analysis software because at this stage they do not poses any specialized tools for complex modeling.

Meanwhile I further simplified my model into a cylindrical box in Ecotect for that I deleted the part which previously comprises of the building covering.

It may seem quite doubtful that why I went for .gbxml file formatting in Revit? Well I was modeling precisely about the false ceiling’s orientation and angles,since they can drastically affect by analysis part.

Now dont forget to save you file by simply pressing cntrl+s during each and ever step while modeling.

Acoustical Analysis:

Before starting the analysis make sure about the visualization of  the model.Try to make it more understandable to the viewers.This software encourages people who can’t spend time to study the graphs and tabular format through its ‘visually sound’ features.

Step 1:Start assigning the sound source.This is very simple. Click on the speaker on the 3-d editor pallet.Position it at the level of 1.7-1.9 m above the stage.That height is taken as work-plane of the average human speaker’s height.Central allocation of the speaker is preferable but it doesn’t affect much.

Step 2:Select the ceiling material and tag the object as reflector.This option comes after selecting  just right click and assign it as reflectors or by selecting rays and particles option on the right side .To understand why we do such tagging is very important.Reflectors are those objects which we are concerned about.Our objective is to calculate the parameters that governs the quality of sound.

Step 3:Our goal for this step is to shoot the sound rays to the reflectors from the source so we will do that just by managing the option on the Ray and Particles –sub heading: Generate Rays –To Tagged reflectors.If it seems like model is bit heavy to handle than prefer to start to shoot less ray just for trial.This means that the more the No. of rays generated , more good results will be achieved.

Step 4:This step is flexible to the user to do whatever you wish to change for rest of the sub headings of the Rays and Particles.I mean try to explore the other options.

From this four important steps try to see and analyse the results from the animation generated.For a client it is more easier to make him understand what type of material is required.I shown in the slides that NRC values are the most governing factor after the building form is already decided by the team.

Some Technical Terms Dealt:

In general we must know that for higher NRC values like 0.8-0.9 the sound striking on that surfaces never reflects back,for striking incident sound source only few are reflected back.Hence this is useful where we have to seal the sound completely. But amazingly for an amphitheater were musical instruments are to be played we need to have a Reverberation of the sound.In simple terms this computes the ‘dryness’ of the musical note played.It is suggested that reverb sound to a limited amount is allowable.So as we can now judge that NRC should be of controlled amount.Not too high for loosing the Musical pleasure and not too low for echoing and annoying noises.

Assigning NRC values:

This is a bit tricky here on Ecotect software.For understanding this part Noise Reduction is a frequency dependent parameter that is for different variable frequency from the source ,the acoustical responses of a material is different.

Go to the help dialogue by pressing F1 than search for materials (shown in my slides) you will find the different materials assigned for ceilings with different parameters like frequency,NRC values etc. Just hit and try if you are not sure about the product which would be helpful for the interior.Or you can work other way round too.If you know the product and the company of the ceiling than there must be the catalog stating its various properties.Feed the values on the material editor for the feasibility of the product with respect to Acoustics.There are other features like fire resistant moisture tolerance light reflectivity  etc which is in your hand to decide which is the dominant factor.

Grasshopper is a plugin for Rhinoceros.It maintains a flow of connected parameters as user input and generates accordingly as said for the output. A series of connected parameters can be made to govern and control  any form and design which is difficult to make or control the form.As mentioned in previous post that futurist needs to incorporate many other technical knowledge for creating a ‘never seen before’ type of building forms.

Grasshopper leads to develop a new branch for exploration that is Computational Architecture.Where forms can be generated as per user input or the other way round.Its an interaction between user and the tool, which tests the knowledge about basic mathematics to the visualization of the output as the flow generates.This tool has a potential to draw ancient motifs like ancient India’s Mughal interiors to various generative facade design as seen in today’s skyscrapers.

Adaptive Building Skins

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Download Link:3d adaptive Building Skin

Architecture in future will surely be dependent on various other branches of science and technology.INTER and INTRA dependence of the building architecture, which preciously was considered under civil ,presently electrical and mechanical engineering.Many architects in ages were/are masters in structural designs and applications, for example Frank Llyod Wright, Santiago Calatrava are the best examples where their works reflect the dual skills.

Multidisciplinary in Architecture will be its Future.

“Mathematics” integrated into the building sciences will surely be a great tool to explode various generative forms and iterations as a design part in architecture.It is not that mathematics was not previously integrated to the art field.Concepts of  Proportioning like golden ratio,Le Corbusier’s human scale etc are used way before the decades.

Let us begin with the this mathematical tool as in Nature:

The Voronoi Diagram

It’s easy to make a simple voronoi diagram. Just throw a random scattering of points (“sites”) across a plane, connect these sites with lines (linking each point to those which are closest to it), and then bisect each of these lines with a perpendicular.

First step is to draw a line connecting adjacent points.

Second step is to draw a perpendicular line to the one you just drew in the midpoint of it.

Last step is to connect lines, drawn in the second step, in to an network.

Voronoi and  Nature

Giraffe: Following  Voronoi’s Equation?

The Wings of a Dragonfly

The Tortoise Shell.

Voronoi and Architecture

Voronoi and Architecture

This concept can be implemented in generative forms to save the time for Architects and Designers.

There are many such applications:

1.City Planning

Like Town- planning in Architecture may be simplified by assigning the site as a nodal point and generating the Voronoi diagram as explained above.

For example for comparing areas covered by different hospitals, or shops, etc. With Voronoi diagram one can easily determine where is the nearest  shop or hospital, and urban planners can study if certain area need a new hospital.

2.Other Uses

a. Their structural properties, both in 2d and 3d.

b. As a way to subdivide/organize space, based on proximity/closest neighbor.

c. The fact that they can describe many natural formations, like soap bubbles, sponges or bone cells, which can inform architecture with new ways to organize and structure space.

The above example is in Alibaba Headquarters in Hangzhou architect slightly alliterated the pattern of Voronoi diagram to create stunning shadings for elevations and courtyard.


1.Voronois on encyclopedia

2.Saeed Arida, Masters Thesis Paper.

3.Paper Journals

-Aranda, B., Lasch, C. Tooling New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2006.
    -Bollobas, B., Riordan, O. Percolation Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
    -Kim, M.S., Shimada, K., (eds.) Geometric Modeling and Processing – GMP 2006 Berlin: Springer, 2006.

Generative architecture can be more broadly defined as employing a generative system – such as a set of natural language rules, a computer program, a set of geometrical transformations, a diagram, or other procedural inventions – in the design process through which the final design emerges. The generative system has different degrees of autonomous action, ranging from a fully automated process to a step-by-step user-controlled one. This process involves designing the algorithm (rule), adjusting the starting parameters and shapes, steering the derivation process, and finally selecting the best variant.
Case Study-Nam June Paik Museum.

A Competition Entry by MIT Graduates.

Competition:Nam June Paik was a Korean-born American artist. He worked with a variety of media and is considered to be the first video artist.For Biography click here.The aim of the competition was to design a museum that will enshrine the work of Nam June Paik.

Concept:Approached the design in an experimental manner that would embody the spirit inherent to Nam June Paik’s work, in which notions of improvisation, indeterminism and emergence played a significant role.
A form-generation process that is based on natural form was developed to guide and assist us in this design. The starting point was customized software implementing algorithms for computing the Voronoi diagrams. The challenge that persisted throughout the process was how to concretize the abstraction of mathematically generated forms.

Please check the previous blog article for Voronoi diagrams:Nature and Architecture.

A software was developed by using mathematical parameters by using Voronoi diagrams and increased the complexity of the diagram.

Image shows the seeding done to develop the  software by using 2d Voronoi solutions.

Random amount of seeds and nodes were inserted to get variation in GENERATIVE FORMS.

Parameterizing of the software:

According to the given site situations and restrictions like entrance, services etc where taken care.Hence editing of the Voronoi points where necessary to bring the change in it.

Variation of the building form:

After controlling the given restrictions in the form various free points where assigned at the nodes to further regenerate the model.


Was necessary to be done considering economic point of view.

Iidabashi Subway Station

“A seed, given water and light, extends its roots, grows leaves and comes into flower. It spreads its roots in search of soft soil and places its leaves so they receive as much sunlight as possible.” The Iidabashi subway station is very much an architectural version of this statement. Watanabe starts 35 meters underground with the “roots” – the tubes of the station, and as they extend up they create a wing” or “flower” which is the ventilation tower for the station.
The exposed structure of the station was one issue of design that Watanabe wanted to hold strong to, as it was part of making the invisible visible. The tunnel-ways of the station are composed of three cylindrical tubes, joined together. The two outer ones are for railways and the center is for the station and access ways of passengers. When exposing structure there is always the issue of waterproofing and such, which Watanabe solves by such: by placing slabs in both adjacent tunnels of the station where ducts could be installed, the need of a duct over the station tunnel could be eliminated. The remaining space under the station platform was used for a pit where pipes and wiring could be strung. Gutters for waterproofing fitted beneath overhead beams, collecting water and directed it through pipes through supporting columns.

Architecture generated by computer programs definitely seems a futuristic way to deal with architectural design. It is entirely probable that the design studios of the future would comprise of computer programs that accomplish most of the logical, calculative and repetitive tasks replacing the manpower. The architect only have to intervene when a subjective decision is to be made which can be conceived only by the human mind, such as aesthetics.

These ideas finally lead us to Program Generated Architecture ( PGA ) by the Japanese Architect Makoto Sei Watanabe. Watanabe uses PGA in his Induction Cities projects in a variety of ways including programs to place building blocks based on sunlight exposure, program to plan the streets in a city, program to create towns according to the relationships between different necessities, program which does structural optimization etc. In this post, I aim to explore one program in particular – the Program of Flow.

Makoto Sei Watanabe used the Program of Flow to design the facade of Kashiwanoha-Campus station. The design process involved two parts- the human part and the program part. The human part feeds a graded design input into the program which the program then analyses and  produces an output which it believes to be a better design. The designer grades the output and feeds it back. This process is iterated till the desired “best design” is produced.

This also leads us to the concept of genetic algorithm. Genetic algorithm basically represents the algorithm in which a living organism propagates. The steps in genetic algorithm represent steps in biological evolution such as natural selection, cross breeding, survival of the fittest etc. In the beginning, the design produced is a primitive one. After each iteration, the program develops an artificial intelligence and becomes able to differentiate a good design from a poor one. A new generation of design is developed after each iteration which consists of the best qualities of the previous generation. In this way the design evolves, like a living organism.

Below is an example of how the Program of Flow works :

A very interesting example of futuristic architecture in India would be the “Cybertecture Egg” coming up in Mumbai.Architect James Law practices a new school of architecture which he calls “cybertecture” which denotes a fusion of architecture and cyber technology. James Law says,

“In the 21st Century, buildings will not be created by just concrete, steel and glass as in the 20th Century but with the intangible materials of technology, multimedia, intelligence and interactivity. This enlightment gives rise to a new form of architecture  – “Cybertecture””

The Cybertecture Egg is believed to become an iconic structure in Mumbai with its environment friendly design and intelligent control systems. The building comprises of 33,000 sq.m. of office space stacked stacked in 13 stories with highly intelligent building management systems. The diagrid exoskeleton accounts for the large column free spaces inside the egg.

Photovoltaic cells are integrated into the facade whose glazing will also exhibit various tints and shades with respect to the orientation of the sun. About 20% of the water consumption of the building is recycled through rainwater harvesting, sewage treatment and wetland cell systems. The building’s air conditioning is done by naturally cooled water from an underground reservoir. The building management systems installed ensures reduction in energy usage in less utilized and less occupied spaces.

I have explored more works of Vincent Callebaut in this post.”Coral Reef“, “Dragonfly” and “Landscript” contains some of the same innovative concepts and eco-friendly approach that we have already seen in the Lilypad. While taking inspirations from natural forms similar to the likes of Antonio Gaudi, he has tried to resurrect nature friendly architecture in a more recent and technology oriented context which gives him a distinctive style.

Coral Reef aims to build prefabricated passive housing in the 2010 earthquake devastated Haiti. A basic module includes 2 housing units interlocked in duplex around a horizontal circulation unit. The overall form represents 2 large waves which can accommodate 1000 Haitian families. The housing units are stacked over one another in staggered rows ensuring that each roof gets a garden space to cultivate its own food.

Dragonfly is a project based on the emerging concept of vertical farms ( ie., farms grown along vertical direction like in skyscrapers, rather than taking up large horizontal extents of land). The project also consists of houses, offices, ecological laboratories etc. whose inhabitants would cultivate the vertical farms. The form is inspired by the transparent dragonfly wings, which exploits the solar energy for the farms.

Landscript project tries to reinvent a 220 hectare industrial area in Geneva into a denser and greener urban area. The main ideas behind this project is to maximize the vegetation cover since the existing site is almost devoid of vegetation, integration of water into urban space via ducts and creation of other natural spaces in the form of cocoons, atolls and mountains.

When we think about architecture of the future, our minds almost instinctively imagines hi-fi technology controlled buildings in a neo digital era. Digital technology might most certainly be the major factor governing future architecture, but it can indisputably claim climate and environmental factors as one of its parent influences. While searching for examples based on these parallel themes, I came across an amazing project called “Lilypad” by Vincent Callebaut Architect and was convinced that this would be the perfect topic to start this blog.

Lilypad is a floating city project which addresses the ever increasing crisis of Global Warming. The architect foreseeing the inevitable rise in sea level all over the world, conceived this project to create a habitable space over water. This prototype of an “amphibian ecopolis” would travel along the water line of oceans from the equator to the poles. This city claims to accommodate 50,000 inhabitants and aims at developing biodiversity around a central lagoon created by the purification of rainwater.

The design inspired from the great lilypad of Amazonia Victoria Regia aims at bringing closer interaction between human and nature in the future where it is difficult to distinguish between real and virtual. The double skin is made of polyester fibres covered by a layer of titanium dioxide. which by reacting to the ultraviolet rays enable to absorb the atmospheric pollution by photocatalytic effect.

This project also utilizes renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, tidal, osmotic and biomass energy production. This project represents a symbiotic relationship between the built environment and the oceanic ecosystem by recycling CO2 and wastes, purifying and softening the used waters and integrating aquaculture fields and biotic corridors on or under its body to meet its food requirements.