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  • Writer's pictureBelarmino Cordero

The Crucial Role of Computational Design in Revolutionizing the Building Industry

It was a pleasure to be invited to the Façade Talks at the Big Five in Dubai 2023 on a panel discussion on technology integration in facades together with fellow industry colleagues Ghina Yamak, Enrico Chiarotto and Celeste Gariando. I was excited to be asked about BIM and generative design, as I believe that computational design represents a technological domain with enormous potential to revolutionize the building industry. This brief note aims to encapsulate and share my reflections on this topic.

BIM and generative design, though distinct, share a fundamental characteristic: both are data management tools that assist us in processing, managing, and leveraging the vast amount of information at our disposal. Whether it's weather files, material properties, or performance data from operational buildings, this wealth of information requires digital assistance for effective processing. Digital tools enable us to design and build faster, with better quality, safety, and cost efficiency. This is crucial given the challenges the construction industry faces with an increasing world population demanding faster construction within tight budgets. The climate emergency underscores the need for intelligent material selection, minimizing carbon emissions throughout a building's lifecycle—an area in which the power of digital tools is very useful.

BIM, or Building Information Modeling, constitutes a model of a building that includes geometry information and other pertinent data. Its attributes include 3D visualization, interdisciplinary coordination, documentation, substituting traditional drawings and specifications, and lifecycle management from design through construction and operation. It is typically implemented from the later stages of design.

Parametric design involves using mathematical equations for highly automated designs that can be swiftly adjusted by modifying specific parameters. Its key attributes include automation, speed, and flexibility for efficient design iterations. Taking the parametric approach further, generative design introduces algorithms to generate multiple options based on predefined rules and constraints.

Valuable for early stage optioneering, optimization, and multi-objective decision-making, generative design tools are ever evolving with increased capabilities and functionalities. In our daily work, we use these tools for several applications. This includes complex geometry form-finding and rationalization for fabrication —such as streamlining cladding panel types to reduce lead times and costs when using moulded materials like GRP, GRC, or precast. We also apply these tools for environmental analysis and massing option generation to optimize daylight, views out, user comfort, and energy performance which can be optimised at different scales ranging from a master plan level to the intricacy of facade detailing. Additionally, applications extend to cost and carbon emissions optimization over a building's lifetime.

In essence, computational design stands as an indispensable pillar, driving innovation, efficiency, and sustainability across the architectural and construction landscape. The transformative potential of digital tools is not just a glimpse into the future but a present reality reshaping how we conceive and construct our built environment. They are fundamental in our work and our vision at Eumada to drive innovation and technology, integrating engineering with architecture, and reducing the impact of building on the natural environment.

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