Project

Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant: "Enhancing the representation of architectural space in 3D modelling environments."

Goal: Dr. Wassim Jabi, Prof. Robert Aish (Bartlett, UCL) and Dr. Simon Lannon have received a £300,000 Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant for their proposal titled “Enhancing the representation of architectural space in 3D modelling environments.” This project builds on previous research into a radical way to represent the spatial organisation of buildings using a technique called non-manifold topology (NMT) pioneered by Prof. Aish. The research team, led by Dr. Jabi as Principal Investigator, will include researchers at Cardiff University and at the Bartlett.The aim of this research is to significantly influence architectural computing and architectural practice and to ultimately improve the experience of people who use buildings. This research will challenge the current Building Information Modelling (BIM) orthodoxy through the development of a more appropriate representation of architectural space so that it is available both for immediate use in conceptual design and as a partner technology in a future unified computational design system. This new modelling approach will be supported by an expanded set of tools that allow architects to create models that are consistent, flexible, and extensible while maintaining design creativity and desired spatial complexity. In this project, the team will develop a conceptual framework and schema for the hierarchical and cellular spatial representation of buildings through NMT and a set of algorithms and tools that test the potential of this approach. They will conduct four use case scenarios in the areas of: Energy Analysis, Structural Analysis, Spatial Reasoning, and Fabrication Planning.

For more information on this project, please contact Dr. Wassim Jabi (jabiw@cardiff.ac.uk) or visit the website http://non-manifold.net

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Project log

Wassim Jabi
added a research item
The importance of decisions made during the early design stages has prompted researchers to advocate the use of building performance simulation (BPS) during that stage. This paper investigates non-manifold topology (NTM) as a novel approach to 3D modelling that has the potential to be highly compatible with the early design stages and with the input requirements for BPS. The proposed approach avoids the process of simplifying polyhedral models produced by Building Information Modelling (BIM) software to conduct BPS. In particular, NTM allows for a clear segmentation of a building, unambiguous space boundaries, and perfectly matched surfaces and glazing subsurfaces. The NTM approach was tested through a software prototype that integrates 3D modelling software and an energy simulation engine.
Aikaterini Chatzivasileiadi
added 7 research items
The aim of this paper is to provide a review of the characteristics of 3D solid modeling software libraries – otherwise known as ’geometric modeling kernels’ in non-manifold applications. ’Non-manifold’ is a geometric topology term that means ’to allow any combination of vertices, edges, surfaces and volumes to exist in a single logical body’. In computational architectural design, the use of non-manifold topology can enhance the representation of space as it provides topological clarity, allowing architects to better design, analyze and reason about buildings. The review is performed in two parts. The review is performed in two parts. The first part includes a comparison of the topological entities’ terminology and hierarchy as used within commercial applications, kernels, and within published academic research. The second part proposes an evaluation framework to explore the kernels’ support for non-manifold topology, including their capability to represent a non-manifold structure, and in performing non-regular Boolean operations, which are suitable for non-manifold modeling.
Accuracy and time are metrics inherently associated with the design process and the energy performance simulation of buildings. The accurate representation of the building is an essential requirement for energy analysis, which comes with the expense of time; however, this is in contrast with the need to minimise the simulation time in order to make it compatible with design times. This is a particularly interesting aspect in the case of complex geometries, which are often simplified for use in building energy performance simulation. The effects of this simplification on the accuracy of simulation results are not usually reported. This paper explored these effects through a systematic analysis of several test cases. The results indicate that the use of orthogonal prisms as simplified surrogates for buildings with complex shapes presents a worst-case scenario that should be avoided where possible. A significant reduction of geometry complexity by at least 50% can also be achieved with negligible effects on simulation results, while minimising the time requirements. Accuracy, however, deteriorates rapidly below a critical threshold.
DOI: … Non-Manifold Topology: Mathematically, Non-Manifold Topology (NMT) is defined as cell-complexes that are subsets of Euclidean Space [15]. Practically, topology refers to the spatial relationships between the various entities in a model and it describes how geometric entities are connected. 'Non-manifold' is a geometric topology term that means 'to allow any combination of vertices, edges, surfaces and volumes to exist in a single logical body' [7]. Such models allow multiple faces meeting at an edge or multiple edges meeting at a vertex. Coincident edges and vertices are merged. Moreover, non-manifold topology models have a configuration that cannot be unfolded into a continuous flat piece and are thus non-manufacturable and not physically realizable. On the contrary, a manifold body without internal voids can be fabricated out of a single block of material [1]. NMT has been successfully applied in various applications, including in the ship building industry, [13], the medical field [17], Computer Aided Engineering [19], Computer Aided Design for Mechanical Engineering [16], structural analyses [18], and Digital Fabrication [9]. Considering its success in these applications, it would be possible to transfer NMT's success to architecture in order to enhance the representation of architectural space [8]. NMT's topological clarity allows architects to better design, analyze, reason about, and produce their buildings. The potential of NMT in the early design stages is already acknowledged and research has been undertaken with regard to the advantages of NMT's application for energy analysis in the early design stages [7], [8]. NMT has already been applied together with parametric and associative scripting to model the spatial organization of a building [1]. This information was then used to create different analytical and material models of a building. Moreover, non-manifold spatial models are considered suitable for early structural analysis, as horizontal and vertical edges can be used to define beams and columns respectively, while internal or external faces can be used to define floors, roof elements and interior or exterior walls, facades and partitions [1]. Topological Characteristics of Non-Manifold Objects: Topological elements of non-manifold objects are hierarchically interrelated and a lower-dimensional element is used as the boundary of each of several higher dimensional ones [21]. An example is shown in Fig. 1(a). Boolean set operations are common set operations that are used to combine solids in order to create more complex objects. They are usually applied to two bodies at a time [3]. The main Boolean operations are union, intersection and difference, which are regular; merge and impose, which are non-regular; and imprint, which can be regular or non-regular. Generally a regular Boolean operation removes any external faces of the input bodies that are within the resulting body, while a non-regular Boolean operation maintains any external faces of the input bodies that are within the resulting body
Wassim Jabi
added 4 research items
This paper focusses on demonstrating the effectiveness of our new code at producing curved, formerly planar structures that comprise complex internal architecture. This development is particularly significant as it will, ultimately, allow further exploitation of the design freedom offered by additive manufacturing (AM). This particular application focusses on head impact protection, and builds upon our previous work describing the promising mechanical performance that can be achieved by parametrically varying cellular shape, wall thicknesses and relative densities (Soe in Second international conference on sustainable design and manufacturing, 2015 [1]). In this current work, we explore the translation of these design concepts into application-based environments, focusing particularly on achieving structural contours whilst retaining mechanical performance. This paper aims to demonstrate our success at contouring previously-planar structures around hemispherical (‘head’) geometry, whilst retaining mechanical performance through the relative alignment of individual cellular structures. We first evaluate the capabilities of existing packages: (1) PTC Creo Parametric (mechanical CAD system) and, (2) Materialise 3-maticSTL (lightweight structures module); before demonstrating the effectiveness of our new script embedded within Autodesk 3D Studio Max. We conclude by comparing results from our script with equivalent data from the commercially-available software.
Integrating social and cultural constraints in computational models remains a challenge due to the difficulties in representing them algorithmically. This research aims to find a mechanism for combining shape grammars and space syntax methods for exploring spatial-formal features that affect the social life in residential buildings. 'Spatial reasoning' as a method for understanding the social logic of spaces and the residents' behavior, integrated with 'discursive grammar' as a method for describing formal and topological relationships, are adopted. Several computational tools are used for analysing qualitative aspects, such as privacy, social interaction, and accessibility. An automated model of spatial/syntactical analysis, embedded in Rhino/Grasshopper, offers an alternative method for extracting topological relations and syntactic calculations. Using this tool, designers can add new aspects to the justified graph of Hiller and Hanson, as a representation to formal and social realities, such as orientation and geometric configuration. Results of analysis are transformed into codes, parameters, and descriptions, to be used for designing future developments, inspiring from local traditions. The target is to generate different alternatives for socially sustainable, and 'contemporary vernacular' buildings, which respect the context, and the needs of users.
The aim of this paper is to propose a different method to design buildings by using and enhancing a representational technique called non-manifold topology (NMT). The methodology already exists but is ignored by current building information modelling (BIM) software in favour of a component-based approach. While the topological information embedded within NMT has many uses in the spatial representation of architecture, including building occupancy analysis and structural analysis, the focus in this paper is on the efficacy of NMT in linking design and building performance simulation (BPS). The proposed approach avoids the process of simplifying models produced by BIM software to conduct BPS. In particular, NMT allows for a clear segmentation of a building, unambiguous space boundaries, and perfectly matched surfaces and glazing sub-surfaces. The NMT approach was tested through a software prototype that integrates 3D modelling software and an energy simulation engine.
Robert Aish
added a research item
This paper aims to build a theoretical foundation for parametric design thinking by exploring its cognitive roots, unfolding its basic tenets, expanding its definition through new concepts, and exemplifying its potential through a use-case scenario. The paper focuses on a specific type of topological parameter, called non-manifold topology as a novel approach to thinking about designing cellular spaces and voids. The approach is illustrated within the context of additive manufacturing of non-conformal cellular structures. The paper concludes that parametric design thinking that omits a definition of topological relationships risks brittleness and failure in later design stages while a consideration of topology can create enhanced and smarter solutions as it can modify parameters based on an accommodation of the design context.
Robert Aish
added a research item
Architectural designs are frequently represented digitally as plane-faced meshes, yet these can be challenging to translate into built structures. Offsetting operations may be used to give thickness to meshes, and are produced by offsetting the faces, edges or vertices of the mesh in an appropriately defined normal direction. In a previous paper, we described a face-offsetting algorithm for resolving the revised combinatorics of the offset mesh produced by face-offsetting (Ross & Hambleton, 2015). That is, given an input mesh with no design constraints, the algorithm computes the exact offset by determining the new geometric and combinatorial structure of the offset mesh. One of the design freedoms available in that method is the opportunity to specify different offset distances on a per-face basis. In the present paper we consider the implications of this freedom. One question of particular interest is: under what conditions does an offset mesh produced by variable rate face-offsetting also have a uniform distance edge-offset? To physically realise a mesh as a built structure usually requires that the mesh edges are used as the basis for structural members, with some structural depth. Therefore, given a mesh M it is particularly desirable to find an offset mesh M' in which the edges of M' are at a uniform perpendicular distance d from their corresponding edge in M. We present a description of meshes that admit uniform distance edge offsets as a consequence of a variable rate exact face offset, based on a graph-theoretic analysis of the underlying dual mesh. The potential advantage of this approach is that it can provide an opportunity to rationalise the physical realisation of the mesh as a constructible structure where all edge based members have the same depth.
Wassim Jabi
added an update
Our first publication in the area of the use of non-manifold topology for 'smarter' conformal cellular structures. Aiming for publication in early 2017.
 
Wassim Jabi
added an update
We are just starting the research project. We have hired our first research associate and she is creating an online database of the literature so we have a good reference foundation. We are expecting our second research associate (responsible for software development) in December or January due to UK work visa delays.
 
Wassim Jabi
added a project goal
Dr. Wassim Jabi, Prof. Robert Aish (Bartlett, UCL) and Dr. Simon Lannon have received a £300,000 Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant for their proposal titled “Enhancing the representation of architectural space in 3D modelling environments.” This project builds on previous research into a radical way to represent the spatial organisation of buildings using a technique called non-manifold topology (NMT) pioneered by Prof. Aish. The research team, led by Dr. Jabi as Principal Investigator, will include researchers at Cardiff University and at the Bartlett.The aim of this research is to significantly influence architectural computing and architectural practice and to ultimately improve the experience of people who use buildings. This research will challenge the current Building Information Modelling (BIM) orthodoxy through the development of a more appropriate representation of architectural space so that it is available both for immediate use in conceptual design and as a partner technology in a future unified computational design system. This new modelling approach will be supported by an expanded set of tools that allow architects to create models that are consistent, flexible, and extensible while maintaining design creativity and desired spatial complexity. In this project, the team will develop a conceptual framework and schema for the hierarchical and cellular spatial representation of buildings through NMT and a set of algorithms and tools that test the potential of this approach. They will conduct four use case scenarios in the areas of: Energy Analysis, Structural Analysis, Spatial Reasoning, and Fabrication Planning.
For more information on this project, please contact Dr. Wassim Jabi (jabiw@cardiff.ac.uk) or visit the website http://non-manifold.net