Research . . .

Future Research

Computational design research is constantly being enhanced with the development of new technologies. I plan to investigate several intriguing research venues, some of which extend my PhD research, while others present novel opportunities for innovation in Architecture and Computer Science.

Extending My PhD Research

Gesture-Based Interaction with the ICE Models

Although ICE represents complex geometric relationships in a simple way, interaction with the ICE models in 3-dimension needs to be further developed. Complexities of converting 2D interaction in 3D space are still prevalent. A significant research venue would be to investigate novel interaction hardware applicable to the design exploration activities of the ICE system. The ICE generation sequences can be mapped to gestures of drawing with the pen in a 3D sketch environment. Manipulation would also be mapped to gestures, without intermediate windows and widgets.

The ICE system as an Educational Tool

Although the ICE system was conceived primarily as a design tool, its ability to preserve relationships communicates the fundamental properties of these relationships. So if the user is not familiar with the relationship, he/she will learn about it though the interaction with ICE. Often, users cannot visualize the global result of a local manipulation, and become pleasantly surprised, as they discover new possibilities, when interacting with models in ICE. In particular the 2D version of ICE can be used teach the fundamental properties of symmetry and symmetrical patterns and the 3D version can be used to teach 3D-design principles.

Algorithmic Manipulations of the ICE notation

The ICE notational string can be manipulated algorithmically, for the purpose of form generation, form manipulation or form analysis. It can be used as the basis for genetic algorithms. Configurations would be represented in ICE and the evolution patterns would be based on patterns of random ICE transformations. These would result in more intricate evolution patterns than those produced by typical binary mutations used in genetic algorithms.

The ICE notational string can also be used in conjunction with rule-based representations. Regulators can be incorporated into generative systems, in order to enable users to further manipulate the generated results. Shape configurations can be represented as ICE strings, while generative rules would be represented as ICE transformations. In the present context, users generate and control regulators. In a generative context, the system can generate regulators as part of configurations, therefore making generated configurations very flexible. Furthermore, generative systems can focus on the use of specific regulators, in order to promote exploration within certain styles.

The ICE Framework and Non-Geometric Information

Although regulators were described as geometric in nature, the vocabulary of the ICE framework can be extended to include non-geometric design information. These include physical/material properties (such as light reflectance, thermal transmission, and acoustic absorption), budgets constraints and design requirements (such as privacy or climatic considerations). With such semantic additions, the ICE framework would evolve into a complete design language relating semantics to geometry, and therefore, enabling the control of a design through its requirements as well as its functional properties.

Furthermore, ICE can be integrated with a design evaluation system: as a user explores alternate solutions, his/her design can be evaluated in real time, thereby enabling him/her to continuously compare the results of the exploration. In this scenario, regulators and evaluators work together to guide users in transforming design configurations in ways that improves the quality of the design.

Process Analysis and Case-base Adaptation using the ICE notation

ICE captures history on two levels: (1) the generative sequence captured in the shape definition; and (2) a record of transformations that occurred in the process of creating the design. Keeping track of the history is a valuable tool in analyzing the course of design processes precisely, and completely. Furthermore, history can be used effectively as a multidimensional element of the exploration. Users can step through their history, forward and backward, and change the course of the exploration while replaying their design actions. This would result in a history tree of branching exploration paths, instead of a linear history list.

The ICE representation can be integrated to case-base systems where cases are represented by means of the ICE notation, while the adaptation of a case to a new problem can be achieved readily through regulator transformations. As novel shapes and configurations are defined by regulators, these can be stored in the configuration library, then later retrieved, re-used, and manipulated, as part of other configurations.

Recognition of Implied and Emergent Structures

Recognition of emergent structures is a challenging and complex task. Incorporating a module for recognizing design structures would complement the ICE implementation, and would uncover implied and hidden structures in any configuration. Therefore, it would enable the identification of the geometrically equivalent, yet notationally different, representations, in cases where multiple representations exist. Structures recognition will also support the reverse engineering of configurations described in other representations.

The ICE Framework and other Design Domains

Although regulators were primarily conceived for Architectural Design, this concept can be utilized in other domains, such as Mechanical, Industrial, and Graphic Design. Geometric regulators are easily applicable. Domain-specific regulators can be further developed; in particular, motion-regulators have great potential in exploring mechanical and industrial design.


Novel Opportunities

Computing Flexibility and Augmented Reality

Augmented reality and mobile computing technologies have the ability to liberate designers from the confined desktop environment. Imagine an environment where architects conceptualize and design their buildings on the site by using mobile computers to project virtual design elements in their intended locations.

Architectural Flexibility and Robotics

Organizational flexibility is critical in providing for changing requirements during the life cycle of a building. Features like modular designs, plug and play technologies, and reconfigurable building components such as diffusers and plugs, provide for multipurpose customizable and spaces. Furthermore, buildings can use computational technologies to automate flexibility. Architectural components, such as roofs or walls, can automatically reconfigure themselves to accommodate changing uses. For example a roof can change its inclination depending on the rainfall; it can also become flat to accommodate rooftop activities during good weather. Partitions can automatically extend or retract thus providing a larger space or several smaller spaces to accommodate various activities.

Environmentally Conscious Spaces

Spaces and rooms have no knowledge of their environmental conditions. I would like to investigate the concept of a space equipped with sensors, which are constantly recording external environmental conditions and user activities. These sensors would cause the control systems to adjust the internal environment conditions according to the external conditions and the type of user activity.