CumInCAD is a Cumulative Index about publications in Computer Aided Architectural Design supported by the sibling associations ACADIA, CAADRIA, eCAADe, SIGraDi, ASCAAD and CAAD futures
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When trying to understand how designers work, it is tempting to examine design products in order to come up with the principles or norms behind them. The problem with such an approach is that it may lead to a purely syntactical analysis of design artifacts, failing to capture the knowledge of the designer in an explicit way, and ignoring the interaction between the designer and the evolving design. We will present a theory about design activity based on the observation that knowledge is brought into play during a design task by a process of interpretation of the design document. By treating an evolving design in terms of the meanings and rules proper to a given way of seeing, a designer can reduce the complexity of a task by focusing on certain of its aspects, and can manipulate abstract elements in a meaningful way.
The term "model" in the above paragraph has been used in various ways and in this context is defined as any representation through which design intent is expressed. This includes accurate/ rational or abstract drawings (2- dimensional and 3-dimensional), physical models (realistic and abstract) and computer models (solid, void and virtual reality). The various models that fall within the categories above have been derived from the need to "view" the proposed design in various ways in order to support intuitive reasoning about the proposal and for evaluation purposes. For example, a 2-dimensional drawing of a floor plan is well suited to support reasoning about spatial relationships and circulation patterns while scaled 3-dimensional models facilitate reasoning about overall form, volume, light, massing etc. However, the common denominator of all architectural design projects (if the intent is to construct them in actual scale, physical form) are the discrete building elements from which the design will be constructed. It is proposed that a single computational model representing individual components supports all of the above "models" and facilitates "viewing"' the design according to the frame of reference of the viewer.
Furthermore, it is the position of the authors that all reasoning stems from this rudimentary level of modeling individual components.
The concept of component representation has been derived from the fact that a "real" building (made from individual components such as nuts, bolts and bar joists) can be "viewed" differently according to the frame of reference of the viewer. Each individual has the ability to infer and abstract from the assemblies of components a variety of different "models" ranging from a visceral, experiential understanding to a very technical, physical understanding. The component concept has already proven to be a valuable tool for reasoning about assemblies, interferences between components, tracing of load path and numerous other component related applications. In order to validate the component-based modeling concept this effort will focus on the development of spatial understanding from the component-based model. The discussions will, therefore, center about the representation of individual components and the development of spatial models and spatial reasoning from the component model. In order to frame the argument that spatial modeling and reasoning can be derived from the component representation, a review of the component-based modeling concept will precede the discussions of spatial issues.
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