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authors Ballheim, F. and Leppert, J.
year 1991
title Architecture with Machines, Principles and Examples of CAAD-Education at the Technische Universität München
source Experiences with CAAD in Education and Practice [eCAADe Conference Proceedings] Munich (Germany) 17-19 October 1991
summary "Design tools affect the results of the design process" - this is the starting point of our considerations about the efficient use of CAAD within architecture. To give you a short overview about what we want to say with this thesis lets have a short - an surely incomplete - trip through the fourth dimension back into the early time of civil engineering. As CAD in our faculty is integrated in the "Lehrstuhl für Hochbaustatik und Tragwerksplanung" (if we try to say it in English it would approximately be "institute of structural design"), we chose an example we are very familiar with because of its mathematical background - the cone sections: Circle, ellipse, parabola and hyperbola. If we start our trip two thousand years ago we only find the circle - or in very few cases the ellipse - in their use for the ground plan of greek or roman theaters - if you think of Greek amphitheaters or the Colosseum in Rome - or for the design of the cross section of a building - for example the Pantheon, roman aqueducts or bridges. With the rediscovery of the perspective during the Renaissance the handling of the ellipse was brought to perfection. May be the most famous example is the Capitol in Rome designed by Michelangelo Buonarotti with its elliptical ground plan that looks like a circle if the visitor comes up the famous stairway. During the following centuries - caused by the further development of the natural sciences and the use of new construction materials, i.e. cast-iron, steel or concrete - new design ideas could be realized. With the growing influence of mathematics on the design of buildings we got the division into two professions: Civil engineering and architecture. To the regret of the architects the most innovative constructions were designed by civil engineers, e.g. the early iron bridges in Britain or the famous bridges of Robert Maillard. Nowadays we are in the situation that we try to reintegrate the divided professions. We will return to that point later discussing possible solutions of this problem. But let us continue our 'historical survey demonstrating the state of the art we have today. As the logical consequence of the parabolic and hyperbolic arcs the hyperbolic parabolic shells were developed using traditional design techniques like models and orthogonal sections. Now we reach the point where the question comes up whether complex structures can be completely described by using traditional methods. A question that can be answered by "no" if we take the final step to the completely irregular geometry of cable- net-constructions or deconstructivistic designs. What we see - and what seems to support our thesis of the connection between design tools and the results of the design process - is, that on the one hand new tools enabled the designer to realize new ideas and on the other hand new ideas affected the development of new tools to realize them.

series eCAADe
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