As our technologies and computing power increase and more people use them, the need for architects to understand generative design will grow. Generative design is becoming mainstream, and that’s a good thing.
Blend the Creating and Evaluating Process
Generative design – used in architecture and civil engineering for about a decade – is a set of tools that modify the geometry of a design based on non-geometric constraints. Only possible thanks to artificial intelligence software and the computing power of the cloud, generative design has started to expand into other applications like mechanical engineering and product design.
The difference between traditional methods of design and generative design can be best understood by considering the shift from the question, “Will my design fit my criteria?” to the question, “What design best fits my criteria?”. Generative design aims to blend the creating and evaluating process versus the traditional approach of creating a design and then evaluating how well it works.
The architect or engineer first defines the high-level design constraints of the project, before using the immense computing power we now have to generate thousands or hundreds of thousands of potential designs automatically. The architect can now refine the design and explore all the different possibilities.
More Innovative and Productive
In a video produced by Autodesk, AEC experts give their opinion on the benefits of generative design. Not surprisingly, they go deeper than just having the software to make their jobs easier and just having the software save them time.
Some of the experts credited generative design for helping them try new things. The technology makes it easy to test designs very, very quickly, so ideas that they wouldn’t have had the time or resources for in the past are now being looked at carefully. It seems to help bring about more innovation as it can assist architects and engineers in visualizing things they had never thought of before.
Other design professionals like how generative design helped them reduce waste – from materials, effort, and time. The focus on the constraints early in the design process brings the architects and engineers closer to the people implementing and constructing the design – mitigating issues with constructability sooner.
Examples of Projects using Generative Design
In Japan, 91 percent of the population lives in a very dense, urban environment. Daiwa House Industry – one of the largest construction firms in Japan, has turned to generative design to help create innovative designs. Their focus is on packing more buildings into small spaces due to the limited available land in urban areas, but these designs also need to take the comfort of the people inhabiting those spaces in mind and the sustainability of the design.
Not only does generative design help them create fresh designs that work well, but it also gives them a visual aid to communicate to their clients why a design works or does not work. As the Project Director Masaya Harita said, “Until now, we could only try to describe to a client why a certain design would not work, but now we can show them in specific visual terms.”
Autodesk’s own Toronto office layout was designed using generative design. The designers started by asking themselves what purpose they wanted and or needed the space to serve. From there, they developed six goals that guided the project. As just one example of the creativity generative design brought to this project, the bar lights were oriented towards areas of high activity. This indicator served to create a visually exciting space and focused the lights where the people using the space needed them the most.