Contemporary Architecture

Iranian wind tower


  • Represents the ventilation as a sustainable cooling system in Iranian architecture.
  • To counter the harshly variable climates of the country, Iranians invented wind towers which still stand in various desert towns.
  • Important elements in Iranian architecture, providing air-conditioning in hot, dry and humid climates for thousands of years.
  • Rise not only on ordinary houses but also on top of water cisterns and mosques.


  • To introduce cool outside air, driven by positive wind pressure.
  • The internal partition allows the low pressure on the lee side of the tower to suck air from inside the building.
  • In order to provide occupants with comfort, they were built with a four-directional orientation to catch wind from all directions and guide it into the house.

Wind towers consist of four parts:

  1. The body containing shafts
  2. Air shelves which catch hot air and prevent it from entering the structure,
  3. Flaps which redirect wind circulation,
  4. A roof covering.


  • Wind travels through the shafts on top of the tower to reach the interior of the building.
  • The air flow inside the structure travels in two directions, up and down.
  • The temperature difference between the interior and exterior of a building causes pressure variations which results in the creation of air currents.
  • In cities where the wind blows only from one single direction, only one of the shafts operates to receive the breeze.

There are three types of wind towers:

  • The most elementary type of wind tower was built over cellars and underground water tanks known as ab-anbar.
  •  These cellars kept food refrigerated and also served as sitting rooms where people could remain cool on hot summer days
  • In hot climate cities, one to six wind towers were used to cool the water.
  • They prevented stagnant air and the formation of dew or humidity inside, resulting in pure, clean and cold water all year round.
  • The second type transferred the flow into the basement where it hit damp walls and its humidity increased while its temperature decreased. The flow could be directed into other rooms using valves.
  • The third type of wind tower was taller and mainly used in multi-roomed one-story buildings. A dome-roofed hall under the tower helped ventilation.
  • Wind towers display the compatibility of human-built architectural forms with the environment and the ingenuity of Iranian engineers.
  • Following the introduction of western architecture,  structures such as wind towers gradually became part of the past though many still remain in use.
  • Modern architecture can make use of traditional Iranian methods to utilize air currents and evaporation in cooling and air-conditioning living quarters.

Burj al-Taqa – The Energy Tower Dubai, United Arab Emirates:

  • Order Year: 2006-07
  • Estimated Investment: £200m
  • Height: 322m (1,056ft)
  • Construction Start: 2008
  • Design: Gerber Architeckten international


  • Dubai temperatures can reach 50°C, so the cylindrical shape of the building is designed to minimise exposure of the surface to the sun.
  • All energy is generated from wind turbines and solar panels; the main 60m (197ft) roof-mounted turbine
  •  The windows are protected from indirect sunlight elsewhere on the tower by a mineral coating, which also helps improve the effectiveness of the air conditioning.



  • The tower is constructed from cutting-edge vacuum glazed glass, which will be mass- commercialized in 2008, to reduce heat absorption and maximize the available daylight.
  • The central atrium and a five-perimeter atria contain transparent ducts that look like plastic cylinders running up through the ceiling on all levels of the building.
  • A double-skin glass façade protects the Solar Shield and helps to clear stale air from the rooms.

Talking of air conditioning, the main system for cooling the air inside the tower uses a convection system which pulls in cold air at the ground level, and sucks it up out of the top of the tower. The air conditioning will use seawater, and underground cooling units lower the temperature inside to 18 degrees C / 64.4 degrees F. This building may be a technological beacon for environmentally friendly skyscrapers, but as a commenter on metaefficient points out, new building designs don’t do much to solve the inefficiency of older buildings in cities. Although that doesn’t mean we can’t imagine what it’d be like to work and live in a sea of glass and metal without feeling slightly bad about it.

“Such a building has to work like a thermos flask,“ says DS-Plan’s energy manager Peter Mösle

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Contemporary Architecture

Digital Architecture

Strictly speaking the architecture of present century has already witnessed the marvels of DIGITAL ARCHITECTURE, but there will a paradigm shift in this field when we look to the future.
This presentation aims at presenting those technologies that comes( or will come) under the ambit of digital architecture.

  • The architecture of modern times is characterized by its capacity to take advantage of the specific achievements of that same modernity: the innovations offered it by present-day science and technology
  • The relationship between new technology and futuristic architecture even comprises a fundamental datum of what may be referred to as avant-garde architectures
  • Future will be about integrating computer-aided design with computer-aided fabrication and construction
  • Redefining the relationship between designing and producing
  • Eliminating many geometric constraints imposed by traditional drawing and production processes— making complex curved shapes much easier to handle, for example, and
  • reducing dependence on standard, mass-produced components
  • It would bridge the gap between designing and producing

Digital architectures refer to the computationally based processes of form origination and transformations. Several digital architectures are identified based on the underlying computational concepts such as:

  1.  topological space (topological architectures)
  2.  isomorphic surfaces (isomorphic architectures)
  3.  motion kinematics & dynamics (animate architectures)
  4.  keyshape animation (metamorphic architectures)
  5.  parametric design (parametric architectures)
  6.  genetic algorithms (evolutionary architectures)

Topological architectures:

In “architectural curvi-linearity”, it offers examples of new approaches to design that move away from the de-constructivism’s “logic of conflict and contradiction” to develop a “more fluid logic of connectivity.” This is manifested through folding that departs from Euclidean geometry of discrete volumes, and employs topological, “rubber-sheet” geometry of continuous curves and surfaces. In topological space, geometry is represented by parametric functions, which describe a range of possibilities. The continuous, highly curvilinear surfaces are mathematically described as NURBS – Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines. What makes NURBS curves and surfaces particularly appealing is the ability to easily control their shape by manipulating the control points, weights, and knots. NURBS make the heterogeneous and coherent forms of the topological space computationally possible.

Eg: Guggenheim Bilbao by Frank Gehry.

Isomorphic Architectures

Blobs or metaballs, or isomorphic surfaces, are amorphous objects constructed as composite assemblages of mutually inflecting parametric objects with internal forces of mass and attraction. They exercise fields or regions of influence, which could be additive or subtractive. The geometry is constructed by computing a surface at which the composite field has the same intensity: isomorphic surfaces. These open up another formal universe where forms may undergo variations giving rise to new possibilities. Objects interact with each other instead of just occupying space; they become connected through a logic where the whole is always open to variation as new blobs (fields of influence) are added or new relations made, creating new possibilities. The surface boundary of the whole (the isomorphic surface) shifts or moves as fields of influence vary in their location and intensity. In that way, objects begin to operate in a dynamic rather than a static geography.

Eg.:Cardiff Opera by Greg Lynn, BMW-Pavilion by B. Franken

Animate Architectures:

Animation software is utilized as medium of form-generation. Animate design is defined by the co-presence of motion and force at the moment of formal conception. Force, as an initial condition, becomes the cause of both motion and particular inflections of a form. While motion implies movement and action, animation implies evolution of a form and its shaping forces. The repertoire of motion-based modeling techniques are keyframe animation, forward and inverse kinematics, dynamics (force fields) and particle emission. Kinematics are used in their true mechanical meaning to study the motion of an object or a hierarchical system of objects without consideration given to its mass or the forces acting on it. As motion is applied, transformation are propagated downward the hierarchy in forward kinematics, and upward through hierarchy in inverse kinematics.


  • House in Long island by Greg Lynn
  • Port Authority Bus Terminal in NY by Greg Lynn: Dynamic simulations take into consideration the effects of forces on the motion of an object or a system of objects, especially of forces that do not originate within the system itself. Physical properties of objects, such as mass (density), elasticity, static and kinetic friction (or roughness), are defined. Forces of gravity, wind, or vortex are applied, collision detection and obstacles (deflectors) are specified, and dynamic simulation computed.

Metamorphic architectures

Metamorphic generation of form includes several techniques such as key shape animation, deformations of the modeling space around the model using a bounding box (lattice deformation), a spline curve, or one of the coordinate system axis or planes, and path animation, which deforms an object as it moves along a selected path. In key shape animation, changes in the geometry are recorded as key frames (key shapes) and the software then computes the in-between states. In deformations of the modeling space, object shapes conform to the changes in geometry of the modeling space.

Eg: Offices of BFL Software ltd. by Peter Eisenman

Parametric Architectures

In parametric design, it is the parameters of a particular design that are declared, not its shape. By assigning different values to the parameters, different objects or configurations can be created. Equations can be used to describe the relationships between objects, thus defining an associative geometry. That way, inter dependencies between objects can be established, and objects’ behavior under transformations defined. Parametric design often entails a procedural, algorithmic description of geometry. In this “algorithmic spectaculars”, i.e., algorithmic explorations of “tectonic production” using mathematica software, architects can construct mathematical models and generative procedures that are constrained by numerous variables initially unrelated to any pragmatic concerns. Each variable or process is a ‘slot’ into which an external influence can be mapped, either statically or dynamically.

Eg.: Algorithmic spectaculars by M Novak

Evolutionary architectures

Evolutionary architecture proposes the evolutionary model of nature as the generating process for architectural form.
Architectural concepts are expressed as generative rules so that their evolution and development can be accelerated and tested by the use of computer models. Concepts are described in a genetic language which produces a code script of instructions for form generation. Computer models are used to simulate the development of prototypical forms which are then evaluated on the basis of their performance in a simulated environment. Very large numbers of evolutionary steps can be generated in a short space of time and the emergent forms are often unexpected. The key concept behind evolutionary architecture is that of the genetic algorithm. The key characteristic is a “a string-like structure equivalent to the chromosomes of nature,” to which the rules of reproduction, gene crossover, and mutation is applied. Optimum solutions are obtained by small incremental changes over several generations.

Eg.:“Pseudo-organisms” by J. Frazer

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Contemporary Architecture

Elhorst | Zenderen – OOSTERHUIS.NL

Kas Oosterhuis:

  • Born in 1951,he studied architecture at the Delft University of technology.
  • Afterwards, he taught as unit master at the AA in London. From there, he worked and lived one year in the former studio of Doesburg in Paris, together with visual artist Ilona Lénárd

Llona Lenard

  • Born 1948 in Hungary, became an independent visual artist
  • In 1989, both founded KasOosterhuisArchitekten in Holland (renamed into ONL [Oosterhuis_Lénárd] in 2004)


  • Visual artists, web designers and programmers work together and join forces
  • Practice of the fusion of art, architecture and technique on a digital platform
  • The portfolio of ONL exists of a variety of projects in divergent fields of experience
  • Housing projects, exhibition spaces corporate business buildings, city planning tools, online experiences, interactive installations.
  • With the help of new programming techniques ONL controls the complex geometry and the engineering of double-curved surfaces and the supportive construction.

CAAD Architects:

  • Frank. O. Gehry
  • Kas Oosterhuis
  • Peter Eisenman
  • Greg Lynn


Oosterhuis says ‘The most important feature for architecture is that in its history is no longer fixed and static. Due to its programmability of both form and information content the construct becomes a lean and flexible vehicle for a variety of usage’

 A computer development history:

  • 1950‘s – the introduction of the computer to mainstream scientific research.
  • 1960‘s – the introduction of graphics and visual representation by computer.
  • 1970‘s – The large industrial acceptance of CAD in the design process.
  • 1972- The first demonstration of 3d-CAM fabrication from a punchcard machine
  • 1978   – Dassault Ind. develops CATIA (Computer-Aided 3-Dimensional Interactive Application)
  • 1980‘s – Development of the home PC, and software packages.
  • 1985   – Alias releases ALIAS1 animation & SFX software
  • 1988- SurfCAM 1.0 is released to the fabrication industry
  • 1990‘s – Finally an acceptance of CAD in the architectural community
  • 1997    – FOG Guggenheim Bilbao
  • 1998- AliasWavfront releases MAYA
  • 2000‘s – First mainstream project from architects employing the full potential of CAM.


  • CAD and CAM were developed by large-scale industry for their own use.
  • CAD was not accepted for use in Architecture industry until 30 years after its inception.
  • Cutting edge architects are using digital design and fabrication technology in developing their projects. The combination of these technologies returns the architect to the role as both builder and as a part of the fabrication/construction team  the master builder

 The Design and Production cycle:

As a designer you are given a problem:

  • You analyse the requirements & limitations
  • Formulate a design strategy
  • Begin to design based on all known parameters from your analysis

– Modeling and SCRIPT development.
– Pattern, ornament, or form GENERATION.
– REFINEMENT for manufacturing.
– CAM INTERPRETATION for the machine(s)
– G-Code OUTPUT.

  • This output iks very useful for overall evaluation of the appropriateness of the design response.
  • The output may be a PROTOTYPE which can be evaluated and used to refine the generation of the design.

Modern technology usages in architecture:  

  • Virtual Reality
  • Interfaces
  • Simulations
  • Sketch Recognition
  • Generative Design
  • NOX: Interactive Architecture: Representations of diagrams, not representation of types.

Why use CAM in Architecture:


  • Automation, and commercial / cost advantages.
  • Repetition and time savings.
  • Rapid prototyping.


  • Able to quickly manufacture very complex forms.
  • Ability to manufacture single forms that traditionally would have been made in pieces.
  • Ability to scale items precisely, and use scale testing.


  • Able to use parametric design to create large runs of different pieces
  • Automating both the generative process and the manufacturing
  • Able to produce ‚distinct‘ modular components.

Elhorst | Zenderen:

  • Date: 1995
  • Site: Zenderen
  • Project architect: Prof ir Kas Oosterhuis
  • Design team: Kas Oosterhuis, Ilona Lénárd, Leo Donkersloot, Niek van Vliet,
  • Client: Regio Twente

-Sculpture building with head, trunk and tail.
-After 15 years, converted to its new function as sports centre.

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Contemporary Architecture

The Rotating Tower,Dubai and Suite Vollard, Curitiba – David H. Fisher

 David Fisher

The Rotating Tower,Dubai and Suite Vollard, Curitiba – David H. Fisher
  • Italian Architect based in Florence owning a design firm called “Infinity Design”
  • Honors at Faculty of Architecture in Florence University
  • Taught as faculty in the same and in structural engineering department
  • Awarded PhD Honoris causa by the Prodeo Institute at Columbia University (NY)
  • Not a traditional architect as he worked mainly in the field of construction redefining the technical and technological extremes of building
  • Involved in restoration of ancient buildings
  • Pioneer in the field of prefabrication and dynamic buildings


Since the beginning, with his involvement in “Binishells” technology, David Fisher’s design studio has developed a vision of architecture resulting from technological and economic considerations, with aesthetics being the natural output of the above.

Since the first large project, “the Marriott Aruba” , Dr. Fisher has taken part in the complete process of construction, from the feasibility study, to financing, to construction management and the  final commissioning of the project.


  • For David Fisher Architecture is the space for living and the life of the people must not be conditioned by an architect’s extravagance.
  • Infinity Design gives puts a strong focus on the flexibility of the space as life, architecture must change together with the needs of the people and the changes of the environmental conditions.


  • 3,800 B.C. – Ancient Egyptians built the pyramids and buildings until now are based on gravity: stones/bricks/blocks are positioned one on top of the other.
  • 1436 – Brunelleschi designed the dome of the Cathedral of Florence.The biggest dome ever built, challenging horizontal forces.
  • 1889 – The first iron structure, the Eiffel Tower, was built in Paris . Many skyscrapers are built of bolted steel traces, based on the same technology.
  • 1905 – Reinforced concrete was created by combining cement with iron bars; most structures until now are made of reinforced concrete.
  • 2008 — Prefabrication when 90% of building (Dynamic Tower) was prefabricated including the preassembled cores

“Almost every product used today is the result of an industrial process and can be transported around the world, from cars and boats to computers and clothing. Factories are chosen for their ready access to materials, production technology, inexpensive labor, efficiency, and other conditions that result in high quality at a relatively low cost.

It is unbelievable that real estate and construction, which is the leading sector of the world economy, is also the most primitive. For example, most workers throughout the world still regularly use trowels, which were first used by the Egyptians and then by the Romans. Buildings should be no different from any other .product,. and from now on they will be manufactured in a production facility”– Dr David Fisher

“Doing buildings on site, as we do since the pyramids, is as if we were producing cars in the parking lot or an aircraft on the runway…

Our building in fact are made of preassembled units, that arrive to the site completed of all finishing, equipment, plumbing and air conditioning, ready for a fast and easy installation process.

So these buildings are feasible.

I mentioned functionality — well, also the interior partition will be flexible if they will ever exist… look how flexible is our digital part of life. . . why should we still live in a medieval castle where the wall do not let us any freedom and we can modify them when our way of life get changed.”–Dr. David Fisher


  • Dynamic Architecture buildings keep modifying their shape
  • Traditional architecture – Gravity
  • Dynamic architecture – Motion dynamics
  • A mechanical approach to civil construction – Transdisciplinary
  • Buildings will no more remain the ‘fossilized imagination’ of the architect;
  • They will change, constantly bringing new views and experiences to us with time
  • Introducing the fourth dimension in architecture : TIME

Suite Vollard:

  • The Suite Vollard is a futuristic residential building in Curitiba, Parana, Brazil.
  • This Apartment Building was Designed by a team of Architects, headed by Bruno de Franco & David Fisher
  • This building is the only one of its kind in the world, as each of the 11 apartments can rotate 360º.
  • Each apartment can spin individually in any direction. One rotation takes a full hour.
  • The apartment rings rotate around a static core used for building services, utilities, and all areas which require plumbing.
  • Each apartment was sold for approximately R$ 400,000.00 ($US 300,000.00).

The Rotating Tower:

  • 80 floors, 420 meters tall.
  • First 20 floors will be Offices.
  • Floors 21 to 35 will be a Luxury hotel,
  • Floors 36 to 70 will be Apartments.
  • While the top 10 floors will be luxury Villas.
  • Apartment sizes range from 124 sq.m to villa of size 1200 sq.m
  • It will be the first building in the World to be entirely constructed from factory made prefabricated parts.
  • These parts are being manufactured in a factory in Altamura, Italy.
  • It will require just 600 people in the assembly facility and 80 technicians on the site instead of min. 2000 workers for a similar building.•the consturction will complete by the end of this year.
  • “The Rotating Tower Of Dubai will be the First Industrial Skyscraper ever constructed. 90% of the building will be prefabricated and assembled on a central core, the only part built with traditional reinforced concrete poured on the site.”
  • “I call the non-moving buildings Tombstones……buildings should start being part of the universe, and therefore dynamic…..   How could one think that digital homes of future will be as immobile as our grandmother’s house.”

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Architecture Related

Optimization of Indian building design using genetic algorithm


 The energy performance of a building depends on a high number of parameters. It is determined by its response as a complete system to the outdoor environment and the indoor conditions. Improved levels of performance require the coherent application of measures which altogether optimize the performance of the complete building system. Given the number of individual attributes that have to be combined to make a single building, the number of possible designs is very large, and determining the most efficient one is a complex problem.

Optimization of building energy performance is more complex in the case of Indian buildings. While in some cold European regions only heating energy consumption is usually considered, the Indian climate makes it essential to consider both heating and cooling energy uses. Varying some parameters of the building over their ranges of practical values can have opposite effects on heating and cooling energy consumptions. It is evident that an insulated building envelope helps in reducing the heating demand. But in summer, the outdoor night temperature being generally lower than the required indoor temperature, un-insulated but high thermal capacity walls allow for the evacuation of the heat stored in the building during the day, leading to the reduction of air-conditioning need. One important question is raised: what is the wall composition that leads to the lowest energy consumption in both seasons? The answer is not straightforward.

The main characteristics of the two sided problem are: a large multi-dimensional space to be searched, a range of different variable types and a non-linear objective function. Using genetic algorithms to solve such problems is a good alternative that allows us to identify not only the best design, but a set of good solutions.

Design variables

 In cold countries there is not a real need for summer air-conditioning except where internal gains are high such as concert halls or opera houses. Our situation being different, in the present work, the objective function can be taken as being the sum of the heating and air conditioning energy loads.

In order to find the optimal design of a building, we have to compare the energy performance of a large number of configurations, which needs the computation of the heating and cooling loads for each of them. In the optimization approach, we propose to use a simplified procedure that is more straightforward and easier.

The losses across the envelope and the gross free gains depend on the lateral surface of the building, the type of used partitions as well as glazed surfaces on each of the facades. The shape and the dimensions of the solar protections have direct impact on the amount of the solar free gains received by the glazed areas. The vastness of the optimisation problem would itself be a problem; therefore we have defined a set of possible configurations, by combining different cases of these design variables, taken inside reasonable values. The resulting set of configurations defines the space of research of our problem.

While keeping a constant volume, we can vary the dimensions of the building envelope and its shape. We can consider a simple cell-test having a rectangular shape with a fixed volume V or similarly a fixed floor area. For the opaque partitions i.e. walls and roofs we can consider different types of roofing (based on their insulation) and different kinds of walls (with different inertia and levels of insulation). Facades of the building can also be glazed, for such a case we can choose between simple and double glazing that differ by their transmission.

An efficient solar protection should allow for minimizing the cooling load without excessive increase in the heating load. This means that the shadowed portion of the glazed area should be as large as possible in summer and as low as possible in winter. Knowledge of the shaded part is necessary to compute the gross solar gains. The efficiencies of different sun shading devices can be adjudged from there “solar factors”; they are defined as the ratios of the received solar radiation in the presence of the shadowing device over the radiation that would be received in its absence.

Courtyards are considered ‘the spaces through which a building breathes’. They are an efficient element of passive feature in a building. However there is an optimal size for a courtyard; a very large courtyard breaks the unity of the building while a small one becomes more like a duct. A building with a given foot-print needs a courtyard that is a fixed percentage of the foot-print area. This criterion may form one of constraints in our case.

Genetic algorithms

 Genetic algorithms have proved their efficiency in dealing with different optimization problems such as the optimization of building thermal design and control and solar hot water systems as well as the design of thermally comfortable buildings and the control of artificial lights. These techniques belong to a class of probabilistic search methods that strike a remarkable balance between exploration and exploitation of the search space. Genetic algorithms are initiated by selecting a population of randomly generated solutions for the considered problem. They move from one generation of solutions to another by evolving new solutions using the objective evaluation, selection, crossover and mutation operators.

A basic genetic algorithm has three main operators that are carried out at every iteration:

  • Reproduction: chromosomes or solutions of the current generation are copied to the next one with some probability based on the value they achieve for the objective function which is also called fitness.
  • Crossover: randomly selected pairs of chromosomes are mated creating new ones that will be inserted in the next generation.
  • Mutation: it is an occasional random alteration of the allele of a gene.

While the selection operator for reproduction is useful for creating a new generation that is globally better than the preceding one, crossover brings diversity to the population by handling the genes of the created chromosomes and mutation introduces the necessary hazard to an efficient exploration of the research space. It makes the algorithm likely to reach all the points of research space. Before developing a genetic algorithm, we must choose the encoding that will be used to represent an eventual solution of the problem by a chromosome where the value of each variable is represented by one or several genes. The quality of the developed algorithm depends essentially on the adopted encoding strategy and its adequacy to the used crossover and mutation operators, while respecting the nature of variables and the constraints of the problem.

The developed algorithm

 In this work, a genetic algorithm needs to be developed in order to provide a method for obtaining a set of optimal architectural configurations. There are few things which are quite clear even before we start, for example, having a large southern facade is beneficial because it is the sunniest in winter and the least in summer. But it is not desirable to have a building with a large lateral surface because it increases the heat loss through the envelope. A compromise needs to be worked out in such type of area.


 The energy problem presented in this paper is particularly interesting. While it is relatively easy to find the best characteristics of a building under winter or summer conditions separately, tackling the two problems simultaneously is more complex. There is a trade-off that has to be done between the two seasons requirements. An optimization algorithm coupling the genetic algorithms’ techniques to the thermal assessment tool needs to be developed for Indian buildings. This algorithm further can be used to identify the best configurations from both energetic and economic points of view. Genetic algorithms represent a simple and very efficient approach for the solution of non-linear combinatorial optimization problems. Although Genetic Algorithms find good solutions without exploring the whole space of research, yet they need the evaluation of a large number of building configurations. The algorithm presents also the big advantage of converging not only toward the best solution but toward a set of configurations all of a high quality and diverse enough to allow the user to choose the most adequate one to his personal considerations that are not necessarily quantifiable. The fact that the required result is a set of very good solutions (and not the best one) means that good evaluation accuracy is sufficient.