The model has always been central to the design process in the office. The simple three-dimensional card models for which we are known can provide incredibly sophisticated. The ability to hold these in your hand and “understand” the whole project as a totality – rather than as a series of screen views – is well understood.
As with our other uses of computation, new tools are deployed to reinforce and extend what we do. The power of parametric modelling both as a design tool but also to optimise procurement and fabrication is now well known, yet we steadfastly insist upon the use of all and any tool as is appropriate to the task. For example, parametric modelling is deployed surgically – when it offers greater efficiency or insight than more traditional methods. In doing this we now also find feedback loops between our traditional models, 3D printing and script-based modelling can open up a design process in ways not possible when the practice started.
The cladding of the Penguin Parade Visitor Centre is one example where modelling was able to optimise an otherwise detailed and complex cladding pattern. The spiky feathers of the fairy penguin for whom the project exists inspired the diamond tile layout and the colouring that ranges through grey tones. These intuitive or poetic judgements were then used to generate a series of rules for the tile layout. Multiple options were generated and the rules refined, until the final layout was selected.