Category Archives: Research

Foundation Studio RMIT 2015_Pavlova

Synesthesia Project by Hoi Fung (Jason) Tam Celestine & Anne (Jingtong) Zhao

Synesthesia Project by Hoi Fung (Jason) Tam Celestine & Anne (Jingtong) Zhao

01_Sullivan & Charles RMIT Foundation Studio Pavlova Triception_01

Pavlova Studio looks at generative algorithms and rulesets that form unexpected results.
Students are encouraged to take risk and to delay their latent desire to control outcomes through, but to explore
They must manage top-down strategic decision making processes as a curatorial methodology in combination with tactical responses to adjusting
components and the rulesets that order their compositions.

In this framework, the intent is to seek new relational frameworks for interventions aid in the critique of the context of the site,
which was the whitebox-gallery of the Lyons House museum.

Projects were also critiqued through lenses outside of the generative outputs, such as effects induced by introducing
performative, relational qualities and fictional filters
in the attempt to not make these not additive layers, but setting up a relational framework for design that
enhances a critical response to context and human behaviour.

This is an integral ecology of design process.

Students do the project in an intense 5 week cycle.
Students undertaking the project in their 3rd cycle also look at tectonics and material behaviour associated with executing their projects
at 1:1 scale using methods such as folding, casting & draping.

Peters Phd Research

Reconciling Metabolism: Negotiating systems of stasis and change
This study seeks to find more robust urban interventions that combine an understanding of ecology and economics to shape city growth through organization of voids.
Digital analyses of data and projective scripting of scenarios will be used to spatialise and reconceptualise productive models of growth.

Field Diagram

Field Diagram

The field diagram outlines 3 major fields of Metabolism, Void Metabolism, and Landscape Urbanism and a range of studies using Digital tools that the study sits in the context of.
The diagram does not privilege any project, but is a study of the connective tissue that links certain projects that share common themes or strategies. The study will sit in the potential space between these fields in uncharted territory or combinations.

From the Air and from the Ground

The thematics of Growth & Void are tested through the repertoire of bottom-up tactical approaches, and broader strategic developed, and are projected onto the site of Fishermans Bend.
The obvious clash of a blind strategic approach with the existing context indicates the need for either administrative interventions such as compulsory land acquisition or local level tactics from the ground.


Urban Layers

Urban Layers is a flattening of topographic, geographic and economic values, brought into relation on a sample site.
Different layers can be given stronger weights to privilege certain value systems, and the combined results observed for potential settlement and mobility patterns from the interaction of the forces.


Void Tactics

These void studies attempt to translate economic parameters into strategies to preserve or project void tactics at a block level onto existing ownership morphology.
The tactics can then be projected over the entire site, and potential connections established.

Modelo Model

Here is a parametric structural model I made in grasshopper. I wanted to show an iteration of it my engineer to check we were on the same page. Instead of sending him a dwg, i thought i’d test drive some new tech.

A good friend of mine, Su Qi, who I met as a classmate at Harvard, has been working away at a startup called modelo. It’s an amazing online collaboration tool that allows you to comment and navigate a 3d model in real time simultaneously, with others anywhere around the world. You can see as others navigate and comment as they are typing… it’s instantaneous!!!

The interface is better than Apple simple, and works better than an 8.01 update(sorry apple geek joke). The start up is called Modelo. You should check it out, it’s amazing. It even works on your iPhone!

An awesome additional feature is its ability to embed the model online, like you should be able to see below… if you can’t see it get off IE!!

If anyone would like to try it out, i’ve opened up the model for comments… Leave a comment!


Parametric Nomadic Furniture

This suite of Furniture was inspired by Wonga 2.0 and it’s need for simple, cheap furniture that could be transported easily (flat packed) and then assembled and disassembled intuitively (knockdown).

To meet these requirements I created five parametric models of furniture.

Clothes Hanger
Shelving Unit

(Addendum: I;ve since finished construction of a stair bookcase and a planter box)



These pieces of furniture could be laser, plasma or CNC Router cut out of standard plywood sheets. I wanted to be able to “print” different versions of furniture at different sizes and with different materials.

To make the furniture knockdown, it needed some Japanese key joins, this required a level of accuracy that meant that each piece of furniture would need to match exactly to it’s piece of ply. Plywood, is rarely exactly the thickness it is specified I have had 4mm pieces that were 3.1mm and 4.8mm. When making friction joined furniture this discrepancy multiplies and usually means the furniture won’t assemble correctly, if at all. So being able to adjust the thickness of the material easily without having to re-draw and re-calculate the whole design was essential. To see some more examples of joins i have made click here.

The potential of this design system, is the possibility to create bespoke furniture quickly and cheaply. For example if you look at the table, a parametric table dimensions could defined by an exact empty space in someones home or office. 1210x654mm, no problem! Say the user is tall and is sick of low tables, or a user wants to use the table standing up… no problem! If the user wants a temporary table and want to use cheap low grade non- structural ply, or a more permanent (and expensive) custom made Italian laminate or cherry wood veneer.. no problem either. These and many other variations can be added to the model which automatically updates the cutting files ready for fabrication. No additional input by the designer is required.

Prototypes and scale?

The flexibility of the parametric design system is exhibited in the first prototypes I created. These were laser cut out of 3.6mm plywood. I needed to test the accuracy of the parameteric relationships within the models so I took the design to an extreme, I made them really, really small. It is important to note that these aren’t scaled down versions of a large table they are the actual table just with small dimensions inputs as parameters. So for example instead of inputting the standard-ish table dimensions of 900mm x 1800mm i inputed 80mm x 150mm. Instead of 20mm ply I used was 3.6mm.

The prototypes were a success. The next stage of this research is to further aesthetically develop the models and then ‘Print’ fullsize versions using the CNC router and some sheets of 1200 x 2400 plywood.

Node Joint Upside down

Laser Cut Japanese Mortice and Tenon Joints


Curved Joint with Key

Parametric Structure using snap in Japanese mortice and tenon joints


The parts


Video of me assembling structure.


Five way Japanese joint




Complicated nodal joint

Flat Keyed Extension with key

Villa Savoye parameterised version 02

Villa Savoye – Parameterised

Villa Savoye- the iconic modernist building has been given the parametric treatment.

As a fun exercise I recreated Villa Savoye inside grasshopper and parameterised a bunch of it’s elements.

It shows the potential for parametric design as a design tool. Many parameters are linked by code so that when one item is moved, it has consequences on any other connected geometry. An example is the base cylinder is limited in its width by the width and/or length of the building, this way it is forced to a maximum size so it is never larger than the building itself.

I rendered a few of these up. The one from the video above is the first on the left. What is interesting is that you can clearly see the language of the original design even in these extreme versions of same building.

Villa Savoy times five

Villa Savoy times five


Here is video I made of the actual building when i visited it a few years ago. I walked around the 360 degrees holding the camera in my hand, It was very bumpy so I used After Effects to ‘straighten’ it out. You can see how the frame jumps around which shows how much effect the straightening had on the video.  For photographers it’s also a pretty good example of how lens distortion is more pronounced at the edges of a frame.

They had a cool exhibition inside by Vitra. It was the first time they had allowed contemporary furniture to be displayed inside.  It created a quite amazing juxtaposition, between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’. This was particularly salient considering how futuristic the design was when it was built in 1920’s, old futuristic vs. new futuristic…


To illustrate how ground breaking the design was, please compare this image of a 1927 Voison C11 that some car geeks believe may be the car that the turning circle was modelled on .


Villa Savoye And Voison C11

Villa Savoye And Voison C11


A  contemporary version of this home, could be the Chanel Art Pavillion. I saw it in Hong Kong in about 2008 and was pretty much blown away.  What was also cool about this building, was that it was pre-fabricated and installed from a container and then packed up and shipped around the world.

It was designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, and coincidentally (or not) is a parametric building. It is equally paradigm shifting as it uses the potential of parametric modelling to dramatically push the boundaries of form. The building is basically a portable tent, it had a stretched pvc roof and fibreglass panels that clipped together to create the walls. The parametric software would have been used to create the shape and spaces of the building, and then probably used to facilitate fabrication and assembly of all the unique parts. While this building is undeniably striking and i’ll say pretty awesome, it unfortunately creates a parametric ‘style’. Parametric design is more than just a style and the association that architects now have with parametric design is as a exotic form generator rather than a design, documentation and construction tool.

I took a another one of my videos walking around it, although i haven’t straightened it.


I also have some photos, unfortunately the large security guards psyched me out of taking secret photos of the interior. It was an impressive building.

Chanel pavilion in Hong Kong

Chanel pavilion in Hong Kong




Hut Render

MyHut – Parametric hut

MyHut is a Building Design System that hints at the paradigmatic possibilities of Parametric Design.

Hut Render

Hut Render


At first glance it’s design is simple, but that’s required to express the process of the design system.  But under the hood, there is  a complex connection of spreadsheets, computer code, geometric algorithms and financial calculations.





The possibilities of the system become apparent as soon as a user starts to adapt the hut to their unique requirements. They can easily change simple elements of the house, such as width, height and depth. (For a extensive list of parameters scroll to the bottom of the page) They are given in depth feedback in realtime to the consequences of their changes. The 3d model of the hut modifies itself to suit the new requirements. The user can observe and interact with the model, tweaking until they feel it is just right.


Behind the scenes, and in real time, the model is much more than a 3d dimensional representation it models many aspects of the building, for example:

  • Cost, a dollar figure for the cost of materials floats above the model. So when a user expands or shrinks the building they can see the financial consequences.
  • Structural concerns; when the building is changed, studs, rafters and joists are automatically recalculated so that the building meets AS1684.
  • Bill of Materials(BOM) not only does the model calculate cost, it can output lists of materials, their dimensions, and quantities, even a cutting list.
MyHut Inputs

MyHut Inputs

MyHut Outputs

MyHut Outputs

The model can also just as easily be tweaked in many detailed ways. For an example of just a few:

  • Material – the building’s timber can be selected from a automatically-defined list of available timbers that is updated dynamically and is comes directly from suppliers. Cost consequences are instantly visible.
  • Window dimensions – The position width and height of windows and sill can be changed.
  • Window number- The amount of windows can be changed
  • Stair dimensions – dimensions of riser and goings can be updated as well as width
  • Door – door position and size can be adjusted
  • Roof – roof pitch and overhang can be easily changed, roofing materials and truss/rafter quantities update too.
  • Structural members – structural member sizes and centres can be adjusted to optimise the savings between different structural options. This is useful as changing structural dimensions have cost effects beyond the individual member itself.



The myHut model also prepares traditional architectural drawings, Elevations and Plans, although these seem a throw back to the past, The model is an exact 3d representation of the building at 1:1 scale and is much more legible to non – design professionals than antiquated 2d paper drawings.


Here is a full list of parameters available in the myHut parametric house. Adjusting any of these updates the geometry, documentation,  Bill of Materials and cost of the whole house in  realtime.



  • Building Start Position
  • Building Rotation
  • Building Height
  • Stump Height
  • Building Width
  • Building Depth


  • Bearer PFC Flange
  • Bearer PFC Rib
  • Bearer PFC Height
  • Flooring Thickness
  • Floor Vertical Alignment
  • Joist Width
  • JoistDepth
  • Joist Centres


  • Beam PFC Flange
  • BeamPFC Rib
  • Beam PFC Height
  • Roof Sheet Thickness
  • Roof Set Down From Fascia
  • Rafter Width
  • Rafter Depth
  • Rafter Centres
  • Baton Height
  • Ceiling Lining
  • Furring Channel
  • Roof Pitch
  • Roof Overhang


  • Stud Wood Type (select from supplier list i.e. 100 x 48 f14 undressed )

Stud Width
Stud Depth

  • Column Type (Select from Supplier list i.e. 150SHS)

Column Width
Column Depth

  • Double Bottom Plate
  • Double top Plate
  • Double Stud Jambs
  • Double Studs
  • Internal Lining Thickness
  • Stud Centres
  • Noggin Height


  • Window Openings
  • Window Heights
  • Window Sill


  • Window Openings
  • Window Heights
  • Window Sill
  • Door Width
  • Door Setout
  • Door Height


  • Window Openings
  • Window Heights
  • Window Sill


  • Window Openings
  • Window Heights
  • Window Sill


  • Riser
  • Going
  • Width(is connected to door width)


  • Scale
  • Paper Size

What is Parametric Design

Parametric Design is a design system that associates parameters to the geometry of a design.

The design can be simple or complex. Parametric design is particularly powerful when parameters form relationships with other parameters. For example, changing one parameter, say length, may change many others because it is linked in relationship with many other elements.

A simple example is the relationship between two sides of a rectangle. By creating a formula that describes the rectangle (Width by Length equals Area or W x L=A), we can create a parametric relationship between some inputs and a rectangle.


Let’s say the rectangle has a fixed area of 12 meters. We can adjust the width across a range and the length is adjusted so that the area is always 12 meters. Length = 6m, then the width must be 2m. Width = 4m length, must be 3m.



When you start adding more and more parameters and relationships the model becomes exponentially more complex, but it also becomes more useful. So, in creating an architectural design, we can take the rectangle above and add a dimension to it. You now have a box, If you give that box a thickness, you have walls, a floor and a roof. Give each of those a different parameter for example wall thickness = 120mm then, if you ever have to change a parameter, for example, width of the original rectangle. everything else moves with it.

At a practice level, Parametric Design allows for design changes much later in the design process without the adverse consequences, and more importantly it can allow for design flexibility and resilience. This means you can reuse designs again and again even when the fundamental constraints change.


1to1 CNC facade panel prototype

This is a 1 to 1 prototype of a portion of the facade proposed for our piece in the Peter Corrigan Cities of Hope exhibition.


The panel is sculpted on 2 sides by the drill-bit, from bluefoam measures 2500×600, and tabs are designed.  The interior surface of the panel is undulated as per the exterior.

Furniture would have to be “sympathetic” to the exterior condition of the relief of the wall, hence the name. The remnant of the tool is left behind, reminiscent chisel scalloping of the stone-masons of old.  See a short video on youtube.


Tims Harvard Thesis