c  o  n  t  e  n  t  s
r e s e a r c h
C o n s t r u c t i n g   D e s i g n   C o n c e p t s :   A Computational Approach to the Synthesis of Architectural Form
Kotsopoulos S, Ph.D. Dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2005
V.     A Studio Exercise in Rule Based Composition

1.  Introduction

One of the challenges in using a rule-based system in design is determining its appropriateness and applicability
       in the synthesis of form. In this chapter I develop some elementary rule-based concepts to explain and support the
      creative activity of the studio. How can rules be employed to perform goal-driven design tasks? And how can
      analogue and digital means coexist as part of the studio teaching activity? In order to examine these questions a
      studio exercise was developed on the basis of a design competition for low cost housing.

      Given the building program, the objective is to gradually establish the appropriate spatial entities (rooms), the
      relationships, and the rules for the generation of designs. The general strategy,is to construct a rule system
      able to produce a variety of 2-dimentional plan arrangements in response to the variety of functional demands and
      conditions. First, candidate sets of spatial elements and rules are formulated with by hand (analogue), as a
      hypothesis. Then, they are tested using a digital parametric shape grammar interpreter. The interpreter requires
      conversion of the rules into LISP scripting format and provides computer aid in clarifying the ramifications of a
      hypothesis. Using the interpreter the designer determines if a rule-set had any desired outcomes. If not, the rule-
      set is modified and re-tested. The decision process involves a selection among alternative rule-sets. The
      interpreter offers fast and broad exploration of the rule products.

      The heuristic of the process is organized in three interdependent levels of abstraction. The first is dedicated to
      the formation of
partis, the second to the transformation of a parti and the generation of layouts, and the third to the
      description of the tectonic details. Each level begins by forming candidate rule-sets and has an analogue and a
      digital part. Through an iterative process of formation, transformation and refinement the rules are evaluated and
      redefined according to their compliance to programmatic, intuitive, and construction criteria.