Computational Design with Timber

By Lucas Epp,
Engineering + 3D Manager
Related Projects:  Calgary Central Library

Over the last 10 years, the field of computational design has taken the building industry by storm. The meteoric rise of this new paradigm amongst designers can largely be attributed to the emergence of new user-friendly software tools. These tools enable the creation of parametric scripts by designers, without requiring computer programming skills. Use of computational design has now become de rigueur in leading architectural and engineering practices worldwide, particularly in geometrically complex or freeform structures.


These software tools encourage a design approach which defines the geometry of structures parametrically – the guiding geometrical principles of a design are exposed as parameters which can be changed at any point during the design. This enables rapid exploration of variations on a certain design or geometry. Significant advances in software design over the last 10 years now allow real-time analysis to be performed as the geometric parameters are changed. As an example, this means that a designer, while changing the depth of the kingpost truss to the right, can watch in real-time as the structural forces change. This is a step change from traditional analysis methods which involve transferring geometry to a separate analysis software, and then running analyses often taking minutes or hours. The design-performance feedback loop has thus been reduced from hours to seconds.

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