Computergestütztes Entwerfen | CAAD
Fakultät für Architektur | RWTH Aachen

Visualising Non-visual Building Information

Autoren: Russell, Peter (Russell )
Erschienen in: Architectural Information Management (19th eCAADe Conference Proceedings)
Seiten: 546-551
Ort: Helsinki
Land: Finnland
Jahr: 2001
ISBN: 0-9523687-8-1


Architecture can be understood as a process and as an object. In both forms, it consists of a complex of mass, monetary, energy and information flows that occur over time scales ranging from hours and days to centuries. The parts or elements making up buildings and the processes involved in producing, maintaining, using and disposing of them are highly intertwined and multi-dimensional. The field of Architecture can range from complete building stocks down to individual buildings, their elements, and the materials and processes making up these elements. What is more, it is also necessary to introduce time as a dimension in order to model the complete life cycle of buildings. Current CAD systems concentrate primarily on the replication of the traditional drawing process (sometimes in three dimensions) and the visualisation of the finished building. While these models describe the geometry and visual appearance of buildings, the bulk of the information about the building remains unseen. Recently developed systems such as the German LEGOE system have combined a materials database with specification and CAD systems, which allows for a more comprehensive description of the building. However, this additional information is displayed either rudimentarily or as lists of numbers. The information describing the position or visual quality of building elements is, in fact, minuscule in comparison to that describing the properties of the materials involved, their production methods, the energy needed to produce, transport and install the elements, and information concerning toxicology and environmental issues. What is more, these materials are not simply in situ, but can be considered to flow through the building. These flows also occur at widely varying rates according to the type of material and the type of building. The view is taken that buildings are actually temporary repositories of various “flows” which occupy the building during its lifetime. Thus seen, the various aspects of a building at a certain stage of its life are taken to be the total sum of its inputs and outputs at any given time. Currently, its complexity and the lack of cognitive assistance in its presentation limit the understanding of this information. The author postulates that to better understand this information, visual displays of this “non-visual” building information are needed, at least for those who, like architects, are more visually inclined. The paper describes attempts made to go beyond conventional two-dimensional charts, which have tended to only complicate understanding. This is partly due to the need to display a high number of dimensions in one space. Examples are shown of experimental visual displays using three-dimensional graphs created in VRML as well as a “remodelling” of the building based on statistical rather than spatial information to form a building “artefact”. The remodelled artefacts are based on a null-value three-dimensional form and are then modified according to the specific database information without changing their topology. These artefacts are initially somewhat idiosyncratic, but become more useful when a large enough population has been created. With sufficient numbers, it is possible to compare and classify the artefacts according to their visually discernible attributes. The classification of the artefacts is useful in understanding building types independent of their formal “architectural” or spatial qualities, particularly with age-use-classes. The paper also describes initial attempts to create building information landscapes that unfold from the artefacts allowing detailed views of the summarised information displayed by the individual artefacts.