In the past 20 years a rich palette of associative design systems, serious gaming software for master planning, file-to-factory design-to-production processes, as well as user-centered interactive control systems for the built environment has emerged. Associative modeling means building relationships. Building relationships between experts in the design solution space, between spatial requirements, between functional units, between building components, between the user and the environment. These relationships can be built by linking the 3D geometry of a project and its context to a variety of parameters retrieved from a spread of databases. It is crucial to maintain these links throughout the full design to operate process to provide continuous feedback loops. All links between building elements and all communication between various stakeholders must be bi-directional at any time in the process, so that any change in data will result in an instant re-evaluation of all relationships.
Associative modeling means building relationships
Expansion of design solution space
The AIM design process is considered to be a scale-free network rather than a linear chain. The actor network of stakeholders is robust, meaning that de-activating some nodes will not compromise the integrity of the network. In all stages of the design-to-operate process each player / stakeholder works with real time data that is structurally linked to the AIM, ensuring nothing is lost in translation. The values in the active cells of the databases change over time, either by external circumstances like changing data from weather or financial conditions, or by creative manipulations inside the design process. Cells may contain data [quantities] or metadata [qualities] and all data is basically streaming data, which continuously changes over time.
Nothing is lost in translation
The AIM design process secures a lean, flexible and above all advantageous advancement of the design, build, finance, maintain and operate [DBFMO] network, from the very first ambitious idea to the final fine-tuning of the whole operation. The relational AIM strategy secures a substantial expansion of the design solution space, where co-creators [laymen and experts] exchange data and views based on equality. When the AIM is deeply implemented in the entire design-to-operate [D2O] process 10 to 30% profit can be reached in each phase of development, ultimately leading to a significant value increase of the whole enterprise. The client can deploy this added value to reduce building costs, to reduce operational costs, to achieve a higher performance, to improve the BREEAM score, or just to make more profit. The AIM strategy provides full transparency in the design decisions to be made by stakeholders in any stage of the D2O process. This AIM creates the conditions for a truly collaborative design and engineering process that is based on high levels of expertise and mutual respect.
Initial cells are the building blocks for planning
The first conceptual idea is prone to the largest fluctuations in efficiency and sustainability, emphasizing that the strongest effect and the biggest benefit The AIM supports the visualization of the relationships can be achieved in the early stages of the design to operate process. From the very start of a planning or building process dynamic links are established between the initial state and its environmental conditions. This initial cell is modeled as a 3D volume, while a plethora of data is associated with it: expected climatic conditions [wind, sun, rain], financial conditions [budget, interest rate, costs] as well as output data in the form of performative values [energy consumption, energy production, CO2 levels, interaction with users]. Any change in the dimensions or shape of this initial cell will trigger a recalculation of both input and output data, while each cell is considered to be an input-processing-output-device [IPOD]. Each volumetric cell is considered to be an actor in an actor network. When there is a swarm of familiar cells the relationships between that swarm and other interacting swarms will be defined via data in the database as well. The dynamic behavior of interacting swarms is coined as the Internet of Things and People. One cell may for example want to stay close to another cell like a carport that needs to stay close to the house. Such relationships will typically be defined in a bandwidth of dimensions with values between a minimum and maximum distance. The AIM strategy for this conceptual level of detail, often referred to as LOD 0-100, is applied to master planning projects. The number of initial cells may vary between one and thousands of them. When an urban context is associatively modeled, all design data are considered as variables, as active parameters, as actors in the actor network. The size of a house may vary, the distance between the houses, the distance between a house and the plot boundary, the centre of gravity of the house, the proportions of the shape, the complexity of the shape, the relations between houses and cars, the relationship between street and house etc. Everything that has a value, either as data or as meta-data, is introduced in the serious gaming model as an active player, as an actuator. All cells are placed in the active environment pushing dynamic climatic and financial data towards the individual cells.
The AIM supports the visualization of the relationships
The AIM supports the visualization of the relationships, either in the form of diagrams and infographics, or in the form of 3D models that can be navigated by the client, the users and the experts, or even in the form of living diagrams showing changes in real time.
Cell division builds the spatial lay-out
When cells start to divide internally, functional spaces are identified as to become a room with a specific character, climate, dimension and with a quantified and qualified relationship to other spaces. Identified functional spaces can be open to the outdoor or enclosed, or anywhere in between. The difference is being defined by the size of the openings to the outdoor / neighbor. If the opening has the full size of the space, it is experienced as a loggia or similar, if the opening has the size of some m2 it may function as an element for natural ventilation or for looking out, when the size is smaller than 10cm in diameter it may be the opening for a ventilation device, when even smaller it may be the opening for the key to the room. Openings will not be specified by their function but by their size in the first place, as to avoid putting openings in categories which they cannot escape from. In the AIM the relations between the spaces are parameterized, changing quantities or qualities of one space has effect on other spaces. Some relations may be fixed while others are dynamic. For example the overall shape may be fixed, which is considered a global constraint, while the internal arrangement of spaces may vary. Or one of the spaces grows in size and affects the overall size of the construct as well by expansion of the overall volume. Naturally the directions in which the volume grows may be set by changing [one of] the X, Y and Z values or the number of m3 increases by pumping up the volume as a whole. Pumping up the volume changes the effect that the environment has on the volume. The effect of the changes i.e. the performance in terms of climate and finances is then recalculated in real time.
The effect of the changes in terms of climate and finances are recalculated in real time
Cell specification defines building components, structure and skin
In the AIM there is no distinction in seemingly fundamental elements like floors, walls, ceilings or roofs. A floor can smoothly transform into a wall and then into a ceiling like double curved cocoons making it impossible to identify known fundamental elements. Therefore those predefined categories are avoided in the AIM. When components are made in one piece, it will be described as one piece, using algorithms / formulas for their description. The AIM registers the identity, the location and the quantitative i.e. performative descriptions of the components without\ labels as floor, wall or roof. Fixed categories like floors, walls, roofs, stairs, corridors, façades, balustrades, balconies, windows, doors, ramps, ceilings, fireplaces and toilets must be avoided at all times. The only data that really counts in the AIM are the verifiable descriptions of the constituting components, their identity, their position in space, their dimensions and their performance records. In the description of the performance there may be a reference to the traditional classification system of elements, but for reference only and not as an active cell in the AIM. Such reference must be considered a dead-end street, similar to the fact that 2D drawings are poorly informative derivatives from a dynamic AIM system.
A floor can smoothly transform into a wall and then into a ceiling
Expert to expert
It is proven that in the cooperation between spatial designer and structural engineer one third of engineering time can be gained, while one fifth of the costs of a steel structure is saved. This is achieved by an export of data and metadata from the design script [via XML] directly into the calculation software [SCIA] of the structural engineer. The engineering time is reduced which can be used to make multiple feedback loops for optimisation. This reduction of engineering time is accomplished by not handing over a detailed BIM model to the engineer, but to prepare a direct exchange of only those data which the engineers need to perform their calculations. Instead of a large BIM file only a compact XML file does the job of informing the engineer in such a way that the structure is automatically imported and visualized in the calculation software simply by retrieving the XML data.
One third of engineering time can be gained
Minor preparation between the sender and the receiver is needed in order to find out which are the essential data that are strictly needed, saving weeks of non-productive re-modeling time. That extra time can be used for other purposes, ranging from making extra profit by optimizing the structure, as to achieving an equally large reduction in building cost.
A huge improvement can be created in quality, efficiency and profit
Design to CNC fabrication
In the traditional sequence of making the final design, tendering to select the main contractor and the negotiations by the contractor to select the manufacturer, direct contact between design and production gets lost. While in cooperation between digital designers and the manufacturer that has the CNC machines to produce components according to the principles of mass customisation, a huge improvement can be created in quality, efficiency and profit. In the file to factory [F2F] process the designer sets up a direct link from the AIM to the CNC machines. Only the data that the CNC machines can read is extracted from the AIM using scripting methods. The F2F manufacturing of a series of unique components secures a budget neutral production in comparison with the production of series of the same components using mass production methods. This implies that buildings designed and built according to the principles of complex nonstandard geometry in combination with mass customized production methods are just as affordable as any standard rectangular buildings. This bonus provided for by the lean CNC manufacturing method may be used to make our built environment richer in shape and texture, more attractive to look at, more enjoyable to live in, more seductive to relate to or more efficient and safe to construct.
A new approach towards sustainability
In the more detailed level the fixation points between the components are defined and quantified. In the associative design workflow and in the design to production file to factory logic, so called wet connections are avoided. Dry assembly methods using nuts and bolts are preferred, so that they can be disassembled and recycled or reused in due time for their second life. Connections between components need the knowledge of the manufacturers who then also can be held responsible for the production and assembly of the building components. Opening the way for a dramatically new method of establishing a sustainable built environment.
A radically new design strategy called AIM
ONL sets out to define the new role for the expert formerly known as architect, which is outlined by revolutionary developments in the field of information, communication and production technology. The building process is increasingly dependent on the real-time exchange of information and direct communication between the stakeholders, through the adaptation of the latest developments in information technology. ONL facilitates the necessary connectivity to optimize and inform the design process, with a radically new design strategy called AIM.
aims to unchain the design-to-build-to-perform process
states that Koolhaas’ retro-active fundamentals, [Venice Biennale 2014] must be avoided at all times
rejects classification methods like the Element-method, which is adopted by the Dutch Association of Architects [BNA]
can make our built environment richer in shape and texture, more attractive to look at, more enjoyable to live in, more seductive to relate to or more efficient and safe to construct
opens the way for a dramatically new way of establishing a sustainable built environment
says that Associative Modeling means Building Relationships
secures a lean, flexible and above all advantageous advancement of the design, build, finance, maintain and operate [DBFMO] network, from the very first ambitious idea to the final fine-tuning of the whole operation
claims that when the AIM is deeply implemented in the entire design- to-operate [D2O] process 10 to 30% added value can be reached in each phase of development.
gives their clients an opportunity to deploy acquired added value to reduce building costs, to reduce operational costs, to achieve a higher performance, to improve the BREEAM score, or just to make more profit
has proof that in the cooperation between spatial designer and structural engineer one third of engineering time can be gained, while one fifth of the costs of a steel structure is saved
AIM Associative Information Modeling
D2O Design to Operate
IPOD Input Processing Output Device
LOD Level of Detail
BIM Building Information Model
F2F File to Factory
CNC Computer Numerical Controlled