A hierarchical evolutionary algorithmic design (HEAD) system for generating and evolving building design models

Bukhari, Fakhri A. (2011) A hierarchical evolutionary algorithmic design (HEAD) system for generating and evolving building design models. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This thesis develops a detailed conceptual design method and a system software architecture defined with a parametric and generative evolutionary design system to support an integrated interdisciplinary building design approach. The research recognises the need to shift design efforts toward the earliest phases of the design process to support crucial design decisions that have a substantial cost implication on the overall project budget.

The overall motivation of the research is to improve the quality of designs produced at the author's employer, the General Directorate of Major Works (GDMW) of the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces. GDMW produces many buildings that have standard requirements, across a wide range of environmental and social circumstances. A rapid means of customising designs for local circumstances would have significant benefits. The research considers the use of evolutionary genetic algorithms in the design process and the ability to generate and assess a wider range of potential design solutions than a human could manage. This wider ranging assessment, during the early stages of the design process, means that the generated solutions will be more appropriate for the defined design problem.

The research work proposes a design method and system that promotes a collaborative relationship between human creativity and the computer capability. The tectonic design approach is adopted as a process oriented design that values the process of design as much as the product.

The aim is to connect the evolutionary systems to performance assessment applications, which are used as prioritised fitness functions. This will produce design solutions that respond to their environmental and function requirements. This integrated, interdisciplinary approach to design will produce solutions through a design process that considers and balances the requirements of all aspects of the design. Since this thesis covers a wide area of research material, 'methodological pluralism' approach was used, incorporating both prescriptive and descriptive research methods. Multiple models of research were combined and the overall research was undertaken following three main stages, conceptualisation, developmental and evaluation. The first two stages lay the foundations for the specification of the proposed system where key aspects of the system that have not previously been proven in the literature, were implemented to test the feasibility of the system. As a result of combining the existing knowledge in the area with the newlyverified key aspects of the proposed system, this research can form the base for a future software development project. The evaluation stage, which includes building the prototype system to test and evaluate the system performance based on the criteria defined in the earlier stage, is not within the scope this thesis.

The research results in a conceptual design method and a proposed system software architecture. The proposed system is called the 'Hierarchical Evolutionary Algorithmic Design (HEAD) System'. The HEAD system has shown to be feasible through the initial illustrative paper-based simulation. The HEAD system consists of the two main components - 'Design Schema' and the 'Synthesis Algorithms'. The HEAD system reflects the major research contribution in the way it is conceptualised, while secondary contributions are achieved within the system components.

The design schema provides constraints on the generation of designs, thus enabling the designer to create a wide range of potential designs that can then be analysed for desirable characteristics. The design schema supports the digital representation of the human creativity of designers into a dynamic design framework that can be encoded and then executed through the use of evolutionary genetic algorithms.

The design schema incorporates 2D and 3D geometry and graph theory for space layout planning and building formation using the Lowest Common Design Denominator (LCDD) of a parameterised 2D module and a 3D structural module. This provides a bridge between the standard adjacency requirements and the evolutionary system. The use of graphs as an input to the evolutionary algorithm supports the introduction of constraints in a way that is not supported by standard evolutionary techniques. The process of design synthesis is guided as a higher level description of the building that supports geometrical constraints.

The Synthesis Algorithms component analyses designs at four levels, 'Room', 'Layout', 'Building' and 'Optimisation'. At each level multiple fitness functions are embedded into the genetic algorithm to target the specific requirements of the relevant decomposed part of the design problem. Decomposing the design problem to allow for the design requirements of each level to be dealt with separately and then reassembling them in a bottom up approach reduces the generation of non-viable solutions through constraining the options available at the next higher level. The iterative approach, in exploring the range of design solutions through modification of the design schema as the understanding of the design problem improves, assists in identifying conflicts in the design requirements. Additionally, the hierarchical set-up allows the embedding of multiple fitness functions into the genetic algorithm, each relevant to a specific level. This supports an integrated multi-level, multi-disciplinary approach.

The HEAD system promotes a collaborative relationship between human creativity and the computer capability. The design schema component, as the input to the procedural algorithms, enables the encoding of certain aspects of the designer's subjective creativity. By focusing on finding solutions for the relevant sub-problems at the appropriate levels of detail, the hierarchical nature of the system assist in the design decision-making process.

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ID Code: 50964
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Frazer, John & Drogemuller, Robin
Keywords: architecture, conceptual design, computer aided architectural design (CAAD), design schema, design system, design method, design process, evolutionary architecture system, genetic algorithms, generative design, modularity
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Design
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 19 Jun 2012 00:00
Last Modified: 19 Jun 2012 00:04

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