Computational design represents a new design methodology in which computation acts as a collaborator. This collaborator helps informed decision making and connects to new methods of representation of complex phenomena and choices. The aim is to supply design teams in various professions, as well as clients and users, with interactive real-time feedback of high quality with which to evaluate, compare and qualify design decisions.
Iterative investigations span the entire design process from contextual analysis and programmes, to conceptual sketches and design proposals and to the planning of manufacture and assembly. The design process relies on representations through sketches, images, digital and physical models and fabricated pro-totypes, and the artistic concept is rooted in experimental practice with open investigations and the use of diverse methods, favouring hybrid tools where the digital and analogue support each other.
The digital tools are based on mathematical modelling, analysis and sketching as well as simulation and design automation. Such analyses can be informed by data mining and other pattern recognition tools. The methods applied are rooted in the language of mathematics, artificial intelligence, pattern recognition and their structured logic.
Digital design can be applied to the study of various architectural qualities and values at different conceptual levels. Interactive optimisation at the broad level includes issues such as massing, location, orientation and view evaluation. Performance indicators such as energy sustainability and microclimate, including solar radiation and wind patterns, are vital in evaluating strategic design choices. Other important inputs are the performance and degradation of building materials over time, structural efficiency and integrity, fabrication and robotics. Simulation of social interaction and flows of crowds, as well as the integration of virtual reality (VR) as a tool for appreciating the qualities of the architecture, are vital in the communication with the end consumer.