Archive for the 'Design Process' Category

Rezzing Procedural Space

2006.07.27 (Thursday, July 27)

Smart Geometry is a work-group promoting research in advanced 3D CAD applications. Of particular interest is GenerativeComponents from Bentley Systems, which describes a “parametric and associative” system for the development of design projects. Wow. A GenerativeComponents application describes a 3-D dataset (a fancy name for a bunch of objects) by not only its geometry, but also by the “abstract relationships,” the many decisions, large and small, that make-up this particular design. Representing the logical structure of a build, and not just its explicit geometry, is an attempt to describe and explain the builder’s intentions –the how, what and why of its spatial composition.

But what does this have to do with SL?

In Second Life (SL), spatial complexity emerges from the deliberate accumulation and modification of geometric primitives based on an idea or ideas about space. Although there are countless ways to proceed so as to realize a specific building, it is always the result of specific decisions unfolding over a linear or non-linear period of time; this can be thought of as a kind-of recipe. For example, a build (ABC) has three objects (a, b & c) that followed the recipe (a-> b-> c) for its fabrication, the order in which the objects were composed. Using the same three objects (a, b & c), but this time following the recipe (c-> b-> a), we now have constructed a build (CBA). While the two builds might have common attributes (quantities, size, scale, colors, distances etc…), the overall quality of space differs.


GenerativeComponents, taking this into account, integrates the designer’s intentions to the composition of the scene until it becomes both the build AND the tool, the concept and its fabrication. In fact, makes the idea and the object reversible.

Users of 3-D modellers or CAD software work graphically, applying intuition and experience to establish a specific workflow. It is this workflow –the commands, decisions and modifications of objects, that is captured and encoded by a GenerativeComponents program. A recipe is created from this mix of geometry with the decisions that transform it. The proceedure is captured, analyzed and made reusable as the logic, memory, process, context and content of the project.

The idea of an object is reinvented, geometry is fused with the seeds of its generation.
Experimentation, through the development of evolving design scenarios, can proceed without having to manually re-build a detail design model for each alternative.
And finally, since the interface of GenerativeComponents applications is a mixture of graphic manipulation and a dataflow scripting interface, there is a natural convergence of the two generative models. Builds employing SL as a media rely on LSL, the Linden Scripting Language, to complete the deployment of complex space, thus a platform permitting their coming together is a welcome advancement of the buliding/programming environment.

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