SIMPLE and COMPLEX BUILDING SYSTEMS

Post 446  –by Gautam Shah

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Traditional building systems are massed in one to one relationships or linear, because we design components that are individually dealt, drawn, built and operated. This makes it easier to deal with subsystems in different time, space by different experts. A systems approach to design, render simple or linear systems. Building systems are conceived as structures with superfluous concern for environment or the occupants. Same building composition is placed on all orientations and site conditions. In many instances the ‘architecture is so much internationalized’ that it is moored anywhere, irrespective of climate, location or terrain. The universalization leads to ‘forms being imposed without concern for the purpose’. The only complexity that descends is in the form, generated by the machine manipulated ‘pursuit of the unusual’.

Mathematical Fractal Complexity Abstraction

‘A complex system is one that by design or function or both is difficult to understand and verify’ (Weng, Bhalla and Iyengar). So perhaps design which needs to be well understood before delivery cannot be a complex system. The need for complexity in building system persists. It is perhaps a pursuit of the unusual. The attitude to conceive a system with all its dependencies requires multi-disciplinary approach, which is sadly absent. Experts arrive to offer solutions to make the concept a workable thing. Only in house experts part of architectural design office are, a structural engineer, and perhaps an interior designer. In interior design office subscribes to furniture designer.

El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe

Complex systems are nested and very effusive. The complex systems are perceived of subsystems, each with unique time and space dependencies. As these dependencies, connections or relations, do not manifest simultaneously one can study them or plan for their hypothetical or real replacement or management. Complex systems have no permanent boundaries, and are difficult to determine. These boundaries, however, can be presumed by the stack holder, who is involved with it. Sadly designers are stake holders in design and execution (delivery) processes but not for the user experience part of it. Complex systems when conceived or analyzed by a team, become open systems, compared to single systems or holistic creations.

Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland is an example of a complex emergent structure created by natural processes.

Single or holistic systems are balanced or with thermodynamic equilibrium. But complex systems are continuously varying, as affected by many external energies. Complex systems show a characteristic pattern or order. The order is obvious when the purpose of togetherness of the subsystems is determined or even subsumed.

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Bio-mimicry is one such order that is subsumed in buildings. Complex systems often exhibit hysteresis, a phenomenon in which the reaction of the system to changes is dependent upon its past reactions to change. This sort of memory retention or recollection (of previous exposure to magnetism is the working principle in audio tape and hard disk devices or recovery from complicated deformations in the state of substances) is just one facet of system behaviour. It is sought to be seen as simplistic and stand-alone hysteresis.

Falkrik wheel lifting the boat Wikipedia Image Attribution: Famine at en.wikipedia

Memorials are designed as remarkable Places, to serve simpler and fewer functions. Often there is an attempt to de-emphasize the space making elements. With fewer distracting architectonic elements, the attention comes to the site, either integrating or blocking it. The scale is enlarged to make an architecture, or depressed to mark a place.

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COMPONENT APPROACH to DESIGN

Post 434 ⇒   by Gautam Shah 

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There are many ways Design is conducted. The Technique of Design or the Design Process determines the nature of output. There are obvious factors that are common to all design processes such as Nascent effort or routine application, Human and other resources available, Technology involved in design, Presentation tools and methods, Scale of detail, Execution methodology and Operations systems.

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Some of the important Design processes are: 1 Holistic approach, 2 Component approach, 3 Redesign or Re-engineering and 4 Concurrent engineering or Simultaneous design.

Air Force Academy Chapel Colorado springs by SOM of USA

COMPONENT APPROACH is one of the oldest approaches used for designing slightly complex entities. Here an entity is perceived, as if composed of several components or subsystems, each of which are optional or replaceable. The components or subsystems are universal as are relevant for other conditions.

Four stroke single cylinder engine components

The design is a continuum, and one improvises it by changing a component its method of joining, placement or context. Component approach (parts to the whole) provides systems that are reliable, and well connected to the existing one. Where situations demand a radically different or a novel solution, parts to the whole design approach are often inadequate.

Ghetto-blaster family of Audio tape decks -replaced by Sony’s Walkman

The component approach requires one to have a complete overview of the functions the parts and the objects are to serve. This also translates into understanding of relationships between various components. Components are mutually related in time and space, and this makes it easier to devise a replacement. Replacement components are superior in form, function and their association with other subsystems. Replacements modify a system forming a new system.

Khajuraho Kandariya Mahadev Indian Temple Components

Components with high degree of mutual connectivity are less affected from conditions beyond their boundaries. Component approach creates systems with some regimen where subsystems have predictable dependency and yet are replaceable.Component approach systems’ are fairly fail-safe because individual segments, parts, or components are continuously and concurrently being evolved in the society.

616px-Republic_F-105B_with_avionics_layout_060831-F-1234S-046Modern day automobiles, computers are examples of Component approach to design. For ages large number of buildings are being created through Component approach. ‘Monuments’ and highly stylized architectural works intentionally and intensively negate the component approach for the sake of Holistic image.

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OPEN – CLOSED SYSTEMS

Post 425 –  by Gautam Shah

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A system is an entity with recognizable parts or subsystems that in some way overlap or interact in time and space. This overlap of functions and degree of interactions project a singular purpose or identity of the system. A system is conceptual totality, but need not be a fathomable entity, like the atmosphere system. Systems have parts or subsystems that may seem to participate with other system. Such transcending parts individually reflect the nature of the systems they subsist on.

Richards Labs Penn L Kahn

Systems are also finite when they exist within an environment of discipline. Such open systems also have nodes where other distinct systems get attached. Many such interconnected systems again serve a singular purpose. Compared with the interconnected or open systems, there could be self-sustaining systems. Such systems are strongly contained, and so are closed systems. Open systems interact with other systems or outside environment, and Closed systems have little interaction with other systems or outside environment. Our body is an open system as it continuously interacts with the environment, where as a watch is nearly self sufficient entity.

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Open system have external interactions, such as of information, energy, material and other resources export-import. Open systems retain the enthalpy to be in equilibrium. Open systems are like a digital word processor article or a spreadsheet which are amenable to changes or can be “adjusted’. Some legal agreements could an ironclad or closed document, which once created cannot be changed in any part, and must be redrawn. A quasi-legal agreement could be an understanding, an open document allowing future change or revision.

Emil Bach House FLW

In Architecture, buildings are classifiable into Open-ended and Closed-ended entities. An open-ended form and structure allow extensions or additions. Open-ended structures allow spatially limited or occasional alteration. Open-ended buildings have identifiable subsystems, each of which can be designed, executed, maintained, operated, upgraded, replaced or terminated by different agencies, at different times and circumstances. Open-ended systems inherently have multiple units of modulated sizes, form consistency patterned arrangement and perceptible organization.

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Closed-ended structures have a self-sufficient form and singular purpose. Such structures reflect the one master ownership or single intent, and so are monumental, akin to a piece of sculpture. There may be nonfunctional repeat units in the composition for pattern making. A closed system does not transect anything, and may not have nodes of exchange. One need not be aware of the interior of the system, as there are ‘no repairable or serviceable components inside’. Such tags are very common on technical products of proprietary design.

All Gizah Pyramids

Certain forms or shapes are dominantly, either Closed-ended or Open-ended. Forms that are broader at the base, and narrower or pointed at the top, do not allow extension. Pyramid, cone or tower, are closed ended systems. Similarly drum like shapes allow little additions except in the upward direction. Contrary to this, a square or rectangle is very extendible shape in all directions. Old Basilicas and Church buildings have been added upon, but Hindu temple is rather a static form.

Houses of parliament British

Highly articulated buildings like Versailles or British Parliament, are closed ended or static structures. It would be difficult to add upon them in any relevant manner without compromising the integrity of the built-form. Indian Parliament has an annex connected with an access tunnel. Versailles has glass pyramids (closed ended entities) as new extension.

Sansad Bhavan

Architects create monumental buildings by compromising many other functions or requirements. For such purposes the building is conceived with a single form (though transgressed in many ways), single material, or sensuality, nonhuman or disproportionate scale and fewer sub elements. Some explorations towards closed ended architecture or monumental buildings have been deconstructionist, gravity defying and highly dynamic or mobile forms.

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DESIGNING COMPONENTS and SYSTEMS

Post 415 – by Gautam Shah

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Zytglogge Movement_from_1530_by_Kasper_Bruner

When a designer conceives an object, it is either as a whole, or as a composition of parts that form the whole. A composition of parts has an inherent but distinct order of coordination within it, whereas objects conceived as a whole may not project such an order.

InSight lander in assembly

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Parts of an object, even before being manufactured, and before physically placed together, have some degree of coordination. The process of coordination starts within the thought processes of a designer along with the concept of the object.

IDF Caterpillar D9

In a continuum, designers consciously (intellectually) or subconsciously (intuitively) identify elements relevant for known situations; or inversely identify situations where known elements can be fitted. Elements and situations are mutually relevant to designers. Most universal context, for both, the element and the situation, to be relevant is the user.Mechanized conveyor lines

In a design process, the components, the situation, or the orders of context are initially not obvious, logical or easily identifiable. The design process for a creative lay person and a trained person or the designer is very different. A creative lay person simply goes on creating (assembling, modifying) things without being aware why certain things exist in a certain manner. For a creative person the end is important, means are irrelevant. A trained person or a designer, on the other hand, tries to discover the logic behind it. Selection of an element may be intuitive initially, but there is always a later effort to justify the actions intellectually.

Subcontracting. Bogie-wheel assembly. Facing, counterboring and milling operations are performed on bogie-wheel levers in the machine shop of an Eastern subcontractor. Painesville Machine Company

 

A designer justifies all the actions like selection, rejection, inclusion or composition of various elements. In doing so the designer refines the intellectual prowess by equipping with an experience that is:

  1. definable
  2. repeatable or recreate-able as a whole or in selective parts
  3. recordable -its perceptive aspects
  4. transferable to another person
  5. increase or decrease its intensity (time scale) and diffuse or intensify its concentration (space scale).

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For a designer, knowing means to achieve a specific end are very important. Proper record keeping of all design decision processes helps here. It is very difficult to register dreams, intuitions or inspirations. One needs to recall them in a different time and space context. All intuitions or inspirations however absurd, have some physical context of origin. Designers unlike a lay crafts-person or artist, are trained and disciplined, so record their design related thought processes. Thought processes thin out or obliterate completely with passage of time, so must be recorded as early as possible. Documentation of every aspect of design process is very necessary. Such expertise helps a designer to handle extensive or more complex intuitions or inspirations.

Italy Milan Gothic Travel Tourism Cathedral

Prefabricated house construction

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SYSTEMS

Post 314 – by Gautam Shah 

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Buttresses Flying Buttresses Cathedral Gothic

Systems are purposive entities qualifying the togetherness of parts or components and smaller systems. It is a qualification by which the whole is recognized along with its constituents. Systems have sub units that are well orchestrated in time and appropriately placed in space. For every change in the constitution, composition and positional value of any of the sub unit, there is a corresponding change in the system. Some changes, though, are insignificant, and can be ignored.

MicroAirVehicleIn a designed (intentional) system nearly all sub units have a purpose of their in being with the others. In designed system the sub units are selected, prepared, modified, manufactured, for being together in a particular format. In a complex system only a few sub units are relevant to other units. Some sub units occasionally and due to their position remain latent. In a very large system such as of nature, the sub units do not reveal themselves, unless their order is probed. A system composed of apparently irrelevant or latent parts can still continue to be relevant as a whole.

Orquideorama

Simple systems have strong edges, and are like buildings, newspaper or a computer programme. Complex systems can have diffused boundaries due to convergence of other systems such as our own body, city administration or internet. Nature’s systems are very extensive spread reaching to infinity, and include atmosphere, planetary or food chain.

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A system’s sub units are classifiable as parts, components and subsystems. The components by themselves function as a simple system, and are replaceable entities, though have connection formalities. Subsystems manifest through their order. Order is an inherent characteristic of systems. It is the system organization.

Star system

In designed systems when elements are gathered, an order can be recognized. A budding system can have order that is alogical and loosely definable, and not apparent to others. Just the same as soon as the systems begins to function the order becomes obvious, logical and definable. Recognition of order in a system helps in many ways:

  • It helps the definition of a system.
  • It endows self sufficiency, so that the system can become an ever replaceable component.
  • It provides nodes for dependency so that the system becomes integrated whole.

Paul Klee > Revolution des Viadukts -Abstract system

In all designed systems the primary order is that of assembly or sequence of manufacture. However, in complex systems there are many orders. A system is the web of relationships that creates emergent properties of the whole. These properties of the whole may not be found in any analysis the sub-units.

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PARTS and COMPONENTS

PARTS

 

In our day to day life, we use many different types of objects. At a very simple level an object is made up of only one or few materials. Such objects though have variety of sizes and shapes, and serve similar purposes.

 

For this reason parts are always replaceable, and similar parts are affected similarly.

 

When we recognize an object as a part, we know that a whole range of nearly similar objects, worthy of being a ‘part’, are available. A part has universal character, but when assembled into a component, it acquires a different personality, due to the placement, location and function.

 

A part is that elemental unit to which the whole can be reduced or resolved.

 

A screw, nails, handles, a razor blade, buttons, are examples of parts. These are destined to become members of a larger entity -the component. Cement, sand, water and bricks, as parts, form a masonry wall, which in turn is component of a building. Parts like a tube, tyres, air, rims, together create a component -the wheel. The wheel with many other components makes up a system of movement.

 

 

Within a composition, parts exhibit an active to passive interactions with other parts, as determined by the design. But parts dealing with the environment (including the user) often show indeterminable behaviour.

 

 

COMPONENTS

 

A component is unique composition of many parts, to serve a specific purpose, it must remain steadfast to a function and yet to be relevant. Components have a specific identity, compared to Parts, which have a universal character.

 

A component is more intimately linked to the larger composition-the system, than a part is. Components are conceived to be within a larger composition or system, and derive their identity on the nature of their role within the system.

 

Some components remain static and so are useful, but many others are dynamic and only for that reason, become members of the functional system. Components manifest at very specific location and occasion, so can be easily identified and separated. A part is also a component when it becomes exclusive due to the placement, location or function. Components show reactivity to presence or elimination of energy by becoming dormant, active to hyperactive.

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OPEN ENDED SYSTEMS vs CLOSED ENDED SYSTEMS

Post -by Gautam Shah

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OPEN ENDED SYSTEMS

In an open-ended system, components designed or manufactured by different vendors are used. The success of such a system depends on the adaptation of measures, standards for materials and codes for procedures. Open-ended systems are wasteful because of the built in, reserve or additional capacities. The built in capacities in the open-ended systems do facilitate future replacements, improvisations and up-gradations. Open-ended systems generally result from mature and multi trial endeavours. Where large number of people are involved in design and execution and where these processes are likely to take place in different time spans, the system automatically becomes open ended. Open ended systems are also called ‘open architecture entities’.

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CLOSED ENDED SYSTEMS

In a closed ended system the components are not interchangeable. Components designed for a particular situation ,are neither usable nor adoptable in another situation. Closed systems are very wholesome or compact compared with open systems, which usually have a skeleton type frame structure (infrastructure) and are loosely held. Closed systems are rigid and not easily improvisable, whereas open systems allow up-gradation. Closed ended system being compact have no redundancy. Closed ended system become totally useless with even minor changes in their environment or working. Close ended systems generally result from first ever (prime) or unique creative effort. Spontaneous and one man creations tend to be closed systems, unless a conscious effort is made to make it an open system. Closed ended systems are also called ‘proprietary systems’.

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Open-Closed

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