Interactive tangible table urban simulation

In September I conducted some Processing-based experiments on occupancy and wayfinding in urban environment. I was heavily inspired by one of my AAC Bartlett students, Yossatorn Jomjinda, who was investigating pedestrian activity in Bath, trying to mimic crowd mechanics based on bluetooth data harvesting.

After writing intial piece of software and wrestling a bit with OpenGL, I managed to run pedestrian simulations on simple gray/black maps (solid/void), so agents can avoid obstacles autonomously. Adding sneaky wayfinding algorithm did the trick, and now I am able to drive crowds to randomly chosen locations, such as tube stations/retail entrances etc.

The last bit was to add tangible user interface objects library (TUIO, open source code by Martin Kaltenbrunner) to Processing code, and after printing some markers and attaching them to pieces of perspex, I was able to inform the simulation by manipulating physical objects.

The purpose of such tool is for now to access and visualise pedestrian occupancy and wayfinding information, to define more/less occupied areas. This might be useful when defining which buildings might have greater commercial value due to volume of pedestrian movement. However, there is more possibilities to such approach, like interactive wind simulations, overshadowing studies, solar insolation, visual accessibility etc.

Work in progress!!!

New SmartGeometry video

An interesting video outlining keypoints of the latest Smart Geometry and IaaC has been recently posted on Vimeo. Made as a documentary, quite succintly (11mins) it shows what the event was really about. It also explains how Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia works.. definitely worth watching.

SmartGeometry 2010 from ON i ON comunicación on Vimeo.

(I am featured in 8th minute;-)

Smart Geometry 2010

Smart Geometry Workshops and Conference, held in Barcelona’s IaaC this year was a huge success. Over four days of workshops, hundreds of small and large scale (1:1) prototypes were designed and (!) manufactured using laser cutters, milling machines and various robots. ‘Working prototypes’ challenge was to build and test architectural models, thus proving their usability and functionality, which wasn’t easy within such limited time – but quality level of produced work was incredibly high.

IaaC main space

All fabrication techniques were pushed to their limits, with new approaches re-invented on the fly, or manufacturing processes reengineered and applied in completely different way.  One of most spectacular examples was KUKA robot employed to cut styrofoam bricks, as shown below :

KUKA robot

(video of the process can be seen here)

styrofoam bricks

Workshop consisted of ten clusters : Deep Surfaces, Nonlinear Systems in Biology and Design, Manufacturing Parametric Acoustic Surfaces, High Tech Design – Low Tech Construction, Parametrics and Physical Interactions, Curved Folding, Explicit Bricks, Rapid R&D to Rapid Assembly, Design to Destruction, Inflatable Fabric Envelopes.

workshop space

My contribution in whole ‘creative mess’ was to co-tutor Parametrics and Physical Interactions cluster, together with Hugo Mulder (Arup), and Flora Salim (SIAL, RMIT).  Its aim, was to provide participants with tools to extend virtual parametric modelling to physical world. We used sensors (light, movement, ultrasound, camera object tracking) as inputs, and various actuators, light emitters and multimedia projections as physical outputs. Short, but concise summary of the workshop is shown in video below :

Information on Smart Geometry Workshops and Conference can be found at

More photographs:

parametric acoustic surfaces

parametric membranes

curved folding

high tech design, low tech construction

parametrics and physical interactions

Grafik cover video

Very recently I was involved in writing Processing program, that was supposed to generate graphics for front cover of ‘Grafik’ magazine. Actually, the program was used on entire issue, producing vector fields from page context – images and text blocks, but most interesting part is dynamic flow.
In this collaboration with computational designer Jonathan Rabagliati, we overlayed particle system on top of generated vector field, creating network of ‘flows’, moving through page context. Some of the agents, in dense neighbourhoods start releasing ‘trails’ wandering through screen, omitting obstacles and trying to find their best way.

dynamic flow

Process is illustrated in this video :

result may be seen on the cover of June 2009 issue.