Algorithmic Patterns for Facade Design

Merging Design Exploration, Optimization and Rationalization



Photo of Inês Caetano

Inês Caetano

INESC-ID/IST-University of Lisbon

Photo of António Leitão

António Leitão

INESC-ID/IST-University of Lisbon



Recently, building envelopes have been exhibiting complex shapes and patterns, a trend supported by current digital technologies. Likewise, the design exploration of these envelopes has been combined with analysis and optimization processes, with the aim of achieving better performing solutions. Nevertheless, the exploration of architectural skins still poses some limitation to architects when using new design approaches, such as algorithmic design, simulation, and optimization strategies, as they require specialized expertise. Furthermore, the integration of design analysis and optimization processes in the algorithmic design workflow has shortcomings, such as the fragmentation resulting from the use of multiples models and tools, a process that is error-prone, time-consuming, and hard-working.

In this paper, we discuss a framework developed to ease the mathematical description of algorithmic façade designs, which intends to integrate the most used analysis and optimization processes in a continuous design exploration workflow. To this end, a classification of façades was developed, based on computationally relevant categorical dimensions, that integrates a set of fundamental algorithms and strategies for each dimension. The result is a library of algorithms available in different programming languages, and a set of guidelines that help architects select and combine the most useful algorithms for a given façade design. The algorithmic structure of the developed solutions is flexible, hence, suitable to connect with the chosen analysis and optimization processes, allowing their inclusion in a continuous workflow.


Architecture has always explored the latest technological advances in terms of building technology, as well as architectural production and representation. Nowadays, the new digital tools play a relevant role in

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Algorithmic Design

Algorithmic Design (AD) is a design approach that describes a design through a set of rules and algorithms (Alfaris and Merello 2008), allowing the designer to transcend “the factory-set

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DrAFT Framework

Architectural practice is highly dependent on the specific circumstances of the design brief and, thus, it is unlikely that the exact same approach can be used in a

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Conclusion and Future Work

Currently, we are witnessing an increased concern regarding environmental problems, in which architects play an important role. Architects are more aware of the negative impacts architectural practice has in the

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This work was supported by national funds through Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) with reference UID/CEC/50021/2013, and by the PhD grant under contract of University of Lisbon (UL), Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) and the research unit Investigação e Inovação em Engenharia Civil para a Sustentabilidade (CERIS).

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