Performance Based Generative Facade Workflow for Large Scale Projects



Over the last two decades, in what has been coined “The Digital Turn”, the introduction of parametric design software has afforded increased accessibility to practitioners within the profession for creation and manipulation of complex 3D geometries (Carpo, 2013). These tools have been adopted with great enthusiasm, but their use has generally trended towards the generation of fluid and organic forms with mostly aesthetic drivers. As environmental regulations and sustainability standards become more stringent, design teams can benefit from leveraging a workflow that engages simulation and analysis tools from within a parametric modeling environment to affect the trajectory of the design from the earliest stages.

The exterior envelope of Kuwait Children’s Hospital (KCH) is presented as a case study where performance guided the development of an aesthetic concept and contributed to the generation of a facade system. The project adopted an experimental methodology intended to simultaneously maximize occupant comfort while increasing the effectiveness of the project design team. By streamlining the movement of data from various design, simulation, and documentation platforms, the team reconciled a conceptual aesthetic consideration leveraging crystalline growth patterns with daylight performance. This process allowed the project team to generate solutions responsive to visual comfort originating from contextual restrictions relative to climate and orientation. A parametric shading scheme was developed on an artificial fractal with quasi semi-similar structures, and with the specific sizing of facade units controlled by their impact on daylight performance in the space.

Design and analysis was facilitated by an interconnected workflow consisting of custom-scripted geometry creation (written in Python and C#) which was then fed into an analysis feedback loop accessing Radiance and Daysim via the DIVA and Honeybee plugins available for Grasshopper. The resulting design geometries were made available to the rest of the project team via the web-based data exchange platform and translated into the Revit production environment through a series of custom scripted Dynamo components accessing the Revit API. This method of data exchange allowed for smooth collaboration from remote locations across different time zones and enabled precise data translation between different computational applications and among different disciplines. This workflow was proven to save time and increase the accuracy of simulation and modeling translation, while enabling cross-referencing of data between otherwise non-compatible software, resulting in the deployment of a performative facade proposal.




The architectural industry is facing a set of relatively new theoretical and technical challenges that are shaping the direction the profession is taking. Traditional methodologies of design and documentation have

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Historically, form, fenestration, and space planning were heavily influenced by the availability of the primary source of illumination: daylight. Designing for daylight addressed not only performance needs, but was engaged

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Method – Geometry Controls

In contrast to the regularity of structure and uniformity of programmatic distribution within the Children’s Hospital was the aesthetic motivation to create an impression of scalar

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Data & Explanation

The development of KHC’s secondary skin structure can be generally divided into three stages: 1) geometry generation, 2) optimization, and 3) data translation into BIM. As this entire process was

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Conclusion and Future Work

Challenges associated with design for performative facades on large-scale complex healthcare projects include schedule, collaboration between teams in different disciplines and geographic location, interoperability of software and integration of performance

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The authors would like to thank HKS LINE for financing the authorship of this paper and the HKS design team of KCH that offered the opportunity for such explorations to be performed.

Rights and Permissions

Carpo, M. (Ed.), “The Digital Turn in Architecture 1992-2012”, 2013.

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Kolarevic B., “Back to the Future: Performative Architecture”, University of Pennsylvania, School of Design, Department of Architecture, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6311, USA, January 2004, Volume: 2 issue: 1, page(s): 43-50.

Maver, T.W., “PACE 1: Computer Aided Design Appraisal”, in: Architects Journal, July 1971, pp. 207-214.

Kyropoulou, M., “Design for and with daylight: computational shading design for two healthcare applications in hot climates”, Proceedings Advanced Building Skins, Bern Switzerland, 2017.

ILLUMINATING ENGINEERING SOCIETY. “Approved Method: IES Spatial Daylight Autonomy (sDA) and Annual Sunlight Exposure (ASE)” (2012) IES LM-83-12.