Performance Driven Design Systems In Practice

  • Sam Joyce

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Engineering (EngD)


This thesis is concerned with the application of computation in the context of professional architectural practice and specifically towards defining complex buildingsthat are highly integrated with respect to design and engineering performance.The thesis represents applied research undertaken whilst in practice at Foster + Partners.It reviews the current state of the art of computational design techniques to quickly but flexibly model and analyse building options. The application of parametric design tools to active design projects is discussed with respect to real examples as well as methods to then link the geometric definitions to structural engineering analysis, to provide performance data in near real time. The practical interoperability between design software and engineering tools is also examined.The role of performance data in design decision making is analysed by comparingmanual work-flows with methods assisted by computation. This extends to optimisation methods which by making use of design automation actively makedesign decisions to return optimised results. The challenges and drawbacks of usingthese methods effectively in real deign situations is discussed, especially the limitations of these methods with respect to incomplete problem definitions, andthe design exploration resulting in modified performance requirements.To counter these issues a performance driven design work flow is proposed. This is a mixed initiative whereby designer centric understanding and decisions are computer assisted. Flexible meta-design descriptions that encapsulate the variability of the design space under consideration are explored and compared with existing optimisation approaches. Computation is used to produce and visualise the performance data from these large design spaces generated by parametric designdescriptions and associated engineering analysis.Novel methods are introduced that define a design and performance space usingcluster computing methods to speed up the generation of large numbers of options. The use of data visualisation is applied to design problems, showing how in real situations it can aid design orientation and decision making using the large amount of data produced. Strategies to enable these work-flows are discussed and implemented, focusing on re-appropriating existing web design paradigms using a modular approach concentrating on scalable data creation and information display.
Date of Award20 Mar 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SponsorsFoster + Partners
SupervisorChristopher Williams (Supervisor), Francis Aish (Supervisor) & Paul Shepherd (Advisor)


  • Design Exploration
  • Optimisation
  • Parametric Design
  • Computational design
  • data visualization

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