Parametric Architecture Design in Milan


TYPE: Building Design
LOCATION: Milan Cascina Merelata
TEAM: Ximing Zhong\ Penghui Xu\ Jiaxu Li\ Ali Sharan
CATEGORY: Concept Design


The site is located in Cascina Merelata, Milan. The project is a residential cluster of buildings.

There was no grand narrative concept or literal criticism of the design, and I asked myself what concrete things could I do? What kind of space can solidly express oneself think? Solid do humble expression, this is the standard red line I set for myself this time.

At the beginning of the design, we went to the base to investigate in person. (Climbing scaffolding, entering construction zones, climbing rooftops to sneak in the design). I also had a conversation with the building’s designer.

It is worth mentioning that when we went to investigate the cemetery around us (this living area is very close to the cemetery), something interesting happened — getting on the hearse for the first time in my life. No one went to work at the cemetery on weekends, so we went to the person in charge and said it was One of Miley’s graduate students, hoping to get them to let me in. I really didn’t expect him to drive us all the way through the cemetery in his hearse, getting off at every stop to explain how the cemetery in Milan was designed, whether it was a priest or a soldier who died, what their stories were. This is very touching. I spend a lot of time and money on a few people I don’t know, just helping them understand how to do design. For the first time, I felt that the design was so respected, and the parameters of the shape of the cemetery vault also provided many ideas for later design.


The biggest feeling I got when I came to the venue:

The first is that there aren’t many people. Milan house nine thousand one flat, to tell the truth, the natural environment beat ten thousand x bi X park, but still no one bought.

The second is inconvenient. Eating and going to the bathroom are very inconvenient. There is no supermarket and no water in the construction site area. It is not easy to sit on buses. Transportation ports and wharfs around the construction site are also not convenient.

In a state like this, a vague sense that this is what we’re going to do the so-called concept. Instead of sitting at a table mulling over an advanced concept for a grand narrative, use Zhouyi and eight tri-grams. But when you actually set foot on that land, you naturally know what you need most to live there and what you want most. After several visits to the base and numerous discussions with the team, it was finally decided that our concept was to communicate our design in the form of an antidote grocery store.

A still from a Japanese grocery store. A small grocery store, it can make a phone call, have deep freezers, children can watch TV sitting outside school, parents can go to the message board leave a message to children or neighbors, the food at the grocery store, along with a variety of childhood toys… This photo is very touched me, which have a wonderful neighborhood possibility, a small grocery store shaped different sense of place. This form of daily, small shopping addresses people’s shopping needs on the one hand, and on the other hand highlights a miscellaneous, whatever needs can be met. Small and miscellaneous guide the shaping of our space from beginning to end. We proposed the concept of Mix, resulting in subsequent fusion mixing all related to Mix, both in terms of function and volume treatment.


After the formation of this relatively ignorant concept, we will face a greater confusion:

What can we do to make a difference?

How do you design a building and a space in the red line of the site that will change the lives of those around you?

People in the legal social environment work family relationship will spontaneously build a variety of physical space, the order of the survival feedback into physical space. Family relationship In a single-parent family, a family of two, and a family with an elderly person are all different, and the physical space they live in will be different. The architect seems to be doing the reverse, defining the physical space, and then there will be all sorts of people living in it with different incomes and different family relationships and different jobs.

Now there are no service Spaces around the site, no toilets, no restaurants, no convenience stores… all of these need to be redesigned.

Function distribution

The space of service nature is necessary. After having the space of service nature, we must also determine whether it is open to the outside or only to the community, and know how many people around have demands, so as to make the service quantity match the demand. Therefore, Site Analysis should be carried out first to know what and who is around the plot I want to design.

Using Google data to analysis site is more realistic, because it is the same as the map we used. Test various keywords here (stations, convenience stores, restaurants, etc.) to see their location, number, and scale. And then on that basis we get some information: how many factories are around the site, how many people live there.

Maps and Stories

In addition to knowing the number and function of buildings in physical space, we also need to know the real needs of people. We need to understand in general what the people on the ground need and what they are thinking. Of course, it’s not possible to do individual questionnaires.

After learning about it, I found Facebook, Instagram, and various websites similar to Weibo and Dianping. Dining evaluation was also on the map, the user feedback on these data, every time people send on Facebook or what sets a mobile phone software, to GPS positioning, charge to the user’s latitude and longitude coordinates, and then I have sent you what content, in our study, we will know when and where, how many people are doing what kind of things. Of course, if you have your id on your social media, Then I know who you are and where you work.

Spatial Information to Physical Space

So with all this information, how do you put it all together, give a standard for building design that puts information into physical space? You have a bunch of data but how can you use it to aid design?

From the data we can get the following dynamic visualization: the streamlines are in space. If it can be implemented in space, it can be implemented in architectural design.

This leads to my main idea channel, which feeds information back into the design proposal.

The Logic of Construction

With the guidance of these streamlines, the design begins. Here first does not make the form, has the streamline the guidance has itself to design the streamline. Put the function box on the table first, and then study the specific form. So you have this set of things.

Here you can see several buildings each several floors, mutual relations, ground area, floor area ratio fire area these architectural restrictions can be reflected in real time. I also added some twisting knobs and height knobs, the advantage of which was that I could know exactly how big each layer was and where each area was. The potential was to be able to perform visual calculations.

For example, if I think the light is unreasonable, Then I can calculate several layers of the existing port is reasonable. If I think the wind is unreasonable, I can calculate the area of the hole is more than the amount of heat taken away by the strong wind. There’s no calculation of that, but there’s no problem at all in finding a local optimal, not a global optimal and there’s no global optimal. In short, the architect controls the design, but the tools shorten the time and avoid duplication of work.

Deliberation to Simplify the Workload

The next one is similar. Draw a few lines to make space and corridor. It is a reference for simplifying the modeling process and some scales and functions. Whether the design is done well or not depends on the streamline and the understanding of the design itself, but with this tool, you do one design and I do ten to see which design is better.

Simulation Design Advantages and Disadvantages

Next in the former on the basis of combining their own design.

What I calculated here is that according to the previous position, where to put the toilet, where to put the kitchen, where to put the residence, and then given the number of people to run, we can design the greeting time when meeting each other. In this way, we can also simulate today when Lao Zhang goes out to work, eats, goes to the toilet, meets Lao Li and so on…

So what’s the outcome?

The first function: we can know whether the current streamline is good or not. For example, the people who go to the toilet, opposite the people who eat, we will see a large number of people piled up in a small space: Lao Zhang, you go to have a meal, Lao Li, you go to the toilet… This way you can clearly see where your streamlines don’t fit.

The second function is to see if people can find your design. Because you need to see to know, to know, to go. If you need to go to the toilet, you can’t find it all over the world. The location design is too obscure, so you need to adjust it for people who need to urinate urgently. Here’s a random example, you have people with disabilities you have people with jobs you have all kinds of important people, you let them find your heart, not with signs, but with space.

Configuration of Site Plan

This is followed by the logic that precedes total flattening, a stage that encounters the most painful part of design without deepening total flattening. The professor asked us one day, asking us to tell all the stories of what happened when we entered the base.

A little bit to say: after parking, there is no coffee, Italian restaurants are niche open time is limited, there is no place waiting for the restaurant to open, there is no flower pot placed in the isolation belt block line of sight. In rainy days, there is no wooden stool under the eaves to keep warm, which suddenly makes me understand why the space design is not so good, but the overall feeling is so much better after going abroad. The more you travel to northern Europe, the more you feel that way. Due to certain policies and the scope that some offices can manage, many domestic designs are actually very good in terms of spatial expectation and spatial scale treatment, but finally the management does not respect the space use and furniture and furnishings idea planned by the designer so much. As a result, even if it is a master design, it can be rustic. So in the post-conception, I just think about what kind of story I should tell as a person, in the space Designed by myself, material, scale, everything I can see and feel.

Structure Refinement

At this point in the design, you have the layout, the structure, the beams, the columns, these are the most basic Spaces to build.

Experimental Spatial Arrangement

Here’s an experiment to measure the location of space, similar to the ant colony algorithm’s kill algorithm. I know what to put, to put how much space, like throwing candy to throw good sugar let small ants to climb, climb over the path I can see the moment. It’s a path that’s worth taking, and it’s consistent with some of the human behaviors and it’s a very complex paper.

This things like microbial a given target point to grow, the path I survived is important in the space of streamline finally converted to space in the box after the box is I want to design all kinds of shopping space. So there are the footprints that you see in the space, in different identities, in different users of the space. I wrapped the footprint in a big plastic bag. A wrapping space is formed and then a functional slice is released from the box. Intuitively see the small ant along the way where to see what space, the system is relatively large, we need to define their own.

Finally, you choose one, and you have the architecture of the space, and it’s calculated.

Refining the space

Simulation where is open space, where is the balcony, the balcony, how many posts and the location of the room, post where appropriate, this part is completely architects in the design, software and parametric can help you to detect where is not convenient, but the real solution or deepening step by step, no software can give you a design, strong AI again behind him is a living architect.

Form Concept

At this point, we have the entire building functionally stacked and in an idealized position, and the structure has been refined. Finally, landscape form, design form processing and concept echo, how to make people feel convenient and comfortable to use, what is your physical form, how to reasonably plan the physical form. At that time, a set of plans had been perfected and the overall design was basically finalized. But I went to Barcelona by accident, and the moment I saw Gaudi’s design, I decided to change it.

Gaudi used a low-tech homemade model to complete the design he wants to convey. Intuitive, touchable, immediate feedback. Gaudi felt that everything in the world had a reason for his being this form, such as a big corn on the table. It makes sense for him to curve like this, so he’s always learning from nature, and in his work you can see the imitation and simulation of all kinds of Spaces, corn chimneys, corn stairwells. At Mira, I was on the roof trying to figure out how to change my design, how to regain control. That kind of constant confusion and no one was telling me what to do, and suddenly one day in the master design, it seems like someone is using design to communicate to you, boy, this thing that you’ve designed. It was very exciting, and then there was the model.

Form Deliberation and Logic

So I made the space and the skin again, under the inspiration, simulates a model myself, put all the space in front of me were calculated in square, facade also according to the function with the segmentation, and then put all parties to become a rubber band stretched living space, let him elastic, then use their hands, where to pull open the necessary function, where it is necessary to streamline or intersection nodes opens the epidermis, where not beautiful pull open once.

And once you understand that logic, you have to think about how to do it and what logic to do it. In fact, strictly speaking, this logic is gravity, where there are functions to attract each other’s straight lines. I placed the core attraction point, and everyone moved toward it, so I could control the strength and degree of attraction. Architecture my design logic. That brings us to the design part of the video. The riparian system was introduced into the design, and the skin system was introduced into the design. Here I go to watch milan’s church and the graveyard, because our design is near the site of a large cemetery, in the construction of many many arch roof are curved, can I put this factors arc extracted extraction to I attract degree, this curve is not literally according to the functional and aesthetic form, there is also the scale of the cemetery and milan core church near and arch wire arc inside.

I’ve defined a basic sine x curve and all of the other curves have different values in front of the sine x and they have their own unique curves. One is more architectural, not so ugly. And the second is that when people go into the design or look out from the cemetery, from the church, they can see these curvilinear buildings, like hills, and in the curvilinear buildings there is a sense of familiarity, because the mathematical logic behind them is uniform.