In this short article, I would like to share with the Linkedin community part of the methodology that I experimented to solve some critical issues regarding the realization of the pilot LAB of the Apple iOS Developer Academy of Naples (University of Naples “Federico II”).
Today we live a Digital Age in which information, especially for architects and designers, becomes matter and material of the architectural project and knowing how to access this knowledge and above all know how to manage it, becomes one of the most important skills that an architectural firm or an engineering services may require today from a young professional. This statement is based on a very practical concept, that is, on the strengthening of the so-called soft skills conveyed by the application of hard skills. The adoption of a parametric and/or algorithmic approach in the design allows the designer to focus his attention on the process (i.e. the structuring of design strategies oriented to problem-solving) and therefore on the value inherent in the so-called information chain.
The production of data, its transformation into data-useful, that is information, allows through a critical analysis to reach the decision-making phase with greater motivation value of the planning intent – the starting point of the data storytelling of the architecture project.
Telling a project through numbers, data and tangible facts translate the decision-making phase into the communication of the project strategy through the “critical” visualization of the information processed – in this phase, we enter the semantic domain of the data visualization. Managing the entire information chain with an eye always attentive to the realization of the executive phase of the digital project allows the problem-solver to have a more and greater understanding of the design problems but, above all, gives him the ability to transform the process into a real project production methodology.
For the sake of brevity, I omit some cultural aspects concerning design practice in the digital age to show the most operational part of the pilot project experimented.
The scientific and technological cooperation agreement signed between Apple Distribution International and the University of Naples “Federico II” has expressed the need to create a pilot laboratory whose experience will draw important indications (spatial and geometric design parameters) to be subsequently adopted for the final realization of the Academy’s open space.
Within a total area of about 460 m², 21 stations (workstations) have been defined with a sufficient number of TV screens and blackboards, the latter defined writable glass walls; likewise, it has been defined as a collaborative area characterized by informal sessions and analog-digital devices called “Totems”. The area for coordinating the tutors, boardroom, was instead characterized by large desktops.
The true design strategy, before talking about coding/scripting and parametric and algorithmic approach, I believe that is in the definition of the workflow to be adopted as the backbone of the entire production and design process.
The first phase consisted in defining a spatial configuration model defined through the basic geometric-spatial best practices (implemented in the design algorithm), in part reported in the UNI 9217:1988 standard. From the re-elaboration of this norm, I defined a spatial geometric model that can be explored within a single virtual environment (Rhinoceros + Grasshopper).
In the second phase, I was able to develop a simplified user interface (UI) in which to read in meta-design phase, in real time, some useful information that drove me to spatially configure the laboratory correctly.
Below the useful feedback:
- level of spatial distribution optimization of workstations;
- collision level between workstations (area of mobility between two workstations)
- number of TV screens intercepted by the individual workstations
- front and side view angle between workstation and TV screen intercepted
Once the design of the pilot laboratory was established, an experiential survey was developed to be submitted, after the execution phase, to the first 150 students of the Apple iOS Developer Academy.
The third phase, data mining – the collection of user feedback was made using the SurveyMonkey platform (after the definition of an appropriate survey model). The metadata collected were archived in a single large dataset (Excel spreadsheet). Access to the knowledge contained in the dataset was made by an appropriate algorithm (logical-semantic) capable of output sends the information packet of users’ feedback in the graphical interface previously elaborated. The UI is shown below.
The final objective was to verify the correspondence and validity of the design choices approved during the meta-design phase through the critical evaluation of users’ feedback – the overlapping of the annotative aspects of the project with the three-dimensional ones of the virtual model, all within a single development/design environment, it has proved to be decisive for achieving the objectives set.
After the experimental results achieved, the project proposal has been progressively reformulated for the definitive laboratories of the open space.