Digital Design

March-May 2018

Module 1: Zaha Hadid’s Burnham Pavilion Precedent

Zaha Hadid’s Burnham Pavilion presented as an interesting study in the manipulation of space and form to affect the visitor and viewing experiences. The form is a shell-like cocoon with slits in the roof to permit light and other environmental factors to enter the space. The design is focused around the visitors approach to the structure, with ramps at the openings angled to choreograph the ow of people in and out whilst also controlling their aspect of the interior space, obscuring the secondary opening to create an apparent singular experience of moving in and out one opening.

Work completed for the ‘Digital Design’ subject at the University of Melbourne, Semester 1 2018. The first half of the semester focused on building digital aided design processes, including Rhino 3D modelling and parametric design through the Grasshopper plug-in. These processes were applied to first a precedent study of a pavilion design and then into the creation of abstract forms as basis for future development.

Medium: Rhino, Grasshopper, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.


The proposition behind my circulation diagram is that the entrances to the pavilion were choreographed by Hadid to affect the experience of the space. In my diagraming I drew attention to the angles of approach which had a view straight through the space, were the openings lined-up. This scenario would cause people to move through the space more linearly. The opposite is true if the opening is not visible, where visitors are entering with no idea that there is an exit. The internal space will therefor hold them for longer as their expectation upon entry is of a singular experience. The limited trafficable space inside also condenses people’s experience.


There are a few levels of threshold through the Burnham Pavilion. Most notable there is the interior walls which form a small interior cocoon which breaks from the volume of the exterior. The wall is a containment, holding back the outside and the structure itself. In the same fashion, the skeleton of the structure creates a visual threshold between the outside skin and interior. Once inside the openings in the roof create a changing striated pattern on the door, creating a threshold which people must transverse to move through the space, moving in and out of the shafts of light entering through the slit-openings.

Module 2: Generating Ideas Through Process

TASK 1: Panelling

The panelling embodies a minimalistic and simple aesthetic but behind that outward simplicity is a more complex code that separates out the main grid of 25 faces into different groupings. These groups of faces are determined by the use of a dispatch component with a boolean list created by a greater-than or less-than list of values relating to an attraction point. The openings in some of the face are reactive to their scale, that is, the scale of the opening varies dependant on the face it is in. Other openings vary in size determinant on their distance to the attraction point. The result is a myriad pattern that has greater visual interest.

TASK 2: Solid and Void

The geometric polyhedron shapes that were created from the base grid were by themselves quite harsh and angular. When boolean-ed with a curved and spherical solid though they take on a different quality, balanced with the smoothness of the curve. The areas opened up by the subtracted geometries create cavernous galleries and narrow fissures depending on the variance of rotation built into the grasshopper script. The isometric opposite shows the full grid square whereas the 3D print was from a smaller section taken by subtracting from a sphere. The remaining angular geometry creates a canopy of sorts.

Module 3: Final Pavilion

From those skills and concepts learnt throughout the previous modules, the final weeks of semester asked for a pavilion design to be created which embraced and championed parametric design and incorporated elements from module 2 in particular. Click to see the final pavilion designs.

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