Kevin Matthews — Architecture — University of Oregon — Research & Creative Contribution

  Design Tool Systems

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I have found that appropriate and effective adoption of technology in real-world human contexts depends heavily on a layer of meta-information, tools, and protocols that address not just individual design tools, but how different tools can interoperate, and how different individuals can work together.

These tool-related meta-concerns are particularly important in architecture, because it involves many issues and therefore diverse tools, and because it is typically practiced more or less collectively.

Frequently this "middle-ware" can be developed effectively with light-duty and user-friendly tools with natrual-language-like scripting systems. Where appropriate, this approach allows rapid protyping, easy adaptive maintenance, and nuts-and-bolts accessibility to advanced students and power users.

  Tools Thumbnail   Tool Connections

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Developing, testing, and documenting links between specialized design tools is an ongoing project in the lab. We have outlined an evolving suite of tools that link effectively and named it "The Designer's Toolkit."

More about The Designer's Toolkit.

  Radiance Thumbnail   Power Mac Radiance

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The Radiance ray-tracing system by Greg Ward and colleagues at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory is probably the most accurate lighting simulation software available on any platform, and it is distriuted free over the Internet.

However, Radiance by itself is a very raw Unix command-line driven program suite, not accessible to typical architectural users. An ongoing project on the Design Integration Laboratory is to development various Radiance support middle-ware, from the direct translator built into DesignWorkshop, to the Radiance Helper prototype (see below).

The port of Radinance to the Power Macintosh platform has been successful in widening the user-base of this architectural-reality engine. People from advanced Oregon students to a self-taught mid-western architectural illustrator have succesfully followed our online documentation to assemble self-sufficient imaging powerhouses with DesignWorkshop and Power Mac radiance.

More about Power Mac Radiance.

  Helper Thumbnail   Radiance Helper

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Radiance Helper is a prototype application in use in the Department of Architecture, which streamlines fine-grain control of Radiance for non-technical users.

Walking students through the simple scripting of Radiance Helper provided an effective introduction to programming in an extra-curricular tutorial I held recently at the request of a group of advanced students.


  Builder Thumbnail   DW Project Builder

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Project Builder is a prototype application in use in the Department of Architecture which reliably compiles a set of DesignWorkshop models into a master model with phases and materials defined by a specified seed file.

This tools implements the enabling function for an effective approach to group modeling projects, in which several users can work simultaneously on defined sub-models. Coupled with an access and version-control system borrowed from source-code control systems, an economical and approachable system can be assembled which transcends the coordination limits of typical personal computer CAD systems.



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© 1996 Kevin Matthews, All Rights Reserved.
Posted 1996 KMM, rev. 96.07.06