Digital workflows are a cornerstone of project delivery in modern building design. At Fast+Epp we aim to simplify the digital design process through the power of data and scripting as we work towards the future of a true, holisitic “Building Information Model”. Our computational designers use API’s to customize the data we extract from BIM models to allow two-way communication with our analysis and design softwares. This removes the time consuming process of manual data transfers between various softwares and vastly improves modeling integrity.

Modern digital tools present the opportunity for automation and optimization not previously possible in the world of structural engineering. Long-span trusses are a fundamental structural typology which carry significant material quantities, financial cost, construction complexity, and architectural intent and the Truss Optimizer is an internal tool developed to both automate and optimize the analysis and design of steel trusses during the schematic phases of a project to save time, money, and carbon.

The tool is built in grasshopper taking custom user input for truss loading and geometry to perform full structural analysis in Karamba3D. An optimization algorithm is used to return the most efficient element size for each element of the truss – the designer may then decide the extent to which the optimized design is practicable along with the architect and fabricator. All design inputs are parametrically controlled to allow real-time assessment of all possible truss configurations.

The Gerber System is a classic in the world of structural typologies. A tie rod, a column, a cantilever beam and drop-in segment all held in delicate balance by careful arrangement of spans. This Recreation Centre project presented an opportunity to combine the classic structural form with modern computational power to optimize the steel plate thicknesses of the 52m gerber frames. An evolutionary algorithm is used to simultaneously search for multiple objectives within the design space. Mass, global warming potential, and structural utilisation are each targeted for optimization, and a vast array of potential solutions are plotted allowing us to assess the best fit solution together with the design team.