Modeling brick surfaces in historic buildings with design computation methods

Altun, Sevgi
Süreli Yayın başlığı
Süreli Yayın ISSN
Cilt Başlığı
Graduate School
Studies in computational design have increasingly turned to architectural heritage in recent years, and this interest has helped the advancement of both disciplines. This thesis aims to contribute to the field by exploring examples of brickwork from Medieval Anatolia and modeling the correlation between the material construction of brick surfaces and the design geometry. Medieval Anatolia saw a flourishing of brick-built structures with the effect of Iranian bricklaying tradition, a testament to the skill and artistry of the craftsmen who built them. However, the preservation and restoration of these historic buildings present challenges. Traditional methods and techniques for building with bricks are insufficiently documented or existing documentation is not shared in a common platform. The lack of documentation combined with the difficulty of access to information makes it challenging to restore architectural heritage elements accurately, and the know-how gets lost through time. This thesis proposes a method for bridging the knowledge from the disciplines of architectural history and building technology by developing grammars that enable the production of selected samples of brick elements in monumental architecture in Anatolia. The design reasoning behind historical brick structures is externalized and transferred to the digital environment. This approach intends to preserve and transfer the construction techniques and materials used in these historic buildings while utilizing contemporary tools and fabrication technology. We aim to use computational design tools as a medium to assist architectural heritage studies by providing a common ground for studies that understand the architectural design process as a whole with making. The first chapter of the thesis presents a discussion of the use of digital tools in heritage studies for surveying and modeling purposes, heritage building information models (HBIM), and the importance of preserving the know-how in heritage studies, relating construction techniques and materials to the design process. We use shape and making grammars as computational approaches for our formalization. Shape grammars are developed to formalize the visual thinking and reasoning of design as well as generative processes with shapes. Their extension, making grammars that formalize the design and making process, are discussed with their applications. Making grammars have the potential to contribute to heritage studies by providing a more comprehensive understanding of historical buildings and structures by documenting not just the geometry and form but also the know-how and intangible qualities of the construction process. However, there is still a need for further research and development to integrate these methods into the architectural heritage field and make them more accessible and useful to historians and conservation specialists. In the second chapter, the literature review addresses the importance of geometry in architectural design in the early Islamic period, with a particular focus on Medieval Anatolia, and provides an overview of the use of digital tools to analyze, design, and produce brick surfaces. The first step of the method of the research involves modeling, analyzing, and reconstructing selected cases of brickworks with complex geometric patterns, aesthetic appeal, and different curvatures that are also used as decorations in addition to their structural function (single-curved surfaces, domes, and corniches below minaret balconies). The cases were chosen due to their unique characteristics and the challenges they present in terms of analysis and documentation. The similarity in the period, geographical region, function, and materialization of abstract geometric patterns through the bricklaying is considered. The analysis includes the examination of historical documents and archival sources, as well as the physical analysis of brickwork samples from medieval buildings in Anatolia. Through this multi-faceted approach, we combine information from various sources to model the parts and wholes of the sample cases. The formal features of the selected cases are analyzed using digital modeling tools to uncover the underlying geometrical compositions. The second step is the synthesis of the information, which will involve the definition of parameters and the development of grammars that capture the know-how of traditional design and construction techniques, formalizing information on the tectonics of existing surfaces. A modular approach has been used that takes into account the types of bricks used, their sizes, and the sequential and spatial stages followed in the traditional construction of brick surfaces. The potential use of practical geometry is discussed and demonstrated through the method. The research focuses on the flexibility in the perceiving of parts and wholes and the analysis of patterns as a result of constructional relations between three-dimensional units rather than two-dimensional arrangements. The parts of these compositions are obtained through a specific material application and bricklaying technique. The production parameters can change the visual characteristics of the results without altering the overall order. Different surface types are associated with each other through analysis based on the geometrical layout and the units. The constructional logic and order of bricklaying behind complex patterns on different surfaces are examined, as are the three-dimensional qualities of brick muqarnas on corniches below minaret balconies. The third step involves the definition of the least number of rules required for the recreation of the analyzed surfaces. There are two types of bricklaying rules namely, the brick rules and the pattern rules. Brick rules define the three-dimensional relation between two adjacent bricks and the shapes and dimensions of the bricks through the use of parameters. Pattern rules define the geometrical order of the emerging pattern due to bricklaying. The final step is the conversion of the bricklaying generated with the grammars into robotic fabrication codes and fabrication using a 6-axis robotic arm, KUKA KRC2, to lay bricks in a specific pattern. The KUKA PRC programming language is used in Grasshopper in Rhinoceros to generate G-code commands and toolpaths for the robotic arm. The process involves picking up individual bricks with specialized gripping equipment, called an end-effector, and placing them in the desired layout. Robotic fabrication can potentially complete tasks more quickly and accurately than human workers. However, it also has several limitations, including restricted working space, the selection of stand-in materials for the bricks, the age of the software and hardware, and the differences between manual and robotic bricklaying processes. Despite these limitations, the research suggests that robotic fabrication can be part of the workflow used to document and transfer knowledge about historical bricklaying techniques and can be integrated with conservation and restoration efforts. Although the pick-and-place application of a brick with a robotic arm mimics the movements of a craftsman, the construction parameters are different from analog production methods. Through the production trials, the importance of material properties, tools, and the actions of the maker and their differences with robotic production are discussed. We suggest that the proposed method can assist in the documentation of architectural heritage and can be integrated with conservation and restoration efforts through the use of heritage building information models (HBIM). Further studies include the improvement of the grammar with more examples, the robotic fabrication process with the use of different materials, and the implementation of different brick designs.
Thesis (M.Sc.) -- İstanbul Technical University, Graduate School, 2023
Anahtar kelimeler
computational design, hesaplamalı tasarım, tuğla yüzeyler, brick surfaces