Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


InnoChain Report Summary

Project ID: 642877
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - InnoChain (Building Innovation in the Extended Digital Chain)

Reporting period: 2015-09-01 to 2017-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The InnoChain ETN network is a shared research training environment examining how advances in digital design tools challenge building culture enabling sustainable, informed and materially smart design solutions. The network aims to train a new generation of interdisciplinary researchers with a strong industry focus that can effect real changes in the way we think, design and build our physical environment.
The programme investigates the extended digital chain as a particular opportunity for interdisciplinary design collaboration. Challenging the traditional thinking of design as a linear process of incremental refinement, InnoChain identifies three axes of design innovation potential communication, simulation and materialisation appearing as distributed and interdisciplinary activities across the design chain. Situating feedback between design processes as a key concern for developing holistic and integrated design methods, the network will develop new interdisciplinary design methods that integrate advanced simulation and interface with material fabrication.
With a strong inter-sector focus, InnoChain connects “research in practice” with “research in academia”. Assembling 6 internationally recognised academic research environments leading research into computational design in architecture and engineering and 14 innovation pioneering industry partners from architecture, engineering, design software development and fabrication, the programme will establish a shared training platform for 15 early stage researchers. The network creates a structured training programme focussed on supervision of individual research projects, an inter-sector secondment programme as well as collective research events including workshop-seminars, colloquia, winterschool and research courses that provide a unique opportunity for young researchers to obtain new knowledge and skills positioning them between strong innovative research practice and influential industrial impact.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

So far the project has successfully established all 15 ESR projects, conducted most of the scientific and transferable skill training and several evaluation and dissemination events.

The work in the three scientific work packages, is formed around the decisive steps in the process of architectural genesis. Results so far:

Work Package 3 - Communicating Design
Current methods in the practice of architecture and engineering assume disciplinary separation and discretisation of the design process and thus limit progress in the building sector. The ESR projects question these professional boundaries by investigating shared methods that integrate design, simulation and fabrication.

-Design development of bending active textile hybrids, characterized by a complex interaction of architectural form and structural equilibrium, as a suitable application scenario for Isogeometric Analysis (ESR1: Evy Slabbinck)
-Fabrication of first exploratory free-form glue-laminated timber beams with an optimized internal fibre orientation (ESR2: Tom Svilans)
-Experiments with industry partners and students led to the development of a software prototype for CFD analysis integrated in architectural Design environment with industry partner McNeel. (ESR3: Angelos Chronis)
-The potential of Genetic algorithms and a hybrid method using Artificial Neural Networks methods for the extensive search of design alternatives was visualized and evaluated. (ESR4: Zeynep Aksöz)
-Three software prototypes (labeled Speckle) have been developed that explore and define the needs of complex simulation based design communication with non-professional stakeholders (ESR5: Dimitrie A. Stefanescu). The work continuous in a collaboration with ESR6.

Work Package 4 - Simulation for Design
Current methods for simulation assume single scale engagement across separate phases and exclude the simulation of material and fabrication processes. WP4 examines how simulation can be used as a means to cross between scales and synthesise material performances with machine-driven processes.

Within the last 12 months the ESR projects matured into:
-Publication of a couple of research papers on Multi-Scalar Modelling for Free-form Timber Structures for the IASS conference, Tokyo and the Design Modelling Symposium, Paris (ESR6: Paul Poinet)
-A novel timber based mechanism, which allows to control the degree of active bending of timber was developed. ESR7 and IOA are evaluating, whether a patent can be obtained for this invention (ESR7: Efilena Baseta)
-The involvement in two large-scale demonstrators led to a series of prototype simulations tools of coreless filament winding for predicting fibre placement, presentations and co-authored research papers on robotic and coreless filament winding for CICE, Hong Kong and Fabricate, Stuttgart. (ESR8: James Solly)
-Material testing and prototyping for casting concrete mixes in sub-freezing temperatures using degradable ice formwork. A related paper was presented at the Design Modelling Symposium, Paris (ESR9: Vasily Sitnikov)
-A series of design probes based on the training of an adaptive framework for robotic subtractive fabrication processes (of wood) involving the cycle of recording, learning, fabricating. (ESR10: Giulio Brugnaro)

Work Package 5 - Materialising Design
WP5 focuses on trialling fabrication and planning methods for new designed materials that embed material optimisation within their composition. The emphasis, in WP5, on extensive prototyping and testing of materials and processes by ESRs from the start has yielded research projects that are now well developed. Successful innovations in production methods include:

-Researchers constructing new manufacturing equipment for hybrid robotic fabrication combining additive and subtractive techniques (ESR13: Arthur Prior)
-Production of working prototypes of elastic kinetic components with a gradient stiffness of glass fibre lay ups (ESR12: Saman Saffarian),
-Publication of physical t

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

InnoChain is taking place in times of strong changes in the building profession, where the link between digital design and fabrication has been recognised as driver of innovation and growth on all levels of the building industry. InnoChain has become an important part of this fast developing landscape of research in architectural fabrication.

Two highlights in how some of the work in which InnoChain ESRs have already made a substantial impact on a global level:

1) The Elytra Filament Pavilion at the V+A in London and at the Vitra Design Museum, designed and fabricated in a collaboration of ITKE and ICD in Stuttgart in which ESR J. Solly (ITKE) had a major role. This demonstrator received strong attention from public, major international magazines and blogs and the international community of architects and engineers.
2) As part of the project “Alternate Means to Communicate Measure” (D. Stefanescu,/BSA), several iterations of online tools and services have been released. This had a direct impact on professional practice. There are now more than 900 registered professionals, who create parametric models to be shared with speckle.

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