Project details

Automating everything

Before Programming Architecture was founded, Dr. Milos Dimcic worked at the Knippers Helbig office and he was responsible for writing the software used to parametrically generate the complete structure and facade of the new Terminal of the Bao’an International Airport in Shenzhen, designed by M. Fuksas. The complex algorithms were used to automatically generate the geometry of the 60.000 aluminum-glass facade elements over a double curved surface as well as the geometry of the entire structure with more than 350.000 unique steel members. At the moment this was the largest parametrically generated (programmed) free form facade (over >300.000 m2 of covered surface) and structure in the world. For more information please search online for "Shenzhen Airport Fuksas". You can also check the “Controlled Parametrical Design Over Double Curved Surfaces” publication (that you can find in our About/Publications section).

The Bao'an International Airport in Shenzhen (China) is 1.3km long, 600m wide and 45m high. Dr. Milos Dimcic developed the software for the parametrical generation of the entire structure and facade, as an employee at the Knippers Helbig office in Stuttgart (before Programming Architecture was founded). This had to be programmed since the double grid structure has ~400.000 unique steel members and the facade consists of ~60.000 unique elements, each 4.5 x 1.5m large. The facade is made out of complex, 3D elements and the difficulty laid in the honeycomb configuration and the condition that all glass parts had to be planar (flat), which was a complicated requirement due to the double curvature of the surface and complexity of the element itself.

The software was written in such a way that it uses Excel tables to define the position of different types of elements (with different angles and openings) and to generate them over ~300.000 m2 of free form surface (inner and outer) by keeping the glass planar and generating geometry with the precision of 0.000001m, hence ready for production.

The principle of the parametric definition is described in some of the Publications.