Facade Shuffle: Practical Use of Randomization


A row home facade, no more than 19 feet wide and 38 feet tall, is fairly easy to manage. There are only so many windows and material types on the wall of a two-family dwelling. But things can spiral out of control quickly as buildings sometimes are quite large. Too many varying openings and materials bring chaos to the brain, yet strict order creates monoliths composed by mundane pattern. In this study, we shuffle a building facade with a sleight of hand, in the hopes of breaking the monolith while maintaining order to the project.

The goal in the exercise is to produce countless number of iterations of the facade design without manually drawing every single one of them. To do so, we look to computational tools for assistance. These tools can switch objects back forth at the speed of light while generating pseudo-random sets of numbers. Therefore the most important part for us is the initial framework.

The key to build an experimental design tool is to distill things to simple forms. This framework is a rough representation of the building because the only information we seek here are facade variations. First and foremost, a grid is setup as a static piece for hosting components of the facade. The components, or modules, that would be assembled on the grid are simple faces showing varying convexity and concavity. We established four types of modules to be shuffled, and keep a stable corner module to anchor the edge of the facade.


Module allocation


The efficiency of the computational tool is its power of association. The grid is conveniently setup so that each cell may contain a number, or key. As each module is assigned from 0 to 4, the tool would identify every key of the grid and locate every modules accordingly.


This simple exercise resolved the concern for manual labor in the design process. It provided options that are otherwise too exhaustive to explore. Tools like this can certainly assist designers but manually adjustment are still necessary before and after such exercise. In the end, the eyes and brains of the designers are still most important.

Resulting facade


About The Author

Billy is the Director of Research & Development at Designblendz who helps us to keep up with the fast-paced technological world. Read his blog posts here.