Computation with curved shapes : towards freeform shape generation in design
Shape computations are a formal representation that specify particular aspects of the design process with reference to form. They are defined according to shape grammars, where manipulations of pictorial representations of designs are formalised by shapes and rules applied to those shapes. They have frequently been applied in architecture in order to formalise the stylistic properties of a given corpus of designs, and also to generate new designs within those styles. However, applications in more general design fields have been limited. This is largely due to the initial definitions of the shape grammar formalism which are restricted to rectilinear shapes composed of lines, planes or solids. In architecture such shapes are common but in many design fields, for example industrial design, shapes of a more freeform nature are prevalent. Accordingly, the research described in this thesis is concerned with extending the applicability of the shape grammar formalism such that it enables computation with freeform shapes. Shape computations utilise rules in order to manipulate subshapes of a design within formal algebras. These algebras are specified according to embedding properties and have previously been defined for rectilinear shapes. In this thesis the embedding properties of freeform shapes are explored and the algebras are extended in order to formalise computations with such shapes. Based on these algebras, shape operations are specified and algorithms are introduced that enable the application of rules to shapes composed of freeform B´ezier curves. Implementation of the algorithms enables the application of shape grammars to shapes of a more freeform nature than was previously possible. Within this thesis shape grammar implementations are introduced in order to explore both theoretical issues that arise when considering computation with freeform shapes and practical issues concerning the application of shape computation as a model for design and as a mode for generating freeform shapes.