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Title: Digitised engineering knowledge for prefabricated façades
Author: Montali, Jacopo
ISNI:       0000 0004 7961 8312
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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Façade design is a multidisciplinary activity requiring the balancing of many conflicting design requirements. Very often, however, the designed façade does not respond to these requirement, as relevant design and manufacturing knowledge, normally originating downstream in the design process, is not properly used upstream in the process. The inability to respond to this challenge increases the environmental impact of the construction sector, which is currently covering nearly 40% of the global emissions. Also, improving the stagnant sector's productivity is of paramount importance today, as it is deemed to be nearly as half as that of the manufacturing sector. This research has thus investigated ways to collect, store, represent and digitalise the engineering knowledge that underpins the design of façade products for façades that are better designed. The work has involved a close collaboration with the British general contractor (and façade manufacturer) Laing O'Rourke. The research has explored ways of using design and manufacturing knowledge and it has developed a digital tool and tested its functionalities. In the first part, after a review of the state-of-the-art in knowledge-based approaches in other fields, the digital tool, and relevant methodology, are developed. The tool informs the user about the expected performance and manufacturability of the façade product under analysis. The boundaries of traditional research were also pushed beyond the proof-of-concept by validating the digital tool in both simulated and real-world scenarios. The goal was to understand how people can develop a design solution while being supported by a digital tool. It was found that using such tool increases the user's awareness about the consequences of the his/her choices in less time. In the last part of the research, the tool was used to develop a novel optimisation algorithm, by including considerations about aesthetics and manufacturability, in parallel with the traditional performance-based approach. The application of the algorithm to a case study has shown that it is possible to improve existing solutions in terms of performance, without affecting aesthetic and manufacturability significantly.
Supervisor: Overend, Mauro Sponsor: EPSRC ; Laing O'Rourke
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Facade engineering ; design automation ; knowledge management ; knowledge-based engineering ; engineer-to-order