3.4 Design Methodology
While the conceptual design process may be formal or informal, it can be characterized by a series of actions: formulation, analysis, search, decision, specification, and modification. However, at the early stage in the development of a new project, these actions are highly interactive as illustrated in Figure 3-4. Many iterations of redesign are expected to refine the functional requirements, design concepts and financial constraints, even though the analytic tools applied to the solution of the problem at this stage may be very crude.
Figure 3-4: Conceptual Design Process
(Adapted with permission from R.W. Jensen and C.C. Tonies, Software Engineering, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1979, p.22)
The series of actions taken in the conceptual design process may be described as follows:
As the project moves from conceptual planning to detailed design, the design process becomes more formal. In general, the actions of formulation, analysis, search, decision, specification and modification still hold, but they represent specific steps with less random interactions in detailed design. The design methodology thus formalized can be applied to a variety of design problems. For example, the analogy of the schematic diagrams of the structural design process and of the computer program development process is shown in Figure 3-5
Figure 3-5: An Analogy Between Structural Design and Computer Program Development Process
(Reprinted with permission from E.H. Gaylord and C. N. Gaylord, eds., Structural Engineering Handbook, 2nd Ed., McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, 1979.)
The basic approach to design relies on decomposition and integration. Since design problems are large and complex, they have to be decomposed to yield subproblems that are small enough to solve. There are numerous alternative ways to decompose design problems, such as decomposition by functions of the facility, by spatial locations of its parts, or by links of various functions or parts. Solutions to subproblems must be integrated into an overall solution. The integration often creates conceptual conflicts which must be identified and corrected. A hierarchical structure with an appropriate number of levels may be used for the decomposition of a design problem to subproblems. For example, in the structural design of a multistory building, the building may be decomposed into floors, and each floor may in turn be decomposed into separate areas. Thus, a hierarchy representing the levels of building, floor and area is formed.
Different design styles may be used. The adoption of a particular style often depends on factors such as time pressure or available design tools, as well as the nature of the design problem. Examples of different styles are:
The design of a new facility often begins with the search of the files for a design that comes as close as possible to the one needed. The design process is guided by accumulated experience and intuition in the form of heuristic rules to find acceptable solutions. As more experience is gained for this particular type of facility, it often becomes evident that parts of the design problem are amenable to rigorous definition and algorithmic solution. Even formal optimization methods may be applied to some parts of the problem.
3.5 Functional Design
The objective of functional design for a proposed facility is to treat the facility as a complex system of interrelated spaces which are organized systematically according to the functions to be performed in these spaces in order to serve a collection of needs. The arrangement of physical spaces can be viewed as an iterative design process to find a suitable floor plan to facilitate the movement of people and goods associated with the operations intended.
A designer often relies on a heuristic approach, i.e., applying selected rules or strategies serving to stimulate the investigation in search for a solution. The heuristic approach used in arranging spatial layouts for facilities is based generally on the following considerations:
- identification of the goals and constraints for specified tasks,
- determination of the current state of each task in the iterative design process,
- evaluation of the differences between the current state and the goals,
- means of directing the efforts of search towards the goals on the basis of past experience.
Hence, the procedure for seeking the goals can be recycled iteratively in order to make tradeoffs and thus improve the solution of spatial layouts.
Consider, for example, an integrated functional design for a proposed hospital. Since the responsibilities for satisfying various needs in a hospital are divided among different groups of personnel within the hospital administrative structure, a hierarchy of functions corresponding to different levels of responsibilities is proposed in the systematic organization of hospital functions. In this model, the functions of a hospital system are decomposed into a hierarchy of several levels:
- Hospital--conglomerate of all hospital services resulting from top policy decisions,
- Division--broadly related activities assigned to the same general area by administrative decisions,
- Department--combination of services delivered by a service or treatment group,
- Suite--specific style of common services or treatments performed in the same suite of rooms,
- Room--all activities that can be carried out in the same internal environment surrounded by physical barriers,
- Zone--several closely related activities that are undertaken by individuals,
- Object--a single activity associated with an individual.
In the integrated functional design of hospitals, the connection between physical spaces and functions is most easily made at the lowest level of the hierarchy, and then extended upward to the next higher level. For example, a bed is a physical object immediately related to the activity of a patient. A set of furniture consisting of a bed, a night table and an armchair arranged comfortably in a zone indicates the sphere of private activities for a patient in a room with multiple occupancy. Thus, the spatial representation of a hospital can be organized in stages starting from the lowest level and moving to the top. In each step of the organization process, an element (space or function) under consideration can be related directly to the elements at the levels above it, to those at the levels below it, and to those within the same level.
Since the primary factor relating spaces is the movement of people and supplies, the objective of arranging spaces is the minimization of movement within the hospital. On the other hand, the internal environmental factors such as atmospheric conditions (pressure, temperature, relative humidity, odor and particle pollution), sound, light and fire protection produce constraining effects on the arrangement of spaces since certain spaces cannot be placed adjacent to other spaces because of different requirements in environmental conditions. The consideration of logistics is important at all levels of the hospital system. For example, the travel patterns between objects in a zone or those between zones in a room are frequently equally important for devising an effective design. On the other hand, the adjacency desirability matrix based upon environmental conditions will not be important for organization of functional elements below the room level since a room is the lowest level that can provide a physical barrier to contain desirable environmental conditions. Hence, the organization of functions for a new hospital can be carried out through an interactive process, starting from the functional elements at the lowest level that is regarded as stable by the designer, and moving step by step up to the top level of the hierarchy. Due to the strong correlation between functions and the physical spaces in which they are performed, the arrangement of physical spaces for accommodating the functions will also follow the same iterative process. Once a satisfactory spatial arrangement is achieved, the hospital design is completed by the selection of suitable building components which complement the spatial arrangement.
Example 3-6: Top-down design style
In the functional design of a hospital, the designer may begin with a "reference model", i.e. the spatial layouts of existing hospitals of similar size and service requirements. On the basis of past experience, spaces are allocated to various divisions as shown schematically in Figure 3-6. The space in each division is then divided further for various departments in the division, and all the way down the line of the hierarchy. In every step along the way, the pertinent information of the elements immediately below the level under consideration will be assessed in order to provide input for making necessary adjustments at the current level if necessary. The major drawback of the top-down design style is that the connection between physical spaces and functions at lower levels cannot be easily anticipated. Consequently, the new design is essentially based on the intuition and experience of the designer rather than an objective analysis of the functions and space needs of the facility. Its greatest attraction is its simplicity which keeps the time and cost of design relatively low.
Figure 3-6: A Model for Top-Down Design of a Hospital
Example 3-7: Bottom-up design style
A multi-purpose examination suite in a hospital is used as an illustration of bottom-up design style. In Figure 3-7, the most basic elements (furniture) are first organized into zones which make up the room. Thus the size of the room is determined by spatial layout required to perform the desired services. Finally, the suite is defined by the rooms which are parts of the multi-purpose examination suite.
Figure 3-7: A Model for Bottom-up design of an Examination Suite
3.6 Physical Structures
The structural design of complex engineering systems generally involves both synthesis and analysis. Synthesis is an inductive process while analysis is a deductive process. The activities in synthesis are often described as an art rather than a science, and are regarded more akin to creativity than to knowledge. The conception of a new structural system is by and large a matter of subjective decision since there is no established procedure for generating innovative and highly successful alternatives. The initial selection of a workable system from numerous possible alternatives relies heavily on the judicious judgment of the designer. Once a structural system is selected, it must be subjected to vigorous analysis to insure that it can sustain the demands in its environment. In addition, compatibility of the structural system with mechanical equipment and piping must be assured.
For traditional types of structures such as office buildings, there are standard systems derived from the past experience of many designers. However, in many situations, special systems must be developed to meet the specified requirements. The choice of materials for a structure depends not only on the suitability of materials and their influence on the form of the structure. For example, in the design of an airplane hangar, a steel skeleton frame may be selected because a similar frame in reinforced concrete will limit the span of the structure owing to its unfavorable ratio or resistance to weight. However, if a thin-shelled roof is adopted, reinforced concrete may prove to be more suitable than steel. Thus, the interplay of the structural forms and materials affects the selection of a structural system, which in turn may influence the method of construction including the use of falsework.
Example 3-8: Steel frame supporting a turbo-blower
The design of a structural frame supporting a turbo-blower supplying pressurized air to a blast furnace in a steel mill can be used to illustrate the structural design process. As shown in Figure 3-8, the turbo-blower consists of a turbine and a blower linked to an air inlet stack. Since the vibration of the turbo-blower is a major concern to its operation, a preliminary investigation calls for a supporting frame which is separated from the structural frame of the building. An analysis of the vibration characteristics of the turbo-blower indicates that the lowest mode of vibration consists of independent vibration of the turbine shaft and the blower shaft, with higher modes for the coupled turbo-blower system when both shafts vibrate either in-phase or out-of-phase. Consequently, a steel frame with separate units for the blower side and the turbine side is selected. The columns of the steel frame are mounted on pile foundation and all joints of the steel frame are welded to reduce the vibration levels.
Since the structural steel frame also supports a condenser, an air inlet and exhaust, and a steam inlet and exhaust in addition to the turbo-blower, a static analysis is made to size its members to support all applied loads. Then, a dynamic analysis is conducted to determine the vibration characteristics of the system incorporating the structural steel frame and the turbo-blower. When the limiting conditions for static loads and natural frequencies of vibration are met, the design is accepted as satisfactory.
Figure 3-8: Steel Frame Supporting a Turbo-Blower
Example 3-9: Multiple hierarchy descriptions of projects
In the previous section, a hierarchy of functional spaces was suggested for describing a facility. This description is appropriate for functional design of spaces and processes within a building, but may be inadequate as a view of the facility's structural systems. A hierarchy suitable for this purpose might divide elements into structural functions such as slabs, walls, frames, footings, piles or mats. Lower levels of the hierarchy would describe individual design elements. For example, frames would be made up of column, beam and diagonal groups which, in turn, are composed of individual structural elements. These individual structural elements comprise the limits on functional spaces such as rooms in a different hierarchical perspective. Designers typically will initiate a view appropriate for their own concerns, and these different hierarchical views must be synthesized to insure consistency and adequacy of the overall design.