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Superlab liberate enormous amounts of time with parametric design

When Superlab designs office environments, human behavior, interior design and product design meet. A complex, creative process where they take advantage of parametric design that liberates enormous amounts of time. Our profession is undergoing a paradigm shift, says Superlabs CEO Niklas Madsen.

Architects and interior designers are facing a paradigm shift. That is what Niklas Madsen states. He is the CEO of Superlab in Helsingborg, an experimental design laboratory that extracts knowledge from a melting pot of interior design, product design and research on human behavior into the spacial environment. When the designers at Superlab create offices, they consider both the physical environment with interior design and the cultural environment in the encounter between people and work.

"Our focus is the office of the future and the people in the room and how they relate to each other", Niklas says.

A field of knowledge that is constantly changing and deepening. It is fueled by the current paradigm shift with a changed design process where algorithms, AI and new digital tools take place. One thing is clear. It will never be as it was before.

Design in extremely short time

Superlab chooses new ways to design office environments. They are based on the individual's needs and not on how the architect has designed and how it then guides people to behave in a certain way.

"We think the other way around, says Niklas. To start from human behavior and movement patterns and let an algorithm design an office according to a number of parameters that also include spatial conditions."

The idea was developed in a premier project and is a living proof of the paradigm shift that is currently happening in the architectural industry.

"We were commissioned to design an office that was complex. In the project, we produced data in a large number of parameters, such as work area per square meter, work zones, the individual's functions and tasks as well as the spaciousness in the form of sound, light, accessibility and similar parameters."

The information was fed into a parameter-controlled tool, Rhino, which then, with the help of another software, Grasshopper, transferred everything to Archicad, where the environments were drawn. The result was astonishing. Not the design itself, but the time spent producing the proposals.

With the help of this bubble chart, the interior designers at Superlab design an office environment. The bubbles represent workspaces and meeting areas whose data on spatial needs are entered into the Rhino. Via Grasshopper, the office is then automatically drawn in Archicad. Picture: Superlab.

"Normally, it would have taken between one to one and a half weeks to produce the design proposals, says Niklas. Now it only took about an hour with this new technology!"

Quicker planning with parametric design

The design process during the planning was shortened in an almost dramatic way. Instead of changing the model in Archicad, the changes are controlled by the data entered into Rhino that automatically updates the model via Grasshopper.

Planning is simplified and this saves time. By changing the property of a parameter, for instance a length measure, a new design is simultaneously drawn up automatically in the model. Therefore, it is quick to produce a number of design proposals in the project, just as Niklas describes. And that's the major goal of parametric design, to come up with quality-assured, sustainable solutions in an extremely short time to present to clients.

"Today, the lead time in construction projects is very pressed and there is often no budget to create the design that would have been needed. Getting an opinion from an external consultant within an area of expertise and then changing the design accordingly takes time."

That's exactly what the parametric design can do. When all data is entered in the tool, a lot of information about evacuation and fire, number of people, availability, daylight admission and more is checked. Then the interior designer and the architect are unburdened and time is made free, which is used solving aesthetic challenges in the projects.

Architecture under strong change

The question then becomes, what to do with all the time that is left over? Niklas emphasizes that interior designers and architects will not want to carry out what is perceived as boring tasks when they realize the possibilities of parametric design. A new way of working is created that gives a higher degree of satisfaction where more time is spent on smart and creative solutions within the set time and budget limits.

The technology is also a tool for adapting the office to how it develops with new tasks and new conditions. Before a change in the office environment with new workflows, this can first be evaluated digitally to study the interaction between people and interior design. How are employees with several new workspaces affected? Or an additional conference room? By entering new parameters, you get a new solution and can evaluate which one is the best. A tool for optimizing workflows in a digital environment and then implementing them in real life.

The association between new technology and automated working methods is changing and renewing the architectural profession. The paradigm shift that Niklas talks about unleashes creativity and he indicates to completely new opportunities for easier and faster development of a sustainable office environment that people want to be a part of.

Superlab’s CEO Niklas Madsen. Picture: David Möller.
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About Love Janson

Love Janson is a communication strategist at ComWise AB. He has a BA degree in communication from Halmstad University.
  • Sweden