Urban guidelines and city bye-laws define the decorum of an urban development. Apart from its primary motive to ensure satisfactory living conditions and controlled load on shared infrastructure, bye-laws also propose the possibility of creating volumetric cousins. Of course the bloodline can bc extremely short as in the case of Chandigarh or extremely distant as in the case of DLF or NOIDA. In every case, the spectrum is created out of the interpretation of the setbacks, ground coverage, FAR, height restrictions etc.

The quest to interpret the bye-laws combined with the nerving thought of “where to begin” each time an urban residence was offered to Design Plus led to the creation of a system of computing logic that, theoretically, has the power to create the entire volumetric spectrum.

The test bed for this computation was a 225 sq.m. residence at DLF Phase 1, Gurgaon. At the time of the first visit to the site, an existing structure was present, which was to be brought down to accommodate the new. Programmatic planning of this new commission was a result of a speculative ten year plan. Operating as a bachelor pad in 2011-12 for the Khurana brothers, it is expected 10 transform into a twin family residence thereafter.


The total permissible area was divided into voxelsof 1 cu.m. each. Hence, the plot was read as an accumulation of 3D cubes instead of an empty piece of land. In essence a complete extrusion of site area to the maximum possible height serves as the First Restore Point Model [RPtM].

For programmatic utilisation DLF guidelines were interpreted using a V.I. lens. FAR [Plot size 225 sq.m.]

First 209 sq.m. – 1.45

Next 016 sq.m. – 1.00

GF                                                       GF                FF              SF           TF                Total

Permissible coverage                      135             123.75      60.3       Mumty        319.05

Voxel Available                                 660             660           660        660               2640

Voxel Permissible                            405             370           180        30                  0985

For the operation of the code, permissible areas are translated to permissible voxels. These can be read according to floor or as a complete volume.


Step 1 — 01.00 RPtM was taken as the catalyst.

Step 2 — The Sculpting of the RPtM began with dissolving for adding] 40 voxels at each iteration.

Step 3 — The model is checked for the number of voxels present.

Step 4 — The number of remaining voxels were compared With the global permissible number.

Step 5 — Voxels compared with the local [floor-wise] permissible number.

Step 6— If both Step 4 and 5 returned positive replies, another RPtM was created and archived, otherwise Step 2 was repeated.

This repetition of simple rules enabled the creation of a catalogue of volumetric possibilities that are mere interpretations of the city bye-laws. In theory, this tool has the prowess to create every possible built-volume in DLF phase 1, 2 and 3.


To place the discussed process in a larger context —the current global architectural practices adhere to similar building processes when compared to their predecessors, from concept design to construction. However, the mechanisms

involved within each stage have altered. Each era of architecture reflects the technology it deems worthy of mass acknowledgement in its designs. Even though today we do not follow a single book or school of thought, the influx of

Information and Communication technology (ICTI is impossible to ignore. ICT offers tools that allow for decision-making, design aid, which facilitate the instant analysis of an actual situation and its accompanying data, and allow for quick responses. In order to accomplish agendas, they facilitate different control types, and these types, individually or combined, mirror the decision-making capabilities. However, with the technology subsuming the studios and the methodologies of several practitioners, the definition of the controller for designed output is in question.

For Design Plus, the tool replaces a sketch book to a great extent but the computation is limited to the creation of a catalogue. The process of selection of the “appropriate” RPtM brings in the intuition and the skill-set of the architect. Automation is therefore, only parasitic in nature — it not only needs to be fed by a source, but the assessment of the final output is completely dependent on the designer’s will.


The RPtM selections were essentially massing models with restricted internal implications. These models served as starting points towards the development of the eventual external form. During this stage of design development many aspects were managed simultaneously. The eventual physical product(s) left behind its legacy of automation and was built with pragmatic understanding of residence design. It was further sculpted to attain the functional requirements, views, desired orientations, parking spaces, services and aesthetic demands.

“……the biggest problem with the generation of architects today is that while our production (digital or physical) is computational our thinking remains analogue……” — Peter Eisenman

The success of a project lies in the realisation Of when to plug out. The reduction of subjectivity provides grounds to assess a project with generic evaluation but the ownership on the design only arises when the architect’s skill plays its part.


  1. A vaxel (volumetric pixel or, more correctly Volumetric Picture Element) is a volume element, representing a value on a regular grid in three dimensional space.
  2. An excerpt from Peter Eisenman’s Lecture at RIBA. London in November 2008.

by Abhishek Bij