The SmartGeometry conference is coming up again, this time in New York on the 31st of Janurary, 2007. The most intriguing part of the conference from my perspective is the workshop that happens over the four days preceding the conference. If it's anything like last year's, which I assume it is, attendees will get a chance to play around with Bentley Systems' beta software GenerativeComponents. GenerativeComonents is an application for modeling in a parametric or associative way. A designer using the software develops a set of components and defines relationships between them, such that a change in one part of a design alters the rest accordingly. This means that one could set up a sun shade component that would change its angle when the building orientation changed, or panels that form the skin of a building could rotate or morph to meet a changing structural system. Essentially the application creates models that are themselves software applications, responding to changes in variables like dimension, orientation and material, until a satisfactory result emerges. Components can be modeled to exact physical dimensions to ease the transition to construction documentation. The software pushes the boundaries of what the industry calls "building information modeling" or "parametric modeling". This paradigm recognizes the fact that a building can be thought of as a database of inter-related parts. GenerativeComonents extends this paradigm by imbuing those parts with behaviors, allowing the design to self-organize based on conceptual rules.
I'd really like to try it out. The rub, as with most workshops like this, is cost. It runs $1500, not including room, board and airfare. How much do kidneys sell for on eBay these days? They are offering a few scholarships, so there is hope for those poor students wishing to attend and try out one of the prototypical digital playgrounds of the future.