Finalist 2021

nDirection System

Devika Panicker / Joseph Jiahao Luo

nDirection System is a generative prefabricated modular building system that establishes both higher density and higher quality living conditions.

nDirection System is a rule-based architectural system that is made up of modular prefabricated building components that are able to transition between different module typologies. Variations of component configurations are generated by applying this algorithmic rule system.

As a result, rich spatial qualities were created from private use to shared space as well as provide adaptable lighting conditions within the architectural modules.

Design Brief

In an increasingly innovative environment, traditional architectural and urban design methods cannot facilitate the complexity of the evolving context and frequently changing social patterns. In modern-day environments, architecture meets the demand for high-density by sacrificing high quality of both living conditions and sustainability.

It is becoming critical to consider future lifestyles that reflect growing social patterns and community formations through co-living and co-working, in close proximity to nature. nDirection system allows for high-quality inhabitation with less land use and carbon footprint. Therefore, giving back more land for the wilderness, wildlife and supporting planetary health.

The system is delivered by Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) prefabrication.
A pilot site in Petrinja (Croatia) was chosen for testing the developed system.

Addressing Petrnja’s declining economy after being devastated by the earthquake, the nDirection System will be able to provide the solution of re-inhabitation, by introducing new lifestyles reflecting co-living co-working with high-quality living conditions.


This project was developed by:

Design Process

Through extensive explorations of the agent system, patterns and agent systems that displayed directionality most effectively and efficiently highlighted the textures of the landscape. Its potential to sustain the display of adaptability at various scales suggested the project focus.

Early explorations consisted of experimental agent systems that demonstrate adaptability to the physical landscape. Voxelized agent systems were integrated with modular components to create complex building systems.

We first identify and respond to the shortage of the traditional construction method and design process. We rethink how we design by incorporating computational power to accelerate and automate the design process. The design process is not focusing on one project but it is relevant to a system that is capable of multidisciplinary application.

We have gone through the process of:

  • Testing multiagent systems that demonstrate adaptability to the physical landscape
  • Implementing the idea of directionality that informs the process of developing the system and design decision making
  • Application of agent voxelized adaptations forming boundaries for complex architectural clusters
  • Applying solar analysis data onto the generated building fabric
  • Applying window openings for maximum sunlight and maximum views
  • Application of program distribution of internal circulation connectivity and coliving coworking shared and private spaces
  • Activating balcony area to the module aggregation
  • Extracting Quantitative data from the design output
  • Application/testing capabilities of the system by experimenting for ultra high density

nDirection system explores relationships between the direction of the architectural components and the orientation of the components towards the light. The idea of directionality was informing the process of developing the system and design decision making.

It establishes the relationship between the wide-scale direction of the components and the individualized orientation defined by light exposure and view conditions. Creating an enhanced method that facilitates higher quality living conditions.

Design Excellence

nDirection systems create these new forms of aesthetics that express the complex and dynamic patternation that forms by data. They make us rethink the existing traditional static architecture aesthetic.

The system is a flexible modular architectural system that allows a variety of architectural formations and configurations. It can quickly respond to different contexts and rapidly changing social needs.

It is adaptable enough to meet the different needs of the rapidly changing social context.

nDirection system creates an automation design approach with simple data as input to generative complex output with high quality and high complexity performance for inhabitation. The data input involves the local solar analysis and existing view conditions and typography and so on.

nDirection capable of testing in very high-density configurations with it for a more populated context as well. Therefore the system can be applied internationally.

The system can offer good design, providing new aesthetics, new qualities, sustainability that takes into account environmental data.

Design Innovation

The system provides more effective construction methods working with an architectural modular system and CLT prefabrication compared to traditional construction methods. For example, the advantage of this efficiency allows the system to apply for quick re-inhabitation after a disaster.

It can provide high density and yet high-quality living conditions compared to the regular prefab modular architecture that sacrifices living quality.

By applying an algorithmic rule system for how components connect to each other, they are able to create different configurations. To have a different set of combinatorics to create different or rich spatial quality within the aggregation. Testing out different combinations with double modules which can potentially form one housing apartment.

Conventional architecture is designed without integrating scientific data analysis within the process. nDirection system incorporates environmental data aiming for data synthesis in the design method.

This system allows the aggregation to integrate multi directionality. Which creates a more interactive response to the site. nDirection System can control the orientation of each architectural form towards the sun and gain maximum views and natural light. This can potentially create more diverse internal and external spatial combinations and unique views and light conditions between each module.

nDirection can offer new opportunities for architectural formation through an automated design process. The system follows simple input and complex output theory where discrete building pieces may be built by algorithmic combinations at highly varied outputs. Even when working with just one simple module, when they come together, they create different sets of combinatorics and poly resolution spatial conditions.

Simple inputs: one universal component that is able to switch to different types by creating distinct additional windows on different sides. This allows the space to change from private use to shared space as well as provide adaptable lighting conditions within the architectural modules.

Design Impact

The nDirection system considers and improves the social, economic and environmental value creation of architecture. In social value creation, this system will be able to provide the solution of re-inhabitation, by introducing new lifestyles reflecting co-living co-working, and high-quality living conditions, which potentially can engage social interaction and stimulate the economy.

From an environmental perspective, this system works with Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) prefab technique to minimize the environmental impact. What is more, the system is a modular system. It can control the usage of the material more precisely and is cost-effective. This can set the new benchmark of the architectural industry. We are able to transfer the user experiences and spatial quality into visual information.

For example, we are able to obtain calculations for how much area is in good lighting condition and alter the configurations to meet optimum conditions overall: maximum sunlight, maximum views, minimum material etc.

nDirection system contributes to Victoria’s design and creative culture by providing new thoughts of automated design innovation and introducing a new lifestyle of co-living co-working within the architectural experience.

And yet the nDirection system has the potential to keep refining and evolving with synchronising with more data to meet the demand for future patterns of living.

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