DS18_2016/17: Monsoon Assemblages Chennai, Brief 1: Hydrological Prototype

Monsoon Assemblages Chennai is the first of three studios that will be undertaken by DS18 at the University of Westminster associated with Monsoon Assemblages. This is a research project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant Agreement No. 679873). Monsoon Assemblages Dhaka and Monsoon Assemblages Delhi will follow over the next two years.

In the first brief of the studio this year, students were asked to research the complex and architecturally fertile phenomenon of monsoon rain. This introduced them to the themes of the studio and to some of the key computational tools promoted in DS18.

Students began by identifying an aspect of the behaviour of rain (such as percolating, splashing, pooling, flowing, evaporating etc.) and an attitude towards it (such as absorb, channel, dam, disperse, drain, filter, harvest, retain etc.) to work with.They were asked to model these attributes and to produce a series of simulations and analyses which at the same time as performing hydrologically, accentuated rain’s aesthetic properties (such as sound, smell, sight, colour, reflectivity etc.). The notional site for the exercise was a 10m3 spatial volume.  The outcomes of the research were a series of A2 posters, videos and a rapid prototyped model. A sample of student responses to this brief follows:

Tom Benson simulated erosion by emitting particles onto stacked surfaces and visualising the pressure exerted on these surfaces by the particles. He then registered the pressure water would exert onto a topography when flowing across it. Tools: Real Flow, Grasshopper, Rapid  prototyping.


Sebastien Monceaux and Emma Hilton Grange both conducted experiments into water filtration. Below are Monceaux’s simulations of water passing through a gravel filter and Hilton Grange’s summary of the results of using a range of filters such as sandstone pebbles, sand or rammed earth. Tools: Real Flow, Grasshopper.

monceaux-1 monceaux-2 monceaux-3 hilton-grange-1

Monica Cristu investigated the dynamics of water percolation through soils of various porosities. Tools: Python, Grasshopper, Real Flow.


Laura Nica researched the anatomy of a water drop – its surface tension, deformation and break-up. Tools: Rhino, Grasshopper, Rapid Prototyping.

nica-5 nica-3nica-4

Seetul Ghattaora explored the architectonic potential of water splashes. Tools: Real Flow, Grasshopper.


Cid Schuler simulated a thunder clap. Tools: Real Flow, Cinema 4d.

schuler-1 schuler-2

Charles Weston Smith researched the flow of a liquid over surfaces of various shapes and textures. Tools: Rhino, Real Flow.

westonsmith-1 westonsmith-2

Design References

Arboreal. Tyrrell: http://arborealarchitecture.com/projects/tyrrell; Biothing, Ghatkopar India School Façade: http://www.biothing.org/?cat=20; Bloc, Andre. Various; Borden, G. P. and Meredith, M. 2012. Matter: Material Processes in Architecture. New York: Routledge; Brayer M.A., Migayrou F. (2013). Archilab 2013: Naturalizing Architecture. Orleans: HYX; Bremner, L. and Bottazzi, R. (2016). Architecture, Energy, Matter. London: University of Westminster; DeLanda, M. (2001). “Philosophies of Design: The Case of Modelling Software.” Verb 1, Processing :131-143; DeLanda, M. (1992). “Nonorganic life.” Zone 6, Incorporations. :129-167.Erkman, A. Plan B: http://www.planb-venicebiennale.com/giris_en.asp#; From the Earth’s Crust: http://www.ea-cr.eu/; Jaque, A., Office for Political innovation. COSMO: http://momaps1.org/yap/view/19; Lally S. (2014). The Air from Other Planets. Baden: Lars Muller; MAD Architects. Fish Tank: https://divisare.com/projects/302600-mad-architects-fish-tank; Ng, R and Patel, S. (eds.). (2013). Performative Materials in Architecture and Design. Chicago: Intellect; PITCHAfrica. http://www.archdaily.com/616304/pitchafrica-creates-water-harvesting-campus-andstadium-for-communities-in-need; Roche, F. Water Flux (and others): http://www.new-territories.com/waterflux08.htm; Scarpa, Carlo. Brion Cemetery; Studio Mumbai. Copper House II: https://vimeo.com/53087257.

Theory References

Bachelard, G. (1999). Water and Dreams: An Essay on the Imagination of Matter. Dallas TX: Dallas Institute Humanities and Culture; Barbaza, R. E. (2012). “Letting it Flow: Towards a Phenomenology of Water in the Age of Modern Technology.” Kritika Kultura 18:057-067 http://www.journals.ateneo.edu/ojs/kk/article/download/1402/1428;  Dicks, H. (2014). “A Phenomenological Approach to Water in the City: Towards a Policy of Letting Water Appear.” Environment and Planning D 32(3):417-432; Hyde, K. A. (2012). “Phenomena: Rain.” http://www.hydearchitects.com/cms/wpcontent/uploads/2012/09/20120815_HH_Phenomena_Rain.pdf; Illich, I. (1985). H2O and the Waters of Forgetfulness: Reflections on the Historicity of Stuff. Dallas TX: Dallas Institute Humanities and Culture; Joyce, J. (1922). Ulysses, 1992 edition, 783-785. London: Penguin; Krenze, J. (no date). “Rain in Architecture and Urban Design.” http://webx.ubi.pt/~jkrenz/Rain.pdf.

Technical References:

RealFlow Support Centre http://support.nextlimit.com/category/realflow#_ga=1.52098665.1975964373.140476779; RealFlow online tutorials available from: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=realflow+tutorial, http://vimeo.com/search?q=realflow; Food for Rhino: http://www.food4rhino@mcneel.com; Grasshopper: http://www.grasshopper3d.com/

Go here for more about the Monsoon Assemblages project.

DS18 is taught by Lindsay Bremner and Roberto Bottazzi at the University of Westminster, London, UK.