Automated spatial design of multi-story modular buildings using a unified matrix method

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Journal Article
Automation in Construction, 2017, 82 pp. 31 - 42
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© 2017 Elsevier B.V. Automated design methods facilitate the study of the influence of design forms on the buildings' behavior, and help compare the performance of alternative designs more effectively. This paper presents a Unified Matrix Method, as an effective automated method that aids in the search for the best compromised spatial design of multi-story modular buildings during the early stages of the design process. The method is presented in a general format employing a balanced approach that integrates different design aspects together, namely constructional, architectural and structural aspects. First, it describes how the spatial design of multi-story modular buildings can be generally represented by three-dimensional matrices arisen from combinatorial problems. Then, the spatial design is modeled by a design structure matrix, which decomposes the building into smaller components such as modular units, connections, stabilizing and bracing systems. Finally, a three-dimensional assignment problem is formulated to solve the problem. Particular conditions or preferences for the spatial design can be incorporated as constraints on the assignment problem. In order to show the robustness of the method, an actual case study is designed and employed, with the aim of obtaining a spatial design having minimum construction cost, maximum plan regularity and maximum energy efficient form.
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