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Roland Hudson, assistant professor

A day in the life

Roland Hudson, assistant professor

Roland Hudson, faculty

The real skill is knowing when to pick up the pen and start sketching or when to turn to the computer and start writing a piece of code.

Tailoring computer programs to design projects

Architects have used computers for decades – just not the way Roland Hudson uses them.

Dr. Hudson practices parametric design. He writes computer programs that enable architects to use digital architectural models while designing. Instead of having to manually adjust their computer models, he helps them use software that shows the impact of changing a design variable with the click of a button.

He’s not against ink sketches or wooden models, he just sees computers as an important tool architects should use more creatively.

“A lot of people haven’t realized the benefits of incorporating the computer in their work, which goes way beyond just recreating a drawing board on the screen.”

Architects can manipulate and adjust their designs with his programs, allowing them to make changes quickly and exert more control over their models.

“The real skill is knowing when to pick up the pen and start sketching or when to turn to the computer and start writing a piece of code,” he says.

Computational designs for the London 2012 olympic stadium

Dr. Hudson studied architecture in England. During his doctorate, he ran a busy consulting business where he developed a specialty in stadiums. He worked on the Aviva Stadium in Ireland and on the London 2012 Olympic stadium.

For the Olympic stadium, Dr. Hudson developed tools that helped architects study the quality of spectator views and investigate the use of twisted fabric panels along the façade of the building.

“I helped them set up a model that would allow them to experiment with how big the panels were, how much to twist them and then how to wrap them all the way around the stadium,” he says. “You end up with a device that you can then start to tune.”

The field of computational design is growing steadily and Dr. Hudson sees teaching at Dalhousie as an opportunity to get new, creative approaches to architectural design percolating into the profession.

“It’s something every architect needs to be aware of, and be familiar with,” he says.  “Here’s an opportunity for students to start working with computers in a more sophisticated way.”