[B-SIDE Podcast] Architecture and computational design

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In this B-Side episode, Gordon Gn, an award-winning architect and the office director of architecture firm HKS Singapore, explains what computational design is, and how it can benefit all stakeholders before, during, and after the construction of a building. 

“To put it simply, computational design is really the workflow that enables us to enhance project design outcomes and performance through the use of digital models,” Mr. Gn tells BusinessWorld reporter Brontë H. Lacsamana.  

Nustar Resort and Casino, Robinsons Hotels and Resorts’ (RHR) new five-star integrated resort in Cebu that Mr. Gn helped design, is the first development in the Philippines that uses computational design to respond to climate factors. 


The computer is not just a tool, but a co-designer. 

“The design approach practiced by architecture studios has gone beyond manually sketching and drawing,” Mr. Gn said. “But in some ways, we are still quite traditional, with digital models as a direct visual translation of what the architect has in mind.” 

“This new methodology of having the computer as a kind of co-designer, it really starts to introduce new ways of thinking, of making, and of producing.” 

As an industry, the limitless thinking that comes as a collaborative effort is bringing about an innovation of the profession, and a paradigm shift, he added. 

Digital models can simulate climate scenarios that will inform design solutions. 

Nustar Resort and Casino — with its three hotels, gaming floors, 1,700-seat movie theater, and luxury retail mall — is set to be a mega development located along the coastal front of Kawit Island, east of Cebu City. 

“If you look at the base of the building, it’s reminiscent of the kind of Western ships and galleons that explored this region of the seas,” he said. “The three towers are designed as sails. It’s bringing back the idea of shipping and explorative culture.” 

The digital models that simulated climate scenarios generated and tuned the design of the towers to the environment to minimize the heat gain for occupants’ comfort as well as maximize the daylight.  

Computational tools optimize a building’s life cycle from design to occupancy. 

“It can go from wind to daylight to heat gain to physical components like structure or sensing how many people will use the building or move within it,” Mr. Gn said. 

By recreating all sorts of scenarios within a virtual environment, carbon footprint and productivity optimization can be calculated, even taking into account the finite resources available, he added. 

“If we can start to be more socially and environmentally conscious through technology, I think this leads to much greater outcomes for the community and the world at large.” 

Recorded remotely in September 2022. Produced by Joseph Emmanuel L. Garcia, and Sam L. Marcelo.

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