This thesis describes the development of a prototype Case-Based Reasoning (CBR) enabled intelligent component system, called Architectural General Object System (ARGOS), to facilitate the storage of design information in lightweight cases that can be used on the desktop computer over the total life of the facility. It uses CBR techniques combined with Microsoft ActiveX controls (object technology) to provide a useful autonomous component to implement some of the software requirements of such a system within the context of the global design and construction environment. These technologies ensure a platform independent environment and integration into the Internet. The use of XML (Extensible Mark-up Language) as a design language is explored to facilitate the storage of design data in a persistent and neutral manner independent from the software that originally created it. This ensures a long data life and the enables different actors over the life cycle of a facility to use their own relevant software to process the design information. During the development of AEDES (Architectural Evaluation and Design System), the research team realised that the problem of structuring design knowledge in such a way to support relevant software systems across the life cycle of a facility is far more complex than originally anticipated. Although there are many similarities between the construction and the manufacturing industries, there are also significant and problematic differences. Architectural design tasks take place in an open world where the reasoner's knowledge is incomplete or inconsistent. Due to this the focus in computer-aided architectural design research has shifted back and forth from attempts to totally automate the entire design process to its partial support through drafting tools. In an attempt to overcome some of the enormous complexities, that researchers struggled with over the past 35 years, a prototype intelligent autonomous design component ARGOS is developed in this research. It is clear that automated design methods are not tractable and it is therefore more worthwhile to pursue the creation of a neutral design language and the creation of intelligent and flexible design tools to manipulate these design fragments. An in-depth study is made of various important out-of-industry manufacturing techniques, CBR and object technology and to establish clearly what the desirable characteristics of ARGOS should be. An important requirement is that ARGOS should be generic and non-prescriptive and should work in a Microsoft Windows compliant environment. A solution without the use of CAD is proposed that ensure a generic solution that could add value to many different construction industry actors in many different environments. More recently attempts are being made to introduce post-modern Artificial Intelligence (AI) into design and architecture. Despite all these efforts it is clear that architectural briefing and design has not reached the status of a science and it is unlikely ever to. This is confirmed by recent breakthroughs in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Knowledge Management that provide deeper insights into the cognitive processes of the designer. This study indicates that XML is a viable means of expressing design knowledge and a feasible alternative for the complex Building Product Models currently proposed whilst at the same time supporting operations in the Internet environment. Design information and the ability to retrieve it is now more important than the software application that originally created it. The autonomous intelligent component ARGOS provides a method to encapsulate design knowledge at both tacit and explicit cognitive levels whilst at the same time providing global communication in a convenient desktop environment. ARGOS is designed in a parametric way that supports any design process that requires positional, volumetric and spatial relationship analysis in both 2D and 3D. Multiple autonomous copies can be placed in a container environment such as Excel. Any process written in any computer language that supports the use of ActiveX controls can be used to manipulate the ARGOS instances.
Dissertation (Ph.D. (Applied Sciences))--University of Pretoria, 2000.