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Topologic: enhancing the representation of space in 3D modelling environments

Topologic toolkit
Topologic toolkit

The goal of this research project is to use computational topology to support the creation and analysis of the lightest, most understandable conceptual building information models.

Buildings enclose and partition space and are built from assemblies of connected components. However, conventional building information modelling (BIM) applications do not explicitly model the enclosure of space. Although it might be possible to indirectly infer the enclosed spaces from the position of the physical building components, the fidelity of this representation depends on the precise connectivity of the bounding physical components, which cannot be relied upon.

Even if this approach was viable, the level of detail of BIM models is often too complex for this type of analysis. One possible solution is to use formal topology to represent the many different forms of spatial and material partitioning and connectedness found within buildings.

Thus, the objective of this research project was to develop computational design tools based on precise topological principles but presented in ways which are understandable by architectural users who may have little previous experience of topology.

Software library

The research project resulted in the open-source ‘‘Topologic’’ software library which integrates several architecturally relevant topological concepts into a unified application toolkit.

The goal of the Topologic toolkit is to support the creation of the lightest, most understandable conceptual models of architectural topology. The intention is that Topologic can be an effective intermediary between the abstract world of topology and the practical world of architecture and building engineering.

The challenge in developing the software has been to maintain the theoretically consistent use of topological concepts and terminology yet relate these to the more ambiguous concepts of space and ‘‘connectedness’’ found in architecture. Because the formal language of topology is well-matched to the data input requirements for applications such as energy simulation and structural analysis, Topologic encourages design exploration and performance simulation at the conceptual design phase.


Professor Wassim Jabi

Professor Wassim Jabi

Chair in Computational Methods in Architecture

+44 (0)29 2087 5981