On Wednesday morning I headed off, bright and early, to the Generative Design Hackathon that had been organised by DBEI prior to this year's BILT Europe in Edinburgh.
I wandered past the local church in Bruntsfield:
The walk to the conference centre led me via the canal:
I arrived at EICC, the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, which is also hosting this year's BILT Europe over the coming days.
Proceedings were kicked off by Wesley Benn, Executive Chairman of DBEI:
He introduced the teams:
And the judges:
While Hypar's Anthony Hauck introduced the expert users (myself included):
As well as some tips and tricks for the event:
This was a slightly different format for a Hackathon, in the sense that it was being held on a single day. We’d considered calling it a Sprintathon or a Hackday, but had stuck with Hackathon despite the restricted time.
A lot of effort had gone into encouraging the teams – who had mostly been formed prior to the event – to do some advance preparation, if only to solidify thinking around a particular idea for their hack.
Here is team SchoolSound (Jean-Marc Couffin, Andrew Waring, Jacqueline Rohrmann, Christoph Raidl and Carmine Andrea Rago), who were originally focused on acoustics in schools, but later pivoted towards visibility analysis for art galleries.
This is team Hack ‘n’ Roll (Claudio Vittori Antisari, Leslie Ing, Mark Ackerley, Viola Cambié and Yahya Al-Saeed), who wanted to generatively design vertical forests (green high-rises). Zach Kron is giving them a hand with something or other.
Team4.0Digital (Simon Bjerre, Lucia Citola and Dawid Witkowski) worked on a solution to place material lifts optimally on construction sites.
BIMore (David Wood, Alfonso Alcantara and Adrian Short) worked on a tool to place accommodation blocks on a campus.
BIMsie (Teun De Vries and Léo Kichenin) wanted to create a generator for construction sites.
GenFacade (Botyo Dimitrov and Ventsislav Buhlev), the team in the foreground on the left, focused on swapping out the existing UI for Refinery with a streamlined configurator-style web experience.
The teams were fuelled with plenty of coffee, snacks and pizza, during the course of the day. It being Scotland, it would be a mistake to underestimate the impact Irn-Bru had on team performance, of course.
There were trials and tribulations, during the course of an intense day. When things worked, people celebrated.
It was clearly important to keep in mind the need to present what was created. The restricted timeframe meant that every team had to maintain their focus on both the technical solution and its presentation.
The judges took into account various criteria when evaluating the projects.
The first team to present was BIMore:
Next was SchoolSound:
Followed by Hack ‘n’ Roll:
After each team’s 3-minute presentation, the judges often spent quite some time asking follow-up questions.
The next team to present was BIMsie:
And finally GenFacade:
While the judges (Wesley Benn, Melissa Thiessens, Zach Kron, Anthony Hauck and Alice Leung) deliberated, the attendees were able to enjoy a drink ot two. Matt Jezyk – now with Tesla, formerly with Autodesk – came by to say hello.
The winners were announced. In first place was Team4.0Digital:
In second place was Hack ‘n’ Roll. I didn’t manage to capture a photo of them all together, so I borrowed this one from social media.
I did manage to capture members of the team busily tweeting their success, though. :-)
In third place was BIMore:
I was very happy to see a number of teams using Space Analysis, Warnamo and Capturefinery during the development of their solutions and presentations. Here’s an animation that BIMore used in their presentation.
A special prize was awarded to BIMsie, who had originally been a team of 3 but due to last-minute travel issues had their team size reduced by 33%.
Every team finished the day with a smile on their faces. Here’s GenFacade:
And here’s SchoolSound:
It was really a fantastic day. I was honestly not expecting so many working projects – all of them using Dynamo and Refinery, which wasn’t at all mandated – to be created. This is the first Hackathon I’ve been to where this was the case.
There’s previously been a significant amount of apprehension that a single day would provide enough time. I’m glad the DBEI committee went ahead and tried it, because this format really did work.
Of course it probably wouldn’t have been as successful if the organisers – and the respective teams – hadn’t invested enough preparation time, but somehow each of the six teams pulled together to create impressive results. Well done to all those involved!
After this pre-event, it’s on to BILT Europe itself on Thursday to Saturday. The first activity was the Speak Social event, held in a beautiful old church.
There’s a lot of great content coming during the conference itself.
My main commitment for the rest of the week is on Friday, when I’m helping Matt Jezyk with his Refinery lab. (I get to say I co-presented with Tesla – how cool is that? ;-)
I won’t be able to stay through to the end, unfortunately, as on Saturday morning I’m heading back down to the Carlisle area to visit family, before heading back up towards the Highlands. I do expect to make the most of the next couple of days, though.