via Eamonn McCormickStuart McCafferty & David Forfia

“Determining what constitutes “Good Architecture” is a major challenge for complex architectures

Dr. Jeff Taft author of the Grid Architecture Methodology

In this 5th article we cope with the query each and every architect asks him/herself, “Is my architecture good?”  What does a just right structure appear to be? These questions are specific tough to respond to in complicated architectures the place we’re coping with an overly huge quantity of variables. Key to this concept is how will we measure the “goodness” of an structure. Despite all of the literature about structure, there’s in reality now not a lot written about the best way to measure architectures themselves. A normal resolution is that structure contributes to advanced industry results. Therefore, if the industry results are completed, one can think that that the structure used to be just right. This could also be true to the extent {that a} “bad architecture” would possibly doom a industry to failure, then again it does little to respond to how we in reality measure an structure’s “goodness”. 

Measuring Goodness, the DOE Way

This subject used to be addressed via Dr. Jeff Taft as phase of the Grid Architecture technique advanced via the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL) as a framework that the trade can use to resolve its maximum urgent issues. In a nutshell, Dr. Taft proposes that we will be able to overview the goodness of an structure via assessing how neatly the structure helps the exterior habits, or “qualities”, wanted via the stakeholders. This outside-in option to comparing an structure’s goodness makes intuitive sense.  A just right structure should unambiguously serve the wishes of the stakeholders as the number one directive, and that’s what goodness is all about.

Unfortunately, in extremely complicated architectures we ceaselessly don’t start with a transparent figuring out of this “outside-in” method and confuse the interior point of view of architectural “properties” with the exterior point of view of “qualities”. This confusion may end up in severe demanding situations. For instance, if we take a look at transportation from the point of view of the “customer needs”, we finally end up with answers that can or would possibly not come with automotive possession.  Hence, now we have severe industry problems for automotive producers whose architectures think “sale of a car” as opposed to an exterior stakeholder’s want “to get from point A to point B efficiently”. Similar demanding situations at the moment are rising in the power panorama. What type of qualities must an power carrier have? Before we design a “grid” to ship products and services, it’s crucial to acknowledge buyer wishes. For instance, the varieties of products and services wanted via an electrical car buyer could also be considerably other than the ones of a gas car buyer.  

Another rising buyer stakeholder “quality” this is rising is round the thought of a software’s structure supporting sun photovoltaic (PV) installations at the back of the meter.  In truth, there are a number of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) architectural qualities rising from the European Union that come with power garage, power potency, microgrids, wind era, electrical automobiles, and different carbon impartial/minimizing applied sciences.  As the US inhabitants’s considerations about local weather alternate and changing into a extra sustainable country, those ESG qualities are already being thought to be via maximum utilities acting Grid Architecture workouts.  Catering to those new qualities turns into of paramount significance when creating architectures that cope with those crucial buyer wishes.

Figure 10: EU Taxonomy for Sustainable Financing[1]

The basic takeaway is that the goodness of an structure is measured with admire to how neatly it meets the exterior stakeholders wishes. At the early segment of an structure it is important to to get everybody aligned in this thought.  Also, qualities must be impartial, and non-overlapping to steer clear of double counting when in reality calculating “goodness” – extra about that later. 

In the Grid Architecture technique, Dr. Taft has outlined qualities and houses accordingly:

  • Qualities are architectural categories of necessities from an exterior level of view
  • Properties are architectural categories of necessities from an interior level of view

Both qualities and houses are categories of purposeful and non-functional necessities with qualities being the measure of architectural goodness.  For maximum of us who’ve practiced structure for a very long time, now we have grow to be used to taking an exterior products and services view of structure.  However, obviously differentiating qualities from houses is a vital innovation, as a result of so ceaselessly we as architects nonetheless combine up the qualities with the houses as we take a look at products and services. We ceaselessly leap to conclusions round “ilities” of the techniques had to beef up the “services” with out wondering in the event that they actually meet stakeholders’ wishes and whether or not we actually perceive the qualities.

In conventional structure we’re used to mapping necessities to purposes to parts.  This works quite neatly for answer architectures however does now not paintings as neatly for extremely complicated architectures, reminiscent of Grid Architectures.  The downside is just the huge quantity of purposes and we pass over the large structural ideas that underpin complicated architectures.  By development categories of necessities separated as qualities and houses, we’re in a greater form to map must the more than a few architectural buildings and their parts.

A key part of any structure is to resolve if this can be a just right are compatible for function. As we at the moment are having a look at the basics of power grids, we wish to watch out to not make deficient assumptions about what qualities are required for whom in the long run.

In 2015 the DOE did some interested by what qualities would make the grid “good by 2030”

  • Minimal environmental footprint
  • Affordability
  • Flexibility
  • Extensibility
  • Interoperability
  • Optionality
  • Safety
  • Scalability
  • Reliability

It is hard to calculate whether or not an structure meets a majority of these “ilities” qualities slightly neatly or slightly badly. The “ilities” are ceaselessly overloaded, exhausting to measure, and obscure.  It subsequently is smart to spend time to spot the other exterior qualities and the interior houses had to beef up them ahead of leaping into architecting parts. 

Mapping External Qualities to Internal Properties

Figure 11:  Example Mapping Exercise of Qualities/Properties/Elements[2]

In the Grid Architecture technique grid Qualities are mapped to Properties and Components/Structures are mapped to Properties – in that order.  So, in the above graphic, the mapping procedure begins from the right-hand facet System Qualities to the middle Key Properties.  The Key Components and Structures on the left-hand facet are then mapped to the middle Key Properties.  This visualization lets in the Grid Architecture crew and its stakeholders to acknowledge how the buildings and parts meet interior assets necessities and the exterior device high quality necessities.  In different phrases, it lets in us to peer how neatly components are in reality contributing to results which might be significant to consumers. Surprisingly, we would possibly to find that some components don’t give a contribution strongly to the results consumers and stakeholders maximum care about.  In this situation, we must query whether or not that is the correct set of components to beef up the results we need to succeed in.

Of direction, it is a simplification of the way it works in follow. Elements themselves are comparable to one another and we should “iteratively” discover the family members between qualities, houses, and components.  But the base line is that we should ensure that we’re sufficiently keen on how the “structural elements” of the structure beef up each qualities (exterior wishes) and houses (interior wishes).   

Optimization of the structure does now not suggest perfection, however slightly minimizing the quantity of paintings essential to fulfill the interior houses and exterior qualities.  In different phrases, what are the minimum quantity of structural components essential to fulfill the architectural houses and qualities?  We too can consider what components give a contribution to the qualities and the way treasured each and every high quality is.  An attention-grabbing workout is to chill out the qualities to resolve if this may end up in a big lower in complexity…

PNNL is operating with the GridSmart Architecture Council (GWAC) and DOE to additional advance this necessary subject.

[1] Taxonomy: Final document of the Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance, Financing a Sustainable European Economy Technical Report, EU Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance, March 2020

[2] PNNL, Grid Architecture Training, Dr. Jeff Taft, 2019