Archives for category: Tools

Back in early August, I had the privilege of speaking at USC’s annual BIM Symposium on the topic of visual programming. This post is my attempt at a sort of editorial that follows the narrative of that talk. Along the way, I’ll include a few of the videos that I shared at the presentation which hopefully demonstrate the kind of tool creation I’m talking about. Hope you enjoy.

It’s been 5 years since we officially launched our research program at the Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design. During that period we’ve come to understand that the evolution of our process reflects the larger, changing relationship architects have with their means of production. We’ve always been a profession of hackers. Every building is a one-off made up of countless elegant hacks, each bringing disparate materials and systems together into a cohesive whole.  But when it comes to the software that designers have come to rely on, most of us have been content with enthusiastic consumerism, eagerly awaiting the next releases from software developers like Autodesk, McNeel and Bentley. In late 2007 something changed. McNeel introduced a visual programming plugin called Grasshopper authored by David Rutten, and more and more architects began to hack their tools as well as their buildings. Read the rest of this entry »

SRad-Elev-grey

About a year ago I was asked to speak at the University of Oregon’s annual H.O.P.E.S. conference and lead a workshop demonstrating the computational approach to design we promote on this blog and at the Yazdani Studio. The workshop focused on the optimization tools we have been piecing together using Grasshopper for Rhino and its many add ons. Today we’re going to share an updated version of the Gh definition used in the workshop. A video that breaks down the definition and various steps involved is also included below. The goal here is to share a general framework for creating optimization tools with Grasshopper. My hope is that the script below, along with breakdown video, might be a useful guide for anyone interested in developing their own optimizations or tailoring them to specific situations. In the example provided, the definition is used to optimize a building form to receive the minimum possible total solar radiation given only the geographical location, building area, and number of floors.

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It’s been several years now since the Galapagos component was included in Grasshopper for Rhino. Back in 2011 Charles Aweida wrote a blog post that included a proof of concept in which he used this tool to optimize a simple multi-sided form to receive the lowest amount of heat energy from the sun. Since then, we’ve been trying to create optimization tools at the building scale that can inform our decision making process during design. The videos below are optimizations for heat gain and views on a site in Boston, MA. We are actively looking for ways to expand this list to include a wider range of project / site specific design drivers such as daylighting, structure, and wind.

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LACH_RADandDL

Last fall a custom data visualization developed by our research team was featured on the information is beautiful website as part of their information is beautiful awards. In this post we discuss why we developed the graphic and how it is used.

Incident Solar Radiation is one of the most common types of analysis performed by architects at the conceptual design stage. Results indicate where solar heat gain might be an issue. These are areas where glazing should be minimized and exterior sunshades should be considered. Unfortunately, Ecotect does not have a way of communicating all of the results of this analysis in a single concise graphic format. As part of the research effort, we have developed a grasshopper definition that generates a graphic representation of both heat intensity and panel orientation in a single frame. Read the rest of this entry »


Developing the kinetic facade on the CJ R&D Center  presented some unique technical challenges in terms of visualizing a range of motion for a mechanical assembly of parts. As architectural designers, we’re accustomed to working with static elements. CJ called for new methodologies that would enable us to easily manipulate hierarchical structures of linked components, allowing us to visualize how a modification to one part would effect the whole system.   To do this, we used a combination of tools (inverse kinematics, wire parameters and animation constraints) originally intended for use in character animation within 3ds Max . Read the rest of this entry »

CJ FACADEAs part of a recent design effort here in the studio we attempted to develop a kinetic facade that could respond and adapt in real-time to both solar radiation and user input. The client, CJ Corporation of Korea, was enthusiastic about the idea as part of their “only one” initiative which promotes unique one-of-a-kind thinking. While this certainly isn’t the only kinetic facade in the world, it presented our team with a new set of challenges.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/19900510 w=460&h=259] Read the rest of this entry »

Many of us have struggled with incorporating analysis data from energy consultants or software like Ecotect and Energy Plus into the the early stages of design. This is largely due to the cumbersome process of moving models between design and analysis software, or worse,  the necessity to completely rebuild a model to suit a particular type of analysis or tool.  To complicate things further, the result of such efforts isn’t easily incorporated back into the design process, because the data harvested is usually output in a static format such as a chart or two-dimensional graphic.  A large part of our research is focused on discovering methods of improving the design/ analysis workflow so that that analytic tools can inform decisions made in the early stages of design. In this post we demonstrate a workflow for moving  3d geometry from our design tool, 3DStudio Max  through Rhino/ Grasshopper, into our analysis tool, Ecotect. After gathering data, we import a 3-dimensional representation of that information back into Max to help shape the design.  This process is also compatible for use with Maya or any other 3d modeling tool that can work with vertex colors (known as false color in Rhino) such as Blender or Unity.

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