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ARCH 655 Parametric Modeling in Design

Project 1 - Parametric Modeling and Physically-based Form Finding

Due: 3/31, Wednesday, 10:00PM

Weight: 50%


You are expected to create parametric models embedding your own design intents for your selected case study.

Your tasks include:

1. Homework assignments and all versions of the project   (15 pts)

Complete all homework assignments, and all versions prior to the final version of the project. Follow the deadlines and submission procedures for each exercise or homework. The completeness of the tutorials and all versions of the project, on time submission, and the quality of your work will count toward part of the final grade of project1.

2. Collect information for a case study - a curved free form (5 pts)

Please use The New Mathematics of Architecture, by Jane Burry and Mark Burry, published by Thames & Hudson, as a reference to select a free form building, landscape, or structure that is both interesting to you and challenging to model. The case studies from the book are listed in the end of this web page. You may find more information about the design from other resources.

The first step is to browse the book or search the design (buildings/landscapes/structures) online, identify a a design, then to collect more information - drawings, text, photos, etc. about the design to enable you to study and model the design using Rhino/Grasshopper and their plugins. You can use existing CAD files of a building/landscape/structure if you find them useful, with the permission from the authors and appropriate credits, to get started with modeling. However, you cannot use any existing Rhino/Grasshopper models of the design.

Alternatively, you can choose your design studio projects or other buildings to model/redesign. Your choice should have similar complexity and workload as those in the book referenced above.

3. Create parametric form (mass and skin) for the curved design (25 pts)

Using Rhino/Grasshopper NURBS curve, surface, solid, mesh etc. functions to create the form and skin of the design. Identify driving parameters and make them changeable in Grasshopper through real-time interaction.

Organize the Grasshopper graph to enable quick finding of the driving parameters and easy control of them.

You are going to creatively add your own design intent to the original design through the use of the parameters and mathematical functions that can create the design and morph the form and skin to different design options.

Detailed design components are not necessary to be created for this project.

Name your design model project1_form.3dm and project1_form.gh.

Note it is important to organize your Grasshoppr nodes, e.g. using Group and color coding.

4. Create a parametric, physically-based model for a part of your design (15 pts)

Create a parametric, physically-based model for part of the design form. Use Kangaroo and WeaverBird to create the physically-based model.

You can use a physically-based model for the design of the curved roof, walls, etc. For walls, you may use UnaryForce in Kangaroo with a direction other than vertical, or use wind force.

Name your physically-based model project1_physics.3dm (can include the baked model) and project1_physics.gh.

Compare the two models of the same part of the design, with and without the use of the physics engine. Document your findings from the comparison and save findings to #6 below.

5. Analyses (5 pts)

Analyze selected curved surfaces in your project, in terms of geometry (dimensions, areas, curve tangents, curvatures, etc. using the Analyze/Analysis functions of Rhino and Grasshopper), and physics (using Kangaroo's output data, forces, and color coding. See a sample here.). Use the analyses to demonstrate your design intent.

Save your models with analyses visualization as project1_analyses.3dm and project1_analyses.gh.

6. Visualization and documentation

6.1 Screenshots and Description (7 pts)

Create a set of screenshots for the models, parametric changes, and the analyses (from different views, with appropriate drawing modes). Format: JPG. Size: 1024x768 pixels or higher. Name the screenshots as:

project1_screenshot1.jpg, project1_screenshot2.jpg, etc.

Describe your models, findings, and your parametric design ideas using text, diagrams, math equations (if any), screenshots, etc. Clear and informative description is required.

The documentation will be published on a web blog (described below in Submission).

6.2 Project Movie (10 pts)

In addition , you are expected to create a movie (up to 4 minutes in length) by capturing your computer screen that demonstrates your models, parametric design, and user interaction, with your voice over as narrative. You can use Camtasia (about $15) or other software to make and edit the movie. Upload the movie to your Blog (directly or through embedding Youtube, Vimeo, etc. Make sure the video quality is high).

Suggested resolution: 1024x768 pixels or higher. Suggested format: Flash (in a web page), MP4, WMV. Clear images and sound are expected.

Here's instruction about posting videos on Blogger

Note that you need to give reference for EACH image or citation you used in your Blog or other documents.

7. Project presentation (8 pts)

Present your project movie + Q&A. Please make sure your movie on your blog is ready to be played before we start the presentation.

8. Submission

Project 1 submission includes the following items.

8.1 Submission to eLearning.tamu.edu

Project folder name Project1_Final_YourFirstname_YourLastname
Files in the folder

1. project1_form.3dm and project1_form.gh
2. project1_physics.3dm and project1_physics.gh
3. project1_analyses.3dm and project1_analyses.gh
4. project1_screenshot1.jpg
5. project1_screenshot2.jpg
6. project1_screenshot3.jpg
7. project1_screenshot4.jpg
8. Project Movie

File to submit Project1_Final_YourFirstname_YourLastname.zip
Submit to http://eCampus.tamu.edu/ (Project1_Final)


8.2. Submission to the Web

Setup your Blog page using:

https://www.blogger.com/start (or any other blog you have already used).

Create a web blog page containing your Project1 visualization and documentation (#6 above). Submit your blog URL to eCampus when required. Your name and "ARCH655 Project 1" should appear on your blog page. Check the following page and click your project1 thumbnail to confirm that the link is pointing to your blog.


Web Your Blog page on Blogger.com
Items on the page

1. Description
2. project1_screenshot1.jpg
3. project1_screenshot2.jpg
4. project1_screenshot3.jpg
5. project1_screenshot4.jpg
6. Project Movie

Embed images and the movie into the text, and make the images clickable to show the images in their original size.

Submit Email your Blog URL to the instructor today with a subject: ARCH655 Project 1 URL, and complete the page by the due day.

8.3 Submission of your project thumbnail to eCampus: http://ecampus.tamu.edu

Create a 160x120 pixel thumbnail image based on your exterior rendering. Save it as Project1_YourFirstname_YourLastname.jpg, and upload it to http://ecampus.tamu.edu (ARCH655->Content->Project1_Thumnnail).

The thumbnail will appear on the following page after it is uploaded by the instructor:

Thumbnail Project thumbnail


Submit to http://ecampus.tamu.edu

Finally, check your web page and links from

Make sure everything works by the due time. (Thumbnails will be displayed before presentation.)


Understand and experience parametric modeling and physically-based form finding. Learn how to use Rhino/Grasshopper and their plugins to build parametric models.


1. You can find more resources (mostly online) and learn additional techniques to help you complete this project.

2. Be creative to design the parametric models and be innovative to apply the tools to your work.


Your work will be judged on its workload, challenge, richness of design thinking, technical quality, and visual quality.

About Exceptional Work (10 pts)

As stated in Syllabus, a project is given 90/100 as a basis for “Satisfactory work, meet standards”. Based on project requirements, errors or missing items will cause reduction of points and exceptional work is awarded with extra points.

Example of Exceptional Work:

Creative, sophisticated models with excellent design intent. Integrating the use of other tools (physical or digital), methods, algorithms, etc. in addition to what we have studied in class. Extra model files, images, and description may be submitted and integrated with the submission procedures stated above for presenting the extra work.


Additional Learning Resources

Paneling tools for creating the skins of the structures:




See Students page for previous projects and sample movies

Case studies as references

From The New Mathematics of Architecture

(available at Evans Library or Annex: NA2750 .B877 2010)

# 1.Mathematical surfaces and seriality
# Australian Wildlife Health Centre, Healesville Sanctuary, Australia / Minifie Nixon
# Beijing International Airport, Beijing, China / Foster + Partners
# Inversion modelling, Wolverhampton, UK / John Pickering
# Sagrada Família, Barcelona, Spain / Antoni Gaudí
# Main Station Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany / Ingenhoven Architects ;
# Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles / Gehry Partners
# Abu Dhabi Airport, Abu Dhabi, UAE / Kohn Pedersen Fox

# 2.Chaos, complexity, emergence
# Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia / Lab Architecture Studio
# Louvre Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi / Ateliers Jean Nouvel
# Jyväskylä Music and Arts Centre, Jyväskylä, Finland / Ocean North
# Seroussi Pavilion, Paris / Biothing

# 3.Packing and tiling
# Battersea Power Station, London / Arup AGU
# The Water Cube, Beijing / PTW Architects
# Grand Egyptian Museum, Cairo / Heneghan Peng
# The Spiral Extension, Victoria & Albert Museum, London / Daniel Libeskind
# Storey Hall, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia / Ashton Raggatt McDougall
# Spanish Pavilion, Expo 2005, Aichi, Japan / Foreign Office Architects
# Centre for Ideas, Victoria College of the Arts, Melbourne, Australia / Minifie Nixon

# 4.Optimization
# British Museum Great Court, London / Foster + Partners
# Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. / Foster + Partners
# Qatar Education City Convention Centre, Doha, Qatar / Arata Isozaki
# Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Australia / Cox Architects
# Island City Central Park, Fukuoka, Japan / Toyo Ito
# The Pinnacle, London / Kohn Pedersen Fox
# Al Raha Development, Abu Dhabi / Foster + Partners
# Melbourne Recital Centre, Australia / Ashton Raggatt McDougall

# 5.Topology
# Möbius House, Het Gooi, Netherlands / UN Studio
# Arnhem Central, Arnhem, Netherlands / UN Studio
# Paramorph II, London / Decoi Architects
# Cape Schanck House, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia / Paul Morgan Architects
# Blowhouse: Life support unit, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia / Paul Morgan Architects
# Slavin House, Venice, California / Greg Lynn
# Klein Bottle House, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia / McBride Charles Ryan
# Möbius Bridge, Bristol, UK / Hakes Associates
# Villa Nurbs, Girona, Spain / Cloud 9 Architecture
# National Museum of Australia, Canberra, Australia / Ashton Raggatt McDougall
# Metropolitan Opera House, Taichung, Taiwan / Toyo Ito

# 6.Datascapes and multi-dimensionality
# De Draai extension, Heerhugowaard, Netherlands / Karres En Brands
# freshHtwoOexpo, Zeeland, Netherlands / NOX Architects
# Streaming House, Melbourne, Australia / Minifie Nixon
# Aegis Hyposurface, Birmingham, UK / Decoi Architects
# Spoorg, Los Angeles / SERVO
# Hotel Prestige Forest, Barcelona, Spain / Cloud 9 Architecture
# Yas Hotel, Abu Dhabi, UAE / Asymptote
# Muscle ReConfigured + Interactive Wall, Delft, Netherlands / Hyperbody
# Digital Water Pavilion, Zaragoza, Spain / Carlo Ratti Associati.