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10 Parametric Plugins Every Architect

Should Know About


Published on May 4, 2016

Arpan Bakshi Follow


Performance Evangelist

60

ParametricdesignisafastgrowingdevelopmentofCADthathelpsarchitectsspecify
keyparametersmakemodelchangesinteractively.Whenchangesaremadetherestof
themodelupdatesautomatically.Hereare10parametricpluginsyoushouldknow
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1. Grasshopper 3D
Grasshopper3Disagraphicalparametricformgeneratingtool,integratedinto
Rhinoceros3D.Itrequiresnopriorknowledgeofprogrammingandscriptingandstill
allowsthearchitects&designerstogeneratecomplexparametricforms.
Thedimensionsoftheformaresubjectedtoconstraintsandcaneasilybealteredby
slidingthevariousparametricslidersintheGrasshoppermodelspace.

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2. Ladybug (Environmental analysis)


AnopensourceparametricplugincalledLadybugisusedtosupportfurther
environmentalanalysisinsidetheRhinoceros/GrasshopperInterface.Ladybugimports
standardEnergyPlusWeatherfiles(.EPW)intoGrasshopper3Dandbringswithit,a
widevarietyof2Dand3Dinteractivegraphicstoconductaccurateenvironmental
studiesfortheformgenerationofthebuilding.Itsimplifiestheprocessofanalysisand
automatesthecalculations,whilstprovidingeasytounderstandgraphicalvisualizations
inthe3DmodelinginterfaceofGrasshopper.Itfurtherallowsuserstoworkwith
validatedenergyanddaylightingenginessuchasEnergyPlus,Radianceand
Daysim,effectivelyallowingtothearchitecttomakebetterdesignchoices.

3. Honeybee(Environmental analysis)
HoneybeeisanotherparametricpluginforGrasshopperwhichalsoconnects
Grasshopper3DtoEnergyPlus,Radiance,DaysimandOpenStudio,for
buildingenergyconsumption&daylightingsimulation.

4. Geco(Environmental analysis)
Gecoallowsonetoexportandactivelycollaborateeffectivelywithanothersoftware
calledEcotect,inorderevaluateonesdesignwithvarioustheperformancedata,which
Gecoagainmakespossibletoimporttheresultsasfeedback,backintoGrasshopper.
Now,Ecotectisavisualsoftwareforarchitects,whichenablesthemtotest
environmentalperformanceissuesandsimulatevariousenvironmentandclimatic
conditionsinordertodesignmoregreenandefficientparametricstructures.

5. Heliotrope-Solar(Environmental analysis)
ItisaGrasshopperpluginformanipulatinggeometrybasedonthedynamicpositionof
theSun.Thetoolcalculatestheapparentpositionofthesun(usingvectorphysics)at
specifieddatesandtimesoftheday,andusesthisdatatocomputeandprovideavariety
ofcomponentsforparametricallymanipulatingthedesignbasedonthepositionofthe
sunonthosespecifieddates.Itisusedtocreatesolarawaredesigns,todeducethe
positionofrenderinglights&todesignshadingdevicesforthestructure.

TheapplicationsofLadybug,Honeybee,Geco&HeliotropeSolar,inthe
Grasshopper3Denvironment,canbeextendedtogenerateresponsivearchitecture
(DynamicFacades),wherethebuildingenvelopesadapttonaturalsystems,suchasthe
dynamicmovementofthesun.Initially,thebuildingismodeledinRhino,orientedasit
istobebuiltintherealworld,andissubjectedtoavirtualSun,whichreplicatesthereal
lifeconditionsoftheSun.Itisthenanalyzedextensivelyatdifferenttimesoftheday,
withrespecttotheSunspath.Next,Grasshopper3Disusedtoparametricallygenerate
therequiredgeometryforthestructure,todeterminethesizeandorientationof
openingsandtogeneratevariousshadingdevicesandmechanisms,foreachpanel.
Thesepanelsopenandcloseinresponsetothesunspositionandfollowitsmovement
throughouttheday,inturnbringinginmorediffusedlight,causinglessheatgainand
glare,andmoreimportantly,cuttingthecostonairconditioningsystems,insidethe
building.GoodexamplesofbuildingswhichhaveimplementedthistechnologyareThe
AlBahrTowers(whichactastheAbuDhabiInvestmentCouncilHeadquarters),
designedbyAedasandArup,andTheArabWorldInstitute,locatedinParis,whichwas
designedbyJeanNouvel.Thepanelsactasaheatbuffer,andalsobringdowncarbon
emissionsbyreducingtheneedforairconditioningsystems,makingthebuilding
sustainable,balancedandgreen.

Theseenvironmentalanalysispluginsenablearchitectstobuildmuchmorebalanced,
greenandsustainablestructures,bycomingupwithvariousinnovationsonthefacades
toleveragetheexternalweatherconditionstothemaximum.Buildingenvelopesactas
interfacesbetweenthenaturalexteriorenvironmentandthecontrolledinterior
environment.Thevariationofformacrossthefaadeofabuilding,isnotfabricatedat
random,butratherismorphedandcontrolledparametrically,correspondingtothe
environmentaldata.
6. Kangaroo Physics (Structural Analysis)
StructuralEngineersusetheKangarooPhysicsplugininsideGrasshopperforinteractive
realsimulation,generatingform,optimizationandanalysisofstructuralcomponents
andconstraintintrospection.

7. Karamba(Structural Analysis)
ParametricdesignpluginslikeKaramba,definenewhorizonsinthefieldofstructural
engineering.Karambaisaninteractivestructuralanalysispluginintheparametric
environmentofGrashopper3D.Thispluginmakesitextremelysimpletocombine
parameterizedcomplexgeometricforms,loadcalculations,finiteelementanalysis,etc.
Itprovidesaccurateanalysisofspatialtrusses,framesandshellsattheearlydesign
stage.Theuserisabletocreatebasicpinjointedplanarsystems,fromwhichgraphic
staticsaregeneratedandanalyzed,tounderstandtheavailabledegreesoffreedomin
thesesystems,inordertoleveragethemstructurally.

8. BullAnt(Structural Analysis)

8. BullAnt(Structural Analysis)
ItisaGrasshopper3Dplugin,primarilyforArchitectsandEngineers.Itfeaturesunique
toolswhichenhanceandextendthecapabilitiesofparentprogram.Itfeaturesanarray
ofcommandsincludingmeshrelaxation&inflation,automationin
symmetry,tessellation,structuralanalysis(modelingandsketching)andparametric
generationinGrasshopper.Italsofeaturesgeodesicdome&curvenetworkprocessing.

9. Hummingbird(Structural Analysis)
ItexpandsGrasshopperscapabilitiesbyaddingasetofcomponentswhichhelpinthe
conversionandcreationofRevitfileswhichcontainsupportedgeometricalgorithmsfor
theRhinomodeledfile.Inotherwords,acomplexparametricallydesignedgeometry,
canbedesignedinaBIMsoftware,tomakethestructuremuchmorepractical,before
presentingorproposingit.Hummingbirdbasicallyallowsabidirectionalworkflowin
betweenAutodeskRevitandRhinoceros3D,removingtheneedtocreatereference
objects.Thisalsohelpsinbettervisualizingandanalyzingthestructuralcomponents
thataretocomeintothepicture.

10. Mantis(Structural Analysis)

10. Mantis(Structural Analysis)


MantisisapluginforgrasshopperwhichdirectlylinksRhinocerosandMathematica.
Mathematicaisatoolfortechnicalcomputing,usedbymathematicians,engineersand
analysts.Itisrenownedastheworldsbestapplicationforcomputations.

Structuralsystemsareformedbytheinterpretationoflines,curvesandpointsas
structuralelementsandforces,throughcustomcomponents.Allthedataanalyzedis
thenexportedfromRhinocerostoaFEM(FiniteElementMethod)analysissoftware
likeSOFiSTiK.Thesoftwareusesanumericaltechniqueforfindingapproximate
solutionstoboundaryvalueproblemsforpartialdifferentialequationsharnessedfrom
thepriorstructuralanalysis.Itbasicallybreaksdownacomplexproblemintosimpler
partsandthenbeginstocalculateandsolvethem.Thisparttowholeapproachtruly
eliminatesalargemarginoferrorandcomplimentsforamuchmoreaccuratestructural
analysis,aidinginamuchmorerobust,stableandbalancedparametricallydesigned
structure.
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Tagged in: design,computational modeling,bim

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Arpan Bakshi

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Claudio Vittori Antisari

1mo

BIM Manager at Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel

Nice Article, but it should be called 10 parametric plug-in for Rhino and Grasshopper :)
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Arpan Bakshi

1mo

Performance Evangelist

Agree, doesn't include Dynamo.


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Brian O'Mahony

1mo

Sustainability and Energy

It is good to see all these tools working together, it makes for good competition and innovation.
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