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ARCH 272 - From Parametric Design to Digital Fabrication

The Ohio State University Knowlton School of Architecture Winter 2008 Instructor E-mail Office hours Location Group A: T 10:30 -11: 48, Group B: T 12: 00 - 1:18 Aurel von Richthofen Wednesday 10:30 12:00 KN 0430

Course Description This seminar introduces strategies of parametric design - through the means of scripting and editing - feeding into methods of digital fabrication. Standing at the merger of a holistic computational design approach, parametric design and digital fabrication are two faces of the same medal. While recent advances in coding and scripting empower architects to write their own software, digital fabrication seamlessly communicates their design to machines and robots. To orchestrate the organization and flux of information from a written code to a physical model is the aim of this joint seminar From Parametric Design to Digital Fabrication. Understanding that both parts will mutually reinforce each other this seminar will be co-taught by Aurel von Richthofen teaching parametric design and Matt Bernhard teaching digital fabrication. A primary set of tools will offer an introduction to parametric design generating geometries for fabrication. We will understand, manipulate and produce a series of codes (rhinoscripts) in a 3D modeler (rhino) and use these codes to generate complex geometries and prepare them for digital fabrication in the lab. Each tool in digital fabrication has a specific range of operation (size, scale, direction, material to use, etc). This range will delimit the output of the parametric design part to a set of feasible options. These options will then be prepared for and tested in the digital fabrication lab. Parametric design and digital fabrication will reinforce each other through aforementioned constraining parameters; the first opening up a field of potentials, the second narrowing down possible solutions. In that sense, architects are to a lesser degree designers, than editors of scripts and parameters, orchestrating geometries and, ultimately, working towards a non-standard understanding of design. Structure - Parametric design The seminar is structured around 10 lecture-seminars taught by Aurel on Tuesdays in conjunction with hands-on digital lab sessions and fabrication taught by Matt on Thursdays. These classes will gradually lead towards an understanding and control of

more complex scripts, geometries and fabricated models. Each class combines a scripting and design method with an appropriate digital manufacturing technique. The scripting class (Aurel) will run for Group A on Tuesdays 10:30 -11: 48 and for Group B on Tuesdays 12: 00 - 1:18. The fabrication class (Matt) will run for Group B on Thursdays 10:30 -11: 48 and for Group A on Thursdays 12: 00 - 1:18. Students will pair up in teams of two and share the responsibility for their project. While a basic knowledge of Rhino or a similar 3D environment is expected, no previous experience in scripting is required. A simple code paragraph will be given each class that can be inserted into working code syntax. Each paragraph contains variables and parameters to explore and test for its specific range and output geometries. The seminar will be taught in the Schools digital design lab KN430 on windows PCs running the latest build of Rhino, the Rhino-script plug-in, the script compiler Monkey and the windows (dot).net framework. The screen will be split in three areas to show the Rhino main window, Rhino help window for reference and command lines, and the script compiler Monkey to edit and test scripts. Structure - Digital fabrication (see Matt Bernhards syllabus) Requirements Punctual attendance to every single class is mandatory. The instructors need to be informed ahead and in a timely manner of any conflicts in schedule. A full commitment to the task at hand is expected, no surfing, email or other course work is allowed during class. All assignments are expected to be completed by the due date. This is even more important since each individual parametric design project feeds into the digital fabrication part of this co-taught seminar. Assignments are due in form of printed layouts, graphically demonstrating the script (text lines with explanation) and its geometrical output (drawings, models, renderings), as well as screen captures of running scripts into movie files. You will gradually build up a library of scripts that need to be archived for future reference. The same attention is expected for the digital fabrication models (see Matt Bernhards syllabus). Remember that scripting and fabrication will form the basis of the final presentation of your projects. Grading Having four assignments, each assignment will count for 25% of the final grade. Points will be deducted for late or incomplete work. Points will also be deducted for work that is not finely crafted according to the specifications of the assignment. Points may be deducted from one member of a team if they are not attempting to share the workload equally with their partner. There may be opportunities for extra credit.

Schedule Introduction Introduction to strategies of parametric design and methods of digital fabrication. Reading: Wolfram, S.: A new kind of science; Reiser, Jesse: Computation in a supersaturated milieu, Atlas of novel tectonics Session 1 Points and fields: Introduction to the scripting environment in rhino, explanation of code syntax and simple manipulations. Advanced vector translations, application of vectors in specific zones within point clouds. Reading: Allen, Stan: Practice; Banham, Reyner: Theory and design in the first machine age Exercise 1 Input: Script vectorfield.rvb; generic point cloud Reading: David Rutten pp.2-25 Output: Vectorfield model, visual documentation in print and screen capture movie Project 1 Input: Script 3D_vectorfield.rvb; specific point cloud Reading: David Rutten pp. 26-33 Output: Complex vectorfield model, presentation of code and drawings on panels and screen capture movie. Digital fabrication: Laser-cutting and etching of lines into transparent acrylic, solid laser-cut contour model. Session 2 Lines, knots and networks: Revision of scripting techniques, introduction of arrays and loops in scripting, parsing of pointcloud in 1 dimension. Special attention will be given to the edge condition. Reading: Kipnis, Jeffrey: Towards a new architecture; Kwinter, Sanford: The computational fallacy; Wigley, Marc: Network fever; Sanders, P.: Nonlinearity: What it is and why it matters Exercise 2 Input: Script proximity_network.rvb; sample sector from vectorfield (Project 1) Reading: David Rutten pp. 34-45 Output: Network taxonomy models, catalogue of knots, visual documentation in print and screen capture movie Project 2 Input: Script proximity_network.rvb; total vectorfield from Project 1 Reading: David Rutten pp. 46-86 Output: Network model, presentation of code and drawings on panels and screen capture movie. Digital fabrication: Stereolithic network model (3D plotter), egg-crate laser-cut model.

Session 3 Surfaces, skins and folds: Revision of arrays and loops, introduction to conditional coding if-then, true-false, nested loops. Introduction to surface patterns. Reading: Delanda, Manuel: Non organic life, Open source; Haraway, Donna: Cyborg Manifesto; Dali, Salvador: Aerodynamics, apparitions, beings, objects Exercise 3 Input: Script loft_array.rvb, Sample Line Network from Project 2 Output: Membrane model, visual documentation in print and screen capture movie Project 3 Input: Script loft_array.rvb, Line Network from Project 2 Output: Membrane model, presentation of code and drawings on panels and screen capture movie. Digital fabrication: CNC milled model, 3D foam cutter model. Session 4 You Pick Two: Creation of volumes and bodies through combination of previous scripting techniques, combinatory intelligence, flow management, editorial criteria, revision of conditions, introduction to volumetric strategies in parametric design. Reading: Lynn, Greg: Multiplicity and inorganic bodies; Leach, Neil: Swarm tectonics Exercise 4 Input: previous scripts and geometries Output: Nested geometries, double sided surfaces, volumes and bodies. Digital fabrication: Combination of two previously learned techniques; exploration of a specific aspect of a previously acquired technique including tracing and tooling, material constraints, unfolding and folding of surfaces. Final Presentation 4 Elaborate 3D model, presentation of code (text), drawings, renderings on panels, screen capture movie. Digital fabrication: Complex composite model


Intro Session 1

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3


Jan Jan Jan

3 8 15

Matt + Aurel Aurel Matt Aurel Matt Aurel Matt Aurel Matt Aurel Matt Aurel Matt

Introduction to parametric design and fabrication Intro to Scripting - From Points to Fields: Vectors, Rhino to Laser, extracting information Deep Vectors, Exercise 1 due Laser Model Lines and Knots: Networks, Project 1 due Rhino to Stereolythic Logic Network Fever - Edge Condition, Exercise 2 due Stl model Skins and Folds: Surfaces, Project 2 due Rhino on the Mill Surface Patterns: Exercise 3 due CNC Router Modell Thick Surfaces: Volumes and Bodies, Project 3 due You Pick two: Constraints and Exaltations of CNC Combination Combinatory Intelligence, Exercise 4 due Composite Model No class studio reviews No class studio reviews

Session 2

Week 4 Week 5

Jan Jan

22 29

Session 3

Week 6 Week 7

Feb Feb

5 12

Session 4

Week 8




Aurel Matt Aurel Matt

Week 9 Week10

Feb Mar Mar

26 4 6

Final Review




Matt + Aurel

Final Review Groups A+B

Usefull resources online for Rhinoscripting: Rutten, David: Rhinoscripting 101: Rhino Wiki: Stylianos Dritsas: Design Scripting Library: Kings of rhinoscripting and fabrication David Ruttens homepage: Andrew Kudless: Marc Fornes: Roland Snooks: