Posted by on Jan 24, 2017 in design computation, student work | No Comments

UNM School of Architecture and Planning student Helen Alexandra just had her work feature on VICE’s The Creators Project. Check out the featured images on this page or read the article here.

Beautiful work Helena!


Posted by on May 11, 2016 in conferences, design computation | No Comments

Aaron Brakke is a friend of mine through the EGS, and he’s put together a pretty incredible conference. The Digital Reveal is in Columbia, so it’s already got that going for it, but it also features a speakers list that includes Michael Hensel, Sean Ahlquist, SOFTlab, and Marc Fornes… which is pretty impressive. Submit all the things and get to Bogota.

More info ::here::.


Posted by on Jul 9, 2015 in design computation | No Comments


Achim Menges just finished his fifth ICD / ITKE Pavilion, his third in carbon fiber. As always, Achim utilizes a biomemetic strategy as the driver of the pavilion’s design, in this case he borrows from the weaving technique of the Diving Bell Spider. The Diving Bell lives underwater and to facilitate breathing it creates web-reinforced air bubbles. These bubbles served as the model for the ETFE / carbon fiber pavilion, utilizing a pneumatic framework for the strands.

What’s particularly notable about this year’s pavilion vs previous years, is the design of the robot itself. A Kuka arm was modded to not only place fiber and resin / glue in place, but also to respond to the deformations of the pneumatic formwork in real time. The structure is efficient and formally compelling, but the architectural team modifying a fabrication robot to this degree is the real innovation. Achim keeps setting the bar extremely high for the rest of us…

More about the 2015 ICD / ITKE Pavilion here.

EGS Digital Design / Architecture PhD Lineups Announced

Posted by on Mar 12, 2015 in European Graduate School | No Comments

EGS - PhD - Digital Design - Architecture Urbanism 2015 - APPLY NOW-1
Last summer I was lucky enough to attend the inaugural semester of the European Graduate School’s Digital Design PhD program. The EGS is well known for it’s philosophy / media & communications program, which has featured instructors like Slavlov Zizek, Jean Baudrillard, and Paul Virilio- Manuel De Landa is not only a former instructor, but an alumnus as well. The Digital Design program featured the jaw-dropping lineup of Neil Leach, Ben Bratton, Achim Menges, Patrik Schumacher, John Frazier, & Alisa Andrasek- and is bringing them all back next summer. The second year lineup will include Philip Beesley, Mark Burry, Vinca Kruk and Daniel van der Velden from Metahaven, Casey Reas, Rem Koolhaas, Sanford Kwinter and François Roche- so obviously I’m stoked. They’ve also introduced an Architecture and Urbanism PhD, which will feature some of the names already mentioned along with Keller Easterling.

The program is not just unique for its faculty but also for its format- each class is three days with two three-hour lectures. Every night there is a presentation by one of the faculty that’s open to all of the programs, so it’s remarkably intense. The entire “semester” is packed into 3 weeks, but was more productive than some semesters I had in grad school. The program was completely catalytic for my own work, and I could not recommend it enough… and that’s before you get to the fact that it’s located in Saas-Fee, the “Pearl of the Swiss Alps.”

The EGS is starting to post the lectures from last summer, I’ll be posting them here as well as documenting my experience this summer. Feel free to hit me up with questions on the comments below.

Parametric Urbanism Final Projects

NataliaCundari_bike accident
South Lake Union Bike Accidents by Natalia Cundari

In last summer’s Parametric Urbanism seminar we looked at how social media could be aggregated to better understand urban behavior. Using the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle, the students looked at everything from MapMyRun paths to Flickr hashtags. The information was gathered and positioned with Grasshopper plugins Elk, gHowl, Mosquito and Lunch Box and exported to Google Earth. Some of the projects are embedded below, please note that for many of them you will have to pan down to see the information.

**Please note: The GEarthHacks plugin seems to work best with Google Chrome. There may be loading issues with older browsers.

Urban Tribes / Hyper-Local By Sophie Brasfield
An investigation into local subcultures through searching for keywords on Google Maps reviews and proprietor websites, then mapping the aggregation of these keywords.
Hypothesis: Amazon will not kill small business, it will change it however. What’s left after the internet? Places that offer an experience.



South Lake Union Recreation by Dale Lusk
This file uses MapMyRun data to map the aggregation of running routes in South Lake Union. Highways are described as barriers, parks described as nodes, and paths mapped between them. The paths stack, growing wider, taller, and with more color information based off of how many people use them.

Flickr Moods by Zhu Zhu and Stevie Hartman
The lines are the collection of different moods. (the sad mood line is composed of sad mood points; the happy mood line is composed of happy mood points etc.)
Metaball are used to show the density of the mood points too.


happy, joyful, fun, interesting, beautiful, elegant, surprised …
Negative (blue):
sad, cry, tear, depressed, angry, suck, disgusting…..

Craigslist Flotsam by Catherine Harris
South Lake Union is a man shaped lake with filled in marsh land and extensive dredging mostly accomplished in the early 20th Century. I became interested in the idea of flotsam — those items that wash up on shore, as an index of human presence in South Lake Union.
I looked on craigslist and found all the items people were selling in a particular 24 hour period. I then filtered for items which included a google map. Then I took those items and found their geo coordinates and placed a marker in google earth. I also used those geo coordinates to generate a metaball geometry through gHowl and Grasshopper, which mapped centers of intensity, by creating a dome like structure reflecting the numbers of contiguous or nearby points.

I used a nearest point mapping module in Grasshopper to take a tracing of the two most near coastlines, the southern shore of South Lake Union and the nearest ocean front and from those two lines, generated a series of possible lines to form the shortest distances between the two shorelines. This mapping is only possible because of the early 20th Century removal of Denny Hill, which was leveled to create the current topography of South Lake Union. Thus the land can be seen as transiently in its current angle of repose.

The conjunction of these two forms, projected on a Google Earth mapping of South Lake Union, gives a reading of the marginalized material goods and their potential trajectories.

Grocery Situation in South Lake Union by Michael Salinas
An investigation into food accessibility in South Lake Union, articulated by geometric aggregations and separations in an attempt to define a range of grocery territory.

All Google Earth Embeds powered by Google Earth Hacks.

Intro To Grasshopper

Posted by on Nov 5, 2012 in design computation, grasshopper, software | No Comments

image of MATSYS’s P-BALL

Grasshopper is a fairly tricky program to learn. It’s very easy to spin your wheels and end up in a dark hole, lost and confused, wondering what it actually can do… I teach several classes oriented around GH but I always have curious students approaching me and asking how they can get started. This is a series of tutorials, some mine, some by other people that should be able to get you up and running pretty quickly.






Thanks to Dave and Steve of DESIGNREFORM for producing such exceptional content… you guys created the standard for GH instructional viddys.

Yatsuaki Onishi’s Reverse of Volume

Posted by on Oct 15, 2012 in Art, Form Finding, Installations | No Comments




Yatsuaki Onishi’s Reverse Of Volume was a remarkable installation at the Rice Gallery last summer. Onishi piled cardboard boxes on top of each other to provide the frame work for delicate plastic wrap, which was affixed to the ceiling by thousands of strands of black hot wax. The result is a incredible envelope, enabled by a form finding process through imprecise elements. It’s an incredible process, and both of the videos here are very much worth watching.

from ::iso50

ModeLab workshop

Posted by on Feb 13, 2012 in design computation | No Comments

I was lucky enough to take ModeLab’s Grasshopper workshop at Woodbury over the weekend. The class was fantastic- informative, interesting, and a really acute insight into ModeLab’s methodology.

Even though both Ronnie and Gill, ModeLab’s principals, were frequently apologetic for the fast pace, I was very impressed by the amount of deliberation they used and their thoroughness in introducing Grasshopper and computational design techniques. Most of the exercises we did were more scaled-down versions of the AutoTower (images above) project they feature on their site. Starting with simple lines and relationships we remapped this information on surfaces and generated more surfaces and linework. One of the most interesting parts of the workshop was using their ModeTools, a series of C+ scripts written for them by Giulio Piacentino of Weaver Bird, which allows you to bake color information and line thickness into Rhino. This allows these characteristics of the linework to be parametrically driven, increasing the ability for Grasshopper to be utilized as a drawing tool.

Check out ModeTools here and Giulio’s latest version of bakeAttributes here.

P&A Lab’s Swarmy

Posted by on Jan 26, 2012 in design computation | No Comments

P&A Lab (P-AND-A Lab) has creating a really interesting process, titled “Swarmy”, for generating particle dynamics with Processing and porting that information through gHowl into Grasshopper. If that sentence doesn’t make sense, that might actually be a good sign…

If you haven’t heard of Processing, it’s a really interesting programming language that handles design computation design workflows extremely well and then interacts with other environments really smoothly. While there are a lot of programs that can create interesting generative computations and analysis, Processing is gainly a lot of steam because of it’s ability to integrate with so many other platforms (websites, animations, 3D modeling programs) so easily.

gHowl is a great component for Grasshopper that lets Grasshopper receive information from other programs. This ability to take a live computation from Processing and use it to generate form is one of the really interesting components of P&A Lab’s investigation.

The other interesting thing about Swarmy is the use of Weaver Bird. Weaver Bird is another component for Grasshopper that allows the creation of very complex, precise subdivided meshes. These meshes are an interesting alternative to other 3D objects, like NURBS surfaces, because their digital structure is reflective of their curvature. NURBS surfaces are constructed as an interpolation between curves, and their structure is a homogenous UV grid between those datums. A subdivided mesh allows the number of divisions and shape of the divisions to be reflective of the curvature, creating a more precise and manipulatable 3D object.

christmas comes early this year… YSYT MEL scripting on sale

Posted by on Dec 6, 2011 in scripts | No Comments

I first mentioned nick pisca’s YSYT MEL scripting book almost three years ago, and today it’s still as good and even cheaper. winterlab readers can get 30% off by using WINTERSAVE305 in the coupon code here