» Activities » Summer School Rijeka 2012 » Workshops Rijeka 2012 » Organic Code: Parametric design principles

Organic Code: Parametric design principles

Instructed by Daniel Lordick

Biological structures are an inspiration for architectural forms and at the same time a model for coding. The workshop participants explored this topic, generated structures and surfaces and fabricated models within a digital workflow.


Parametric modelling is the integration of programming technics into the design process. This means both, the use of specific software and the development of new concepts. With parametric modelling the design team can manage highly complex design tasks with high precision, generate design variations in real time, review the project with extraordinary flexibility and speed, and directly trigger the industrial production routines towards custom manufacturing.

The workshop Organic Code wanted to give a brief introduction into the parametric design principles and at the same time give the students the experience to go all the way from the coding to the production of the final model.

Structure and content of the class

In the class we started with the analysis of the formation and structure of biological objects. We tried to extract the essential ideas by sketching. We then transferred selected approaches into Grasshopper definitions. This was the chance for everyone to individually learn Grasshopper from the scratch. While working on various tasks the students got in touch with very different tools (components) and achieved the skills to later develop their own definitions. As a side effect, with the model biology we introduced the concepts of morphogenesis and self-organization into design – a bottom-up approach.

In a second step the students explored the potentials and adaptability of the created definitions in individual projects. The favourite applications were non-rational representations of freeform surfaces with the help of grid structures, a rather popular request. With a previously built definition the students extracted slices from the digital model, arranged it in the xy-plane, marked it with automated text and numbers and exported it to a format suitable for laser cutting. Then the models were laser cut by a cameo laser and finally assembled.

Outcomes and Outlook

The workshop Organic Code was a short introduction into parametric design. The participants managed to model surfaces and to produce models of their designs with a laser cutter. For this aim they established a production chain for slicing surfaces into orthogonal lattice parts. The used Grasshopper definitions were built from scratch during the workshop hours. One participant (Maja Ilic from Banja Luka) developed the definition even further and generated a chair-like object with a much more sophisticated building structure.

This workshop demonstrated that it is possible to introduce the philosophy of visual programming within Grasshopper in a rather short period. The concept of analysing biological models in the beginning was highly appreciated as a source of inspiration and an approach to the bottom-up philosophy of programming. Classes like this can help to introduce students to the potentials of programming and to broaden their ability to exploit the power of computational design.

More about this Workshop

Material, Outcome and Links

Grasshopper: Definition Box with Holes
zip 725.93 kB
Grasshopper: Definition Distribute onto surface
zip 369.14 kB
Grasshopper: Definition tube sponge
zip 291.84 kB
Grasshopper: Definition Rib structure
zip 435.8 kB
Grasshopper: Definition workshop starter
zip 335.16 kB
Grasshopper: Definition Voronoi random
zip 166.6 kB
Grasshopper: Chair Definition by Maja Ilic
zip 5.51 MB
Cameolaser | Franz Hagemann GmbH & Co. KG

Impressions of the Workshop

Instructor of the Course

Daniel Lordick

Daniel Lordick


Technical University Berlin

Institute for Architecture | Chair for Architectural Visualization and Design

Mail: daniel.lordick@tu-berlin.de


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