algorithmic modeling for Rhino

Do you think a model or methodology flowchart for pre-rationalization of free-form facades could be a great help for designing architectural envelopes and facades?

This Model would include a series of decisions you can make while forming a facade and it would give you an overall limits in manufacturing industry to prevent over optimism of building technology. The model would lay out different types of glass and their manufacturing limitations, initial idea of connections and performance. The visual chart would give a good idea of what you want, what can be achieved and what will be their outcomes. The chart will provide the architect the knowledge of "questions" to answer and incorporate the solutions in the design to decrease post rationalization done by Facade Engineers. It would decrease the risk of having the shape changed due to post-rationalization.

Any comments to improve it will be much appreciated. Once the chart is complete it will be available for free.

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Replies to This Discussion

Hello Huzefa,

I would think the Construction and the Structure part are the most ignored ones, but I'm not sure if they really would change that much to the major design.




How would you read your chart if you are working on a planar quads tesselation of a doubly curved surface?

There are numerous different types of tessellations one can achieve which is not one of my interest, but one can decide in choosing the type tessellation to rationalize the double curve by thinking of the process to build it. A planar quad surface glazing and metal can be cold formed by bending on site, although in triangular connections cold form bend can cause greater stress in the planar material. I hope i understood the question correctly.

Sorry my question was unclear.

I was wondering if your interests.png was the beginning of a classification/categorization/hierarchy of problems, or a flowchart.

Reading it as a hierarchy:

Geometry->Surfaces->Curved->Double Curved  seems to be a different problem than Geometry->Framing->Space Grid->Tesselation->Quadrilateral

So reconciling Planar Quads and Doubly Curved Surfaces doesn't seem to be taken into account.

Reading it as a flowchart, I don't see a clear path for the same problem too.

Anyway, keep up the good work, I am just being annoying, your chart prototype seems pretty useable as it is.

Hi Systemiq,

I totally agree with you. The interest.png is not as clear with the inter connections of each other. Apologies. This was created as a mind map to lay down areas that could be taken into account in the initial stages. Rationalization with planar quad surfaces have been taken into account in the actual flowchart. Thank you. Which one of the area do you think is most ignored by architects in initial stages and may be a potential threat to major design changes in future?


I am a facade engineer too -previously being an architect, so similar background to you- and 70% of the projects I am currently working on deal with rationalization of complex geometries (practically 'panelization' in facades).

Your flowchart is very interesting indeed.

I have to disagree though is that the limits of the manufacturing industry are of a technical nature. At glass for example there are double curved triple-glazed IGUs, load bearing double glazed DGUs and transparent glass-steel composite brackets (!!!). With a rapidly populated menu of new materials (eg aramid reinforced GFRP -used at the Stedjelijk museum in Amsterdam to produce a seamless facade spanning more than 100m without a single movement joint(!!!)) the possibilities are endless.

Moreover, contractors/manufacturers are becoming rapidly more and more capable of producing complex geometries in almost all materials (even stone) and what is science fiction today will be completely normal tomorrow. See cold-bent glass for example (bending glass?? are you crazy??)

From my point of view the limitations are purely of economic nature, and the 'risk' you mention derives from a budget not complying with the current design. A single curved glass costs 2 times that of a flat glass, whereas a double curved glass costs 4 times more. However, it is more cost efficient if you have repetition of double curved units cladding a free-form shell than random single-curved units.

Adding too many limitations can also act as a boomerang. See the Emporia shopping mall, for example: it has one of the few trully double curved facades, where each glazing unit is unique in size and curvature. Cricursa built a mold for each glass. Amazingly expensive, yet the client coud pay for it. If the architects stood back and chose to triangulate their geometry, the result would be just another freeform triangulated facade.

My experience says that the risk is drastically reduced if architects have 4 keywords in their mind:
1) 'repetitive'
2) 'flat'
3) 'small', and..
4) logical

Logical again does not necessarily 'technically correct' since thiscannot be easily defined. This is very clear at your flowchart. For example, I was working at a project in Dubai where the architects wanted a fully glazed facade facing the south-west using low-iron glass. Completely illogical, of course, since this created a mini greenhouse with huge cooling loads, resulting at the introduction of a massive venetian-blind-like internal structure, destroying the whole esence of a 'transparent facade' which they were initially aiming for.

Hi Panagiotis,

Thank you for the constructive critique. Sorry for the late reply as i just read your comment. Its much appreciated. Its been a long journey researching for the work i am doing. I am currently working in at Laing O'Rourke facades. I did not know much when i took the quest for the flow chart for rationalization free form facades. The more i learnt, the more possibilities grew as i contacted Waagner Biro, Schlaich Bergermann und Partner, Arup, Wintech, Laing O'Rourke, Gehry technologies, Chris Williams, Cricursa, Film manufacturers and many more . I realized the decisions are more affected by the economics of the whole project. ( the Emporia shopping mall being one of the exceptions where i reckon Evolute extracted the panel data). Each project is unique and a generalized flowchart is difficult to build. Therefore i got more focused into making a flowchart for the construction of free form glass facades. I will send a copy of the the work i am doing in few weeks.

Great news Huzefa!
I would like to see the results of the work too.


I know you were making a generalization but I just had to throw in a cold-formed glass project for the record:  Strasbourg Railway Station, France






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