Duration: (4h pre-recorded online lectures + 20 online live sessions / 24 hours total)


Course Introduction

"Computational design is the intersection of art, science and technology. It allows us to synthesize multiple variables and generate elegant solutions that are efficient, sustainable, and aesthetically captivating." - Elizabeth Diller

In a context of rapid technological innovation and change, it is essential to acquire digital skills to develop innovative ideas and design efficient and sustainable solutions. This course provides the foundations for exploring the potential of computational design and its implications in contemporary architecture. Indeed, parametric design is not just an excuse to generate complexity, it allows the designer to create harmony between form and function.

Architecture is not only about beauty and functionality; it is above all about the ability to imagine and create a better future. The use of computational design allows us to explore complex and adaptive forms, accelerate the formal research process, manage large volumes of design data and automate interoperability between different tools. Softwares such as Rhino and Grasshopper overcome the limitations of traditional CAD drafting and 3D modelling. Expertise of these tools will enable students to broaden their horizons with tools that allow them to explore new possibilities, challenge conventional practices and create architecture that are in tune with our times.

Course Objectives

1. Didactics
The course is divided into 8 modules. For each module there will be a follow-up exercise to consolidate the topics covered. The first part will focus on the Rhinoceros software and the main modelling techniques in the world of architectural design, from concept to visualisation, from generation to geometry management.

The second part will introduce students to algorithmic modelling using the integrated Grasshopper plug-in, which provides a visual programming environment for creating complex parametric models. Its flexibility and ease of use will allow them to quickly explore different design solutions, enabling them to manipulate parameters and get immediate feedback on the consequences of the changes made. Case studies and practical applications will provide students with a solid foundation for tackling the design challenges ahead.

2. Skills
During the course, students will have the opportunity to acquire a wide range of basic parametric design skills. The first step will be to learn how to interact with the software interface and customise it to suit their needs. They will then be able to set up models and use the main geometry creation modes. They will develop the ability to extract 2D information and drawings from 3D models and learn how to automate the design table layout process and collaborate on the development of a single model. They will also be introduced to the production of effective diagrammatic visualisations using display modes and rendering using Enscape.

Participants will then explore techniques for generating geometry through algorithms, starting with points, lines and meshes, through to mathematical representations of geometry such as curves and NURBS surfaces. They will train to work with complex data structures, vectors, planes and fields. They will progress to kinetic façade design, interactive simulation, dynamic form finding and optimisation techniques.

3. Development
Students will gain an innovative perspective based on the adoption of a generative design process, moving away from the traditional static modelling approach. They will master the skills necessary to produce the material required for the presentation and realisation of an architectural project. At the end of the course, participants will be planners and designers aware of the potential of contemporary architecture, ready to contribute to the technological process of the sector and to design increasingly efficient and sustainable architecture.

The Structure

The course spans a total amount of 24 hours, distributed between 4 hours of pre-recorded lectures and 20 hours conducted interactively through live sessions online on the Uninettuno e-learning platform.

The Digital & Parametric Design schedule includes approximately 3 hours of face-to-face lectures each week, divided in modules as below. Each lesson is characterized by a first theoretical part on the main tecniques of parametric modelling and a second part of tutorials and practical excercises.
PD01 - Introduction to parametric design and Rhinoceros 

The first lesson will quickly introduce the history and evolution of the Grasshopper tool , with examples of its application within some cutting-edge realities, then it will continue with a first contact with Rhinoceros , one of the most widely used 3D modelling software in architectural design.

1 Unit - Computational design tools, history and state of the art

2 Unit - Rhino Introduction: File setup, tool interface, model navigation and base operations

3 Unit - Rhino Geometries and Interoperability: Nurbs curves and surfaces, Meshes, Blocks, Teamworking features
PD02 - Rhinoceros architectural workflow 

The second lesson will focus on the main export operations of graphic material such as screenshots for architectural diagrams, axonometries, plans, paged sections and elevations, and real time rendered visualisation tools for studio views.

1 Unit - Rhino Views: Views setup, Display modes, Export dwg and High-Resolution Visuals,

2 Unit - Rhino Layouts: Layout setup, View Planes, Sections and printing scaled Layouts

3 Unit - Rhino Visualization: Real time rendering tools, settings, assets and best practices.
PD03 - Introduction to Grasshopper Environment and Basics

This module will be the first introduction of Grasshopper, students will go through the general functioning and customisation of the interface, and then introduce some basic mathematical principles that will be useful during the rest of the course, then we will have a first interactive application exercise.

1 Unit - Grasshopper Introduction: Interface, components and data types, customization

2 Unit - Grasshopper Geometries: base operations, NURBS geometries, object referencing and generating in Rhinoceros

3 Unit - Practice: Modelling a parametric bridge
PD04 - Grasshopper’s plugins

In this lesson, the skills of controlling lists and data structures within Grasshopper will be explored, and further elements of advanced algebra such as planes and vectors, domains will be introduced, concluding with a case study relevant to the topics seen, with an interactive application exercise.

1 Unit - Grasshopper Data Structures: Lists behaviour and data tree operations

2 Unit - Grasshopper Math: Vectors, planes, numerical domains, gradients

3 Unit - Practice: Modelling of a parametric pavilion
PD05 - Adaptive Façade Modeling 

In this lesson students will focus on the main modelling and control methods for a classical, adaptive parametric façade, and discover how to integrate principles such as solar radiation and environmental comfort into the façade design using the LadyBug plugin.

1 Unit - Grasshopper Facade: Exploring panelization methods using the Lunchbox plugin

2 Unit - Grasshopper Ladybug: Extracting environmental Information and applying it to shape generation

3 Unit - Case Study: kinetic facade for a Tower
PD06 - Data Organization for Interoperability and Advanced Animations

In this module students will explore methods for controlling and sharing the information contained in the models for the different occurrences, and in conclusion an example of animation.

1 Unit - Grasshopper Data import: Model updating methods, Excel data extrapolation and modelling application.

2 Unit - Grasshopper Data export: Manipulation and Excel export, metric calculation sampling

3 Unit - Grasshopper Animations: Static turntable and dynamic turntable, Horster plugin

4 Unit - Grasshopper Fabrication Practice: Modelling techniques for laser cutting or elements calculation
PD07 - Physic Simulations in Architecture with Kangaroo

This lecture will investigate the concept of catenary, compression-only structures, their applications in the field of architecture, and how to simulate real behaviours through Kangaroo algorithms, a live physics engine.

1 Unit - Grasshopper Physics and Architecture: catenary inversion in structures

2 Unit - Grasshopper Kangaroo Simulations: how to use GH to simulate physics in Rhino 

3 Unit - Case Study Application: thin vault pavilion 
PD08 - Parametric Design in Sport Facilities Architecture

The final module will explore the application of data tree analysis on a practical example working on sports facilities. Starting from choosing correct parameters, we will build a working script which will provide different final output led by chosen input.

1 Unit - Lecture on: Understanding the relationship between form, function, and compliance with design standards

2 Unit - Practical guidance on: creating, manipulating, and optimizing geometries based on predefined parameters using Grasshopper's computational capabilities

3 Unit - Practice: Application of the acquired skills to create multiple iterations and explore different aesthetic and functional possibilities

Course Leader

Giacomo Righi- Building Engineer and Architect

Giacomo Righi Grimaldi is an engineer and computational designer, working at Mario Cucinella Architects in Milano. He graduated in Building Engineering - Architecture at the Faculty of Bologna with a master’s thesis entitled 'Tubular assemblage', an architectural system based on a self-organized assemblage of adaptive tubular elements, that recreates architecture by condition of growth. His designs were shown at the exhibition 'This 1s n0t 4rchitecture' and published in the related publication. He also worked as an academic tutor at the Alma Mater Studiorum in Bologna, assisting Professor Alessio Erioli in the Architectural Composition III workshop. During graduation, he worked as intern for WASP, an Italian 3D printing company, pioneer of the architectural scale of 3D printing technologies. He participated to the 2020 edition of digitalFuturesWORLD workshop series, organized by masters of computational design such as Gilles Retsin and Kevin Saey. Since 2020 he has been working at Mario Cucinella Architects firm as computational designer and BIM specialist.
Leader: Giacomo Righi Grimaldi