Soft Geometry

My group’s project was the study of soft geometry simulation and fabrication.  We used planes created in Rhino 5 and applied elements of the plug-ins Grasshopper and Kangaroo to create a fluid, free-form 3d form.

Two planar meshes were made in Rhino, and Grasshopper created a 3d tensile structure.  Through the use of Weaverbird and Kangaroo we created an interactive simulation, which took our planar mesh in grasshopper and made it into an undulating soft geometry.  At the end we paneled the geometry using weaverbird, which creates polygonal and triangular panels to make a structure that is actually feasible to build in the real world, allowing for more parametric control.  This is a very important process, as a designer can create anything on the computer, but whether it is actually feasible or not is the real question.  These tools would have been very useful to use on our first assignment when designing the walls and clouds for the Neihoff studio.  Below is an image of Weaverbird being used in the simulation.  The smaller the subdivisions are the smoother the mesh.

Our first goal was to learn exactly what the functions of grasshopper and kangaroo are. Kangaroo is a plug-in for Grasshopper that simulates forces and acts as a live physics engine for interactive simulation.  We used Kangaroo as one of the forces acting on the mesh.  A significant amount of time was spent trying out different combinations and figuring out how the springs and other forces affected the geometry.   Creating the basic mesh in Rhino and putting it into Grasshopper sets the mesh.  When creating the simulation you need Weaverbird to pull out all the edges, vertices and then plug those into the forces that you want.  In our simulation Weaverbird selected all the edges of the mesh and we plugged them into the springs panel and set the rest length to zero so that when the lines were relaxing they would get as close to zero as possible, then plugged that into force objects of kangaroo for the simulation.  Next Weaverbird selected all the vertices of the mesh and plugged them into unary forces which pulls from a point simulating gravity, which is crucial to the undulation of the geometry, then plugged that into the force objects part of the kangaroo also.

In the simulation, the mesh pulls away from the anchor points, which are fixed points distorting the original mesh. This process simulates the pull of gravity on an object. This reminds me of the parachute game played in elementary school gym classes, where the students are the fixed points and the parachute is the surface pulling away.

Another important part was to set the points of the mesh and plug them into the anchor points on kangaroo, so that when kangaroo does the simulation it sees the edges and vertices as the portions of the mesh with a force on them and the set of points as the fixed points which remain in place when the object is in motion.  This set of plug-ins to Rhino are a crucial part of how useful the program can be to parametric design.  I definitely think it would have been very beneficial to include learning these programs, even the tutorial we made into the beginning few weeks of class.  I know I definitely would have used this set of plug-ins in the design of the cloud for the Neihoff studio.

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