Final Post // ARCH 380

Wow, I can’t believe that this is the end of ARCH 380! I have come so far in the last ten weeks in terms of my skills and understanding with Rhinoceros, Grasshopper, and V-Ray. I used a lot of these skills in my final project, which I rendered using V-Ray. Here are the results from my first rendering session with my Rhino model:

perspective 2 (2) perspective 1 (2) old section render

As you can see, the speckling images from a lower quality gives them a rough feel, but I loved the dramatic lighting in these first few.The section perspective has great warm soft lighting, and the sky was perfect for what I wanted.

For my final, I rendered everything again to make it look smoother, and then used Photoshop to emphasize color, an important aspect of our project. I didn’t use Rhino materials because of how specific the colors were to the project and the overall poster, but the images were very easy to overlay. Here are the base renders using V-Ray alone:

perspective 1 perspective 2 section perspective render

The bluish cast of the lighting was intentional – my colours were blue-violet, so the lighting really helped to emphasize that. Here are the edited images:

perspective 1 with color   perspective 2 with colorrendered image

As you can see, the color and editing helps to bring out the shadows and light in the images.

Overall, I am really excited about how much I learned in this class. I feel as though I have really expanded my skills in Rhino.

Just as a quick review, here is some response questions for the class:

Are you more comfortable designing with pencil or on the computer?

– This is a tough question. For basic concepts for designs, I think I will always be more comfortable designing with a pencil or a model. Basic concepts, in my opinion, need to be tactically expressed. I find the computer asks for too much information for that – it needs dimensions, and technicalities when designing with it, which is not needed with clay or cardboard or a basic sketch.

However, I think that when your concept is solid, and you are making adjustments, working with structure, and generally just making smaller changes that are not a huge shift in a design, the computer is so much faster and simpler. You can make so many more variations in a much shorter period of time, which can be a huge advantage if you are trying to test things out.  Rendering is especially helpful when trying to find material schemes, and parametric modeling is really excellent when working with structural systems, as was seen in our truss experimentation.

How do you like maintaining a Blog?  Might you do so again in the future?

I have blogged before (, so this was not an entirely new concept for me. I am a strong believer in blogging, as I believe that reflection upon work done is one of the best ways to understand what you really gained from a task. I absolutely will blog in the future. It’s a fantastic learning tool for a variety of styles of classes, and is a great way for teachers to interact with their students about their progress. I think that for this class, it was great to see how other students did their work. I think in the future the class could benefit from more interaction between students on their blogs, such as commenting, etc.

What is your comfort level with Rhino 5 for modelling tasks?

I feel confident using Rhino 5. Although I do not consider myself an expert yet, I can model most things and if I can’t I know how to find tutorials (or my peers) that will help me to figure it out. I think that one of the most beneficial things I got out of this class was in fact learning how to efficiently create topography, something I have struggled with since starting architecture school. I also feel like I was constantly learning new useful commands which have already been extremely helpful in studio.

How comfortable are you with rendering in Rhino using Vray?

– I am not entirely comfortable with V-Ray for Rhino yet, as I believe I need a bit more practice with it. Figuring out how to use the Rhino sun was extremely helpful this quarter. I look forward to using it more, as I am finally starting to get a grasp on how to use the camera, environment, etc. parts of the options menu for V-Ray. I think that my new struggles will come from trouble-shooting – if something isn’t working, it still takes me a while to figure it out and fix it, if I am able to do that at all. However, I am pretty good at finding necessary trouble-shooting sites that have helped me with these issues. It’s also been wonderful having more experienced peers help me out, as they are the easiest and best tools to interact with.

What do you think about Grass Hopper? – Can you imagine using it in studio?

– Grasshopper is a great tool, if just a bit advanced for what I need right now in my education I think it is wonderful for repetition elements and systems of trusses or other structural elements, but I’m not entirely convinced I am faster with it yet. Like V-Ray, I still have some problems trouble-shooting, and because the issues are often so specific, it’s harder to figure out how to fix them.

I can see myself using some of the basic elements like trusses that I have already created in the future for studio projects, which is wonderful. However I’m not sure at what point it will become useful for actual design, expect for when creating repetitive structure or architectural elements. I really enjoyed designing the set of drawers, so I can see it’s appeal in creating things in Rhino.

How did this course fulfill your expectations -or not.  From your own point of view, what should be added or deleted.

I feel as though this course taught me a lot about Rhino, which is what I really wanted out of it. The videos were top notch. I do wish that perhaps we had spent a bit less time on Grasshopper, and more time on V-Ray. I feel as though rendering is really important in the world of architecture, and having a class that focuses more on it would be really helpful. Whether that is the job of this class or a different one might be another consideration. I also think that maybe splitting up the work load into twice-weekly assignments might be helpful, in terms of spacing out the work a bit more. (This does NOT mean more work, just getting it done in a more spaced out amount of time means that it interferes less with the rest of our classes…meaning studio.)

Are you more confident about using computers in architecture than before you took this class?

Absolutely. I feel as though my skills using computers for architecture have definitely improved. I feel comfortable putting Rhinoceros on my resume now, which I definitely wouldn’t have done before this class! I’m excited to put these skills to work in my other classes.


Rob, thank you for teaching this class. I feel as though you were really good at helping us to understand these programs. I especially found your videos helpful, as they were a great pace and really easy to follow along with.

Kya J. Kennett, signing off.


Week Nine // Rendering with V-Ray

Week9_Interior1_Kennett  Week9_Interior2_Kennett Week9_Exterior2_Kennett  Week9_Exterior1_Kennett

This week I created renderings of my water park using V-ray for Rhino.

I really struggled with these images, but overall I feel as though I learned a lot from doing them. It took my over 8 hours to create them, as I had a hard time with shadows and the computes kept crashing.

Following the video tutorials, I was able to use the Rhino sun (something I had been unable to use before, and am excited to finally be able to do so) to set the lighting for each of these scenes. I used basic materials with the Rhino material editor to add color, gloss, reflection, and transparency to my architectural elements. I added some water by rendering a patched surface to be blue and transparent, from a curve I took off of each of the pools. To create the glass pavilion over my curving pool, I figured out how to create a material using V-Ray (thanks Bryant!!) and then was able to render it so that shadows showed through. When using Rhino materials I found that it would only be transparent one way.

Using the sun with V-Ray was really frustrating, as at first my images were extremely bright, and then when I got them to be less bright they lost all of their shadows. In order to render effectively, it is necessary to really play with the settings to get the best possible outcome. Even after these were rendered I did some Photoshop manipulation of brightness so that they looked the way I wanted them too.

Overall, I would say that the best advice I have for working with a program like Rhino is ask for help from people who can guide you. Classmates, teachers, friends. I found online non-video tutorials to be hard to understand, especially since the program is constantly updating.

For tutorials, I would suggest chaosgroup. They have a number of tutorials which are really helpful.

Here is a website with some of their tutorials:

Week Eight // Grasshopper Parametric Pavilions

overall render 1 render with orange woo

This week I worked in Grasshopper and Rhino to create pavilions out of a parametric truss system.

Starting with the Catenary truss system created last week, I started by arraying the truss so it could be used as a system of trusses for a roof structure. To do so, I fed the top chord through a Linear Array function, which had sliders for spacing and the number of trusses attached to it. Then I extended the top chord using an Extend tool, with another slider, which also had the top chord run through it.  Next the stringers, which are perpendicular rods that span the truss system, were created. This used Multiplication, Move, Flip, and Polyline functions (with another slider) to connect the points of where the web chords meet the top chord and create a line. After the stringers, the trusses were made to rotate at an angle, through a Rotation function. To do so, the number of trusses was extracted through a Series function, which was associated with the YZ axis and then put through the rotation function. Then, the linear array function was fed through the rotation function and then through a Curve bucket, which was connected back to the original truss system. Finally, the support and loft geometry was created using more of the polyline function, and the system was ready to be manipulated and baked. Here is the final product:

baked truss system


The next step was to use this truss system as a roof structure for some pavilions. I chose to install it as a system for two of my pavilions, and then created a third pavilion.

For my rectangular pavilion, I kept the system flat and baked it so that it fit into the roof. I then rotated it in Rhino so that it fit with the angle of the roof. Here is the finished product:

straight pavilion

I’m curious as to what to do to help the truss system fit into the roof better, because it looks a bit unrealistic right now.

I tried to create a curved system to support my curved pavilion, but failed. I attempted to substitute the linear array with an Array along a Curve function, but it just did not fit like I wanted it to.

failed curved truss system

Next, I created a huge pavilion structure to go over the curving pool. I made the trusses as big as possible, then baked it into Rhino. Using the loft geometry I created, I made a roof cladding, and then supported the roof with some columns at every truss. Here is the finished pavilion:

render of curvy pavilion huge pavilion

Finally, I reworked my hybrid pavilion so it had a curving roof (using a loft between the two top edges), then tried to create a rotating truss system that fit with it. The first problem I encountered was that the geometry I wanted from the parametric truss was curving the wrong way. By removing a Reverse function that was associated with the array, I was able to flip the rotation, but some of the trusses web chord geometry got really messed up. However, the structural roof structure is effective and fits with the lofted geometry. I am curious as to how to fix this.

pavilion 3 done you fucker

Week Seven // Grasshopper Trusses

This week I worked extensively in Grasshopper for Rhino to create a basic truss and then edit it to create different variations. I did all of the variations, with some nice results.

truss structure

To create the truss, we used different Grasshopper functions to create lines, and then subdivided them to create the cross braces. This involved a series of functions which can be followed in the Grasshopper web.

From there I created variations on the truss using different functions. The first one was the Catenary truss, with a curved bottom chord. To do so I used the Catenary function to change the geometry of the bottom chord and associate it with the top chord so that the system of cross bracing worked. I had some issues with this, as some of my strings got mixed up. By swapping the culling and item functions, I was able to sort some of the issues out. I tried to add a reverse function to fix it at first, but as you can see in the right photo, it didn’t help. I ended up having to swap how the functions attached to the Catenary function. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure why it fixed it, but it did!

fuck up 1fuck up 2



Next we did a trichordial structure, which was a breeze. I ended up not actually watching all of the tutorial and instead just followed the map, with good results. The main difference between this one and the basic truss was putting the top chord through a Move function with a multiplication attached to it. We also had to account for cross bars, which are seen in the picture below.

two top chords

Last but not least, the curved truss. This was the most complicated, but I had a relatively easy time with it because it involved a lot of pairing down. The main change was instead of a line I created with Grasshopper, I used a curve drawn in Rhino and then associated with a Grasshopper function. Using an Offset function to create the bottom chord, the cross bracing remained the same and I was then able to get rid of some of the extraneous stuff associated with the creating the bottom straight chord and it’s trim command. Here are my final results:

curved truss - slim down!

Yay! Overall I found this to be a good exercise, and I feel as though I could do a lot just following a Grasshopper map, with a  key of what some of the functions mean. I find it interesting how touchy the system can be, and am interested in learning more about why I may have gotten stuff mixed up in the first place.

Week 6 // Slides and Grasshopper

This week, I created slides for my water park and then learned the very important Grasshopper tool.


First, the slides. I found creating them to be a fun challenge. To create two of them, I started out by creating a line from the top of the diving tower to the water level of the pool. I then used the Spiral tool to create the curving of the slide itself. I found the tool to be relatively easy to use, by inputting top and bottom radius and the number of turns I wanted. I also had to create a starting straight part of the slide so that the slide would not collide with the stair tower. For this I drew a simple line then used the Blend tool to join the two into an acceptable curving shape.

For my first slide, I created a funnel shaped pool with three turns circling inward. I was really happy with how easy this was to make. I first created the spiral, then used a CPlane placed along the edge of the diving tower. (I used my simplest tower to create these then moved them into place on the other diving towers.) I then created a very simple cross-section of the slide, using the Interpolate Crv function (with OSnap off) and then the Mirror and Offset command to create a closed curve. I then used ArrayCrv and arrayed it 7 times along the spiral funnel. I also turned all the cross sections a bit to create an even stronger inward sense to the slide, using the Gumball tool. Using Sweep1 I then swept all of the cross-sections with a rebuild of 100 control points (to ensure the best accuracy) to create this slide.

spiral slide

I wonder about supports for these slides – they do not seem grounded in the space, and I wonder if going back and creating supports will be something we do.

Next, I created my next slide by using the Spiral tool in a similar way as above. I chose two turns and a larger bottom radius then top radius. Then I created a slightly different looking cross section – I wanted a hybrid between a tunnel shape and a half circle shape for my tube, so I created a U that almost closes at the top, again with Interpolate Crv. I think it would be a really interesting slide to go down. I used the same system as above to create the slide, although I did try to Loft them… It did not work at all.

bad loft slide

Actual slide:

freeform pool

Finally, I decided to try something different by creating a snaking slide. I used the Interpolate Crv along the X – plane to create a long snake curve. I then turned it so that it extended from the diving tower to the water. I then decided to do a tunnel slide, using the circle tool drawn on a CPlane at the edge of the diving tower. I then used ArrayCrv along the snake curve, and then again used Sweep1  again to sweep the tool. I then Offset the surface, instead of the original cross-section, then joined all the geometry together.

I decided to use this for my rectangular pool, however it was originally too long, so I used the Gumball tool to shorten it a bit. I found that this preserved the curvature better than trying to restart with a more angular curve.

rectangle pool

After my slides were done, I moved on to learning Grasshopper. I found following the tutorials relatively simple, and creating the shelves was fun. I like how easy it is to make so many versions of a basic idea.

What is Grasshopper?

Grasshopper is a graphical algorithm editor tied to Rhino V5 3D modeling tools. It is a program for parametric modeling. Programs are created by dragging components onto a canvas. The outputs to these components are then connected to the inputs of subsequent components. Grasshopper is used mainly to build generative algorithms. Using Rhino, a user can create geometry and tie it to functions in Grasshopper, which can then be edited to create repetition of elements which can be manipulated through the functions to have different thicknesses, deepness, etc.

To create the shelves, I began by creating base geometry, which was the shelf depth and then legs and supports. Using different functions, you then add thickness to each of these curves and manipulated them using “number sliders” so that you can manipulate the thickness, distance between, and number of shelves at any point. Curves that were created in Rhino and then associated with the Grasshopper file can then be manipulated, which also manipulates all of the extrusions created in Grasshopper so that it looks uniform. After “baking” the geometry, it becomes active in Rhino. I created a shelf for the corner of a room, with an angular form.


I am interested in how this tool will help my architecture – it sort of contradicts everything my studio professors have been saying about making things just extrusions of curves. However I do believe it will be very helpful in iterations and repetitive geometry within architecture.

Week Five // Chairs in Rhino

all chairs chair chaise lounge guard chair

This week I created three chairs using some important Rhino techniques.

I created a wire frame structure for each of the bases and then used the very easy to use pipe tool to create the structure. I had a few issues having the entire frame actually pipe after trying to use edit points to change the features of the frame. However a little messing around and being sure to click the right points together, I managed to figure it out. For the chairs, I used a series of offset squares to create a triangulated base structure. I then used gumball to change the base structure to the right height and width for the curving shape of the chair itself.

I found the creation of the chair relatively simple. The use of the array along a curve followed by a loft made a simple, aesthetically pleasing chair. I attempted to use sweep as well, which is generally more accurate, but found that the loft looked better overall.

I had a couple of issues with the edit points of a surface feature, as I didn’t change the CPlane the first time I was editing it.

wonky edit points

However after I did it correctly I found it easy to manipulate the chairs into the shape I wanted. I also used the gumball tool to change the shape and make it wider.

Overall I was excited to learn these techniques and look forward to using more array and loft tools.

Week Four // Stairs and Handrails – More Rhino Modeling

finished freeform with rail   finished rectangle finished round diving board

This week we modeled our diving towers and stairs to add to our pavilions and pools. Overall I found it to be a helpful exercise in creating vital parts of architecture in Rhino.

The way I made stairs was not a way I had done them before – working in creating the curve in section and then extruding it really helped me to understand how a set works together so that they match up properly. This technique also helped me to be more creative with them within my pavilion, as seen in the pictures above. The curved stair with the free form pool is through using the section curve and sweeping it along a curve on the ground. This creates a tunnel shape underneath, which I like for an entrance to the changing room. The hybrid angular one is created through using the loft tool between three sections, two of which are perpendicular to the other.

Creating the stair tower was relatively easy for me, but I didn’t venture into trying a circular stair. I struggled to make my diving platform,however. My first attempt at moving the face was a disaster, and I struggled with it for quite awhile.

bad diving tower

I did create a curved platform on the freeform stair, however, using the technique used to create the freeform pool. I did some of this in creating my hybrid platform as well.

round diving board

Finally, creating the handrails was relatively painless for me. The only issue I came up against was the Extend tool, which didn’t seem to work half the time I tried to use it. If you look at this image, you can see I have tried to extend it many times with no luck.

wont extend

I would like to go back and go over the work I have done eventually, especially in trying to create a circular stair. I attempted to use polar array but failed miserably, which was frustrating.

My overall favorite skill I learned was by far the Gumball tool – I found it very helpful in rotation and small adjustments on a plane. I’m looking forward to experimenting with it and using it more.