Category Archives: Parametric Design

Modelo Model

Here is a parametric structural model I made in grasshopper. I wanted to show an iteration of it my engineer to check we were on the same page. Instead of sending him a dwg, i thought i’d test drive some new tech.

A good friend of mine, Su Qi, who I met as a classmate at Harvard, has been working away at a startup called modelo. It’s an amazing online collaboration tool that allows you to comment and navigate a 3d model in real time simultaneously, with others anywhere around the world. You can see as others navigate and comment as they are typing… it’s instantaneous!!!

The interface is better than Apple simple, and works better than an 8.01 update(sorry apple geek joke). The start up is called Modelo. You should check it out, it’s amazing. It even works on your iPhone!

An awesome additional feature is its ability to embed the model online, like you should be able to see below… if you can’t see it get off IE!!

If anyone would like to try it out, i’ve opened up the model for comments… Leave a comment!


Parametric Nomadic Furniture

This suite of Furniture was inspired by Wonga 2.0 and it’s need for simple, cheap furniture that could be transported easily (flat packed) and then assembled and disassembled intuitively (knockdown).

To meet these requirements I created five parametric models of furniture.

Clothes Hanger
Shelving Unit

(Addendum: I;ve since finished construction of a stair bookcase and a planter box)



These pieces of furniture could be laser, plasma or CNC Router cut out of standard plywood sheets. I wanted to be able to “print” different versions of furniture at different sizes and with different materials.

To make the furniture knockdown, it needed some Japanese key joins, this required a level of accuracy that meant that each piece of furniture would need to match exactly to it’s piece of ply. Plywood, is rarely exactly the thickness it is specified I have had 4mm pieces that were 3.1mm and 4.8mm. When making friction joined furniture this discrepancy multiplies and usually means the furniture won’t assemble correctly, if at all. So being able to adjust the thickness of the material easily without having to re-draw and re-calculate the whole design was essential. To see some more examples of joins i have made click here.

The potential of this design system, is the possibility to create bespoke furniture quickly and cheaply. For example if you look at the table, a parametric table dimensions could defined by an exact empty space in someones home or office. 1210x654mm, no problem! Say the user is tall and is sick of low tables, or a user wants to use the table standing up… no problem! If the user wants a temporary table and want to use cheap low grade non- structural ply, or a more permanent (and expensive) custom made Italian laminate or cherry wood veneer.. no problem either. These and many other variations can be added to the model which automatically updates the cutting files ready for fabrication. No additional input by the designer is required.

Prototypes and scale?

The flexibility of the parametric design system is exhibited in the first prototypes I created. These were laser cut out of 3.6mm plywood. I needed to test the accuracy of the parameteric relationships within the models so I took the design to an extreme, I made them really, really small. It is important to note that these aren’t scaled down versions of a large table they are the actual table just with small dimensions inputs as parameters. So for example instead of inputting the standard-ish table dimensions of 900mm x 1800mm i inputed 80mm x 150mm. Instead of 20mm ply I used was 3.6mm.

The prototypes were a success. The next stage of this research is to further aesthetically develop the models and then ‘Print’ fullsize versions using the CNC router and some sheets of 1200 x 2400 plywood.

Hut Render

MyHut – Parametric hut

MyHut is a Building Design System that hints at the paradigmatic possibilities of Parametric Design.

Hut Render

Hut Render


At first glance it’s design is simple, but that’s required to express the process of the design system.  But under the hood, there is  a complex connection of spreadsheets, computer code, geometric algorithms and financial calculations.





The possibilities of the system become apparent as soon as a user starts to adapt the hut to their unique requirements. They can easily change simple elements of the house, such as width, height and depth. (For a extensive list of parameters scroll to the bottom of the page) They are given in depth feedback in realtime to the consequences of their changes. The 3d model of the hut modifies itself to suit the new requirements. The user can observe and interact with the model, tweaking until they feel it is just right.


Behind the scenes, and in real time, the model is much more than a 3d dimensional representation it models many aspects of the building, for example:

  • Cost, a dollar figure for the cost of materials floats above the model. So when a user expands or shrinks the building they can see the financial consequences.
  • Structural concerns; when the building is changed, studs, rafters and joists are automatically recalculated so that the building meets AS1684.
  • Bill of Materials(BOM) not only does the model calculate cost, it can output lists of materials, their dimensions, and quantities, even a cutting list.
MyHut Inputs

MyHut Inputs

MyHut Outputs

MyHut Outputs

The model can also just as easily be tweaked in many detailed ways. For an example of just a few:

  • Material – the building’s timber can be selected from a automatically-defined list of available timbers that is updated dynamically and is comes directly from suppliers. Cost consequences are instantly visible.
  • Window dimensions – The position width and height of windows and sill can be changed.
  • Window number- The amount of windows can be changed
  • Stair dimensions – dimensions of riser and goings can be updated as well as width
  • Door – door position and size can be adjusted
  • Roof – roof pitch and overhang can be easily changed, roofing materials and truss/rafter quantities update too.
  • Structural members – structural member sizes and centres can be adjusted to optimise the savings between different structural options. This is useful as changing structural dimensions have cost effects beyond the individual member itself.



The myHut model also prepares traditional architectural drawings, Elevations and Plans, although these seem a throw back to the past, The model is an exact 3d representation of the building at 1:1 scale and is much more legible to non – design professionals than antiquated 2d paper drawings.


Here is a full list of parameters available in the myHut parametric house. Adjusting any of these updates the geometry, documentation,  Bill of Materials and cost of the whole house in  realtime.



  • Building Start Position
  • Building Rotation
  • Building Height
  • Stump Height
  • Building Width
  • Building Depth


  • Bearer PFC Flange
  • Bearer PFC Rib
  • Bearer PFC Height
  • Flooring Thickness
  • Floor Vertical Alignment
  • Joist Width
  • JoistDepth
  • Joist Centres


  • Beam PFC Flange
  • BeamPFC Rib
  • Beam PFC Height
  • Roof Sheet Thickness
  • Roof Set Down From Fascia
  • Rafter Width
  • Rafter Depth
  • Rafter Centres
  • Baton Height
  • Ceiling Lining
  • Furring Channel
  • Roof Pitch
  • Roof Overhang


  • Stud Wood Type (select from supplier list i.e. 100 x 48 f14 undressed )

Stud Width
Stud Depth

  • Column Type (Select from Supplier list i.e. 150SHS)

Column Width
Column Depth

  • Double Bottom Plate
  • Double top Plate
  • Double Stud Jambs
  • Double Studs
  • Internal Lining Thickness
  • Stud Centres
  • Noggin Height


  • Window Openings
  • Window Heights
  • Window Sill


  • Window Openings
  • Window Heights
  • Window Sill
  • Door Width
  • Door Setout
  • Door Height


  • Window Openings
  • Window Heights
  • Window Sill


  • Window Openings
  • Window Heights
  • Window Sill


  • Riser
  • Going
  • Width(is connected to door width)


  • Scale
  • Paper Size

What is Parametric Design

Parametric Design is a design system that associates parameters to the geometry of a design.

The design can be simple or complex. Parametric design is particularly powerful when parameters form relationships with other parameters. For example, changing one parameter, say length, may change many others because it is linked in relationship with many other elements.

A simple example is the relationship between two sides of a rectangle. By creating a formula that describes the rectangle (Width by Length equals Area or W x L=A), we can create a parametric relationship between some inputs and a rectangle.


Let’s say the rectangle has a fixed area of 12 meters. We can adjust the width across a range and the length is adjusted so that the area is always 12 meters. Length = 6m, then the width must be 2m. Width = 4m length, must be 3m.



When you start adding more and more parameters and relationships the model becomes exponentially more complex, but it also becomes more useful. So, in creating an architectural design, we can take the rectangle above and add a dimension to it. You now have a box, If you give that box a thickness, you have walls, a floor and a roof. Give each of those a different parameter for example wall thickness = 120mm then, if you ever have to change a parameter, for example, width of the original rectangle. everything else moves with it.

At a practice level, Parametric Design allows for design changes much later in the design process without the adverse consequences, and more importantly it can allow for design flexibility and resilience. This means you can reuse designs again and again even when the fundamental constraints change.