Architectural VR Essential Training – 1

This session will introduce the concept of responding model that starts from some constraints and come out with many alternations that you can compare, analyze, and modify efficiently. It involves the use of parameters to define the model. Parameters may include dimensions, materials, object assembly points, etc, while constraints applied to these parameters can affect their modeling result.

It would demonstrated how grasshopper and its plug-ins can help to design with three great examples. The first one is to design a residential building façade:

The sizes of the windows on the façade are fixed, as well as the starting point and end point of this curved façade. So, their question is how to maximize the number of windows that can be arranged on the curve with no left-over space?  They drew the curve(façade) in Rhino, and write a script to do the calculation at the same time. By modifying the radius of the curve, the number of the windows changes while ensuring minimum left-over space. Moreover, the script would allow us to achieve an elegant curve simultaneously.

Same way to determine the distribution of different types of living units in a residential community, which is their second example.

It is also helpful to do site planning for landscape architects. It has many applications in the field of urban planning:

The third example is to use ladybug to do a solar analysis.

Very helpful for managing blocks in the site to gain as much sunshine as possible in the winter time. The ladybug will generate the annual solar radiations of each building in all direction. So they can twist or cut some part to balance each other.

You can download ladybug here:


Now rhino and grasshopper are free to use inside the office. So, if you would like to learn about it, the grasshopper forum might be the best place for you to start:

You are free to download study materials, watch the video, and join the discussion on some topic. Also, some 3D form study blog is interesting:

Many 3D forms it created are quite scared, but I think computer thinking has its own advantages in certain areas. Here is some possibility I’ve got for landscape design:

  1. Import GIS data to a grasshopper to generate site model, analysis and make dynamic diagrams.

Site criteria (aspect, slope, hill-shade, soil, etc) was mostly done in ArcMap using raster analysis tools. Then formatted, exported and brought into Rhino via Grasshopper. The process of site selection was then continued in Grasshopper by using additional criteria (area, proximity, elevation, drainage, etc.).

The file requires Element & Sonic to be fully functional.

Download Element here:

Sonic here:

Sitemap generated:


Plus, another easier and fantastic way to import site information is to use Lands design plugin for Rhino, which offers a number of landscape-specific palettes containing tools for landscape professionals. The terrain tools include the ability to produce a digital terrain model (DTM) as well as import Google Earth terrain.

  1. Parametric topo design and analysis:

Grasshopper contour tool:

  1. Design paving pattern:

Parametric modeling is ideal for rapid prototyping of modular systems.

Here is an example that s responsive surface control by attractors.

It can also represent topographical conditions associated with water flows. Height fields responded to distance from flows of water registering topography of a site.

  1. Parking Lot generator with grasshopper:

  1. Site furniture:

(at the very bottom: a custom-designed bench)

  1. It can also mimic landscape changes, as plants grow over time. For example, the growth of tree species. It might be very interesting to show a time frame for any long-term project.

In the end, the voronoi diagram is a good thing to learn, too. It could be helpful for urban planning and tree canopy analyze:

– Part II –

The green line project has been done. If you are interested in panorama rendering, please check the link below:


In general, the tutorial is about some useful techniques on rendering a 360 view and finally converting it to a web host, which can be shared and published.

Step 1

Take panorama pictures on the street. It probably needs about 10-30 single pictures to make one panorama that qualifies the purpose. The quick apple VR might not work very well as you will see some parts are not actually matched with each other. A recommended equipment is Panasonic Lumix cameras.

Step 2

A software, called PT Gui, can convert these 10-30 single pictures to a panorama. This is the only function of PT Gui. Photoshop has a similar function, but PT Gui will do a better job. This image will work as a background for the final rendering.

It can be downloaded from here:

Step 3

Model everything in 3D max. Converting models from other software like Rhino and SketchUp might cause a problem. When it is done, render it inside a sphere. This mode can be found on the rendering panel of 3Dmax. It will come out with a 360 view rendering in the format of jpg or png. If needed, we can use photoshop to make it vividly,  such as add some people or something.

The success of this image largely relies on the plants that look so realistic.  It is all contributed by a plug-in tree generator for 3Dmax, and plant kits 1 through

Step 4

So far, the 360 view rendering has been done. Use any panorama generator to check how it works.

Here are some panorama viewers that you can drag the image in and interact with it:


Quicktime and shockwave are the other two good software to display it.


Step 5

Then the work progresses to a web developer. He needs to make this image readable by a web host. There is a tool, in which page shows an earth that allows web developer mapping the rendering inside and a camera catch the scenes inside as well. It will generate many codes and HTML that can save to web host. (You might feel confused on this part, so as me…)


Finally, the tracking system, includes a share button, like button, and the hate button is still an improvement. Once it is finished, we would be able to know how many people like this project, as well as how many people disagree with it.

See an example: Click this link.

Hope these information interest you!

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