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Showing posts from May, 2011

3dtin : modeling and sharing inside (modern) browsers

At you can use your gmail-account to login and freely create 3D models, using a small set of modeling tools (cubes, some primitives and basic color). It resembles a basic paint program, but with all pixels being 3D boxes. There is even a "smooth" option to make a subdivision surface. The application runs directly inside the browser , so ensure you have a very recent one, such as an up-to-date version of Chrome, as it needs WebGL support and JavaScript to let the magic work. Nothing to install, nothing to launch, just open the site and start creating. However, beware that everything you create on this site is automatically licensed under a Creative Commons license, allowing anyone to make adjustments, without royalty fees, but with reference to you as the original author.

Archmedium Student Competition : Rethinking Mallorca’s Seafront

Proposal Tourism is without a doubt one of the largest economical activities in the world. This development has in many ways damaged seafronts to an almost irreparable point. There are many cities that can serve as an example for this; such as Benidorm in the coast of Spain, Playa del Carmen in Mexico or Cartagena in Colombia. Ironically many of these destinations lose their charm when they become too crowded even for the same tourists who flock to them. Architecture is definitely one of the main responsible for all this process, but at the same time has the opportunity to remake and correct its errors. We propose a redesign of the seafront of Cala Millor while taking advantage of the fact that the city council has decided to push back the automobile accessible area away from the seafront, making more space for pedestrian walkways and public spaces. This investigation is at the same time based on the pilot plan for the zone that is being promoted by the “Consell Insular de Mallor

AxisVM LT : freeware version of Structural Analysis software

While AxisVM has been around for quite a while, they are not as known as other programs. They do present a friendly approach to educational users, by providing both a free 6-month license of their full software and a permanent "LT" version. The LT version is functionally identical to the full version, but is limited to 40 beams or trusses, 400 surface elements, 20 load cases and 10 mode shapes. For teaching and learning this might suffice, but probably not for freeform roof shapes generated in other software, where the amount of trusses will be too limited. It is Windows-only, so I had to fall back on Parallels desktop to try it out, but it performs well. I followed one of the step-by-step examples to learn how to input nodes, beams, assign sections and materials, define Degrees-Of-Freedom (DOF) for nodes, add loads and perform the analysis. Once I get the hang of a few of these applications, I will try to do a more complete comparison and then see how I can automate mo

iRhino V5 contains PanelingTools (without GUI)

With all the attention that the Grasshopper plugin receives for Rhino, it is understandable that people look less at other approaches. However, I was pleased to understand that the current test-version of iRhino (the Mac OSX port of Rhino), which is now more or less in sync with Rhino V5, contains the PanelingTools. The Paneling Tools are a plugin for Rhino v4 or v5 and are already included in the latest builds for the OSX version. These commands add the creation of grids and panels and patterns to Rhino. You can generate independent grids or add grids based on surfaces, curve/surface intersections or projections in the first step and then use the generated grid of points to generate paneling . Paneling can follow patterns (pre-set or custom created) allowing you for quite elaborate translations of freeform geometry into something more rationalized for construction and/or fabrication. The tools can be controlled with a series of "pt" commands, and also through Rhino

Populate for 3ds Max : architectural parametric modeling

Some years ago, I was working with ArchiCAD and 3ds Max on a Dell Workstation. I started using the plugins from Marc Lorenz ( ) to help with it. Now I received a mail (funny how long your "old" registrations survive) announcing Populate ( ) Please check it out and try the public beta of Populate , it is a plugin for paneling free form surfaces. I worked on it for over 1 year, I think it turned out quite nice. Regarding my older plugin scripts, here is a quick status update: Tree Shop : This one is very popular, but also very old. I plan rewriting it from scratch, using new technology from Populate. Vray Ambient Occlusion : I'm not sure if it's still useful, and if there is a point in improving it, but I get much feedback on this. Cubic VR : I started working on a fully featured Pano-tour system for 3dsmax,which would replace this. The new site looks modern, has nice examples and is titled to focus on &qu

Z88 Aurora : Open Source FEA

When reviewing papers for a conference, someone referenced Z88 Aurora ( ) which is an Open Source, cross-platform (Linux, Windows, OSX) Finite Element Analysis software. It is quite extensive and comes with examples and documentation. There is also Z88 (without the Aurora) which is also Open Source. I'm not fully sure about the difference between both... but AFAIK, Aurora contains the more user-friendly GUI with more interactivity, whereas Z88 is more limited in scope. It contains a pre-processor (load geometry and FEA files, meshing, materials), FE-solver (calculates displacements, stresses and node forces) and a post-processor (visualization of results, export to CSV). For once, this software is (quite) easy to use on OSX as well, provided you have the X11 system installed, which usually comes with installing the Apple Developers packages, which are included with your OS system disk. It relies on a few external libraries, but even those are embedded or inc

DebunkTheBIM: Dear building owners: we will let you know what you need to know when and how WE think you should get to know it!

DebunkTheBIM: Dear building owners: we will let you know what you need to know when and how WE think you should get to know it! As a reaction to this post and venting some ideas on my own blog, I'd like to add some comments here. I agree that most model viewers are very limited and only focus on 3D mesh + textures/color . E.g. the Virtual Building Explorer (VBE) from Graphisoft (add-on for ArchiCAD) goes some way to make the design "viewable" by a user but don't expect the actual bulding information to be intact. It has gravity and collision detection (you can't walk through walls and you fall down when you pass an edge). However, if you want, you can do a lot of that but you have to do it yourself... I happen to like Unity3D as a 3D realtime platform (and the free version goes a long way to do almost anything, apart from realtime shadows). But my remarks are not (too) software specific. Just that I will focus on things I know will work. if you need north

Paracloud GEM : now also on Mac OSX

Paracloud GEM ( ) is a generative modeling system, which can be used to generate patterns on other mesh-based geometry. It can be used standalone or in collaboration with other software (e.g. SketchUp, Rhino, Maya, Cinema4D). You can freely download the trial, but to use it fully, you need a license. You can buy a temporary one-month license or a full license (commercial and academic pricing is available). At first, it can be puzzling to get started, as many of the icons in the interface are not self explanatory. But there is a tutorial which should get you going in about an hour or two, which is reasonably fast. Try the online documentation . Remember that Grasshopper and Generative Components, which are the most popular generative modeling approaches for parametric architecture, are both Windows-only solutions, although there is a slight chance that Grasshopper will eventually be ported over. This way, Paracloud has the OSX market for this kind of

What is the Autodesk 123D app?

Autodesk announced, with quite some vagueness, 123D , as an entry-level, free design tool with links to "make" things (reading: fabrication). It's unclear what it is, precisely, so no clue if this is Windows, OSX, iOS, Android compatible. It is said to be free and also to be some kind of entry into the range of Autodesk software solutions. I hope it is easy to use, yet sophisticated enough. There are so many complex CAD applications and even SketchUp is now quite extensive and overly crowded with tools, toolbars and add-ons. --- edited --- Currently, it has become clear that 123D is a free, Windows-only version of Autodesk Fusion, which in itself is based on Inventor, their MCAD offering and is also included with AutoCAD 2012. It aims to provide an Autodesk alternative against SketchUp (and maybe Bonzai3D) for advanced, yet simple to use modeling.

LibAster Structural and Thermomechanical analysis in Python

Based on CodeAster, LibAster is an Open Source Python-library for structural and thermomechanical analysis. Using Python, it should be quite portable between platforms. While this is not as user-friendly to get started, e.g. when comparing with full Desktop applications, having a library or command line tool makes it easier to connect into a workflow. Right now, I would like to reach a point where I can launch energy, cost and structural analysis from BIM models, where, in addition, the generation of the BIM model would be generated parametrically. Translated into software names, this could mean something like steering a design from Grasshopper, transferring it into ArchiCAD or Revit or (preferably) IFC and launching different analysis calculations in parallel from there.

ArchiCAD 15 announced

Graphisoft announced the official release of ArchiCAD 15 this month. The focus is on several aspects, but I'd like to focus on some particular improvements: fully 64-bit now also on Mac OS (after the Windows and the BIM Server versions); improved organic modeling with the new Shell tool ; additional better 3D modeling with Guide Lines in 3D and Work Planes , which opens up the hope to stay more in the 3D Window than in the past; many improvements on the IFC level, which can only be applauded. IFC and Open information sharing is very important for the future of Design Collaboration. There are other things, but not sure of they are all disclosed yet. Beta testing On a personal note , I have been a beta-tester for release 8 till 12, but have never found enough time afterwards. I had access to the documentation and early test versions, but since I don't have a hardware lock for releases after r12, I could not prope

Shaderlight : free & pro rendering for SketchUp

At  you can download a free or a pro version of Shaderlight, an integrated rendering plugin for Google SketchUp , now available for Windows and OSX. The Pro version starts as a free trial and than falls back on the free version, unless you buy a license. At first sight, the most glaring omission from the free version is Global Illumination ... which is, alas, incredibly useful for anything but the most basic renderings in architecture. Below is a small example. A SketchUp scene with the settings from the free version of Shaderlight (Exterior, 640x480, halfway between speed and quality). I had to activate the Shadows in SketchUp to have them in the rendering. The Shaderlight rendering appears inside a separate window (actually a separate application) and amount of control inside SketchUp is rather limited. But it is easy to use and has reasonable results. Screenshot of SketchUp with Shaderlight This is not a realtime s