2 days workshop | 06-07th Jul | 20 seats available


A gridshell is a structure, constructed of a grid or lattice, deriving its strength from its double curvature, similar to fabric structures.

The morphing or curvature is reached through the angular deformation of an orthogonal grid. As opposed to most solid surfaces, a gridshell can span great widths, and, as an autonomous structure is largely self-supporting, using little material. This is a function of the generative algorithm that underpins the gridshell’s geometry. Just as the self-organizing methods of surface and spatial organization used by natural organisms to ‘self-construct’ – the digital code in parametric design software such as Rhinoceros, Grasshopper and Kangaroo and the many plugins developed facilitate the mimicking of this process with algorithms similar to those of nature. Until recently, the complexity of the gridshell geometry required the development of many unique and expensive parts and assemblies. The parametric design-to-digital-production methodology allows for cheaper, more sustainable solutions with a higher degree of repetition: it brings the ‘gridshell technology’ within the reach of all and into the realm of large-scale production.

Bamboo, as a function of the unique characteristics of its fiber, allows for a superior level of deformation and structural integrity in terms of tension, compression and torsion when compared to most other materials. Bamboo culms and bamboo strips are therefore very well suited for gridshell design and construction. As opposed to wood fibers, the fibers of bamboo are unidirectional and significantly longer. Next to that, the distribution of the density of the vascular fiber-caps make bamboo extremely versatile and a unique (raw) material for bespoke and specially engineered materials for parametric design-to-digital-production.

The workshop will address the issue of the current water-crisis in Sao Paulo by taking the Warka Water (WW) project by Arturo Vittori as the premise of a bamboo-based gridshell design workshop.

WARKA WATER is an alternative water source to urban and rural communities alike that face challenges in accessing drinkable water. It is first and foremost an architectural project. WW should not be considered as the solution to all water problems but rather as a tool that can provide clean water in selected areas, particularly in areas affected by drought, where the conventional, existing infrastructure is part of the problem rather than the solution and where water is not available from wells or other sources.

WW is a widely publicized project, harvesting water out of the atmosphere by means of plastic micromesh. The mesh is suspended in a gridshell tower made out of bamboo.

By focusing on the requirements of a WW installation in varying contexts, scales and functionalities, the different elements of WW create a great venture point for the use of strength-, geometry- and material- specific parameters with respect to parametric design-to-digital-production.

Objective: the objective is to complete the first phase of an integrated design process, based on material (bamboo), geometry (angular deformation) and functionality (water harvesting) specifics.

The main focus of the participants will be directed towards the different steps in the multi-parameter design process with the parametric design software, the material characteristics and the mechanical properties of the structures’ functionality as the stepping stones towards a final result. Next to that, the workshop will introduce the participant to the interaction between his/her design and the relevant aspects of an engineered bamboo material.

The designs will be evaluated for their inclusion in the real-world WW project, currently being developed for rollout in Sao Paulo by Architecture and Vision and the Biosfera Foundation.

Design process: During the workshop the participants will complete a full process in terms of gridshell design: a sketch design based on shape, geometry and functionality will be translated into a 3d model in Rhino > through parametric scripting sets for GH (prepared and made available to the participants, elaborated upon during the workshop) the 3D model will be transformed into a full-fledged parametric design > based on the set of GH scripted parameters (such as material strength – mechanical properties and deformation -, geometry of the gridshell structure – connecting-, hinging- and suspension points-, functionality – equidistance and deformation of the water-collection micromesh, ‘dripping path' of the collected water – etc.), a preliminary set of extrapolated production files (using Kangaroo) will be generated. As such the design assignment will result in a fully simulated and functional gridshell as a WW variation; the participant is of course fully free in terms of his/her design approach, input and output of the information, instruction, tools and guidance offered by the facilitators and remains with the full rights to his/her work. The final product, if the participant wishes to, can become part of the WW-Brazil portfolio, to be further developed and implemented within ‘Bambooline Brazil’ (a Biosfera + Architecture and Vision program) – and exhibited during the 2016 Sao Paulo Biennial.

Competencies to be acquired: the participants will familiarize themselves with:

> The gridshell’s structural aspects, geometry, mechanics and statics and the processing of those parameters into a (sketch) design;
> The material characteristics of bamboo, both in the direct use of the culm and in the use of laminated bamboo strips;
> The specifics of the functionality of a WW installation.

The crossovers between architectural design, industrial design, the integration of utility infrastructure into architectural volumes and the built environment at large are explored and elaborated upon as part of the design assignment.

Target and requirements: This workshop is intended for architects, (industrial) designers and artists that want to partake in an immersive design experience, preferably with the distinct aim to put the design exercise to use in a real-world context. A basic understanding of the parametric design principles and basic knowledge of the design software (Rhino, GH, Kangaroo) will enhance the participants’ ‘immersion’ in the workshop but does not constitute a prerequisite.

Material and hardware required:

> Sketchbook, tracing paper, sketching/drawing materials;
> Laptop with 3D design software and with at least Rhino, GH and Kangaroo freeware installed.


Day 1
> Introduction: structure, material, project and the design assignment;
> Assessment of the participants’ knowledge with parametric design and the software to be used, grouping the participants according to their interests, know-how and skill-sets;
> Instruction for the software platform, adaptation to other design programs used, for those participants who require such assistance;
> Starting the design process (the workshop facilitators will circulate among the participants that can work either individually or in small groups).

Day 2
> Continuing the design process;
> Presentation of the results, evaluation, final discussion, and for those who want, defining next-steps for a continued design process and implementation.