Why was Grasshopper Architecture Created?

Rhino 3D is the best software for architectural modeling in the world since it has the capability of editing, analyzing, and dealing with intense architectural complexities. However, there are some limitations in terms of usability and function. Grasshopper architecture is created to deal with those areas where Rhino 3D is incapable of extending. It’s a plugin that automates design complexities exceeding the capabilities of Rhino 3D.

Grasshopper was developed by David Rutten at Robert McNeel & Associates. It’s an environment and visual programming language that operates within the Rhinoceros 3D CAD. In Grasshopper, components are dragged onto the canvas, and programs are created. Grasshopper is usually used for creating a generative algorithm that is used for generative art. It has the capability of creating 3D geometry. The types of algorithms may include audiovisual, textual, haptic applications, and numeric algorithms.

In an advanced level, Grasshopper is used in parametric modeling for architecture, structural engineering, fabrication, lighting performance analysis, and more.

Software Interface

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Parametric Architecture with Grasshopper

Rhino 3D is unavoidable in architecture. However, Grasshopper (GH) is intuitive in exploring the designs without programming scripts serving as a programming interface for the designers. It employs the lego interface substituting the usage of programming languages. Designers can easily create parametric architecture with grasshopper using simple lego blocks.

GH is a plugin program. It is growing fast in the architectural world among the designers owing to its intuitive capability of experimenting with new ways of designing and solving design issues intuitively. In other words, Grasshopper helps the architects to try-out with the Parametric Modeling concepts without the knowledge of programming, enabling them to focus on the core designs.

Parametric Architecture with Grasshopper

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Understanding Grasshopper Software


Component defining the four corner points to create a surface

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The components are the core features of Grasshopper which serve as a building block of a model. Every component has three elements in common:

  1. Input
  2. Action
  3. Output

The different tabs with components

tabs with components

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A part of a larger network


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The different types of components can be found under various tabs like – Scalar, Surface, Mesh, Scalar, Vector, Intersect, Complex, Params, and XForm. These tabs have several objects and panels where the commands are sorted. Geometric lines, circles, etc can be drawn by the objects in the panels. Parametric objects represent data in point or linear form. The inputs and output components when joined together, form a large network.

Grasshopper is a “visual representation” of the inputs and outputs and the relations between them. With an in-built set of codes, the visual aspect makes it more sensible to the designers.

6 Reasons to Use Grasshopper Software Architecture

As discussed, the intuitive feature of Grasshopper makes parametric architecture with grasshopper easier, here are some more reasons behind the growing usage of Grasshopper:

  • Automation Drawing 1000 perpendicular lines at a certain distance with a pencil and a ruler is a taxing task that might give us an inaccurate result. In CAD we need to draw the line once and then to copy it 999 times or using the matrix function to repeat the action for 999 times. In Grasshopper, you would be able to divide the line into X segments, drawing the perpendicular line in every subdividing points. When the parametric model is created, you can save it and use it later, and modify the number of segments to any number of times.
  • Capsulize Recurring Tasks Grasshopper helps in creating personalized modules to perform certain tasks. The modules work like functions that receive inputs as variables and gives out the output. From the previous example, the input is the number of perpendiculars (X) and the lines to be drawn. The output is the perpendicular lines.
  • Available Modules in the Plugin As a plugin, it helps in accessing modules created by other designers. In other words, if somebody has already created a module, then any designer can use it for a project and get benefitted.
  • Iterate Faster Working in Grasshopper takes less time. If you have the parametric model, you can change the variables and generate different possibilities in less than a minute, while in CAD, it takes at least an hour to test each new iteration.
  • CommunityThe community of grasshopper has many designers associated with it. When you feel the need, you can get help and discuss your concerns on your projects with the community of experts.
  • Facilitates Integrating other Software Integrating with other software is possible in Grasshopper. It makes the task easier as you can avoid the hassles of moving between software.

User Interface of Grasshopper Software Architecture

The user interface in Grasshopper is advanced where the main window has the components the “canvas” and the “palettes.”

Let’s look at the GUI elements in Grasshopper:

  • Component Palettes – All the commands that are installed appear in the component palettes, with a group of commands in one tab. More component palettes can be installed with the help of add-ons in grasshopper.
  • Zooming User Interface – The display of the objects drawn on the canvas can be adjusted according to the zoom level.
  • Find Dialog – It helps in a spatial and textual suggestion about the search hits. Objects in the canvas get highlighted by a Metaball outline, and the location of the search results is pointed out by an arrow.
  • Color Picker – It displays color and transparency values.
  • Multi-Document Interface – It has a preview option for the documents recently opened.
  • Command Prediction – It can predict the commands that would be called upon next with a high level of accuracy.
  • Node Based Editor – It helps in editing programs. Data is transferred to one component to the others through connecting wires connecting the input grip with the output grip. Data is stored in parameters, and either floats freely or is tied up with a component as output or input objects.
node based editor

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The three floating parameters are tied up with a subtraction component. The yellow boxes on the left are numeric constant. The top yellow panel has four integers (6,7,8,12), and the box below that has a single value. Therefore, the floating parameters give out a subtraction component resulting in (6-5=1, 7-5=2, 8-5=3, and 12-5=7).

Grasshopper provides various new ways to propound with 3D architectural modeling processes. It automates the recurring process, generates geometrical figures through mathematical functions, iterations are faster even in complex models, and creates complex models through simple geometry. Architects and designers need not have programming and scripting knowledge to create simple and complex designs. One can easily get the assistance of BackOffice Pro for parametric architecture with Grasshopper.