By Kim Newell, Paragon Architects
There are many different kinds of technologies available to architects today with functionalities that did not even exist a few years back. These advances not only open up new opportunities in design, but also require us to keep on learning and exploring.

While studying, I came across the 3D Modelling software Rhino during an introductory course and, impressed by its advanced functionality, I opted to use the software for my thesis. Looking back Rhino proved to be ideal for designing what turned out to be quite an organic form. I found watching YouTube videos and online tutorials helpful in learning how to use the software, and I have since used it on several projects.

Modelling capability
Unlike conventional drafting software Rhino has the ability to generate complex three-dimensional and organic forms using free form surface modelling, keeping a potentially heavy model relatively light.

When used in conjunction with Grasshopper, a graphical algorithm editor which allows the generation of parametric forms, it becomes possible to easily generate complex forms in Rhino. Values and sliders can be used to control certain aspects of the design.

It is particularly useful for quickly generating facades, which can then be imported into Revit to determine how changing the angle of the facade panel influences the shading on the building, for instance.

Rhino is able to flatten and export complex forms into 2D elements in various CAD and image file formats, not only simplifying the documentation process but also underlining its compatibility with conventional software such as Revit and AutoCAD.

It can be tricky
Personally, the biggest challenge with learning and using a new technology such as Rhino is that it works very different from Revit. It is completely different technology with many more controls, buttons and functionalities. Especially when working with both programmes at the same time, you need to switch back and forth to the different mouse controls to effectively operate both.

Building with BIM
At Paragon we often design complex, multiple-storey buildings.
Building Information Modelling (BIM), an intelligent 3D model-based process used to streamline projects, optimises design and service co-ordination for both architects and the project team as a whole.

All consultants’ models are imported into a 3D environment to allow the simultaneous viewing of various disciplines’ information, making it easier to detect possible clashes while saving a lot of time and potential rework.

Take advantage
While drawing by hand still remains the quickest way to express an idea, technology can take these ideas to greater heights. The speed at which the different programmes can generate form is just one example of the many benefits for architects. Not all of us will use the same functionalities, but it is worthwhile to explore what is out there and utilise technology to our advantage.

Paragon Architects
Tel: 011 482 3781