Form-Finding/Inflatable/Fabric Architecture Software


Does anyone know a software that I can use to analyse form-finding?

I know that it's possible to experiment inflatables with the Grasshopper plugin found in Rhinoceros but I can't seem to load it. A dialogue box saying that my Rhino Installer Engine isn't compatible with the plugin always appears and I'm starting to give up on finding a way to make it work.

I'm a student so if the software is free or if there's a student version of it, it would be even better.

I have a deadline soon so a quick response would be very very much appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time to read this! :)

Jan 14, 14 12:03 pm

Step 1: Get a balloon.

Step 2: Fill balloon with something - preferably air, or water, or sand, etc.

Step 3: Squeeze balloon into desired form.

Step 4: Record findings.

And yes, I'm serious.

Jan 14, 14 12:22 pm

GOOGLE is broken? Or you just don't know how to use it?

I have a deadline soon

Was that quick enough for you?

Reason #699 to prohibit members with less than 10 posts from starting a new thread. And yet another reason to post some stickies.

Jan 14, 14 12:51 pm

what does analyze form finding even mean?  do you really want to create some shitty bubble shape then pretend you can fit some sort of rational program inside?

be more creative.  get a camera.  screw with a balloon like bowling ball suggested, then just take a picture and say it's a form.  go on a bender until you throw up a bunch, then take close up pictures and call it form generating.  blow a bunch of bubbles, take pictures of the bubbles, then call it form generating.

arbitrary is arbitrary whether you have software or parameters or not.  it's also a pretty dumb way to start the design of a building, but i suppose that's up for interpretation.

Jan 14, 14 1:00 pm

I know the actual process and I have tried google. What I want to do is build the digital model and wouldn't it be quicker to get more accurate dimensions from such software?

I plan on doing a physical model with gypsum and gauze so there's no problem there but getting the actual or relatively accurate dimensions is my actual problem.

I get that form-finding is actually finding the shape but what about the actual dimensions? How do you get them?

Jan 14, 14 1:09 pm
Non Sequitur

Curt, your comment brought back so many late-night studio memories... some of them included desks catching fire. Who knew that melting wax into a cardboard form with a heat-gun would be a bad idea?

Jan 14, 14 1:13 pm

Rhino + Grasshopper + Kangaroo is the only thing that I can think of for analyzing physics of inflatable forms. 

T-splines for Rhino (free with edu from Autodesk) makes blob forms easily for what it's worth. 

Blender might have something but that would be a large learning curve. 

Jan 14, 14 1:39 pm

Might as well take a shit and 3-D scan it...then print a 3d model of it...blobitecture or turditecture same thing.  With a little bullshit and a few big words you will do fine! 

"Bullshit is the glue that holds everything together"


Jan 14, 14 1:40 pm
Non Sequitur

To the OP. How do you think Antonio Gaudi calculated his organic shapes? Perhaps you should look into that before assuming some magical box of electronics will do all the work for you.

Jan 14, 14 1:44 pm

To Non Sequitur, obviously he took months and perhaps even years to thoroughly analyse everything carefully and to make numerous experiments. If it weren't for time constraint I would have followed the similar path.

If this magical software did existed, it would make my life easier definitely, that much isn't surprising is it? Conducting the research would be as though I was making my thesis based on that but what I have now is a design project that doesn't allow too much time with experimentation.

Needless to say, one can only hope isn't it? I just thought that with the way that things are developing these days, there might be a software that could have helped me.

Jan 14, 14 1:59 pm
Non Sequitur

students these days...

Jan 14, 14 2:05 pm

there is another option...Its called geometry.  It can do amazing things.

Jan 14, 14 2:05 pm

pictures of melted wax bubbling out from a flaming desk could actually provide a better form generating start than the shit comment or any other really.  a lot of potential there.

so, once you have the picture, you're concerned about dimension?  because you think it's not all vanity, pointless, and arbitrary?  print the picture as a pdf and you can open it in acrobat, set any random scale factor you want, and start drawing dimensions.

Jan 14, 14 2:15 pm

i kind of want to see the flaming desk picture now, so if you do go that route, please post the pictures here.  or, if anyone else wants to start a desk with a bunch of wax on it on fire, you can also post pictures.  in fact, let's turn this into the 'post your pictures of a desk on fire' thread!

Jan 14, 14 2:16 pm

I'll start.


Jan 14, 14 2:20 pm

To jla-x, thank you for the suggestion. I will be resulting to hand-drawing for now. And thank you to everyone who commented in this thread. Everything is always a learning experience. Good day everyone. :)

Jan 14, 14 2:20 pm
Non Sequitur

I wished I had taken a picture of the fire but I was a little too preoccupied with my project burning than documenting it. I know, I should have known better then.

Now that I think about it, that's been 8 years now.

Jan 14, 14 2:21 pm

Seriously the software can make the shape but not tell you how big it is?

Export to autocad. Scale to fit building dimensions desired. Dimension it.

Jan 14, 14 6:59 pm

For form creation with inflation/stretch/slack etc. without rhino/grasshopper, you can also use the Soap Skin Bubble plugin for Sketchup. It won't do surface analysis, but it's surprisingly powerful. And you can take the mesh vertices from there and put them in another program that will do the analysis you want.

Jan 15, 14 1:13 pm

Thank you so much gruen and gwharton. :) Your advices are really helpful and will save me a lot of time. Thank you again!

Jan 15, 14 6:40 pm

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