Case study: optimized building footprint with VisualARQ Grasshopper Components

Thanks to the VisualARQ Grasshopper components, we are seeing VisualARQ used to further research on practical uses for Genetic Algorithms and Analysis in BIM workflows.

Vlad Vermesan, an architecture student at the Faculty of Architecture and Fine Art, NTNU, Norway has completed his thesis related to the development of a methodology of parametric suburban and architectural design utilizing VisualARQ Grasshopper Components, Ladybug, Space Syntax, Clipper and Galapagos. This level of analysis at the early stages of design clearly shows the power of #flexibleBIM enabled by VisualARQ, Rhinoceros 3d, and Grasshopper.

Vlad explains:

“My work is about parametric suburban design. I have developed many parametric models where components can be manipulated in order to conduct simulations and various multi-variable optimizations. The generic suburban architectural building, which is at the core of the methodology, gives the sensation and spatial quality of a home in all possible aspects related to form, functionality and comfort. The buildings’ forms, thanks to the parametric design method, are not common and vary depending on the neighborhood, and can be seemingly endlessly individualized.

While in urban environments intelligent shaping happens often vertically, in suburbs it can happen horizontally, because there is more space, (i.e., distance between buildings). Thus, variation and attractive architecture can be achieved by the intelligent shaping of the building footprint according to local tones, design traditions and functionality, and even optimized according to climate conditions. The process starts with some reasonable assumptions about the size of the functional units and their relationships, in order to obtain a functional and efficient ground floor. The ground floor shape is then used to run more complex simulations on both horizontal and vertical plans incorporating climate conditions.

Vlad Vermesan Case study VisualARQ

This is what the case study is about: manipulating the building footprint shape based on intelligent rules in order to maximize/minimize radiation during heating/cooling periods. The parametric building has been generated using VisualARQ Grasshopper Components: walls, windows, slabs and roofs, which provide BIM elements for the final building instead of simple extrusions from the shapes. This ensures credibility to the simulation results.

My experience is that VisualARQ integrates very well in the parametric environment bringing together spatial elements, topology, environment and optimization. Running optimization scenarios with changing building footprint shapes in 2D and seeing the resulting building in 3D almost instantly thanks to VisualARQ, is really rewarding. You can stop any time, compare different shapes and choose the one which is most appealing, not necessarily the optimum one.

In this way, the architect can add their unique style to the solutions provided by the parametric model.

The video shows that one of the solutions offers a concave footprint shape, which opens for an outdoor atrium, (inspired in the “Zeb Pilot House” project of Snøhetta architectural firm) contributing to a homely atmosphere and feeling of comfort.

Credits: Vlad Vermesan:

Basilica Gospe od Otoka in Solin, Croatia

basilica_Solin_Vyonyx_10 fusion 600
The stunning design and subsequent construction of the Basilica Gospe od Otoka (Solin, Croatia) can be attributed to Vyonyx Architecture, an architectural design and research office based in the UK, Croatia, and France.

Vyonyx used Rhinoceros and VisualARQ to realise this non-standard design and maintain BIM data throughout the process. VisualARQ objects were especially useful in creating the curved walls of the Basilica, enabling the designers to freely explore window positions and dimensions without needing to reconstruct the model repeatedly, all the while automatically generating the 2D documentation of every iteration.

The project is currently under construction.

See more pictures of this project at the VisualARQ's gallery.

You can see more details at the Vyonyx website.

Images provided by Vladin Petrov - Vyonyx.

Basilica in Solin Interior Model 02

Basilica in Solin Model 01

VisualARQ 2.0 sneak preview: new beam features

The following video shows some of the beam object new features that will be available in the upcoming VisualARQ 2.0 version:

Beam joints

Beam intersections at ends will be calculated. This will happen when two beams have one of their end points in the same position. However, it will possible to break this connection if needed.

Beam cut planes

In addition to automatic beam joints, it will possible to define different solutions for beam cut planes at the start and end points. Vertical, Horizontal and Perpendicular will be the preset options, but it will be also possible to enter a custom cut plane.





New Rhino & Grasshopper book includes VisualARQ exercises

Grasshopper para Rhino e Impresion 3D

"Grasshopper para Rhinoceros e Impresión 3D"

This new book shows how to design new parameteric shapes using the power of algorithmic modeling in Grasshopper, through 50 guided exercises, including examples of VisualARQ and Weaverbird.

There is also a chapter for 3D printing.

The authors are Sergio Gómez González and Jordi Torner Ribé, (both professors at the UPC, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya).

The book is already available in Spanish.


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VisualARQ to Revit via

VisualARQ to Revit via Fluxio

VisualARQ 1.9.4 includes features which expand the already stable IFC import / export capabilities of the program.  This means that through VisualARQ, you can import an IFC file into Rhinoceros generated in other BIM software such as ArchiCAD, or Revit, or export VisualARQ and Rhinoceros objects to programs which import IFC.  But are there any other options for interoperability between BIM programs?

In the Rhinoceros / Grasshopper Ecosystem, there are several third-party options for ‘real -time’ interoperability with Revit including Lyrebird, Hummingbird, and Grevit. These systems allow for the creation of a workflow pipeline whereas the changes made to a model in Rhinoceros / Grasshopper are reflected in Revit in near real-time, essentially automating the file export / import process.

Recently we’ve been watching the developments over at, a startup born out of Google[x] with ambitions to become the defacto way we exchange building information data. began as a sort of ‘smart city’ web platform, facilitating collaboration between stakeholders of urban projects.  Now we find a different objective, focused on data exchange and collaboration. offers data exchange plugins for Grasshopper, Excel, and Dynamo. The idea is that you can push or pull data to the cloud, your new repository for design related data. With this workflow, you could design freeform building elements with VisualARQ and Grasshopper, send this information to the repository, and pull it to Revit via Dynamo. Let’s take a look at how to do this:

View the VisualARQ to Revit via Tutorial

From VisualARQ to PetroBIM

PetroBIM analyzes a virtual model of the church of Santa Cristina de Lena

PetroBIM analyzes a virtual model of the church of Santa Cristina de Lena

Last 26th November 2015, the application PetroBIM was presented at the MUAR (Museo Arqueológico de Asturias, Oviedo) and launched to public.

PetroBIM is a virtual platform for management, study, intervention, maintenance and sharing in the field of cultural heritage conservation.

This tool, developed by Alberto Armisén (BIM consultant) and Luis Valdeón and Félix Javier Mateos (both Phd In Geological Sciences and geological consultants at GEA company), lets the user work on a 3D virtual model of any building and select all its building elements in order to validate their status, characteristics or conservation interventions applied throughout time. PetroBIM also lets you add information to any part of a 3D model and share it with other managers.

We at VisualARQ have been collaborating with the PetroBIM team to test the application with architectural models created with VisualARQ. The result was very positive.

The Ville Savoye project created with VisualARQ seen in section in the PetroBIM application

The Ville Savoye project created with VisualARQ seen in section in PetroBIM

The process is very simple: you just need to save the project created with VisualARQ - the  ".fbx" file format (MotionBuilder) is the most recommended, although the model can be also saved in .3dm, .dwg or .ifc. Then, run PetroBIM and load the project to start managing it.
The model is saved and kept available in the cloud so other users can check it out and work on it.

We are also keeping track of a similar platform, also developed by the PetroBIM team, which is focused on landscape models: something that will be really interesting for the projects created with Lands Design.

Get into PetroBIM and try it out with your projects!