Experiments on Nature-Inspired Form Finding
The last group of experiments explores the possibilities of a nature-inspired form-finding approach in the generation of the nesting interventions. The aim was to find some distance from the human perspective in the design process, in contrary to common insect ‘hotels’ in the shape of manmade symbols. Therefore, natural growth processes, also known as morphogenesis , and the role of DNA in living beings were researched to inspire a form-finding process that keeps the designer in control of the elements, but not the shape of the outcome.
Experiment #7 - Artificial Growth in Cinema 4D
Experiment #7 thus tried to imitate natural growth using Thinking Particles in Cinema 4D. Thinking Particles is a system that can be established and controlled by nodes, constituting rules, using the Cinema 4D XPresso Editor . The system consists of emitters that generate particles according to their settings, and other rules that either apply according to the particles’ condition or that affect their shape, size and dynamic behaviors, such as gravity and wind . Particles can be grouped so that different nodes can be set up for different groups of particles. I used the (invisible) particles to deform a sphere and to 'grow' tubes of different diameters into this sphere (see picture of the process above).
How can a natural growth process be emulated in Cinema 4D? How can it be used to generate a functional, 3D-printable object with organic look?
MAXON Cinema 4D.
Use Collision Deformers, Thinking Particles, MoGraph and Boole objects to grow an irregular sphere with non-intersecting holes of different diameters.
Different objects can be generated in each iteration; process rather slow and unstable; requires some manual intermediate steps.
There may be better ways to grow organic, functional shapes in Cinema 4D; although slow, this process generates an object that fulfills the requirements of this experiment.
Experiment #8 - 'Digital DNA': Parametric Design in Grasshopper
Experiment #8 explored the idea of a ‘digital DNA’ by creating an algorithm in Rhinoceros’ Grasshopper. Just like DNA can be described as a set of instructions to create a body, this algorithm constitutes instructions for the generation of a shape according to certain rules. The parameters in this algorithm (for example size or amount and length of tubes) furthermore allow to easily create variations of the outcome according to current needs while various random-factors make sure that each iteration can be slighly different, even without changes to the set parameters. This experiment used premade platonic solids as base shapes (see picture of process above).
How can Grasshopper be used to create a parametric algorithm to fill a shape with non-intersecting, hollow tubes?
Rhinoceros 3D, Grasshopper.
Create solids; use random points and Voronoi Cells to determine centers and sizes of circles on surface; project circles inward and connect to tubes.
Using Voronoi Cells to determine the spatial preconditions of random points allows reasonable tube diameters; overall use of space not truly efficient; sharp edges lead to many intersections.
Useful procedure to create non-intersecting circles of maximum diameters without moving the center; use of space not truly efficient.
Experiment #9 - Organic Subdivision and Circle Packing in Grasshopper
The last experiment refines the previous process by adding organic subdivision and circle packing techniques to the Grasshopper algorithm, mimicking nature’s tendency to efficiently use space and material. The resulting algorithm is able to both fill an entire surface of any given base shape with as many tubes as possible while taking factors such as surface curvature or position of the tube into account while determining the tube's diameter and length (see picture of process above). With a few adjustments, this final algorithm was suitable to generate the nesting interventions in the end.
How can a shape in Grasshopper be populated with as many non-intersecting tubes as possible? How can the size of the tube relate to the object’s shape?
Rhinoceros 3D, Grasshopper, Kangaroo-plugin.
Use distance-mesuring techniques along with Organic Subdivision and the Solver of the Kangaroo plugin to pack the surface with as many differently sized circles as possible. Relate the circle’s diameter to its position and the curvature of the object.
Very reliable solution for densely populated curved surfaces.
Amongst all methods tested, this technique appears to be the most reliable and efficient for packing a shape with non-intersecting circles and tubes.
 WIKIPEDIA. Morphogenesis. Retrieved from: wikipedia.org/wiki/Morphogenesis. Accessed on: 1 June 2017.
 MAXON COMPUTER. Online2 Help: Thinking Particles. Retrieved from: help.maxon.net/#5524. Accessed on: 21 March 2017.