Design strategies: Massing with Morph

Massing at the design stage: Freedom in design without loosing control.

When starting a project in architecture most of the times we need to go through something called “massing”. Basically is a process that allows architects to understand the possibilites of the volume we are designing. The size, volume, GFA, hight etc.. are values that need to be tracked and measured in order to have our design under control. This is phase more important than most of the people think. The reason is quite simple: buildings are very expensive products. So we need to understand its dimensions with quite a lot of precision.

There are many useful tools that can help us in this purpose. Morph tool in ARCHICAD is one of them. As an architect I have been through this process many times and used several tools to achieve it. 3D modeling software like Rhino or Sketchup are quite useful and intuitive. Recently I just use Morph tool for massing. It is easy, as intuitive as the previous mentioned tools. The advantage is that Archicad it allows you to track physical values automatically and updates them in real time in a very easy way.

To show this process we are going to use an example of one of our own projects. In this case for this tower we used the combination of the morph tool and the schedule during the design process to track the GFA in real time while testing some massing options.

Massing with Morph Tool.

We just need two simple steps to achieve it:

A. Set up your Morph Schedule to track the information you want.

B. Play around with morph tool and have fun when you are designing.

Let’s get started:

A. Setting up our Morph Schedule.

In the Navigator window of your file go to any of the Schedules that are already there. Select one and open the Settings by clicking on the Settings button. The Schedule Settings palette will appear. It would look something like this:

step 1

In case you don’t have any schedule on your navigator just right click in the schedule tag of the navigator and select new schedule:

step 1b

Create a new schedule and chose Construction Element type.

step 2

To set up our schedule just need to select Morph as the Element type in the Criteria tab. In our example, we selected the layer criteria as well because we developed different massing options in different layers. In this first example you can just select morph to see how it works and keep it simple.

step 3

In the Fields tab just need to add this two parameters: Home Story and Area (by Story). This is the most simple way to set up the schedule.

If you want to have a more developed list in the future you can add more parameters like building materials or surface in order to organize the data in a more precise way. And also can set up the schedule to give you more information about your morph, like volume, perimeter, etc..

In this example we just did it this way, so your schedule should look something like this:

Step 5 copia

B. Play around with morph tool.

Play with your morph and develop different design options. If you modify your morph you can check how the Schedule updates the GFA per floor and total in real time. In our case we combined this information to produce some diagrams and show the options to the client.

The whole idea of this strategy is to be able to model and test your design with freedom at the same time that the software is taking care of register the data for you.