As some of you might have figured out already by our news in the social media and some previous post here, we are experimenting quite intensively with the AC/GH live connection, researching the possibilities that offer and trying to push the boundaries of its original purpose.
In today’s post, I want to share my experience working with a very large model scripted integrally inside grasshopper and sent to AC for documentation and renderings giving you some tips to deal with the limitations of the software due to a large number of elements that need to be handled.
Just to give you some background, we are working with the Mac version of Grasshopper which is currently in a “beta phase”.
Originally, in our first attempt, we set up the relationship with ARCHICAD using the settings nodes for each individual element that would be transformed into AC. In the project where we are testing this connection, which is a hotel, we have different slabs for different purposes (per rooms, terraces, corridors…), walls, balustrades, beams, columns… Each different set of elements was sent to AC using individual nodes that would refer to another set of nodes providing the settings of the element.
In the project where we are testing this connection, which is a hotel, we have different slabs for different purposes (per rooms, terraces, corridors…), walls, balustrades, beams, columns… Each different set of elements was sent to AC using individual nodes that would refer to another set of nodes providing the settings of the element.
At the end, we had on the Grasshopper canvas a very large number of nodes and the file was extremely heavy, making the work on the file very slow.
In addition to this, the setup of the ARCHICAD elements was also quite tedious, having to create number sliders for every parameter. Layers, dimensions, profiles, building material…
After one big crash of the file, the recovery file had disconnected all my ARCHICAD nodes (because I opened on a Grasshopper without the plugin installed) and that mistake gave me the opportunity to rethink the strategy of how was I using the connection. Then I discovered the power of the “favourites”.
Modifying the settings and the properties of any element in AC is simple and quick, not so much inside grasshopper if the file is heavy and slow. So I discovered that using just favourites instead of the “full setting node” I could speed up extremely my workflow, optimising the number of elements in my grasshopper canvas.
Same script using “full control” (top) and “favourites” (bottom)
PROS and CONS or why using one or the other:
As mentioned above, setting up the elements inside AC is quick and saving a favourite is never a waste of time. You can use a favourite as a category for find and select, you can update favourites, share them among your projects… For AC users, the interface also is more user-friendly and more convenient. And if you change and update your favourite inside AC, Grasshopper will update the settings automatically. So why not use always favourites instead of the full settings??
The beauty and the power of the connection are the freedom that it gives to you. Controlling the individual parameters of the AC elements gives you the power of designing your element settings depending on things, like structural loads, sun paths, rain values, tweets per second… anything!
You can make the height of a beam dependent on the span of it. You can setup the angle of a facade screen made out of thin columns to be responding to the sun path or the views. For this, you need to be able to access the individual parameters and therefore using the full settings.
My advice is to maximise the use of ARCHICAD favourites to optimise as much as possible the performance of both Softwares and also to speed up the workflow, and leave the use of “full settings” for when you need to have parametric control of one particular setting.
Hope you enjoy the post and please throw your questions and share if you’ve had the chance to experiment with it!