Category Archives: Rant

Bad Monkey Stream in Porto

Marcello, Julien, Adam and me are going to give you a Dynamo show the world has never seen before. At 09:00 on Friday October 21 in Porto the four of us host a Dynamo Lab at Revit Technology Conference together, and you should consider being there.

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Marcello Sgambelluri hardly requires any introduction if you have ever been attending a conference with any Revit in it the past decade. The american with the curly hair constantly keeps hammering top rated classes around the world, but to the best of my knowledge this is the first time he ever sets foot on European soil. I am plainly super exited to have him coming here, and that we are doing a class together.

Julien Benoit from Nantes has been my very good friend ever since we met at the first ever RTC held in Europe, in Delft back in 2013. Julien has been teaching Revit and Dynamo to French engineers and architects for a number of years, and the work that he and his colleagues are doing is simply amazing. We did a joint lab together with Andreas Dieckmann at RTC last year, and it was a no brainer to set up a similar session again.

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Put Adam Sheather next to almost any normal building industry professional, and he will seem like a God. Literally. Put him next to me, and I will look like the biggest retard who ever put on two shoes. I call him The Prodigy. The man writes code like he never did anything else, but there is so much more to the bearded Australian. The creator of Dynaworks has great visions and thoughts about the future of building design and construction, has a great sense of humor and currently holds the world record for longest RTC lab – 300 minutes, all alone and hung over in Melbourne in 2014. Like Marcello, I don’t think Adam has shared many skills in Europe before, and it is fantastic that he is making the long trip from Brisbane to Porto to be a Bad Monkey on stage.

The four of us have got something special lined up for the hopefully many lucky souls who sign up for Session 2.1 Bad Monkey Stream: Learn Dynamo. We will each run one half session focusing on teaching participant different ways of creating their own scripts for various design problems. Be there! You will be a much better person after.

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Bad Monkeys

I am a Bad Monkey. So is Julien. And Andreas. And Konrad, Dimitar, Adam, Brian and Marcello. Even Huyn is one although it’s hard to tell. We have a webpage. It’s at badmonkeys.net and is as volatile as we are.

I like being a Bad Monkey. I like having other Bad Monkeys watching my back. They do, you know. Every time I try to fuck up something in Dynamo, they pull me out of the failure and guide me on the right track. Every time I n00b around in Grasshopper, Konrad stretches his long arms over The Atlantic and points me in the right direction. Every time I challenge my geometry skills in Dynamo, Dimitar reaches out from his tree in Singapore and rains his magic on me. And every goddamn week when I try to do any type of generic computation or list manipulation, The Machine Himself Dynamo Grand Master Bad Monkey Andreas Dieckmann descends from the skies with his cape and shy smile to rescue me from certain doom.

One dark and slow morning a while ago Aleksandra came over to my desk and asked about the best way to number more than 600 rooms in the project we were working on. The coffee was still warm, and I already sensed it was going to be a good day. The way room numbering sequencing worked in France, where our project was located, related to both Level, Department and Grid location. That meant a room on Level 3, with Department ID 9 and located as the second room of that department between Grids 3 and 4 (read left-right, top-bottom) would receive the Room Number 3903-02. After some thinking I told Aleksandra that this could be automated with Dynamo and I could do it. My coffee hadn’t started cooling before I began worrying about my response. Even though all the data I needed was available in the Revit database, I had no clue how to do it. My first two tests were promising, but by the time I got around to iteration three and four I started thinking that I had to write each piece of data to temporary parameters, and then pull the temporary data from Revit and combine them in Dynamo to write one Room Number parameter.

Aleksandra

Aleksandra

Just after the morning with Aleksandra, I flew to Budapest to meet Monkeys Julien and Andreas. First thing they said when I laid my stress upon them was “Hell no, do this in a smart way by sorting all that data automatically”. “Okay….” I responded, nervously scratching hair that started to fall off.

The following week, less than 3 days before deadline, I woke up to a message that brought the biggest smile to my face and all my hair back. “Check your email. Andreas.” I rushed to work, grabbed a new coffee, opened his Dynamo script, copied the parts I was missing, ran the definition and watched in confused disbelief as all the hundreds of rooms got perfectly numbered according to all possible French rules. By that time Aleksandra had been putting her impressive Revit skills to better use on important design tasks, and I had all day to work on the facade, where I used Konrad’s free software for Grasshopper data linking and Julien’s free software for cutting thousands of Nested Families.

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Download Andreas’ script if you want to try for yourself: RoomNumberingByLevelGridAndYPosition

The Bad Monkeys made a Snøhetta design much better. They made an owner’s building more complete. And they helped Snøhetta employees, including me, sleep at night. For free, during their spare time.

I think the Bad Monkeys are so awesome that I am embarrassed to say it. I’m thinking “Am I exaggerating how awesome what we are doing is?” I don’t think so.

Last spring Konrad sent me a book. He wanted me to read Adam Grant’s ‘Give and Take – Why Helping Others Drives Our Success’ after he saw a blog post I wrote about my former boss Christine on how we shared knowledge and content when we worked together. The book explains with astonishing examples and scientific evidence how people throughout history has benefited from helping others, with no or little regard for their own success or personal gain. After finishing the book, I felt more confident than ever that the future of the world holds great promise for all the beautiful people who help each other every day. The world will be shaped by the givers, not the takers.

I read another book last year, The Martian by Andy Weir. (Thanks Ian Keough and Matt Jezyk!) Hopefully without spoiling the story for anyone who has not read it or seen Matt Damon on screen, here’s a beautiful excerpt for the final pages:

“If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do.”

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It’s pompous, I know. But it gave me goosebumps. Our group of monkeys grew from a community of people who enjoy helping others. I feel that we are a small part of a new connected world where people help each other regardless of business, discipline, department, company, country, culture or continent. Maybe we will realize that the old way of thinking about company knowledge as a secret asset that has to be safe guarded, hidden and protected will give way to an idea that every company, employee and client will prosper if we all help each other a little more.

Here’s a huge THANK YOU to the Bad Monkeys for being awesome. You guys rock.

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Number One

The presentation Building Design with Revit, Rhino, Dynamo & Grasshopper I did with Thomas Benedict Holth from Dark Architects at Revit Technology Conference Europe 2015 in Budapest in October was today announced the best rated session at the entire conference.

We presented work on combining Genetic Optimization and Environmental Analysis Tools in Grasshopper with Building Information Modeling (BIM) in Revit. The material was developed from the work we did together on an architectural competition at Dark last winter, and it apparently resonated with the people who attended the session. Thanks all who came and liked the session! I think we had a great time together in the Grand Ballroom at the Corinthia Hotel.

One of the things I have come to like about my job is working together with people who master and are passionate about computational and visual programming tools, have lots of ideas about technology, and are enthusiastic about learning BIM. Thomas was one of the first guys who made me realize this, and it was a great pleasure to work with him. We did not win the competition, but the technology we developed together still baffles me and makes me think we won anyway.

Me presenting Thomas

Me presenting Thomas

Together with Thomas and me, I was thrilled to find our previous coworkers and first time RTC speakers Margarida Jeronimo Barbosa (now at Beck) and Arne Folkestad Bjelland (now at Grape) on the Top 10 list. I was nowhere near an list after my first RTC presentation in Vancouver in 2013, and I’m brutally impressed with how they dealt with the preparations, nerves and execution. Awesome work, Margarida & Arne! I am also specially pleased to note that my friends and fellow European Dynamo enthusiasts Andreas Dieckmann and Peter Kompolschek were recognized for their awesome event sessions by also figuring in the final top 10 list. Check out the entire list on Jose Fandos’ blog post: RTC Europe Top 10 Speakers.

Julien, me, Margarida, Arne and Andreas at the Corinthia

Julien, me, Margarida, Arne and Andreas at the Corinthia

I plan to publish some content from the presentation in the future, but for now I conclude with thanking some of the people we worked with on the competition:

Caroline Stokkebokjær Hjelseth who didn’t sleep for 48 hours straight; Jeanette Norin who always laughed and totally owned the Revit model; Kaja Kittang Kvande who kept pushing us with her determination and never-give-up attitude; Rene Damborg Jensen, the trend expert who kept producing when we were all high on no sleep and couldn’t concentrate; Olaf Kon (mr. K) who contributed so much to the entire project with great ideas from day one; Franziska Meizel who flew in from the sideline and nailed the main concept at the end; Marcin Kitala who started working at Dark just before deadline and made huge contributions to the modeling of the final concept – life saver!; Tommi Haferbier Nielsen and his team at Steensen & Varming in Copenhagen – always in a good mood and contributing to the creative process; Ambrogio Agnozi at ARUP who gave us so much insight and knowledge about different structural solutions and ways to communicate a design with hand sketches; Daniel Nielsen in Copenhagen for all the help developing the Grasshopper scripts after Thomas went to Africa – we owe you big time; and finally Christine Grape who was our mentor, leader and anchor until two weeks before deadline. Thanks all!

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Snøhetta

I have a new job. Yay!

Today I spend my first day at one of the world´s most renowned design practices. Snøhetta has designed many of the coolest buildings in the world the past almost 20 years, starting with the Alexandria Library in Egypt. Later work include the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet and the World Trade center memorial site.

My hopes for my first time at the company is that I get to connect my building information modeling and computation knowledge with my new colleague´s parametric work. My colleagues use Grasshopper at a pretty decent level, and I am really exited at the possibility of making those models talk with Revit through Dynamo. I also hope to learn more about working with transpositioning and our fantastic workshop. We have a god damn HUGE programmable manufacturing robot with eyes and a mustache!

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Check out our website at snohetta.com. There you will find interesting stuff about our projects, people and processes.

Norwegian National Opera and Ballet

Norwegian National Opera and Ballet

King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture

King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture

SFMOMA Expansion

SFMOMA Expansion

Tverrfjellhytta, Norwegian Wild Reindeer Pavilion

Tverrfjellhytta, Norwegian Wild Reindeer Pavilion

Arne

Arne quit his job.

He’s no longer sitting 6 meters behind me at the office. He’s no longer at Dark. He’s been there his entire professional career as an architects, but no longer. May 1th he went solo.

When I came to Dark two and a half years ago I didn’t know him very well. Nor did I know about his work and abilities. I can safely say that getting to know the creative, skilled and unafraid mind of my former colleague and new friend has been one the greatest pleasures of the past years. Arne has exceptional digital skills: He understands how software works. And he has the imagination and fearlessness to use that knowledge at full strength in building design. He also is completely unafraid to do things he’s never done before. Proven by quitting his first job without a new contract lined up.

I’m sad to see him go, but I’m glad to see him do it. And I’m super exited about my buddy’s future.

Now he runs his own architecture practice at Hel Ved Architecture, He continues to write at his blog Digital story of an architect.

Arne and his team designed one of the coolest buildings in Norway. Barcode, DnB Headquarters, Oslo. Dark Architects.

Arne and his team designed one of the coolest buildings in Norway. Barcode, DnB Headquarters, Oslo. Dark Architects.

Revit Technology Conference

Jay, Martijn and me at RTCEUR 2014 in Dublin

Jay, Martijn and me at RTCEUR 2014 in Dublin

Revit Technology Conference (RTC) is a series of global events that gather building designers and builders who have a common passion of digital technology and sharing knowledge. The conference is awesome because it attracts awesome people and because it creates a small and intimate setting where these people have fun. That’s it. Gather awesome people, and let them have fun. That’s how you solve any problem.

I have attended and/or spoken at every RTC worldwide since Vancouver in 2013. In Canada I was blown away by the companionship and party style of a technical conference. That’s where I met all my Canadian friends, whom I now hook up with as often as I can. Later that year I learnt how to party like an animal in Delft. Okay, I already knew how to do that, but I had never done it with Jose Fandos before. That’s also where I met Julien Benoit for the first time. On the train ride home that Sunday morning, haunted by the party animal, Julien told me to learn Dynamo. Best. Advice. Ever.

In 2014 I did a hat trick speaking in Melbourne, Chicago and Dublin totaling some 11 hours on stage presenting and labbing. That year climaxed with the before-mentioned Monseigneur Benoit and me co-hosting a double Dynamo lab. And finally this year I did the third and single best presentations in Australia’s Gold Coast, both on Dynamo.

I have learnt so much, laughed so hard and met so many extraordinary people during these two years.

Today, on Thursday July 23rd 2015, in Washington DC, the first RTC since Auckland, New Zealand, kicks off without me in it. If you are there, appreciate it. If you are passionate about digital technology in building design this is the best place to meet your tribe.

I miss mine.

Andreas, Julien and me at RTCEUR 2014 in Dublin

Andreas, Julien and me at RTCEUR 2014 in Dublin

Dynamo student submissions

One of the coolest things I did so far this year was teaching Dynamo to engineering students at Bergen University College. I used the same exercise that I taught world leading digital design specialists at Autodesk University in Las Vegas late in 2014: The atrium roof of the Smithsonian Museum of American Arts in Washington DC, that Zach Kron helped me develop. I really like that design example, and was thrilled that many of the 68 students managed to follow. Which is rather spectacular, as none of them had ever heard of visual programming before, and few were proficient Revit users.
After a day of lecturing the students received an assignment that they would solve themselves. Although the assignment was vague and similar to the lecture material, I impressed by the creativity and skills shown by a majority of the students.
Here, I present the 3 submissions that my co-teacher Magne Ganz and me thought were exceptional:

Robert Gravdal

This shell construction based on a combination of cosine functions is my tribute to the beautiful mountain called «Norskehesten» (The Norwegian Horse), which in my opinion is best viewed at sunset, from my favorite fishing spot, in my hometown called Hyllestad 🙂
One interesting thing about “Norskehesten” is that it has a peculiar quality of looking quite similar from different orientations.
I see many opportunities for my design. Maybe it is a roof over an atrium (preferably square), or it is a sculpture, or maybe it is a stand-alone building, only missing some walls.
Maybe/hopefully, I get to realize it some day! 🙂

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Aleksander Jørgensen

Roof structure based on cosine functions with half periods.

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Camilla Flataukan

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