Designing with Complex Geometry

This course will introduce Grasshopper3D (within Rhino3D) that combines the power of NURBS surface geometry with computation.

Instructors jamesmcbennettjamesmcbennett
Tuesday, May 4, 2021 06:00 pm EDT - Tuesday, June 1, 2021 06:00 pm EDT Local time zone:
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The live session of this course has ended but stay tuned for online Videos!

Designing with Complex Geometry will explore how the power of computation and NURBS surface geometry fuse together in Grasshopper3D, a visual programming interface included with the free trial of Rhino3D v7. 

Forward thinking designers have been producing work with code for decades. Grasshopper's easy-to-use interface makes it far easier for a new generation to be introduced to designing 2D and 3D complex geometry with code while also allowing the more tech-savvy creatives push further than ever before.

The format of this course will begin with slides that explain the concepts of the week. Project examples will be shown from start to finish in Grasshopper3D that introduce components of increasing complexity from week to week. Participants can follow-along and afterwards do the exercise themselves while asking questions to the instructor.

Download Rhino 90 DAY TRIAL here

Previous knowledge of Rhino3D is helpful but not required.

About the instructor:  

Hi, I'm James. I work with advanced geometry and CNC furniture. Previously, I studied architecture and spent some time in the architectural offices of OMA, JDS, and KPF. I've taught classes on digital geometry at University College Dublin and served as a guest critic in architecture at the Architectural Association, Oxford Brookes, and the University of Westminster. I look forward to sharing my knowledge and experience with you.

Submit Final Project


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Wk5 Anemone

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Wk4 Fields

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  • Week 1: Hello Grasshopper

    jamesmcbennett04/05/2021 at 20:11 0 comments

    Week 1 will begin by introducing Grasshopper3D's interface as if participants have never seen it before. Our first project example will be a bridge that will familiarize participants with how to use sliders to control a range of variables. Our second project example will be multiple attractor points to control the rotation and scale of geometry in a grid. 

    Class 1 Video:

  • Week 2: Data Management

    jamesmcbennett04/05/2021 at 20:12 0 comments

    Data is organized using lists that are grouped into branches. This class is about successfully managing large quantities of geometry. Our first example will look at how to create a flower that will expand into our second project example that will try to understand how the Galaxia by Arthur Manou-Mani at Burning Man 2018 might have be created.

    Model based on Galaxia (Burning Men Temple 2018) by Arthur Mamou-Mani

    Class 2 Video:

  • Week 3: Manipulating The Grid

    jamesmcbennett04/05/2021 at 20:13 0 comments

    Grids often serve as a base geometry where further geometry is created on top of every grid point. Manipulating the grid manipulates everything built on it. We'll look at different examples of creating grids and morphing that geometry onto surfaces.

    Surface Morph based on O-14 by Reiser Unemoto (RUR) 
    Class 3 Video:

  • Week 4: Vectors and Fields

    jamesmcbennett04/05/2021 at 20:43 0 comments

    In place of drawing lines of geometry, you can create field charges that will drag points along field lines resulting in complex curves.

    Class 4 Video:

  • Week 5: Physics Engine & Other Plugins

    jamesmcbennett04/05/2021 at 20:44 0 comments

    Download Anemone Plugin and place in components/libraries folder

    Use the top menu in Grasshopper to select File -> Special Folders -> Components to open the folder and then copy and paste the .Gha file.

    We'll look at what types of plugins are available for Grasshopper and where you can download them from. This week will use two plugins. The first is a physics engine plugin that comes pre-installed with Grasshopper called Kangaroo 2. Our example will be in two parts creating a tensile structure and then a cushion. 

    The second example this week will use the plugin Anemone which can be downloaded and installed as above. Anemone is used to create loops in Grasshopper.

    Submit Final Project

    Class 5 Video:

View all 5 course classes

Enjoy this course?



claudiofeldman wrote 2 days ago point


Envie un trabajo final, pero ningun comentario-opinion recibi,

sera que aun estas ahi ?

( fue interesante practica de Rhino)



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castagame wrote 02/22/2023 at 11:56 point

CASİNOGARANTİ online giris adresi

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redulfstan2643 wrote 10/10/2022 at 22:01 point

You have defined everything perfectly! thank you for this. I was looking for so long for my project; and Finally i found this and now I've created much more better designing just by a few hours of your course. Thank you

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jamesmcbennett wrote 06/01/2021 at 19:49 point

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bob.bryce wrote 04/15/2021 at 14:06 point

Hi James, This course looks super-interesting. My interest is in designing for 3D printing and so far I am using Autodesk Fusion 360.  I figure that this course would introduce me to a different way of working (always good), but it rather looks like learning Rhino3D will be a waste of time unless I'm prepared to shell out 995 euros.   Any thoughts?

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jamesmcbennett wrote 04/15/2021 at 14:36 point


Some libraries / makerspaces have a copy of Rhino installed. Many universities/architects/engineers also have access. Student/educator copies are full versions and far cheaper.

Many of the techniques were first done in code without any of the software we have today. Each of the big CAD software companies are poaching each other's ideas the same way LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook all now have 'stories' that began on Snapchat in 2013. It is only a matter of time before all of the big software's have a Grasshopper like ability. There are some new in-browser companies that are trying to compete with Solidworks/Autodesk/Rhino and might go the Grasshopper route. The course teaches computational thinking in 3D that could be useful to learn earlier than later which this course would do that. Could pick it up again when the opportunity presents itself.

As 3D Printing is a mass-customization medium, Grasshopper is highly recommended.


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bob.bryce wrote 04/15/2021 at 19:13 point

Thanks for the reply James. I'll check out the possibilities for an educator edition but without that access, the cost makes no sense for my situation. Thanks again.

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rebugiorgio wrote 04/08/2021 at 13:13 point

hi james, i am ignorant of Rhino, ( no knoledge). Do you think  i can understand /follow your course ?


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jamesmcbennett wrote 04/08/2021 at 14:10 point

Hi Gio. 

Thank you for your question. Classes will assume knowledge in Rhino3D as helpful but not required. I will do my best to explain everything as if people have not used Rhino3D previously. Hope you'll join!


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