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Heliotrope and Animated Origami

September 12, 2012

Happy to be back posting on the Gnarly Architecture blog again!  This summer I’ve helped Nancy Cheng of the University of Oregon model and animate the beautiful origami solar shades she has designed and written about on the UO School of Architecture and Allied Arts Blog. There has been some wonderful synergy between her work and mine and together we have been very successful.

We created panels in Rhino3D and manipulated them using custom inverse kinematics algorithms I developed in C#. Ultimately we explored – using my new Heliotrope plugin for solar modeling and design in Grasshopper –  how the shades might fold and unfold driven by the sun’s position. The video clip below shows one of Nancy’s panels folding and unfolding as the sun traverses a single day’s solar arc:

The panel opens and closes as the sun lines up to the south. When directly south, the screen flattens out to prevent direct solar gain. When off-axis to the east or west, the panel folds and allows more light to enter.

The sun and cast shadows are animated using the latest and greatest Heliotrope 1.0, a Grasshopper plugin developed at Slate Shingle Studio, released last week and available for download at Food4Rhino.

How the panels fold is constrained by the connecting geometry and satisfied by the inverse kinematics algorithm. Inverse kinematics is a mathematical process used to set the joints in a robotic arm to position its hand at the right location and angle.  Here, a similar process constrains how the panels move in relation to one another as the paper folds upon itself.

I will be presenting details of this algorithm in a workshop I am co-teaching next month with Edmund Harriss and David Celento at ACADIA 2012 in San Francisco!  Sign up here.  And over the next several weeks, I will be posting further images created from the shading models, as well as demonstrating how Heliotrope is used to generate and manipulate geometry based on sun paths and positions.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 13, 2015 8:05 am

    This is amazing, i will love to get research on it, very interesting.

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