Parametric Engineering Course 2017


Parametric Engineering at Imperial College London with Arup, Ramboll and Simply Rhino



The Parametric Engineering course with Arup, Ramboll and Simply Rhino at Imperial College attempts to show the benefits of parametric thinking in the field of Engineering.
It is a nine-weeks long, hands-on, evening class on the Grasshopper3D platform for Rhinoceros3D and its structural and physics simulation plugins (Karamba, Kangaroo) specifically for the practice of Engineering. At the end of the course, you should be able to create entire parametric models such as a stadium or a bridge on Grasshopper3D and use plugins to create creative loops between the model and live feedback from simulations.
The course will be taught through practice and theory by award-winning structural engineers, architects and software developers and will only be open to students and teachers, there are no commercial places available
This course is open to those in full time Academic Employment or Students in full time Education. Applications from those in part time study or teaching roles will be considered if there is availability.
Please note that all places for Imperial College Students / Staff are handled directly with Imperial College.
The course takes place on nine consecutive Thursday evenings from 19:00-21:00 and commences on Thursday January the 19th, 2017.
The course is now full, thanks to everyone for their interest. We hope to run similar courses again soon, so contact us if you'd like to be kept up to date with news on future courses.


Arup: Case Studies of Parametric Engineering


Left Image: Tennis roof - The structural model of a Tennis stadium roof by Paul Jeffries.  A Grasshopper definition is used to generate complete analysis and BIM models.                                                                                                                                                                                                   Right Image: The parametric workflow of the ArcelorMittal Orbit by Paul Jeffries. The diagrid geometry was produced algorithmically based on a guide curve and a few simple parameters. All Images © Arup.


Course Outline:

Week 1 (19/01/17)

Rhino Refresher Week - This week is not, like the course, intended for people entirely new to Rhino, it is, as stated, a refresher and people will be expected to have a prior working knowledge of Rhino before attending. Please see the course prerequisites at the bottom of this page, or contact us at Simply Rhino, if you are in any doubt as to your Rhino ability level.

A refresher session to freeform modelling on Rhinoceros 3D, the NURBS modelling software. We'll have a recap of the Rhino interface and the various tools followed by a look at different geometrical concepts in Rhino3D, including the NURBS Curve and surface as well as meshes and the crucial differences between them. 

Class Leaders: Sean Cowell & Arthur Mamou-Mani    

Assisted by: Ping-Hsiang Chen


Week 2 (26/01/17)

Introduction to the parametric plugin Grasshopper3D for Rhino, we will look at the interface, the parameters and how to import data, create 3D points, lines, we will also give an overall talk on parametric thinking.

Class Leader: Paul Jeffries

Assisted by: Conor Black, Arthur Mamou-Mani & Ping-Hsiang Chen


Week 3 (02/02/17)

Flat lists, Data Matching, Curve Domain Analysis and Vectors - We will look at how data flows from one component to the other and how grasshopper understands it. We will explain the properties of curves and the concept of vector mathematics. This will be taught using the design of a truss as the example.

Class Leader: Vincenzo Reale

Assisted by: Conor Black, Vladimir Marinov & Ping-Hsiang Chen


Week 4 (09/02/17)

Introduction to Data Trees, matrices, graph mappers - We will explain how data can be manipulated through the use of data tree and you will create your first project, a Shukhov-like tower.

Class Leader: Paul Jeffries

Assisted by: Vincenzo Reale, Arthur Mamou-Mani & Ping-Hsiang Chen


Week 5 (16/02/17)

Advanced Data Trees, Surface manipulation. We will further our understanding of data through the creation of complex components on surfaces and using different tools to manipulate data trees and access specific items within a complex branched list.

Class Leader: Conor Black

Assisted by: Paul Jeffries, Arthur Mamou-Mani & Ping-Hsiang Chen


Week 6 (23/02/17)

Form finding with Kangaroo Plugin - We will introduce our first plugins from the rich community of Grasshopper plugins online, Kangaroo is a physical simulation plugin allowing to simulate physical behaviour such as gravity and springs. Introduction to meshes and mesh topology.

Class Leader: Conor Black

Assisted by: Vincenzo Reale, Arthur Mamou-Mani & Ping-Hsiang Chen


Week 7 (02/03/17)

Introduction to the evolutionary solver Galapagos to optimise parametric models. We will optimise a column grid to minimize depth of beams.

Class Leader: Paul Jeffries

Assisted by: Conor Black, Arthur Mamou-Mani & Ping-Hsiang Chen


Week 8 (09/03/17)

Introduction to text-based scripting - C#,, Python with simple examples, if statements, loops, recursion.

Class Leader: Paul Jeffries

Assisted by: Conor Black, Arthur Mamou-Mani & Ping-Hsiang Chen


Week 9 (16/03/17)

Structural simulation with Grasshopper plugin Karamba3D.

Class Leader: Vladimir Marinov

Assisted by: Vincenzo Reale, Arthur Mamou-Mani & Ping-Hsiang Chen


KASC Stadium Design by Arup Associates

Left Image: KASC Stadium by Arup Associates. A fully parametric stadium, incorporating bowl design, roof and facade. Completed on site in 2014.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Right Image: KASC Stadium by Arup Associates. Roof designed with modular truss units and linked to analytical programsRight Image: KASC Stadium by Arup Associates. Roof designed with modular truss units and linked to analytical programs. All Images © Arup.


Course Contributors


Conor Carson Black, Conor is an Architect and specialist in digital design in the Arup Facade team. He teaches architectural coding techniques at the Bartlett School of Architecture for the Adaptive Architecture & Computation MSc course. Currently working as a complex geometry specialist on projects at Arup such as Mexico City Airport, Oman Botanical Gardens and Abu Dhabi Airport.


Sean Cowell, Sean’s background in CAD goes back over 20 years, his main experience is in Architecture plus M&E Services Industries.Sean has been a Certified Rhino Instructor since 2006 and delivers the Simply Rhino Introductory classes. Sean is well known to the many hundreds to have come through our Level 1 Day or Evening Classes and those who he has privately trained on site.


Paul Jeffries, Paul is head of Computational Design at Ramboll and also teaches courses on algorithmic design at the Architectural Association Design Research Laboratory (AADRL).  He is a chartered engineer and software developer with nine years of design experience on often technically demanding and geometrically complex structures, including the ArcelorMittal Orbit and the Sagrada Familia.  His work involves research on computational design techniques and the development of the tools necessary for their successful integration into real project workflows.


Arthur Mamou-Mani, Arthur is an Architect ( and a lecturer at the University of Westminster in London ( He has been working with Simply Rhino for the past four years, giving Grasshopper3D workshops to prestigious design and engineering companies including Heatherwick Studio and Foster + Partners as well as many leading academic bodies such as the Architectural Association School of Architecture and UCL-Bartlett. Arthur also gave numerous talks including the TEDx, 3DPrintShow, ShapeToFabrication and the Develop3D Conferences.


Vladimir Marinov, Vladimir is a structural glass engineer in Arup façade Engineering and works closely with other Arup groups providing support and advice for a range of engineering problems. His areas of expertise include design and detailing of specialist glass structures, light-weight steel structures and parametric design. He has led the design of and engineered high-profile and award winning projects around the world.


Vincenzo Reale, Vincenzo is a structural engineer and an architect. Having worked with several contemporary architectural and design practices, including Zaha Hadid Architects, Antony Gormley Studio and Emergent Architecture, he currently holds the position of structural engineer at Arup Building Engineering in London. He is also teaching assistant at Landscape and Urbanism master programme at the Architectural Association, unit master at AA visiting school Jordan and accredited trainer of several parametric courses for engineers at the Arup University. He has developed a particular skill in the design of projects with geometrically complex structural forms, merging the structural engineering practice with advanced 3D modelling, parametric design techniques and scripting.


Ping-Hsiang Chen, Ping-Hsiang is a computational designer specializing in the domain of parametric design and digital fabrication. He has been teaching Rhino and Grasshopper 3D workshops in the leading academic bodies such as Architectural Association School of Architecture, Shih Chein University, National Taiwan Technology and Science University, as well as professional design studios since 2010. 


Arup Project: Garden Bridge by Heatherwick Studio

                       Images: A combined definition with Heatherwick Studio to optimise the soffit geometry, and explore options for the internal structure. Custom mesh generation of the soffit for export to analytical programs. All Images © Arup.



Course Prerequisites
  • Participants in this Parametric Engineering class are expected to have a Basic to Intermediate level of competence with Rhino version 5, ideally they should have attended the Certified Level 1 Introduction to Rhino class beforehand or have the equivalent working experience.  Some experience of Grasshopper will also help. We would suggest that if you have any doubts on whether you are at the correct level in order to take full advantage of this workshop then contact us and we’ll help you make the correct decision on taking this one or preparing and then attending a later class
  • We expect all attendees to be present at all sessions, the course will be fast moving and this will leave little time for repeating material 
  • It is expected that all attendees will be willing and able to carry out additional tasks related to the project between course sessions, this will be essential to achieve the desired course objective


Course Cost
  • The price for a place on the course is £120 + VAT
  • There are no commercial places available; the course is open only to those in full time academic employment or students in full time education (applications from those in part time academia will be considered if there is availability)
  • Please note if accepted on the course we will need to see ID proof of your academic status before your place on the course is approved
  • We expect the course to be over-subscribed and completing the application form will not guarantee you a place
  • The course is free of charge for Imperial College Students / Staff but please note all these places are allocated and handled by Imperial College and can not be applied for here


Course Application

The course is now full, thanks to everyone for their interest. We hope to run similar courses again soon, so contact us if you'd like to be kept up to date with news on future courses.


Course Location

The course will be taking place at Imperial College London on the South Kensington Campus.

Applicants who are successful in securing a place will be given full course joining details. 


If you require any further information then please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Arup: Mexico City Airport by Foster+Partners


Arup Images: Variable node | Purlin design for complex airport roof | Facade gridshell structure  & Rainfall simulations by Conor Carson Black. All Images © Arup.


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