Architecture has come a long way in form creation, from basic natural shelters in prehistoric times to the massive skyscrapers we see today. Modern architecture defined by many primary forms and designs that show structural integrity and minimal simplicity. With the onset of the 21st century, architecture started turning into a completely new realm, with highly advanced and complex-looking forms made of curves, small angles, and walls that seemed to defy gravity. The advancements in architecture are made possible by developing software that enables complicated structures to be visualized through 3D modeling software. The model geometry is highly accurate and produces precise visualizations in the context. One such software is ‘Kangaroo.’
Kangaroo is a live physics engine that helps form-finding, interactive simulation, optimization, and constraint solving. It is a 3D plugin for Grasshopper and Rhino.
Rhinoceros is a 3D modeling software that allows designers to create complex structures through 3D models. Rhino essentially uses NURBS and precise geometry to form its shape. On the other hand, Grasshopper is a plugin for Rhino. It enables recording of the designing steps where one can go back and make changes to the previous actions, which changes the final output accordingly.
Structural engineers use Kangaroo to produce accurate structural solutions for parametric design projects. The software optimizes structural elements like columns, beams, steel frames, steel rebars, etc., in terms of their performance and workability in the design. It also analyses the structural components, reveals errors, and resolves constraints. When changes are made to the structure, the optimization and analysis tool adjusts the model on a real-time basis. Daniel Piker created it in 2014, one of the many popular plugins for Rhino 3D.
Kangaroo is like a physical laboratory where one can simulate the elastic behavior of cables, chains, members, etc., to predict a shape coming from form-finding software. But, It does not allow one to calculate the formations or calculate stresses inside the geometries.
Kangaroo Physics: It will give the user the forces and show them the animation of how the forces react to each other.
Zombie Kangaroo: There is no animation and will only show the results of what is acting on the surface.
Kangaroo uses the particle-spring system where a chain is fixed to two points, and more minor issues divide the chain into different segments. Each segment is made of “Spring,” which are essentially elastic elements that move according to the points on either side. Since the peripheral points cannot be transferred, forces can be applied to the intermediary points and change their positions.
Similarly, an entire mesh can created from springs arranged in a square grid of desired columns and rows.
The Kangaroo component must be first placed in the Grasshopper Canvas to create a simulation.
It is an input where the generated forces that affect the 3D Model particles are fed. The forces could be material deformation, user input, or geometric constraints. Kangaroo creates interactions between the force and 3D model through force vectors.
These are certain point on the mesh that maintains a fixed location. Whatever forces applied on the points, Kangaroo cannot move them. Rhino can transfer the points to interact with the simulation as it is running.
If two or more points in the initial input (Force Objects and Anchors) are in the same position (within the tolerance setting), they will get joined together and treated as a single particle by Kangaroo.
Disturbances in the simulation can become unstable when dealing with particles because Kangaroo is trying to represent functions that are continuous in time steps that are non-continuous. This can improve by using softer springs or by increasing the spring dampening and drag so that the actions happen in smaller time intervals, allowing for more calculations for the same amount of movement.
Disturbances can also reduce by increasing the number of calculations between the seen particle interactions.
One of the demerits of the Kangaroo is that it is a complex learning curve where the outputs might have errors. There are also chances of system crashes if the inputs are wrong.
Since the open-source software is accessible to students and professionals alike. Since 3D modeling software came into being; there has been a massive advancement in architecture; where complicated forms made with parametric design. Kangaroo software is an essential tool for architects and structural engineers to achieve a complex structure with physical accuracy. Having software like Kangaroo at their disposal allows them to be fully creative when making forms and trust them to work. With Kangaroo, creating such conditions and implementing them into real-life projects pushes the boundaries of architecture and design.
About the Series
The series explores various software used globally in the 21st century, and this modeling software has proven to revolutionize architecture by exploring the unexplored. They are easing the process by finding new ways of construction through a blend of computational methods to support futurist designs. The series highlights software and tools like Rhino 3D, Grasshopper 3D, Ladybug, Honeybee, Pufferfish, Kangaroo, and more.
Read more about 10 Grasshopper plugins trending in the AEC industry.
Parenthetically, If you are curious to dive deeper into learning the parametric design and computational tools, you can check the workshops by PAACADEMY. These workshops are 7-session-long studio workshops devoted to exploring the computational design capabilities applied to architecture and design.