Model complex 3D architectural geometry with Rhinoceros

Stefan Boeykens

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Stefan Boeykens

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1 Hours

29 Lesson



Update Feb. 2015: A new Section is in preparation, recreating the basic shape of a "Shell House". This will be available for all student members, so join the course now before the price is increased to $69.

This is a basic introduction and overview of modelling complex 3D Freeform shapes in the context of architectural design.

Have you ever wondered how certain architectural designs are actually created? You might assume that it is helped by software, but which system is suited for this? In regular CAD software that architects often use, such as AutoCAD or SketchUp, the creation of organic models and surfaces is hard to impossible.

We use Rhinoceros, a quite popular NURBS modelling software for McNeel. This is very popular within several innovative architectural offices where it is used for complex forms, organic architecture and extensive tweaking of 3D models. The software can also be used complementary to other architectural design software, although it is quite complete in itself.

The course starts with a basic introduction and overview of the software and then a few example projects are developed. They are inspired by famous and iconic architectural projects, but are not full reconstruction. We use the examples to inspire you and focus on a certain part of element which we will strip down to the basic geometric operations, giving you insight in how to approach more complex projects.

You don’t need any other software then Rhinoceros, on Windows or OSX, but be ready to try and fail, often. As many modelling tasks require a specific order of operations. We cannot prepare a solution for every possible task, but by building upon a few basic examples, you learn an approach which focuses on dividing the task at hand into smaller problems, that are easier to tackle. And these can then be applied in other situations.

So come join us and learn the basics of 3D Freeform Modelling with Rhinoceros.


You’ll need access to McNeel Rhinoceros, a 3D NURBS Modelling software.

You can use release 4 or 5 from the software.

While mostly illustrated with the Windows version, there is no problem using the OSX Release, which is still in beta at this time.

You may use a commercial, educational or trial version. No other software is required.

Who This Course is For

This is a first introduction to Rhinoceros for architects, students of architecture and anybody interested in organic shapes that are used in buildings.

This course does not focus on product design nor digital fabrication, but the methods learned are of course applicable in other contexts.

What You Will be Learn

creating complex 3D shapes and geometry, to model freeform, organic architecture

break down a seemingly difficult shape into a logical sequence of geometric operations

control the smoothness and continuity of the geometry with visual feedback from Rhinoceros

Stefan Boeykens

Dragon Zap Instructor

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2 Courses

Dragon Zap Instructor

Architect-Engineer from Belgium, working as sr. Innovation and BIM manager for D-studio (B) and Guest professor at KU Leuven (B). Member of CEN/TC 442, buildingSMART Benelux and CLUSTER Digital Construction. Father of three boys, guitar-player, composer and technology enthousiast and concerned about peace, open access to information and sustainability.


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