Lattice Hinge design workshop / Starting from an open source grasshopper design

In 2016, I organized in collaboration with a coworking space in France WOMA, a meetup on collaborative architecture.
In the meetup, I talked about Openbricks project, the platform to share and find open source element of architecture.

We invited Louise Deguigue, a talented architect student, that worked on the thematic of lattice Hinge design.

Lattice hinge design is a technic to cut the wood in a way it becomes flexible as a fabric and can be bound or hanged. It is a complementary technic that those used for example in naval construction to bind the wood and make it fit complex surfaces.

Online resources about lattice hinge design

Lattice hige design examples grasshopper files

In Webent wood site, there is a download section where you can find 3 files in .gh format. The files are shared under creative commons license.

We have no idea what it could be, but anyway, let’s try and download them.

Rhino and grasshopper

But for that I need to install Rhino, Rhino is a famous software used by architects, designers, and is specialized in complex geometry. It includes now from version 6, one of its most famous plugin: grasshopper that allows parametric modeling.

Rhino can be evaluated for 90 days so we can start with that and download it.

Let’s open our newly installed Rhino :slight_smile:

When we open the .gh file a grasshopper window open.
Waou! This is my geometry!
Quite original representation of a geometry.
But we will see later with the parametric design we can update and refine the geometry much more easily and at the end be more creative!

grasshopper screen to edit the geometry

It is not so complicated when we look at Rhino preview of this geometry. Indeed grasshopper window allows editing the geometry, whereas Rhino renders and display the final result. We can even edit some of the geometry with Rhino in a non-parametric way, but this is an advanced subject.

So this design is a simple element, a sheet of wood that is cut to be able to bend along a circle. Good start!

Learning grasshopper

To learn grasshopper and Rhino, there are community sites that can help you.

The main forum of grasshopper is

To get started it is always a good idea to find some tutorials that describe grasshopper more globally like this one

Practical exercises on Grasshopper

Scale a circle

We create :

3 parameters components :

  • One circle param (that we choose in Rhino GUI)
  • One point param to define the center of transformation
  • One number param to define the scale factor

And a transformation component :

  • One transformation scale component

The transformation scale component have 3 default input :

G : Geometry / The geometric shape to scale
C: Center / The center of the transformation
F: Factor / The factor of the transformation

So we connect our 3 params to the transformation component, and it generates a new circle scaled displayed in green in the following screenshot.

So with our 4 components we have this display :

And In Rhino we have this render in perspective view

Waouh nice! Our first parametric design creation!

Double curvature

Many lattice hinge design makes simple developable surfaces which is great. I mean like a cylinder that is getting unfolded. But how to do something like the waves of an ocean? You need non-developable surfaces, that can be folded in the 2 directions. An example of such a surface made of laser cut wood is shared here in this Crotian architects blog

You can find the super flexible playwood.dxf (344.2 KB)
to do you own 2 directions folded laser cut design.