Whilst the vast majority of people in the industry are going for design automation from predetermined (given) coding, we at Heatherwick Studio are aiming to push this forward and achieve effectiveness to a maximum. That is to say, a range of basic options that results in a maximum output that we the users can determine and control, not the other way around, as a result from the computer/application. 

For the UK Dynamo User Group’s Dynamo + Generative Design Hackathon 2019 held in London, the Hackerwick team: Gabriel Piovanetti, Alfonso Monedero & Tryfon Foteinopoulos thought to revamp the endless iteration process with a new generative tool. In short, we wanted to explode −not explore− as many options as possible within Revit & Dynamo.


It all started with a Voronoi pattern to try and mimic the toposurface of our Pier 55 project in NYC. During the early days of conceptual phasing, the Studio developed an abundance of surfaces within Rhino (ver.5), and countless hours of trial and error went into achieving somewhat of a pleasing geometry that would hold the required programme.

For the hackathon, we decided to approach this with a different set of eyes –purposely– as the project was originally developed to represent Cairo pentagonal patterns, instead of Voronoi.

The intention behind the two coding-intense days at the Hackathon was to develop as many formal iterations as possible using different tiling patterns, eg. Voronoi, Tetrakis, Delaunay, Floret, etc., whilst trying to detach from previous aesthetics.


During the process, we managed to make some adjustments and get such iterations to near reality. It almost felt like swimming against the current –in a positive way– as most teams at the time were focusing on out-of-the-box formulations, or so it seemed. We had an extra task, which was to add a sense of beauty not only to the code/nodes themselves but to the actual output. Furthermore, anchor points were added for the structural pillars and the centre point location of the foundation, as to integrate structural logic into the code.



Unbeknownst to us, the beta version of Refinery came out just at the right moment in time. This wonderful tool –much more than that– helped us streamline the exercise throughout without any hiccups, thus pushing towards our goal in ⅓ of the time. 



Even though the project is being built (as we publish this post 60% of the pots are up), we wanted to further explore the base geometry. The main intention was to use this as our quintessential case-study for ongoing + prospect projects along the way. Optimisation is key when it comes to critical structural values and hitting area targets that would involve massive cost fluctuation. Moreover, the goal was to create a perfect marriage between our BIM driven world and that of a designer’s universe characteristic of formal explorations rather than data-driven environments.


Refinery would –in essence– narrow down any excess implications in cost, thus avoiding lengthy value engineering efforts along with the progression of the project. Nono Martínez, a key developer of project Refinery, was kind enough to integrate with us and help throughout our 48-hour journey, concluding with countless amounts of options. Our targets were 100>200 pillars that had 5/6 sides for each Voronoi as to keep some constraints, altogether wrapped within optimum formal parameters.


End Result

The base, shaft, and capital were our focusing points, as any output from the nodes would result in amplifying minimum changes in between options. Little to no physical change would be visible within the resultant options from the output. Exploring (rather exploiting) how we could use generative design in Refinery to minimize the number of facets and pillar areas needed throughout the surface(s), we worked towards a less is more approach, rather than a more is a bore strategy. In summary, we had to minimise the iterations in between options to achieve significant variables within. 



The combination of Dynamo nodes, Refinery + Revit geometry output, resulted in some pretty amazing options that gave us full flexibility –and later to the end user– to control all variables and land with the best concept; all within minutes.

The future of this is unknown, yet unbelievable and endlessly gratifying for both designers and contractors alike. We can manage to push out thousands of options for all projects within a very short amount of time. The beauty of it all is that is data manipulation via a visually pleasing platform, which was a shy thing to explore with early versions of Dynamo or Revit. Now with this Beta version, we can attest that the possibilities are endless for generative architecture. Grateful for the opportunity given from Autodesk UK team. A big thank you to Sol Amour, Racel Williams, Nono Martínez and the rest of the people that helped.




Dynamo Sandbox 2.0.2

Refinery Beta

Revit 2019

Visual Studio ver. 16.0.2




Heatherwick Studio is a team of 250 problem solvers dedicated to making the physical world around us better for everyone. Based out of our combined workshop and design studio in Central London, we create buildings, spaces, master-plans, objects, and infrastructure. Focusing on large scale projects in cities all over the world, we prioritise those with the greatest positive social impact. Working as practical inventors with no signature style, our motivation is to design soulful and interesting places which embrace and celebrate the complexities of the real world. The approach driving everything is to lead from human experience rather than any fixed design dogma. The studio’s founder Thomas Heatherwick comes from a background immersed in materials and making. His curiosity and passion for problem-solving matured into the studio’s current design process where every architect, designer, landscape architect, and maker is encouraged to challenge and contribute ideas. 


Alfonso Monedero is an architect leading BIM implementation in Heatherwick Studio. He has vast international experience in Spain, India, Chile, and the UK. Having worked as project architect and Head of Design in a leading practice in Chile, he decided to move to a more technical role after observing how technology skills, or the lack of them, influence and limit design creativity, and affect project outcome. Alfonso started collaborating with Heatherwick Studio in 2015 as BIM consultant after successfully implement BIM in several projects, he moved to Woods Bagot to work as Design Technology Manager for the London office. In 2018 he came back to Heatherwick to continue the BIM implementation, a design-driven studio. His goal is to embed BIM in the design phase without limiting or hindering the design process. LinkedIn


Gabriel Piovanetti is an architect, graphic designer, and photographer – sometimes a BIM Specialist. He has worked on a wide range of projects in North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. Gabriel has designed, managed, and collaborated in numerous projects ranging in scale from small coffee shops to mid-rise towers and large scale master plans. In 2016 he joined Heatherwick Studio, where he currently practices architecture and performs project management through BIM Coordination. Gabriel has lived and worked in Boston, London, Mexico City, and PuertoRico. @gabrielpiovanetti | LinkedIn


Tryfon Foteinopoulos is an architect and design technology expert specialising in design computation and BIM. Having worked on several global practices: Atkins, Bryden Wood, Foster + Partners, SOM as an architect and consultant on various landmark projects across the globe, he finally landed on Heatherwick Studio leading BIM in their most complex and demanding projects. Tryfon’s efforts are concentrated in improving design outcomes not only by automation and process optimization but also by taking advantage of BIM in making informed design decisions. Recently, he has become fixated with the potential of using BIM data-sets for training machine learning algorithms. LinkedIn