[Workshop] Computational Design Thinking

21-22 March 2016

Workshop Outcome (Concluded)

We had an awesome 2 days of parametric exploration using Houdini & Sketchup. Thanks to all the participants who rocked the workshop with their energy & rigor.


Architects are increasingly experimenting with computation to incorporate building performance as a fundamental parameter informing the creation of architectural forms. This is achieved through Iterative Virtual Prototyping (IVP), a cyclical design process in which design variants are developed and evaluated for environmental performance (daylight, solar exposure, wind flow, etc.) using automated computational workflows.

Mario Bros Fire Flower


A two-day intensive workshop geared towards architects and designers like you who wish to augment their design workflow with advanced techniques leveraging parametric modeling and design simulation tools. It aims to impart foundation knowledge on computational design thinking and is therefore not a mere software training camp. The tools & techniques taught in this workshop are used by professionals in some of the most innovative architecture firms in the world.

We believe that this workshop will not only radically influence your design thought process but will also enable you to fully explore your design ideas parametrically.


Through a series of short-burst lectures, case studies, demo, and hands-on training, we will teach you how to explore ideas using a performance-driven design approach. By the end of the workshop, you would have learned to develop and evaluate multiple variants of building design using parametric modeling techniques. More importantly, you would learn all this without writing any computer code!

we are using sidefx houdini and sketchup pro at WOWAD workshops

SideFX Houdini: A Visual Dataflow Modelling software capable of producing complex parametric procedures. You can imagine it to be Rhino/Grasshopper on Steroids! You can download Houdini Apprentice for free here.

SketchUp Pro: A popular 3D modeling software for architects & designers. You can download a trial version for free here.


21-22 March 2016, 9AM to 6PM at Rajalakshmi School of Architecture

Workshop Schedule

Day 1 / Monday / 21st March 2016

09:00 – 10:00 Registration, Setup & Introduction

10:00 – 11:00 What is Computational Design Thinking?

11:00 – 12:00 Session 1

  • Visual Dataflow Modelling

  • Houdini GUI

  • Nodes, primitives, components & attributes

12:00 – 13:00 Session 2

  • SOP Nodes

  • Network & parameters

  • Creating geometry

13:00 – 14:00 Lunch Break

14:00 – 16:00 Session 3

  • Modifying geometry

  • Working with attributes

  • Parameter referencing

  • Functions & expressions

16:00 – 18:00 Session 4

  • Loops & data flow management

  • Evaluating performance

  • Import, export & interoperability

  • Using the Houdini Forum

Day 2 / Tuesday / 22nd March 2016

09:00 – 10:00 Introduction to Advanced Parametrics

10:00 – 13:00 On Your Own – Design Exploration

  • Group formation & introduction of the design brief

  • Supervised studio learning

13:00 – 14:00 Lunch Break

14:00 – 16:00 On Your Own – Design Exploration (Contd.)

  • Supervised studio learning

16:00 – 17:00 Presentation by Participants

17:00 – 18:00 Review & Discussion

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How is this workshop useful to me?

In this workshop, you will learn fundamental concepts of computational design thinking that not many in India have expertise in. You can use these techniques directly in your design projects in practice, academia, or research. This workshop will enable you to be ahead of the curve when it comes to making an informed design exploration.

2. Why choose WOWAD’s workshop?

This is a specialized workshop conducted by a tutor with significant local and international experience in computational design. The learning and its application are directly applicable to the project in an Indian context and are not simply meant to be a superfluous academic exercise. Also, a workshop size of 30 allows us to provide individual attention to each participant.

3. Why is it a 2-day workshop?

This is the shortest duration workshop dedicated to computational design learning for a beginner. Through radically rethinking teaching methods and by employing an intensive workshop schedule, we enable you to go from being a newbie in designing a building parametrically in 2 days.

4. Is transportation provided for Chennai residents?

Yes, you can hop on to any RSA college bus that plies your route for FREE.

5. I am not a resident of Chennai. Will my accommodation be taken care of?

Yes, we can provide you on-campus accommodation for both days of the workshop FREE of cost.

6. What are the other benefits of attending this workshop?

You will receive a discounted ticket price for every subsequent WOWAD workshop. You can enjoy unlimited free access to WOWAD online lessons, articles, and video tutorials for 1 year. You will also receive a hard copy of the Certificate of Merit mailed to you after the workshop.

7. What are the software tools used in this workshop?

We will be using SideFX Houdini, a procedural, Visual Dataflow Modelling software developed for the animation industry. This software enables us to develop complex parametric procedures relatively quickly and is, therefore, being adopted into the building industry. The other tool we will use is SketchUp Pro, which is a popular 3D modeling software for architects. We will also look into the interoperability of geometry between Houdini and Sketchup.

8. Are these tools free of cost?

Yes, these tools are free of cost for the capacities of this workshop. Houdini Apprentice is a free version of Houdini FX which can be used by students, artists, and hobbyists to create personal non-commercial projects. You can download Sketchup Pro (educational) for a trial period here.

9. Can I learn these tools for free from online sources like Youtube or Vimeo?

We believe learning a concept is very different from learning a tool. Most online videos focus on teaching the tool and not the concept. Moreover, online tutorials for SideFX Houdini is focused for use in the animation industry and not for buildings & architecture. This workshop is the first of its kind in India, teaching computational design using Houdini.

10. I am already proficient with Rhino/Grasshopper. Is this workshop still useful for me?

It is wonderful that you have already started learning on your own. However, SideFX Houdini is a much more advanced software compared to Grasshopper. From a tutoring perspective, we decided to introduce concepts straight away in an advanced tool so that participants do not have to learn multiple tools as they gain expertise.

11. Do I have to bring my own laptop?

You can choose to use your own laptop and we can help you install the software. But if you choose not to, we also have arranged for a dedicated PC for each participant with all the necessary software pre-installed. So the choice is yours.

12. I am a recent graduate from a university and have not started working yet. Do I still qualify for a student ticket?

Congratulations on your graduation and welcome to the Profession. You should consider yourself as a professional now. We are proud of you!