Using parametric BIM integration for prototyping future responsive facades


  • Zaki Mallasi College of Architecture and Design, Effat University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia




Parametric Modeling, BIM, Kinetic Façade, Design Computation, Arduino, Prototypes, Computational


Architectural facades throughout the history have been designed to respond to environmental, social and functional conditions among other considerations. Advancements in Digital Design Computation (DDC) emerged as an essential support for exploring and creating contemporary architectural facades. Current research attempts seeking responsive kinetic facade revealed different methods of integrating kinetics into the physical facade. However, some case studies indicated that physical façades struggled to achieve the anticipated kinetic responses after a facade is constructed. In addition, the process is formal, prescribed, lacks flexibility and can only assist the designer in the visualization of the design. As a consequence, the challenges in understanding the process of connectivity between digital/physical kinetics are important to address in the early design stage. Digital and physical façade prototypes would allow designers to test the qualities of such system before constructing full-size mock-ups and discover new modes of parametric design thinking in architecture.

In this work, we report on an ongoing development of a custom Add-on utilizing Autodesk ® Revit application that connects between the kinetic properties of the digital and physical model to control dynamic façade. We deployed the Revit Application Programming Interface (API) C# programming to manipulate the kinetic response through linear actuation. The system framework proposes a practical mechanism connecting solar exposure values to a Building Information Model (BIM). In this process, an Arduino Mega board, servo motors, tooth-beam and tensile-fabric material were used to construct the small physical prototype and program its automation.

While adding to previous research, we are tackling three challenges. The first is to dynamically harness the response mechanism of kinetic façade so that to avoid uninformed design decision making. The second is to map the digital/physical kinetic properties in terms of: modeling, process and function. The third is to assess the benefits from our approach of connecting BIM parametric model with physical prototypes. Our experimental project demonstrates how data could be transformed digital/physical façade model. We conclude by observations from this work on how BIM parametric modeling with design computation could influence the future direction of kinetic façade systems.

How to Cite

Mallasi, Z. (2018). Using parametric BIM integration for prototyping future responsive facades. Journal of Facade Design and Engineering, 6(1), 89–100.





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