Computational Design Thinking Workshop (Concluded)

Workshop Outcome

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

Mario Bros Fire Flower


Architects are increasingly experimenting with computation to incorporate building performance as a fundamental parameter informing the creation of architecture 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.


A two-day intensive workshop geared towards architects and designers like you who wish to augment their design workflow with advanced techniques leveraging parametric modelling 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 learnt to develop and evaluate multiple variants of a building design using parametric modelling 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 modelling 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 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 is directly applicable to project in an Indian context and is 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 to 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 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 modelling software for architects. We will also look into 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 of 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 you 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!



1. Tickets are available on first-come, first-served basis only.

2. You can buy multiple tickets at once but must register each participant individually.

3. Students must email a valid proof of academic status to after online registration. Failure to do so will lead to a non-refundable cancellation.

4. In an unlikely scenario where the minimum number of participation is not reached, WOWAD reserves the right to cancel the workshop and complete refunds will be made to all attendees.

5. Failure to attend the workshop on any day after registration will be considered ‘no-show’ and no refunds will be made.

6. Participants have to attend on both days of the workshop to receive a Certificate of Merit.

Design Optioneering

anna university hindustan design optioneering chennai 2014

I was invited for a knowledge sharing session with students of Anna University and Hindustan University, Chennai in August 2014. The session panned out to be an interesting platform where we exchanged ideas on how to we could adopt 'Design Optioneering' in mainstream architecture practice.

Some of the topics that were covered in that session were:

  • Why should we adopt Iterative Virtual Prototyping?
  • Benefits of performance driven design approach
  • How to employ Optioneering in urban design?
  • Design automation & case studies
  • Future of Parametric BIM & other tools

We need every tool in the box

Future of Parametric BIM: We need every tool in the box for a robust workflow.

Computational Design Thinking


I had the opportunity to deliver a series of talks in July 2013 on ‘Computational Design Thinking’ in three leading Architecture schools in Chennai; SRM School of Architecture, Crescent School of Architecture and Rajalakshmi Engineering College. 

The talks focused on how capacities of computational design are fully unfolded by effectively exercising computational thinking in design practice. My approach to the talk was to keep it simple and appealing to a crowd of young architecture students. I had based this talk on some of the research work I was part of in NUS, Singapore and a few interesting projects I had designed in Chennai. The idea was to give an overview of how we can leverage computational design thinking effectively in both research and practice. Some of the topics I had covered in the 90 minute talk were:

  • Role of computational designers in AECO industry
  • How different are computational designers from architects?
  • Leveraging computational design for augmented design exploration
  • Design automation
  • ROI of technology for small, medium and big firms
  • The future of architecture research & practice
A daylight based parametric facade by WOW Architecture+Design
Leveraging computational design for augmented design exploration: A Design Optioneering exercise for an office facade project in Chennai

Multi-Criteria Evolutionary Optimisation

The 17th International CAADRIA conference was held during 25-28 April 2012 and was hosted by Hindustan University, Chennai.

Vignesh Kaushik presented a paper on ‘Multi-Criteria Evolutionary Optimisation Of Building Envelopes During Conceptual Stages Of Design’. This paper focused on using evolutionary algorithms during conceptual stages of design process for multi-criteria optimisation of building envelopes. An experiment was carried out in optimising a panelled building envelope. The design scenario for the experiment was based on the building envelope of the Media Centre Building in Paris. The performance intent of the experiment was to maximise daylight and minimise afternoon direct sun hours in the building at certain specific locations. The experiments demonstrated how designers could quickly use evolutionary algorithms to explore a wide range of design variants at early conceptual stages of design process.

The paper was authored by Vignesh Kaushik and Patrick Janssen at National University of Singapore.

Download Full Paper