General objective

For the fifth week of the Techne workshop we continue the exploration of the interaction between mass and lightness in earth-based construction. As a continuation of the previous week where we explored the infiltration of maximum indirect light while minimizing the direct light through the walls and visual porosity, this week we try to look at the direct light that passes through the walls and visual porosity by either deforming the grid of the wall, the shape of the geometries or both. For this week, we design a wall with the following dimensions – 6m long * 3m high and work through the process of creation of options defined in the following set of catalogs.

Each group had to produce three catalogs with the following parameters –

  • For catalog 1 we keep a non variable grid and deform the polygons.
  • For catalog 2, we keep a non variable polygon but deform the grid.
  • And for catalog 3, we deform both the grid of the wall and the polygons.

We then observe, compare and analyze how each parameter affects the light performance and try to derive certain conclusions.  

Catalog 1 – Shape deformation

For the first catalog, the aim was to develop iterations of 6 geometries (per group) with the condition of using a non-variable grid for the wall, however, deforming the shape of the polygons by either rotating them, scaling them in the x-direction, scaling them in the y-direction or both.

The aim was to see how the deformation of the polygons affect the light performance and visual porosity while keeping a non variable grid and derive certain conclusions from it. 

In order to deform the polygons, we used control curves of various wavelengths.

Scaling of the polygons in x direction has a more significant impact in terms of direct light going through the wall at 90 degrees as we deform the polygons in the direction of the light passing through the walls. This, in most cases (depending on the shape), allows more light to enter at 90 degrees as compared to other angles.

Scaling the polygons in y direction has a more significant impact on the amount of light at angles other than 90 degrees as we are deforming the polygons against the direction of the 90 degree light. 

By rotating the shapes a general change in the amount of light going through all angles is observed. Also, we can play with the visual porosity at various angles when considering this parameter of polygon deformation.

By overall scaling the polygons, we observe that not only does it affect the amount of light passing through the wall at various angles, it can also significantly affect the visibility more as compared to other parameters.   

Thus, by just deforming the shapes and having a non variable grid, we can observe significant changes in the amount of light passing through the walls at different angles. However, even though we can play with the visual porosity at different angles with this method, it can be a bit restricting when it comes to the overall creation of openings within the walls.

Catalog 2 – Grid deformation

Based on the grasshopper script given by the professors, the students had to develop iterations of their geometries. These iterations were produced by a rotation or a  modification of the grid in different axes : X, Y, Z. The goal was to determine how the light performance is affected by the grid deformation in order to determine the utility of this method in an architectural context.To do so, the teams produced iterations of the walls in the different axes, to understand the tools and determine how they affect the hall.

On the X axis, we observed  less influence at the amount of direct light going through at different angles. However, one can choose at which points the light passes through the wall.

On the Y axis, we observed an influence on the amount of direct light at some specific angles. In the case of a  250 mm second wall width for example, we could reach 50% of direct light going through the wall with a source coming at 90°.

On the Z axis, it is possible to affect the distribution of openings (and their size) on the wall, which is visible on the facade. With this deformation, it is possible to maximize the porosity and the light entrance at some specific height.

The Grid Rotation to a focal point, enables direct light for a wide spectrum of degrees. Nearer focal points provide more dispersed light at different  angles, but deform the grid strongly.

It seems that, with the grid deformation, it is essentially possible to maximize the light entrance at a particular point.  But if we can enhance the light performance of the wall, it seems that the gain is not very important, regarding what we can achieve with the shape deformation. In addition, from a construction point of view, playing with the grid can affect the space size and be very tricky for the general structural frame of the building. For these reasons, the grid is a tool that has to be used carefully, if chosen.

Catalog 3 – Grid and shape deformation

After the deformation of the shape and the grid, the last phase was to cross the two methods. Each team was therefore free to mix the techniques in order to see how to increase the performance of the walls. The following paragraphs summarize a few understanding provided by the teams in their production.

Grid deformation at X axes and shape rotation and deformation : allows to get more variation of light going through the wall at various angles as compared to just deforming the grid or just deforming the shape of the polygon.

Grid deformation at Y axes and shape rotation : has a very low influence on the wall in terms of direct light at 45° and 90°.

Grid rotation and Shape rotation : enable an even amount of direct light at different angles, while having a focal point that doesn’t lead to strong deformations in the edge cases. For example, With a focal point at 5000 mm from the grid and rotation of 45° of the shape, we can reach a performance of 25% of light going through the wall at 60º & 120º of light inclination.

The grid deformation combined with the shape deformation of the geometry does not always provide a better result in the porosity and light performance. With all the possibilities given by this mix, it is easy to lose yourself. Therefore, it is much more important to know clearly what result we want to achieve to determine the perfect set for that.


This week exploration focused on the direct light that passe$ing through the walls and visual porosity by either deforming the grid of the wall, the shape of the geometries or both. After several tests, we could understand how each deformation will affect the geometry, and we tried to summarize our understanding of a table.

The deformations help keeping an uniform geometry for an entire project. During the past week, we tried to design the best geometry possible to let the light go through the wall supposing the light coming at 90° of the wall. It is clear that such a geometry can only work in a specific condition and is difficulty reproductible in a project where each space (and wall) requires specific treatment.

Therefore, modifying the shape and the grid of a basic geometry can be a solution to design different walls with different behaviors with the same basic geometry. However, the exploration showed us that playing with the deformation can be tricky and require a perfect understanding of the desired result. This is wy, after our exploration we can provide the following recommendations for whoever plan to work with the tools :

  • Deform the geometry instead of the grid to preserve the surfaces of the project and conserve a harmony of the general frame.
  • Develop at first a “good” basic geometry before counting on the deformation because most of the time it doesn’t enhance the performance.
  • Use the focal point if it is desired to have a light coming in a particular direction.