Friday, 31 January 2014


Just before the holidays, I spent some time on a small project dictated largely by floor areas. We were still in the early stages of design at the time so the team was focused on formal explorations which, for the most part, took the form of blobular figure ground studies. Keeping track of the tight area constraints while shuffling control points proved to be a frustrating ordeal for many so I cooked up a little form finding tool to help out.

What you're looking at in the video above can be thought of as an area seeking polygon. A handful of physical forces act along its perimeter which allow it to autonomously pursue a target area while being pushed, pulled, and pinned by the designer. Each vertex is subject to axial spring forces, bending forces, and inflation forces which are calculated relative to its neighbours. Depending on the difference between the polygon's target area and its current area at each step, parameters associated with these forces (rest length, strength etc.) are adjusted causing the perimeter to either shrink or grow incrementally until the target area is reached.

While we've moved on with the project this tool was developed for, I'm still interested in pushing it further when time allows. In particular, there's no reason why multiple area seeking polygons couldn't be nested within each other for more complex spatial organizations.

For now, here's a download link to the processing sketch. There aren't any dependencies so it should work in Processing 2.0 straight out of the box.

Platforms: Processing