Computational Morphogenesis with Karamba/Galapagos – Test on the Crematorium of Kakamigahara – Meiso no mori – Toyo Ito

In 2007, I started my PhD working on the development of a GA for the structural optimization of free-form structures. My first case study was the crematorium of Kakamigahara designed by Toyo Ito and Mutsuro Sasaki consultants. At that moment, the geometrical data, as well as the optimization procedure were written directly in Rhinoscript, the simple programming environment implemented by Rhinoceros. Ansys was used as the FEM solver to calculate the maximum displacements of the roof structure. The structural model was prepared in Rhinoscript, and then transferred to the FEM solver via a *.txt file run in batch mode. The optimization procedure was conceived to be completely automated.

The mesh was a triangular grid of 2500 elements. The concrete columns were considered as the only supports (fixed joints, even if that was not the real condition, as explained in the book “From control to design”). Regarding the loads, gravity and self-weight were considered as the unique load condition. The design variables of the problem were the Z coordinates of the control points of the NURBS surface of the roof. Again, this was my way to see the crematorium, and it was an exercise in which it was freely redesigned.

The results of that research activity were published in: Pugnale A., Sassone M., Morphogenesis and Structural Optimization of Shell Structures with the Aid of a Genetic Algorithm, “Journal of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures”, Vol. 48, n. 155, December 2007, pp.161-66. The can also be found in my PhD thesis, which is published online here: (in the appendix you can find the original algorithm used).

In the following years (2008-2010), similar GAs and relaxation algorithms have been developed by my colleagues and me for the resolution of other optimization problems, related for instance to acoustics and planarity of grid-shells.

Considering that Toyo Ito has been recently awarded of the Pritzker prize 2013, I am proposing here a “restored version” of the crematorium case study using Grasshopper, Karamba and Galapagos as design tools.

Kakamigahara Karamba screenshot - OPT script

This time, the roof has been described with a NURBS surface, again using the Z coordinates of the control points as the design variables (vertical domain restricted to the range -10m/+10m). Karamba has been used as the FEM solver. The mesh has been simplified comparing to the previous calculation done in 2007 for speed reasons (now it is a 35×20 grid). Regarding the loads, a gravity load has been applied, as well as the self-weight and a live load of 6KN/m2. The shell material has been chosen as a conventional concrete C25/30 (defined by the Eurocode), and the shell thickness has been defined equal to 25cm. The algorithm has been run for 400 generations in Galapagos, and it has resulted in a structural form with maximum displacements of 3.3 cm. (the flat surface would give a max displacement of 67 cm).

Kakamigahara Karamba screenshot - OPT karamba script Kakamigahara Karamba screenshot - OPT loads Kakamigahara Karamba screenshot - OPT displacements Kakamigahara Karamba screenshot - OPT running GA

The Rhinoceros and Grasshopper files of this exercise can be downloaded here: 

Please remember that you need a full license of Karamba to run the optimization as it is set up now. However, you can use the trial version reducing the amount of shell elements (max 50 elements).


  1. Pingback: Computational Morphogenesis with Karamba/Galapagos – Test on the Crematorium of Kakamigahara – Meiso no mori – Toyo Ito | atcalapadom

  2. This is a topic that’s near to my heart… Cheers!
    Exactly where are your contact destails though?

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