Explore generative design workflows with the Project Refinery beta

Generative Design

By Vanessa Bertollini

For the past several years, Autodesk has been exploring the use of generative design for architecture, engineering and construction. In 2017 we opened our new Autodesk Toronto office in the MaRS Discovery innovation hub which was designed using computational workflows and generative learning. This process helped the design team optimize for the welfare and preferences of the 250-plus employees that would work in the space, taking into consideration design constraints and objectives such as access to daylight, views to the outside, staff interconnectivity, and “buzz.” They then automated the process of generating the thousands of design configurations possible and discovering which ones scored best based on the trade-offs. 

More recently, our Autodesk Research team has engaged in collaboration with AEC firms like Van Wijnen and Daiwa House to explore how generative design can help them optimize for specific design and business outcomes. 

These research projects have taught us a great deal, and we’ve released new beta called Project Refinery that lets users have access to the same software we’ve been using to explore generative design processes. Refinery is the evolution of a beta called Project Fractal which has now been retired. Like Fractal, Refinery lets you create design optionsbut it also allows you to set goals and optimize for those goals.  When you choose to maximize or minimize designated outputs, Refinery will return the best options. For example, here are two workflows you can explore with Refinery.  

Patterning Study 

Refinery allows you to minimize the number panels and panel areas needed in the surface designs you create in Revit. 

Crane Position Randomization 

Construction problems can be explored with Refinery too. For instance, you can use it to create different configurations for crane and truck placement on a construction site and score each configuration to help analyze the best option. 

For additional workflows you can explore today, visit Five Project Refinery Workflows. 

Refinery runs locally and allows custom code to participate in design option generation.  It will run in Dynamo for Revit or Dynamo Sandbox and includes a node to cache Revit data for use in option generation.    

Join the Project Refinery beta 

Refinery is still a beta project, but we hope you’ll give it a try and work with us to advance the use of generative design for AEC. If you want to see how some of your peers are already experimenting with Refinery, check out the “Stealthy Roofscapes” project from the recent UK Dynamo User Group’s Dynamo + Generative Design Hackathon 2019. 

Join the beta. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the potential benefits of generative design for architecture, engineering and construction challenges, download the ebook Demystifying Generative Design. 

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