Material limitations and fabrication costs generally run at odds with the creativity of architectural design, producing a wealth of challenging computational geometry problems. We have developed an algorithm for solving an important class of fabrication constraints: those associated with planar construction materials such as glass or plywood.

Starting with a complex curved input shape, defined as a NURBS or subdivision surface, we use an iterative clustering method to remesh the surface into planar panels following a cost function that is adjusted by the designer. We solved several challenging connectivity issues to ensure that the topology of the resulting mesh matches that of the input surface.

The algorithm described in this paper has been implemented and developed in conjunction with an architectural design seminar. How the participants incorporated this tool into their design process was considered. Their important feedback led to key algorithmic and implementation insights as well as many exciting ideas for future exploration. This prototype tool has potential to impact not only architectural design, but also the engineering for general fabrication problems.


Paper PDF (5.7 MB)
Summary (SGP'06) PDF (2.5 MB)


Much thanks and credit go to workshop organizer Professor Mark Goulthorpe and the workshop participants, including Michael Powell, John Rothenberg, Dennis Michaud, Matt Trimble, and Jeff Anderson, all from MITs Department of Architecture.


  author    = {Barbara Cutler and Emily Whiting},
  title     = {Constrained Planar Remeshing for Architecture},
  booktitle = {Graphics Interface},
  year      = {2007},
  location  = {Montreal, Canada},
  pages     = {11--18},
  publisher = {ACM}


September 2012: Engineers at Ramboll Computational Design applied our algorithm in the design of the TRADA pavilion, a plywood structure exhibited at the Timber Expo 2012. See blog posts here and here.

Emily Whiting
Last modified: Thu Sep 27 2012