Dynamo and Computational Design

Dynamo and Computational Design


It has happened to everyone, companies and professionals in the construction sector, to have heard of Dynamo BIM, at least once. Indeed, in recent years, figures such as the computational designer are increasingly in demand in architecture, engineering firms and in general also in construction companies, but why?

In this article we will see what computational design is, what are the skills involved, how we have implemented these automatisms at La SIA and what is the future of this “way” of automating work.

Visual programming

VPL (visual programming language), is in short, a language that allows the user to graphically manipulatethe elements of a certain “environment” or software, in order to automate the most cumbersome operations, but not only.

Dynamo BIM is just one of the software in the VPL world, but there are many others, even in fields completely different from the construction world. In fact, there are VPL software for the world of music, art, video editing, app and game development, etc.

*KNIME, example of VPL for data analysis and reporting

*KNIME, example of VPL for data analysis and reporting

Dynamo BIM, on the other hand, was born as a visual programming tool for Autodesk Revit, back in 2014, but over the years it has also become a tool available for other software from the AEC Collection, such as Autodesk Civil 3D and Fusion 360.

Autodesk Dynamo Studio

Autodesk Dynamo Studio

What are the skills of the computational designer?

In order to implement a workflow with Dynamo, be it for Revit or for Civil 3D, it is therefore necessary to have resources with IT skills or at least interested in the IT world, and to learn how this powerful tool works.

One of the main skills of the computational designer, highly appreciated by us, is to have a lot of curiosity. . One of the main skills of the computational designer, highly appreciated by us, is to have a lot of curiosity. This is because there are so many ways to use the tool, and only by “browsing through” and “experimenting” with the various functions it makes available to us, can we really learn how to manage it and above all , solve problems if they arise (and they will!)

È inutile dire, che se in azienda utilizzate prevalentemente Civil 3D, il vostro team tecnico, dovrebbe saper utilizzare Civil, prima di passare a Dynamo. The same goes for Revit of course. It is therefore necessary to have in-depth knowledge of the main design tool, be it Revit, Civil or others, in order to then move on to the VPL environment.

In general, among the main skills of our computational designer, we should have:

Essential skills:

  • As mentioned above, lots of curiosity!;
  • At least general knowledge of the design area in which one works;
  • In-depth knowledge of the design tool to complement Dynamo;
  • A basic knowledge of the world of programming because many operations with Dynamo can also be customized via code!

Desirable Skills:

  • Knowing what an IDE is;
  • A knowledge of Dynamo packages;
  • Understanding standards and techniques related to the User Interface;
  • A knowledge of the python programming language and its libraries;
  • Knowing how to manage the Dynamo environment also through the Dynamo Player;
  • Coordinating the distribution of scripts and libraries (especially if your office has more than one site!)

La SIA Dynamo script

La SIA Dynamo script

The implementation of Dynamo BIM at La SIA

In our company, we started introducing the first scripts in Dynamo in 2015/2016, and the goal of these scripts was to facilitate and speed up some modeling operations. For example, the automatic positioning of some families in certain points of the Revit model.

However, these scripts, being the first attempts to approach Dynamo, were not developed to be used by all the resources and professionals who collaborate with La SIA, and above all they contained many redundant “nodes”, which slows down and weighs down their execution.

So, towards the beginning of 2018, we began to put together a team dedicated to these activities (and not only), a team that later officially became the Research & Development group of La SIA, with the aim therefore of coordinating and manage scripts, libraries and more.

Today the R&D group deals, among other things, with Dynamo scripts, but also with:

  • development and coordination of web applications, therefore in an environment external to Revit or other Autodesk software;
  • the creation of automatisms using vba for the Microsoft 365 suite;
  • the implementation of various batch scripts to speed up some operations on company servers;
  • creating and managing reports with DAX (Data Analysis Expression), which is the query language of Power BI

La SIA - Power BI Desktop

La SIA – Power BI Desktop

Reflection on the work of the coming years

In conclusion, we believe that in the coming years, design will increasingly need Computational Designers. In recent years these resources have been among the most sought after by our market, resources that therefore have both skills in the design discipline and more generally skills in the world of Computer Science.

In the “digital” age we live in, the software we use travels at the speed of light and could undergo a radical change, even just within 6 months. That’s not including the wave of AI-powered systems, which will only accelerate this trend even further. Today therefore, it is no longer feasible to think of learning an instrument and using it for our entire career. The best option we have is to learn the logic behind these tools and not the tools themselves.

Arch. Ernesto Pellegrino
Research & Development Manager – SIA