Orthogonal on Placement: making a brick wall

The birds are singing, the sun is shining, and all the world is once again aglow with the rosy effervescence of global orthogonality.

All adaptive points (this includes adaptive points in Adaptive Components and Curtain Panels by Pattern) have a property called Orientation. This allows certain subtle controls over the way that elements point themselves when the family is hosted in another family. What good is this? Well, if for nothing else, you can make a bitchin' CMU wall. Come On . . . grab yer trowel and let's get started.

Pop open your Revit 2011 get yourself a piping hot Curtain Panel by Points template, select the grid and in the type selector pick "1/2 Step",

and draw a rectangle on the horizontal workplane of point 1. Select the model lines and make a Form Element.

I'm also going to cut a hole in it, because this is too simple, but you can leave it nice and boxy

Load into a host rfa, divide a surface

Pattern to something close to the size of your form element

and apply the panel.

Well, it's not without charm, but we can do better. One thing to note is that all the panel geometry is the same, although the cell spacings are all different. This is about half of what you want to get a masonry wall.

Now, go back into your curtain panel, select point 1 and in the properties, set Orientation to Orthogonal on Placement


Getting closer to something buildable,

but still having some collisions.

Now if you really have control issues, or believe in basic physics, or just want to get the damn blocks to stack, couple this panel with intersects.

Draw lines on the vertical workplane that are the desired spacing for your block

Turn of U and V grids and pick your model lines as intersects.

Voila! Stackable blocks

Download this file from here. Poke, dissect, and examine.


  1. very cool...Can we use this to recreate the dream world at the end of INCEPTION?


  3. Great! I totally in love with your work . Do you have email or yahoo ID ? Thanks pro

  4. Hey Zach;
    I've been trying to do this for a while with 2010.
    Do you think it might be possible to do the same without the use of adaptive components? Does a work-around come to mind?

  5. You don't need to use adaptive components at all for this . . . it's all curtain panel by pattern, it just uses the features of adaptive POINTS available in 2011. You could do this without curtain panels and manually place each loaded family of whatever category on it's own workplane, but it would be terribly painful. You could also make your block in another family, make the family's category shared, load it and place it in a curtain panel family and then repeat the above process. This would make the final wall come out with pieces that are whatever category you want (and would make regeneration much faster). Is the problem that you don't have r2011? If you are a student or educator you can download it for free from the autodesk education site.

  6. How could you automatically adjust depth? If the curve is too strong, the bricks don't overlap. The orthogonal orientation is perpendicular to the grid which is a little confusing for building the family. I don't know how to reference the offset on the curve, is this adaptive territory?

  7. could you tell me what's program you used to render the first pic?

  8. ShoShYRuU: The rendering is done in Revit. I have some tips on doing this sort of image here:http://buildz.blogspot.com/2009/04/i-got-couple-offline-questions-about.html
    Anonymous: Tricky problem to automatically adjust for depth . . . No way that I can think of without some API, but I'd have to think about it more.

  9. hello Zach, thanks again for a great description!
    I have been looking at Gramazio and Kohler's work with brick rotation and am wondering how you would implement the rotation around a centerline into the curtain panel based family. perhaps with a bitmap as they do.
    I understand about assigning Grayscale to a rotation parameter for the bitmap but have the more fundamental question of how to make a solid with a (seemingly) simple rotation parameter.

  10. Zach,

    This post is really useful and is a technique that I am trying to use for the cladding of a tower project that I am working on. I just have a couple of issues that is stopping this being really useful for us:

    - Is it possible to align either the V or U axis to the Z axis (so that the lines fall vertically, but widths can be set through properties and will move if the form is amended)? I have used floor levels as intersects, but doing this on elevation would be really laborious, especially as I have many planes (and not very adaptable).

    - secondly, aligning the pattern on different faces?

    Hope you can help and great blog!

  11. Stephen,
    You can use reference planes, model lines, or ref lines to define your vertical gridlines, and just use regular parameters to control their relationship to each other and to your surface. A bit more labor intensive, but it should work just like using levels.