Funicular Form Finding
The Rhinoceros® Plug-In RhinoVAULT emerged from current research on structural form finding using the Thrust-Network-Approach to intuitively create and explore compression-only structures. Using reciprocal diagrams, it provides an intuitive, fast method, adopting the same advantages of techniques such as Graphic Statics, but offering a viable extension to fully three-dimensional problems.
Our goal is to share key aspects of our research in a comprehensible and transparent setup to let one not only create beautiful shapes but also to give the user an understanding of the underlying structural principles. By now the plugin was downloaded by more than 10.000 people (via BRG website) and in 2014 RhinoVAULT was awarded in the category 'Structure / Physics Formation' at ALGODeQ, an international competition for algorithmic design programs. We are happy that the tool could be of use for students and professionals around the world to realize some amazing projects. Knowing about you work is very helpful for the development of the software and in general amazingly motivating. So, please get in touch if you have exciting projects, made with RhinoVAULT, you want to share or if you are interested in collaborative work and workshops (rippmann@arch.ethz.ch).
The development of RhinoVAULT is currently supported by the Block Research Group at ETH Zurich. It is shared freely in the hope that you will enjoy it and use it for original and creative work. It can be freely shared and used for academic and commercial purposes, but with proper attribution. Please refer to our papers:
Happy Form Finding!
Matthias Rippmann

Support Email: UQ.JUKY.UQLS@33S4DDGL@
Plug-in rating:
Average: 4.5 (10 votes)
Title Release Notes
RhinoVAULT V1.4.0.1
Zip-Package includes: RhinoVAULT plug-in, Tutorial Files and Manual  
Language: English
RhinoVAULT V1.3.0.1
Zip-Package includes: RhinoVAULT plug-in, Tutorial Files and Manual  
Language: English
RhinoVAULT V1.1.0.0
Zip-Package includes: RhinoVAULT plug-in, Tutorial Files and Manual  
Version: V1.1.0.0
Language: English
Plug-In videos:
License: http://www.block.arch.ethz.ch/brg/tools/rhinovault/disclaimer


Lalo23's picture

Hi, RhinoVAULT is awesome, just some issues or questions, since i installed version 1.4 it is running really slow, i dont now if the installation was wrong, in that case how can i completely uninstall RV to try again or if this version is heavier.

Thank you, hope you can help me

Velina's picture


When I try generating a form diagram of a surface I get the following error:

Source: Microsoft VBScript runtime error

Error: Object doesn’t support this property or method: ‘dbIDotH.TextDotHeight’

I would be grateful if anyone could help me out with this issue. Thanks much in advance!


Matthias Rippmann's picture

Hi, do you have the latest service release installed? It should work with Rhino 5 SR13. See: https://www.rhino3d.com/download/rhino/5.0/sr/changes


When you use Patch tool to create a surface over the wireframe to manipulate and panel further, how do you trim the surface? After I trim the surface, I encounter problems with paneling, etc since the trimmed surfaces are remembered. Also, the grid created on the patched surface creates problems when trying to panel. How can these be resolved? Do you have alternatives to this? I really appreciate your help!


I am having problems on using RhinoVault and the latest version of IronPython (, it causes a crash.

Have you any solution?

Thanks in advance

Matthias Rippmann's picture

Hi, I assume this is only happening when using _rvFormTri, right? Well, I already got reports about this problem but I couldn't figure out why rhino crashes. At this point the only way to avoid this is to use an older version of IronPython. I tested it using and it works fine.



Edit: I just tested it with Indeed it crashes. However, every python script (even opening up the inbuilt editor) makes Rhino crash. So, this is a problem which is not related to RhinoVAULT. Please use 2.7.3 - 2.7.5 for now!

Thank you Matthias, now it's working with v 2.7.5

Best regards

Fernando Duro

Hello. Is it possible to adapt the height of the structure (not the supports) locally and recalculate the vertical equilibrium?

It seems to me as though you can only change the height in rV Settings by changing the Vault Height Scale. Any other suggestions?

Matthias Rippmann's picture

This tutorial https://vimeo.com/116952334 is showing a possible approach to locally change the height of a structure.

Would anyone have any suggestions of obtaining what the arrows suggest in the linked picture?


My question is how to locally change the height of the structure, since you can only change the Vault Height Scale in rv Settings.

Dear Matthias

I have a problem in Installation. I have Rhino 5, Windows 7 and follow all steps in the notes, but when I drag them, it shows that i should unblock them. I did but it seems, they are still unblock. Coud you please guide me to fix it. tnx in advanced 

Thank you, It works.


Matthias Rippmann's picture

Hi, please properly unzip the file and save the RhinoVAULT folder to your harddrive. Maybe try different locations for this folder (e.g under my documents or directly on the desktop). Then try again... Hope this helps!


Matthias Rippmann's picture

Hi, please properly unzip the file and save the RhinoVAULT folder to your harddrive. Maybe try different locations for this folder (e.g under my documents or directly on the desktop). Then try again... Hope this helps!


Hello an amazing plugin indeed! great job!

about the brick tessalation process, if I wish to really build a brick pavillion out of those surfaces, how can I actually realize it?

like in  this project.

any ideas?


Hi Matthias

I have a problem with starting the vault. I have followed the istallation introductions and have the toolbar and the interface and solver installed. However, when i press rvinitiate button nothing happens the same goes with all the other buttons except generate triangulated form diagram which works fine. Any suggestions?


Sébastien Pittet's picture

"closes_fit" scripting example

Hello Matthias,

How to connect the grasshopper script to the solver? The "basic_data_collection" is working fine but not the "closes_fit". There is the warning: "1. Solution exception:'MyScriptClass' object has no attribute 'get_form_nodes_weight'". Same is happening with the "loaded_dome" example. I'm not very familiar with scripting so I don't know what to do. Could you help me?

Best regards, Sébastien

xchihungx's picture

Hello, amazing plugin, but as i went on getting the plugin, 
just when i hit the rV icon to initiate, my Rhino will froze and shut down, i tried it couple times already. and i actually tried both versions as well. 
but same thing happened to me, rhino would freeze and don't respond, i have to shut it down. Does anyone encounter the same problem? and know why?

Thanks so much! I really want to try this plug in after watching so many great tutorials. Best.-Chihung

Matthias Rippmann's picture

Hello, I am sorry about your crashes. This should of course not happen. I haven't encountered such problems for a while. Do you have the latest rhino service releases installed? Did you try it in the 32- and 64-bit version of Rhino. What Windows version are you using? RhinoVAULT has so far only been tested on Windows 7.


hi!, im having trouble installing the plugin, it doesn't appear in rhino command bar. Can you tell me how to install it properly please.

Matthias Rippmann's picture


What exactly does not work? Please check the installation instructions provided with the plug-in.




Lalo23's picture

Hi, thanks for the plug in, I'm new using it,  I have 2 problems , first one, following steps on tutorials, I "generate form diagram" and its ok but after that I can`t continue, it appears "No or invalid diagram on plane xy on initial Layer B" , and second, i`ve installed lastest version, but i'm unable to use the triangulation tool, Help me please

Hi Matthias,

I am new this kind of form finding and also to Rhino so please bear with me - I am getting the error "no horizontal equilibrium found!,"  how can I readjust my settings or process so this doesn't happen?  Thanks for the plug-in.

- Jenna

Matthias Rippmann's picture

Hi Jenna,

there are multiple reasons why this happens. Please check out our publications about the TNA method (links above). Getting familiar with the underlying methodology is key for this type of structural design. Hope this helps!


Lalo23's picture

Hi, i've seen some tutorials, theres one that make the vault, with an irregular base surface, but every time i try to do something like that, it tells me ,"To not use trimmed srf" , my doubt is how to do srf like your examples without being trimmed srf ,


Hi, thanks a lot for this amazing plugin.

However, i have some trouble with the RhinoVAULT Settings window : each time i try to change the value of one parameter and press ok, a few successive windows appear and warn me that i should " Use a numeric Value for ... : Value automatically set to default ". So i never succeed in changing the main parameters.

The strange thing is that changes only work for the height scale and the 0/1 parameters when i push the "cancel" button, after the last window asking "Are you sure you want to reset default settings ?"

Any idea ? 

Matthias Rippmann's picture

Hi, that's strange and should not happen. I guess this happens with a specific file, right? Does it work if you start a new rhino session, creating a new rhinovault example? If so, could you please send me the file via email? In case it has something to do with the file, just copy/paste all objects on all rhinovault layers to a new rhino session. Btw, pressing "cancel" should indeed reset everything to default settings (I agree that this is somehow not very intuitive....).

Thank's for answering so quick. 

After several tutoriels and personnal attempts, it became very clear that the files themselves have nothing to do with this issue, it's rather a basic matter of keyboard.

I explain : i noticed that only the values with decimals suffer from the warning " Use numeric value ... Value automatically set to default ". It always concerns  the Min/Max Form Edge, Force Edge, the Epsilon Vertical ans the Pipe Dia Min. And the warning appears even if i just close the window without changing any value. So i tried to re-write the default values with a "," instead of the "." between two numbers and ... it worked !

That said, it is still time-consuming to re-write all parameters each time i open this setting box. It might have something to do with a bootcamp Macbookpro-windows 7 compatibility or smthg like that. 

If you know any way to overcome this it could be very useful regarding to the numerous time i will have to use these settings on my current project ( a 400m2 housse with only vegetalised vaults ) 

Ps: Does the BRG currently works as a consulting office ? And is there any new european reglementation for these kind of structures know ( i've heard that it wasn't the case owing to the impossibility of making valuable static studies but things should have been changed with your work, aren't they ? 

Thanks very much

Matthias Rippmann's picture

Hi, thanks for the detailed explanation. I thought that I already solved this problem in Might be dependent on the "Region and Language -> Fomats -> Additional Settings" in windows and/or the language setting in rhino. I tried, but cannot reproduce the error... Please send me an email for further assistance on this issue and possible collaborations with the BRG.



Sébastien Pittet's picture

Hello Matthias,

Same is happening with me with I use VM FusionWare with swiss french in windows 8x64. And even if I write with "," it doesn't let me change "Max/min form edge" and "max/min force edge" at the same time. One always come back at the value "0.04".

Best regards


Matthias Rippmann's picture

Hi, sorry I could not yet track down the core of the problem. But as a work around you can switch your Rhino to English (in the rhino options). Further, you might want to change the regional settings in Windows to specify what ',' and '.' stands for. What ever you try... please start with a new, default rhino file, since old rv values might be saved to an excisting file from a previous session.

Can I make the surface not mesh but NURBS? 

Matthias Rippmann's picture

Only through interpolation using Rhino commands. Use the point objects on the layer "03_VaultNodes" with the _Patch command. For trimming the patched surface you need to trace the vault boundaries in plan and cut the surface in top view. With some try-and-error testing this should give you quite good results.

Hi Matthias, thank you very much for this comment. I was trying it out and was a bit stuck on trying to trim the patch surface. Would you mind elaborating a little more on how to trim the patch surface? I would be very grateful. 

When I try the _rvFormTri command it won't work. I'm asked to select the NURBS surface I want to triangulate and the target edge length (not sure what this is). But then after a bit of calculation time the command just stops and I only get a red curve surrounding the surface. I've installed IronPython 2.7.5 and added the path to my Module Search Path as instructed in the READ ME file. Is this a common problem? Has anybody got an idea about what the solution could be?
Thanks in advance!


Matthias Rippmann's picture


unfortunately the command demands updating IronPython. Please run the following code in you IronPython Editor in rhino:

  1. import sys
  2. print sys.version_info

This will tell you the IronPython version rhino is using. It should be at least 2.7.5. This is the version I have installed and it works perfectly. So, please check again if your version is correctly installed (you need to restart rhino after updating IronPython). Another reason for the command to not work properly is an out-off-scale target length. This value defines the final length of the triangle edges. So, if you run the command on a 10x10 (units) surface a target length of 0.5 -2 makes most sense. Please let me know if this works for you.

Best Matthias

Thanks for the help. I've installed the evaluation version of Rhino on my other computer and now everything works fine. There must have been something wrong with my older version of Rhino..

Hi, it is not clear how you changed the individual u and v divisions for the initial surfaces, in tutorial #4, can you explain, please?

Matthias Rippmann's picture

You just need to press ESC after you selected the surface. It also prompts this in the command line ("ESC for local settings"). Hope this helps. Btw, the latest version has also a function to generate triangulated form diagrams on generic, trimmed surfaces (https://vimeo.com/116955381).

Thanks Mattias, it is such a great tool to play with. Easy and fun..


I just downloaded rhinoVAULT from Block research website. While installing I unzipped and unblocked all the 3 files (RhinoVAULT_Interface,RhinoVAULT_Solver,RhinoVAULT_V5) although I was unable to drag and drop into rhino, I was able to install both .rhp files using plugin manager. But, the .rui file (placed and shown in my program files) doesn't appear in the list when I try to open using rhino plugin manager and so I am unable to install the toolbar. I would be grateful if anyone could help me out with this issue. Thank you very much.

Matthias Rippmann's picture

Please copy the RhinoVAULT_V5.rui on your harddrive (e.g. to C:\Program Files (x86)\Rhinoceros 5.0\Plug-ins\RhinoVAULT\). Then drag the RhinoVAULT_V5.rui file from this location into Rhino 5.

The toolbar will not show at this point. To show it, you need to go to Tools -> Toolbar Layout or use the Rhino command
_Toolbar, select RhinoVAULT and check its menu. Next time you open Rhino, the toolbar will show in your workspace.

Btw, even without the toolbar you should be able to work with the plugin by typing the commands directly in the command line. All RhinoVAULT commands start with rv*. E.g. rvInitiate to initiate the plugIn.

Hope this helps.

Thank thank you very much for your reply Matthias. I was able to drag n drop the file this time and it's working now.

oh guide! what's the matter with it! I don't know why it always appears an "unknown command", I have tried any way but I can't improve it--> help me pliz, .....plizzz...thanks all

Matthias Rippmann's picture

RhinoVAULT wins first ALGODeQ Award!

ALGODeQ is an international competition for algorithmic design programs. RhinoVAULT was awarded the highest prize in the category 'Structure + Design'. Congratulations also to the prize winners in the other two categories - Kangaroo and LMN Architecture.

The ALGODeQ competition was held for the first time this year. There were 190 entries from 43 countries, judged by a large panel of professors and practitioners from around the world, in a multi-stage process.


-PC Windows 8

I'm having issues with Rhino Vault on Rhino 5. I downloaded it correctly,  and it is this version: RhinoVAULT V1.1.0.0 2014-Feb-27. Once it's downloaded I take from the download folder and place it on the desktop. I then unblock all of the pluggins. Then I open the 64 bit Rhino 5 and drop the pluggins into it. I then open the toolbar for rhino vault and hit RVintiate. The rhino vault then works, but when I exit out of rhino then reopen it the toolbar is there. When I hit RVintiate the pluggin blocked window pops up. So I go to the folder on my desktop with the pluggins to unblock. I do the unblocking but the but there is not a unlock button in the properties. I'd appreciate the help. Thanks!

Hi, Ive got an issue with curved surfaces in rhino. actually the curve that I made the surface with was prefectly nice but the surface is in bad shape and is abdly segmented, specially in intersections with other surfaces. May I know how to solve this problem?! 

Matthias Rippmann's picture

Hi, could you please email (in the README.txt) me an example to clearify the problem. I am glad to help if I can.

Every time I startto use rhino and try to use rhinovault, it will ask me to initiate it and agree the end-user license agreement. How should I deal with that ?

Matthias Rippmann's picture

Use the command "_rvInitiate" by typing in the command line or press the rV button (far left on the rhinovault toolbar). You need to do this for every new rhinovault session. Hope this helps...

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