Welcome to the Genr8 website at CSAIL

What is Genr8?

Genr8 is a surface design tool developed by Martin Hemberg with advisory services provided by Una-May O'Reilly and Peter Testa. The concepts and tool are part of the work by the Emergent Design Group at MIT. The goal was to provide architects with access to creative surface design by giving them influence over generative processes. A generative process is the activity of iteratively executing some encoding that creates and then modifies an artifact. In the generative process we chose, what was most intriguing and of use to architects is a model of cellular growth interacting with an environment.

Technical details

The technical power beneath GENR8 is twofold: evolutionary search and HEMLS (Hemberg Extended Map L-Systems). A HEMLS, the generative process, is interpreted by GENR8 to generate a surface. GENR8 uses evolutionary search to discover its own HEMLS that adaptively evolve towards surfaces with features the user has specified.

Download Genr8

Genr8 was originally implemented as a plug-in to Alias|Wavefront Maya 3.0. It is being continuously updated to run on the most recent version of Maya. The more recent zip-archives do not contain the help files, please download a previous version to for the help files.



More Genr8 Surfaces

Since 2003, Genr8 has been used in the graduate course of Emergent Design and Technologies at the Architectural Association in London. Some of the projects are presented at the website under EmTech_Work->Core_Studio->Form_Generation. There is also an online exhibition of the work by the students from 2002-2003 where some of the designs are made with the aid of Genr8. Short presentations of the EmTech student projects from 2004.

Genr8 picture gallery, this page contains screenshots by Martin Hemberg of some of the surfaces he has created with the aid of Genr8.

Genr8 has also been used at the Southern California Insitute of Architecture and some of the expriments are presented in Steve Fuchs' blog

Using Genr8

Genr8 has been used at the EmTech programme at the Architectural Association since 2002. MH has been involved in the programme since 2003 and below are some observations and experiences from the studios where Genr8 was used.

Genr8 was developed as a proof of concept that the combination of surface based L-systems and evolutionary algorithms could be useful for architectural design. The tool should be considered as a prototype and each project seems to unveil an interesting potential.

The program has a large number of parameters. Not all of the parameters will have the same magnitude of impact on the outcome. The most important choice is between using one of the pre-defined growth models (called 3 or 4-sided tiles) and evolving your own growth model. It is probably a good idea to start using only the tiles as that makes it easier to understand how the growth model and the environment interact. There has been some successful projects using only one of the pre-defined growth models at the AA as well as the Butterfly Machines by Steve Fuchs.

Unfortunately, there is no modelling of the material or structural behavior in Genr8. This type of analysis is left altogether to the user. To circumvent this issue, it is a good idea to save the Genr8 output and export to another software, eg Rhino. The task for the user is to understand how to interpret and map the structural/material analysis to the parameters in Genr8. By combining different softwares, it is possible to turn the Genr8 surfaces into physical shapes as shown in the picture at the top of the page which was created by Linus Saavedra.


Please report any bugs or other problems. Feel free to send any questions and comments about Genr8 as well.

Last updated: 2009-05-21 by Martin Hemberg