Loving the Rhino

For many years we used Rhino with Autocad, a David and Goliath duet, the heaviness of one setting off the lightness of the other

As a student I remember watching with awe and horror as a tutor walked us through drawings of a project he had done several years BC (or ‘Before Computers’, as AA tutors of the period referred to architecture pre 1995). It was a drawing of a fiendishly complicated interior fit-out full of swirling walls and shwooping stairs all punctured by big conical sections. 

Aside from gaining our unequivocal res­pect in the same way that one must admire the achievements of those who built Machu Picchu without the wheel, the exercise was meant as an introduction to a new piece of software ­doing the rounds at the time. As our tutor ­explained, this amazing new program reportedly made by a bunch of Autodesk defectors, was digitally the closest thing you could get to the way you would describe complicated geo­metries by hand through traditional means, as he had done with those shwooping stairs. 

Intuitive for anyone with even the most basic grasp of descriptive geometry, Rhino ­allowed us to be methodical and precise, while being profusely experimental at the same time. It opened the floodgates of our undulating-­surface-obsessed imaginations, entirely ­super-seded anything that came before, and since the turn of the millennium has remained the only constant among relentlessly super­seded CADware. Affordable for a small company in a peripheral market with a weak currency, its maker’s attitude was the opposite of the software behemoths that seemed both to price most people out, and lock in those who could afford it. 

For many years we used Rhino with Autocad, a David and Goliath duet, the heaviness of one setting off the lightness of the ­other. Where I work now the program was used only peripherally, but with time it has gained more and more prominence, winning over staff one by one. Nobody uses Maya anymore, it is always Rhino with Microstation, which in any case will soon disappear as the latest coupling of Rhino+REVIT, the BIM duo, takes over. 

Documentation and most of the work will always be done in Autodesk or Bentley’s lumbering Goliath, but like the sprightly sidekick to a super-hero, Rhino is always there providing back-up, just in case. Recently the product dep­artment ‘upstairs’ has discovered its charms, although without the accompanying licenses to appease their enchantment. In order that any request for a license to be made free be fulfilled, they are required by us, on loudspeaker, to bellow like a Rhino. They do. Often. It truly does continue to please after all these years…

Adam Nathaniel Furman is a designer ­working at Ron Arad Architects