by Dušan Cvetković
Dušan Cvetković
Published September 14, 2020

The Istanbul Radio Tower is an impressive new structure currently under construction in Istanbul, Turkey. In this tutorial, we'll explore modeling this unique architectural form in Rhino using SubD tools, surface modeling, and Grasshopper to add details.

*At the time of making this tutorial, the project was under construction; it was completed in May 2021

Overview of the Istanbul Radio Tower Project

The Istanbul Radio Tower was designed by the architecture firm Melike Altinisik Architects located in Istanbul. Per their website, the tower will have around 29,000 square meters of space when complete.

The renders on the firm's site showcase the intricate geometric shapes that make up the tower's facade. We don't have exact dimensions, but we can use the reference imagery to recreate the overall form as accurately as possible in Rhino.

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Starting the Istanbul Radio Tower Modeling

To begin, we'll use Rhino's SubD (subdivision) tools to block out the overall shape. The flexibility of SubD allows modifications on the fly versus needing to start over if the form isn't perfectly accurate from the beginning.

We start with a subdivided cylinder, remove the top cap, and scale the edges on one side to start shaping the silhouette. Inserting additional edges gives more control over the curvature. We refine the form on both sides, constantly checking different views until we match the concept imagery.

Once the SubD shape is complete, we convert it to a polysurface and split it along vertical lines to create the recessed horizontal band around the midsection.

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Adding Surface Details in Rhino

The next step of the Istanbul Radio Tower Modeling process is creating the surface components that make up the tower's facade. We extract and offset surfaces to create the extruded horizontal band, then use sweep commands to give these new surfaces thickness.

On the top, we model the decreasing diameters of the rounded caps on each tier. We draw circles, scale them manually to approximate the stepping diameters, then draw vertical guidelines and split each cap surface to match.

Enhancing the Model with Grasshopper

With the core geometry done in Rhino, we can now bring it into Grasshopper to add more complexity. The goal is to create the tapered vertical edges between the extruded sections.

The key steps:

  • Import the Rhino model into Grasshopper
  • Derive a series of vertical points to locate the splits
  • Use these points to intersect the model and generate split curves
  • Extrude the edges based on point distances to create the tapered ribs

The result is a much more detailed and visually interesting version of the original Rhino model.

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Istanbul Radio Tower Modeling is a complex task, but achievable by combining Rhino's strong core modeling tools with the parametric power of Grasshopper. Starting with SubD establishes the overall shape, surface modeling adds details, and then Grasshopper brings it all together.

This tutorial explored one workflow for recreating the intricacies of the Istanbul Radio Tower design. With some creativity, the same principles can be applied to modeling many other complex architectural projects as well.

Let me know if you would like me to modify or expand this blog post in any way. I aimed for an informative, conversational tone with relevant keywords seamlessly incorporated.

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About the Author

Dušan Cvetković is a professional architect from Serbia with international experience in the industry. Collaborated with numerous clients all around the world in the field of architecture design, 3D modeling and software education. He's been teaching Rhinoceros3D to thousands of architects through How to Rhino community and various social media channels.