This is a simple tool resembling John Hejduk and colleagues’ famous design exercise “The Nine-Square Grid”. The tool was developed in 2009 using MaxScript. Here is a phrase from our eCAADe 2009 paper titled: “Role of Studio Exercises in Digital Design Education: Case Study of the Nine-Square Grid”;

The nine-square grid is one of the most common kit-of-parts exercises in design studios since more than 50 years. To explain briefly, the ninesquare grid exercise is based on the transformation of a nine-square grid into a series of alternatives, using a pre-defined kit-of-parts and a set of rules. It is an open ended educational application with a limited but flexible context, which can have infinite interpretations to meet various studio objectives. The nine-square grid exercise is developed by Robert Slutzky, John Hejduk, Colin Rowe and Lee Hirsche, instructors with revolutionist spirits, along with their colleagues in a short, but inspiring educational program at Texas University School of Architecture between 1954 and 1958. Since then, numerous interpretations of this exercise have been carried on at design studios all over the world (e.g. Gür, 2003; Subotincic; 2007).


source: Hejduk, J.: 1999, The Nine-Square Problem, Education of an Architect: A Point of view The Cooper Union School of Art & Architecture 1964-1971, pp.23-38.

Caragonne (1995) describes the exceptional educational atmosphere that created the Nine-Square Grid exercise. According to him, Slutzky, with a painting background and special interest in Gestaltic enclosure, developed a two-dimensional basic design exercise using an already known frame base. Later, Hejduk, one of the most active members of this energetic group, discovered the spatial potentials of this exercise, interpreted verticals and horizontals as post and beam, creating the fundamentals of the Nine-Square Grid (Figure 1 and 2). Love (2004) emphasizes the two sources, who influenced the exercise. One of them is Wittkower, who analyzed the Palladio’s villas in basic three-by-three diagrams, a nine-square grid. The second source of this exercise was Arnheim, who developed the psychology of form based on the principles of German gestalt theory (Arnheim, 1954). Love (2004) argues that, the nine-square grid is the ideal geometric format for understanding the interrelation between building components regarding their spatial qualities. Although the effects of Mies and Le Corbusier on the developers of this exercise is obvious, its new potentials and emerging possibilities are surprisingly open ended. Kalfazade (2004) perfordescribes its diagrammatic potency as “infinite to generate form”, although its essential elements are limited by pedagogical intentions. In this paper, the digital potentials of the nine square grid exercise will be emphasized, as a case study of kit-of-parts conception in studio, which are based on our experiments and observations with various interpretations.




Digital transformation of a studio exercise not only means a change of representational medium, but also an intellectual and pedagogical shift. Studio exercises are powerful tools that can be utilized for the integration of contemporary design thinking to architectural education. Design exercise in architecture is an old but important field because of its flexibility and potential of evolution. We suggest the emerging field of interdisciplinary tool development for architectural design in general, should also include an educational framework. New design exercises should be developed in order to meet the requirements of new design thinking and practice. Managing this framework is important, regarding a down–to–up integration of the new design paradigm into the contemporary constructivist digital design studio.

Here is the full paper if you want to read: [PDF File]. And here is the maxScript file if you want to try a basic 3x3x3 grid basic design exercise: [MSE File: MaxScript 2011]. Just select “Run Script” from MaxScript menu to start the script. If you have any questions or comments regarding the script and the exercise, please don’t hesitate to contact me.