Achieving Sustainability Through Parametricism


Far from being a rarity, the idea of sustainability is one that we, as architects and designers of the future, have to contend with on a day-to-day basis. No longer is it a USP, but needs to become part and parcel of the way we work. Traditionally, architecture has been known as a polluting industry, with issues ranging from deforestation to construction. However, key leaders in this field have redefined this approach to look at sustainable architecture. Consider the field of Tropical Modernism for example; Geoffrey Bawa is known for his expertise in using local materials, local aesthetics, and local talent that does not harm the environment – and, in fact, enhances it! 

Bawa’s seminal work

Coming to our chosen speciality of Parametricism: the beauty of this model lies in the fact that it is extremely well-planned out and detailed right from the get-go. Hence, we are creating parameters that take material consumption into consideration – which optimises usage as well as time and effort – creating grounds for social and environmental sustainability, equally. More than technical factors of designing, the environmental factors matter most and help in the orientation and designing strategy of the building. 

For the Hybrid Planetarium, the physical geometry affects its aerodynamics properties and how well it can withstand the storm, considering it is being built in a cyclone-prone zone. The design was moulded after studying advanced wind and daylight analysis to create the best possible design solution which responds well to a sensitive environment. Moreover, openings have been strategically placed on the outer ring of the structure at a good height such that these become conduits for air movement and reduce stress on the structure. Rings of skylight have been provided in the design to maximise the amount of daylight entering the public space, which also utilizes less electricity throughout the day. Coming to material optimization – in the process of building a futuristic yet sustainable design for the Planetarium, various advanced technologies were studied to achieve the best sustainable outcome. The primary construction material for this complex form is steel which can be bent in curvilinear fashion. Steel as a primary building material offers intelligent steel construction solutions that enable energy-efficient and low-carbon-neutral buildings. Mediums of digital fabrication were used to derive the complex geometries. 

Keeping in mind the impact on site, we tried to amalgamate various aspects of the site context along with our Parametric architectural installation, The Hybrid Seat. For this installation design, seen at a private home in Mumbai, and at Visakhapatnam’s TU Museum, various experiments were done during the design process to explore innovative technologies of construction such as digital fabrication and use of advanced 3D software. Each Parametric Seat was constructed using 120 different pieces which were printed with the means of digital fabrication and then manually assembled on site with the help of steel rods. Therefore, material wastage was extremely low due to form and material optimisation – and was maintained at 20%. 

The true greening of architectural design lies in extracting form from site vectors, not by merely affixing technology and materials to a form already created. The Indian context, with its diversity, is one where sustainability will need to be taken care of, now more than ever – which is why the Parametric Approach will make all the difference. 

To know more, do reach out to us! We’re at Instagram at @studioemergence. Would love to hear your perspective! 

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