Parametricism beyond Architecture: A school of thinking


What is Parametricism?   

The term ‘Parametricism’- coined by Patrick Schumacher implies that all elements of architecture are becoming parametrically flexible and thus adaptive to each other and to any given context.

Parametric design can simply be defined as forming a series of steps to establish the possibilities of a design. In turn, these steps can be used to provide a variety of solutions through computation.

Parametric thinking or System thinking thus encourages designers and architects to start with the design parameters and not preconceived or predetermined solutions like a fixed form or an ultimate solution. It subconsciously shapes the outcome through valid and contextual factors.

How does parametric thinking work?   

Today, parametric architecture is the strongest movement and avant-garde style. Instead of combining a number of platonic solids (cubes, spheres, etc.) into simple compositions – as all other architectural styles have done for 5,000 years – digital designers now work with naturally changing, adaptive forms that constantly combine into different systems. The influence of parametricism starts at the inception of any design process.

Img 1: Difference between conventional and non conventional approach to design

Conventional approach

  • Linear thinking
  • A definite start and end
  • Pre-decided process
  • No variable data

Each decision in the design process has factors that influence the design. These get transformed into multiple decisions where any factor is a Parameter in the design process. Each parameter is made up of variables of different influence/power. Some can be controlled with a fixed range while others can be modified as per design decisions.

Parametric thinking (Non-conventional approach)

  • Variables
  • Adaptive systems as per update in data
  • Network structures
  • Interpenetration
  • Non-linear forms and processes

Such thinking trains our mind to set-up researched measurable factors of rule-sets to determine any design behavior. Within architecture, these rule-sets/parameters can be; program, site context, demographic, materiality, foot-fall etc. These rule sets can be either combined or isolated from each other. The more overlap and co-dependency that exists the more integrated the outcome.  

Img 2: THE INSIDE OUT pavilion by Studio Emergence

To expand it in reality, studio emergence designed the Parametric Public Infrastructure Pavilion for IDAC Expo! , this Parametric Pavilion showcases the beauty of light-weight structures. This structure was done overnight through collaboration of non-linear processes but was inspired by the Gyroid – A mathematical surface, and the delicate strength of a butterfly’s wings.

Img 3: THE INSIDE OUT pavilion by Studio Emergence

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