Week One // Parametric Modeling

1. Parametric modeling in architecture is to design structures that use complex geometries through components which are dependent on each other to form their shape, so that to change one part shifts the entire design. The designer creates through components, meaning that they can use constructs (parameters) and other variables in order to create options for their design. This ability means that an architect can rapidly explore many alternative configurations of components without having to redraw things by hand. The relationship between these components in parametric modeling help to inform the design of the complex geometries. The systems are used in order to create great flexibility in design, so that if a structure is created using a  set of parameters to create a component, a designer can change the component’s design itself and it can be reflected in the entire structure. Parametric modelings allows for the delivery of precise geometric data, so that in the performance analysis of a structure the design does not need to constantly be regenerated.

2. Previously, CAD programs very much mimicked pen and paper in a computer form, so that input on a single component equals output on that same component. The design on a computer had to be updated in the same way a pen and paper drawing would be – by erasing and redrawing. Parametric modeling allows for structures to be designed through sets of equations tied to specific components and their intersections, so that if a designer changes the base component or one, every other component that follows the same equations or set of parameters is also altered in response. Parametric modeling can be used for “blob” architecture as well as architecture that is composed of linear shapes, so long as the design is based in components and their relationships. It has allowed for the more accessible design of  more complex geometries in architecture, and for easier performance analysis of many buildings to see how parts work as a whole in a structure.

3. Parametric modeling continues to be an evolving form of design for architects. Outlined in the work for his thesis, Daniel Davis explains the struggles of parametric modeling and design and it’s evolution from it’s origins as far back as Gaudi’s work (http://www.danieldavis.com/thesis-ch2/). Written in 2013, it shows the relevance of parametric modeling to architectural design today. In an article from Architect Magazine, Witold Rybczynski critiques parametric modeling and emphasies how it could be used better in the future – as a way to improve building performance. He also details how widespread of a phenomenon parametric modeling has become in design today. Famous architects such as Zaha Hadid have become known for the shapes and spaces that are created through parametric design (http://www.architectmagazine.com/design/parametric-design-lost-amid-the-algorithms.aspx).

4. While I have not used parametric modeling in my own designs so far, I can see how helpful it would be in considering a structure with complex geometries and difficult forms, as well as just component based structures in general. Relationships between parts is an important part of architecture, and understanding how parts affect each other is a valuable skill and resource that parametric modeling can provide to me in my future career. As I hope to design larger structures such as stadiums and schools, as well as more community and culture centered structures, I believe that I will heavily use parametric modeling as a practicing architect.

5. Parametric modeling will be a valuable tool for me moving forward in my design studios, as I believe they will help to give me as a designer a better understanding of how components work together to create buildings as whole systems which are interrelated to the components which comprise them. I will be interested to see how this affects my designs, as I am curious as to what limitations can also be observed when using parametric modeling. I can see this system being extremely useful as I move forward with understanding structural forces in my designs, as parametric modeling is excellent at giving data on performance of a structural system.


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