Introduction: Parametric design

What is parametric design ?

There is no precise definition and there are other related terms and synonyms: generative, computational, digital, computer aided, associative. Basically it's far more sophisticated than using computer instead of drawing board. Often when You draw/model your concept, You follow certain operations which are monotone and repetitive, they are algorithms and what's for sure computers are best at algorithms, so why should You do it manually ? For example, think of an elevation with windows, each window must have an area equal to 1/8 of room's floor area. It's simple, but when next day You'll decide that 1/7 will do better, and there are 1000 windows ? Let the computer handle this algorithm! Another example: You've designed a bench with organic form and wish it'll be made of wood horizontal slices. You need slices' plans and numbers for fabrication and assembly. Easy!

What is it for ?

Everyday objects, data mapping and visualization, elevations, structures, floor plans, urban plans. In my opinion floor plans and urban plans should be done in very limited amount, because they are synthetic and context-aware. Such algorithms are extremely hard to figure out. Parametric design is another tool for designers, architects, as any tool You have to learn it to make benefits of it, and benefits are impressive.

Visual code

It's quite easy to distinguish something designed using parameters and algorithms from the rest, so it gives us a message "I'm contemporary, I was rethinked:)"

Urban design

Wall design - Grasshopper

Data vizualisation - Processing

"NYTimes: 365/360 - 2009 (in color)", courtesy blprnt_van


for architects, designers:
Rhino + Grasshopper
For designers who are exploring new shapes using generative algorithms, Grasshopper® is a graphical algorithm editor tightly integrated with Rhino’s 3-D modeling tools. Unlike RhinoScript, Grasshopper requires no knowledge of programming or scripting, but still allows designers to build form generators from the simple to the awe-inspiring.
Generative Components captures and exploits the critical relationships between design intent and geometry. Designs can be refined by either dynamically modeling and directly manipulating geometry, by applying rules and capturing relationships among building elements, or by defining complex building forms and systems through concisely expressed algorithms.
Graphic designers:
Processing is an open source programming language and environment for people who want to create images, animations, and interactions.
Scriptographer is a scripting plugin for Adobe Illustrator™. It gives the user the possibility to extend Illustrator’s functionality by the use of the JavaScript language.


http://designreform.net/ - Exploring parametric modeling, BIM and Design Technology for new forms of craft.
http://web.mac.com/rhino3dtv/GH/GH.html Grasshopper manual
http://www.rhinofablab.com/ - Design - Optimization - Fabrication D-O-F
http://www.designalyze.com/ - the analysis of design
http://designplaygrounds.blogspot.com/ - open design research platform
http://softrigid.com/ - soft/rigid behavior in architecture
http://www.parametricdesign.net/ - place for sharing ideas


4 Comments / Leave a comment

  1. 5 years ago by wall art — 2 August 2011 @ 08:24

    Great video! This data visualization and processing looks a cool art for me.

  2. 5 years ago by Bish — 11 October 2011 @ 05:26

    Parametric processes are very interesting because of the level of complexity they can allow us to reach.. Not as some people may think that parametric design is just designers/architects being lazy, as a matter of fact parametric designs and their processes are what may be said: easy to learn, extremely hard to master.

  3. 5 years ago by Michaela Fišerová — 24 January 2012 @ 16:01

    I would like to ask – where are the best schools to study parametric design (for architecture)? Best – in combination with sustainable design, what I think realy has a future. Thank you.

  4. 4 years ago by Daniel Conradie — 2 March 2012 @ 11:21

    @Michaela, the most progressive architecture school I myself am aware of is the Architectural Association (AA) in London. You will find some very interesting videos and discussions on the web from people coming from this institution.

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