This term was coined by Patrik Schumacher in 2008. He is the architectural partner of Zaha Hadid. Parametricism uses programs and algorithms to manipulate equations for design purposes. It has been used in architecture and its derivatives. Proponents of this trend argue for an inducibility relationship between variables and design. All design and environmental elements are linked and influenced by each other. 

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Parametricism emerged in the early 1990s. Its earliest practitioners are names such as Greg Lynn, Jesse Reiser, Lars Spuybroek, Kas Oosterhuis. These architecture masters sought and worked in this field before the Parametricism movement was introduced. It emerged as an avant-garde design movement focusing on theory. Paul Schumacher said he believed the work of Pritzker Prize-winning German architect Frei Otto was a precursor to Parametricism. We can say that the first prototypes of parametricism were derived from the architects of deconstructivism. They used their own design trends as a tool for a new one. The first works, the result of radical experimentation and productivity, were created with the signatures of Peter Eisenman, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Bernard Tschumi, and Daniel Libeskind. In line with the pioneering of these applications and the needs arising from them, developments and changes in this direction have occurred in digital technology. Despite the constant and clarified methods and principles of styles based on modernism, minimalism, postmodernism architecture, parametricism seeks constant change for the building of innovation and research. It has become widespread and proliferated in academic and practical fields.

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This period was a period in which the first examples of parametricism were given between 1952 and 1992, and studies were made on designs that were unique until then. Frei Otto’s work is the best example of this period. Otto focused on building lightweight structures through physical models that find their form through material calculation. These studies are considered to be the first design studies that existed before the name of Parametricism existed. The Munich Olympic Stadium design, built-in 1972, is an example of innovative light tent construction. This work was designed with architect Günther Behnisch. 

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This period started with projects that were built early after the discourses that gave rise to Parametricism between 1993-2008. With the inspiration and ambition of these projects, production and construction processes started to be renewed and adapted to this trend. It began to transform complex digital designs into buildable material details. Kas Oosterhuis’ SaltWater Pavilion is one of the first examples of a project designed from the very beginning based on a three-dimensional computer model. This project received a Gold Award for innovative recreation projects in 1997 and a nomination for the Mies van der Rohe Award in 1998.

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The 2008 global financial crisis is an important disruptive to the rapid development of Parametricism. This trend, which progresses in parallel with technology, could not use the latest technology building elements due to a lack of financial resources. The most important projects built in this style were completed after 2008. The period between 2009-2014 is the fast and competitive period of Parametricism. It is a trend that has been named and discussed by everyone now. 

Designed by Louis Vuitton Foundation Gehry Partners. The project completed between 2006-2014 is a structure affected by the crisis. However, with a strong company and a strong design team, this project was completed as an important example of the trend. It is considered as “an international catalyst for innovation in digital design and construction”. It is a design created with the contribution of hundreds of people with a three-dimensional model accessible and adaptable with the network. 

The largest of these period projects was designed by Zaha Hadid Architects together with Samoo. This project is Dongdaemun Design Plaza, one of the most important indicators of urban development in Seoul, South Korea. Thanks to the project, Seoul was selected as the 2010 World Design Capital. For this structure, 45,000 aluminum panels of various sizes and curvature values ​​were produced. It was these extraordinary calculations and innovative production techniques that gave form. The backlit façade, defined as a space consisting of pixelation, is a solid entity during the day, transforms into a display area for animations at night, and exhibits a light show.

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In a discussion between ZHA’s Michael Hansmeyer and Patrik Schumacher at the “The New How” conference held at Princeton University School of Architecture in 2014, Schumacher announced the updated and upgraded “Parametricism 2.0”. He said that Schumacher Parametricism had twenty years of accumulated knowledge and experience. He explained that he is now articulating with the built environment and that his organization with the built environment is well established. He stated that architecture fulfills its social duties. In his words, all this was an indication that this trend is ready to be “mainstream”. Today, there are large projects that fit the Parametricism 2.0 trend and are in the design phase. Like Google’s California Headquarters designed by Bjarke Ingels (BIG) and the Beijing New Airport Terminal Building in Beijing by Heatherwick Studio or Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA).

Merve Kurtaran

Merve has been an observer and storyteller since she knew herself. She tells, draws, takes photographs and uses all the means at her disposal to share her observations. Architecture is her method of seeing people, nature and art together. That's why it has become her passion from a young age. She wants to interpret humanity problems related to architecture from her own point of view, to produce solutions and to bring a new perspective to humanity.

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