Parametric design – A term not everyone might not have heard of, although know projects and structures designed using this style. The reason for that is that parametric design has derived from geometry – which is a regular concept and is evident in everything we see. So, what is it exactly? Parametric design is a manipulation of geometric forms and elements done through computation – to produce complex structures and architectural designs. It is being used in various fields other than architecture – such as digital software and engineering. In this article, we’ll see how parametric design affects architecture.

1. The Parametric Design brings more factors to the design process

Parametric design can be utilized as a powerful tool that provides solutions for visual, material, and structural issues. Although architects will still use the conventional “functional” process for designs, the parametric design will offer an overall aesthetic and structural perspective. So, you can’t separate the aesthetic from the functionality of the design. 

10 Reasons why parametric design is changing Architecture - Sheet1
The Design Citadel, a proposal by Nyxo Studio for Baghdad Governorate building – source

2. Digital Aspect

Technological changes will affect all aspects of the building industry. The entire design process will use digital methods for optimization, computation of data, design evolution, and extends to construction and fabrication. 

10 Reasons why parametric design is changing Architecture - Sheet2
The Farmhouse by Studio Precht – source – ©

3. Parametric Design is contextual

The “modern” architectural education comprises universal design, standardization, and mass-produced designs. It tends to be very homogenous and allows less room for customization. Parametric design, on the other hand, is context-based, adaptive, and is customized. 

10 Reasons why parametric design is changing Architecture - Sheet4
The Hangzhou Tennis Center Hangzhou, China – source – ©

4. Adaptive Architecture 

The profession of architecture creates a physical space as its result, that is permanent for years. During the digital age, architecture is shaped by different software. The architecture will need to adapt as per the aspects of parametric design as well. The design ideation process alters slightly.

10 Reasons why parametric design is changing Architecture - Sheet3
Museo Soumaya, Nuevo Polanco, Mexico City, 2011 by Fernando Romero – source – ©

5. It is not everyone’s cup of tea | Parametric Design

Parametric design – as its name suggests – revolves around a set of parameters that are controlled to produce a certain result. Mostly, these are based on digital software or tools and are tougher for individuals who are not used to new technology. There are still a large number of people in the architectural field that use conventional methods for designing – such as concepts, functionality, and usage of standard rules and regulations.

10 Reasons why parametric design is changing Architecture - Sheet5
Spanish Pavilion Expo 2005 – source – ©

6. Easier to manage complexity 

Due to the computation aspect of parametric design, it is less time-consuming and easier to deal with complex issues during the process. Parametric architects know about parameters such as site context, environmental factors, user interface, and program to material technology and manufacturing. Parametric design is always evolving, so there is room to adapt to contemporary technology. 

10 Reasons why parametric design is changing Architecture - Sheet6
Urban Zen creates new façade – source – ©

7. An opportunity to improve the design 

Unlike traditional CAD – computer-aided design, which depends on physical modeling, parametric design is more innovative and allows exploration of design possibilities. When it comes to free-form structures, parametric design gives a great opportunity for innovative and exciting forms and structures. 

Pavilion Number 2 – MSA Team - source - ©
Pavilion Number 2 – MSA Team – source – ©

8. Financially well defined | Parametric Design

Architects have control over the project cost because of the parameters that are considered and that control the design process. Also, it benefits the clients by the accurate monitoring of the economy of the design. It also minimizes the risks involved in the process, by integrating a lot of information and parameters into a single platform. 

Mallet Stevens garden – source – ©
Mallet Stevens garden – source – ©

9. Many alternatives for the same design

Parametric design works on systems and links. Each aspect of the design project links to a variable that can be changed and customized. Architects now opt to simply change one option, which results in a range of alternatives and solutions instead of a singular response to the design problem

The Jewel, Changi airport, Singapore – source - ©
The Jewel, Changi airport, Singapore – source – ©

10. Effective management of the process | Parametric Design

One of the advantages of parametric design is its ability to effectively managing the design process. It speeds up the design activity and helps with making decisions. Indeed, clients are most interested in the outcome or the final result than the design process. At the later stages of the design process, clear conversations between the architect and the client need to be made. The parametric design makes the design environment flexible to changes, and thus enables better communication with the client. 

Al Bahr towers, Abu Dhabi – responsive parametric façade – source – ©

In conclusion, the parametric design seeks to improve the ways of the architecture profession. It provides better and advanced tools that help create faster and more efficient designs. It challenges the conventional thinking method of arriving at a design solution, but it provides varying alternatives for the same. There is, however, a certain amount of risk involved, because many parameters or factors link to major aspects of the design. One minor change could alter the fate of the entire design outcome. Also, it comes with problems such as learning difficulties. Each software is regularly updated and thus it becomes difficult to learn and link the design process to the new interface. As the world grows and adapts to new technologies, architects have a more difficult job of keeping up with the latest efficient systems to make innovative and creative spaces and structures.