We come across a few inspiring architectural projects on Archdaily, (and sites likewise) that transcend the limits of our imagination and definition of architecture. 9 out of 10 times the beautiful geometry, the perfect balance between various elements, color harmony, and everything seems so perfect. If you’re wondering(like I once did), ‘How can one create the best combination of all aspects?’ I welcome you to the realm of Parametric Design.

Read More: What is Parametric Design? How will it change the face of Architecture in India?

Today, we give you a brief comparison of the benefits and drawbacks of Parametric Design.

Positives First

1. Accommodate Modifications

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Wineglass maker ©Parametric India

Parametric Designing focuses more on the relationship between various geometries, the method of designing rather than the end product. This means one needs to focus on the process (how) of design than the end (what) product. One can expect to;

  • Create design iterations extremely fast.
  • Seamlessly integrate modifications/updates with other project files.

2. Complexity from Ordered Simplicity

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©Fractal Patterns

If you are familiar with the concept of OOPS (Object Oriented Programming), you will be happy to know that it forms one of the core principles of Parametric Designing.

Simple repetitions, loops, geometry along with simple transformations can be used to generate complex geometries. All mind-boggling forms are often simple shapes at first.

3. Seamless Integration

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Rhino Inside ©Revit

Most software(Grasshopper, Dynamo, Marionette) that accommodates parametric designing tools, also accommodate seamless integration with other traditional software.

Usual integration includes; Environmental Analysis, Physics and Structural Simulation, Clash test, etc. This not only simplifies your task list but also solves the need for creating multiple copies in each software. All data is linked and interoperable.

4. Automation & Optimization

What if every change you make to your 3D model automatically updates the 2D Drawings, BOQ, and the project schedules. Sounds wonderful right! Now let us take it further up a notch. Imagine that every change in the overall form automatically provides you the best indoor floor plan. Wouldn’t that free up an enormous amount of time?

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This exactly was what inspired designers at Wallgren Arkitekter and BOX Bygg to create Finch – The Automatic Floor Plan Generator. While this is one of the developing sectors, it is evident that CODE is replacing CAD.

The Catch

1. A Steep Learning Curve

The exclusive benefits of parametric are — exclusive. It (like any other skill) requires 1000 hours of practice, patience, and perseverance. While the traditional style of designing usually focuses on the 2D plan first, Parametric design focuses on extensive data collection and setting up relations between various spaces — just to start with the design.

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Simply put, one needs to unlearn and relearn the entire design process. While this surely is also an advantage, not everyone can afford to spend the time.

2. Data, Data, and Data!

Since this method of design heavily relies on the data we provide during the design phase, extensive research and data collection are usually done at first. Anything, from site location to the available materials, will contribute a key role.

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Example: The project location gives you all climatic and topographic information. When combined with traffic data (from Google) provides a brief context.

Architecture schools currently do not emphasize the importance of mathematics enough. One of the essential requirements to master Parametric Design is having a strong foundation in Mathematics. Knowledge in the fields of Computer Science gives you an edge over others.

3. Production Gap

With all the obstacles tackled, skills learned, and tasks complete, there still is one factor that is out of an individual’s control — The Market. Unique designs require unique tools and machinery. Based on where one lives, The availability of tools and (not to mention) highly-skilled labor may be restricted.

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Using AR to train construction workers.©Archdaily

It becomes nearly impractical to import/facilitate resources for the first project. This creates a significant barrier for entry-level interested architects and designers.

4. Sometimes, it’s just not worth the hype!

Parametric Design is not always the one to steal the show. It requires a large amount of investment at the start – where various relationships and algorithms are defined. If the end product is a production-ready model, the idea is feasible; provided an all-access pass to numerous prototyping and CNC machines.

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Pier 9, San Francisco ©Autodesk

For small companies, where the end product is only a 2D Drawing, and a visualization of the finished product, the entire scheme might not work out immediately. The traditional design might be the best choice here.

Further Reading:


Kaushik LS is an Architect, (WIP)Computational Designer and Visual FX Artist, who strives to amalgamate the physical and digital worlds via Interactive Architecture. He currently focusses on aiding people with the fabrication + deployment of computer-generated designs.