Parametrics and Parametricism

In his Manifesto, Patrik Schumacher argues for the acceptance of Parametric architecture as a style. But, this attempt to define Parametricism as a style is paradoxical. While most architectural styles are described adjectively, Schumacher tries to reframe styles as design research programmes. Yet, he still describes his ideal of Parametricism heuristically, as a series of specified transformations and rules, or as positive and negative principals. It is this classification of Parametricism which is at odds with the more general definition of parametrics in design, as a series of interconnected functions and relationships which create a desired outcome.

The rules “Avoid straight lines, avoid right angles, avoid corners” and “morph, deform, iterate” are constraints which force design away from typical building forms, and thus shift design towards a specific and contrasting type of form. The problem is that the predetermined results of Schumacher’s Parametricism do not relate to the broad possibilities of what can be achieved through parametric design. Parametric design is a tool, and although it contrasts with traditional methods such as pencil and paper, it is identical in the respect that anything can be imagined and produced. Parametricism should logically consist of that which is designed parmetrically – the outcome of which could be anything, might not automatically correlate procedurally or visually, and thus cannot be the title of an architectural style. I suggest that the narrow quotient of architecture which follows the aforementioned principals be redefined Schumacherism.

Such an architectural style could be said to utilise parametricism, if only to achieve a specific range of physical characteristics. I see these as common attributes of lightness, smoothness, and transparency. But why does this range of architecture, of what is currently accepted as parametricism, fall into these descriptive categories? Why not the opposite?

To elucidate my point, I have used parametric modelling tools to create a suggestion of an architecture which contrasts with the prevailing view. The resulting concept is a series of swatches which describe an architecture of heaviness, roughness, and opacity. This first attempt uses a Grasshopper algorithm to create the appearance of a textured surface. The constraints create a set of blocks which can be varied in size, and which are in turn divided into a series of points and reconstructed. Points are removed in various instances using a Perlin Graph to create pseudorandom patterns. The outcome is a patterned combination of variance and uniformity.

My argument stems from a dissatisfaction with the majority results of Parametricism, but an interest in the possibility of parametric design.

The images below are some sample results.

Parametrics, Patterns