Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Parametric Programming in Architecture: Brief Considerations

By: Ken Howder

 The challenge of designing competent architecture through tectonic (structural) and aesthetic practice has always been a long enduring process for those involved. Splines, NURBS surfaces, parametric definitions, advanced manipulation of vertices, and algorithms have allowed designers to leap forward with the complexity and precision of their designs – so much so, that modern construction techniques have yet to catch up to allow some of the more complex designs to be reproducible in real time. In his article about the subject, Fabian Scheurer writes, “It quickly became apparent that these designs would pose completely new challenges once they had been sold to a sufficiently funded client and entered the construction design and building phase” (Scheurer, 89). This suggests that, for the tectonic framework of a building, two things must be accomplished to continue with the advancement of structural design. First and foremost, the architect or designer needs to be aware of the limitations set upon them by modern construction methods. Secondly, the construction industry needs a boost in building techniques through advancement in materials, technique, and equipment. For the second factor to happen would require much time and commitment that, despite the need, will take decades to achieve. However, the first factor of architects who are aware of construction limitations can be achieved at any time. It is sad to say that, partly responsible through academic curriculum, the encouragement of theoretical projects minus real world experience leaves many would-be architects left with an unrealistic idea of what can actually be achieved. Suffice to say that this may be considered merely a tangent to the main topic at hand of tectonic and aesthetic balance, but it does play an important role.
Programming architecture instead of drawing has become more of a phenomenon in recent years to produce visually pleasing entities with a surprising account for structural demand. However, one of the most important benefits produced by algorithmic aided design is the possibility to design with an innate comprehension of the surrounding site. Such a profound effect on the process allows the designer to produce natural designs that can enhance the surrounding area. When Frampton refers to Semper’s writings in his article, he mentions the need for both art and rhythm in the field of architecture, and it is clear that the advancements made within the past couple decades to the field have only encouraged this idea.

Works Cited
Frampton, Kenneth. "Rappel A L’orde, The Case for the Tectonic" (1983): Book. 16 June 2015.

Scheurer, Fabian. "Materialising Complexity." Architectural Design 10 July 2010: 86-93.

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