Curator: Michael Stacey
The combination of parametric design and single project models offers the architect a potent real-time tool to generate options and iterate the design to access the potential within a conceptual approach. Parametrics define the parameters of a particular design and not its shape. This is a powerful new tool in form-finding for architecture. A parametric definition of a circle is r2 = x2 + y2, and the parametric definition of the arch of Waterloo Station as defined by Robert Aish of Bentley Systems as hx = ((29152 + (B+C)2)0.5).
This is not to suggest that practices should all hire mathematicians, which Foster has done, nor that you should enrol for a maths degree. Thankfully, major software companies are developing visual interfaces or ‘self-programming’ for parametric design. The parametric capability within Bentley’s Microstation suite is called ‘generative components’.
Twenty years ago it was common for engineers to spend long tedious hours working out the way in which a two-storey building frame worked, longhand, on paper. Sometimes, ideas were incidental to the process. Thankfully, those days are past. The arrival of interactive design software has revolutionised the way we design things… It means that engineering has become more of an art, architecture more of a science, and all design more intuitive.