Parametric Construction

Interlocking, Ribbing and Folding: Explorations in Parametric Constructions

Arturo Lyon1, Rodrigo Garcia2
1Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
2University of Bío-Bío

This paper presents three projects involving the design and fabrication of architectural structures through the use of different parametric software and digital manufacturing methods.

The first project is a flexible partition composed of interlocking elements shaped using a laser-cutter. The second project is a university exhibition unit made with various wooden panels manufactured through a computer numerical controlled (CNC) system.

The third project is a system of metal sheets folded by digital machines to create urban circulation spaces. The three works develop a parametric programming of geometry based on certain technical factors, enabling the recognition of patterns of interaction between formal and constructive issues involved in the definition of shapes through parametric controls.

Differences in materials and processes are contrasted by similarities of function and conditions involved, creating a system of local, global, productive and environmental parameters that produces a repertoire of self-similar dimensions and variations as well as multiple possibilities of initial setups and final configurations.

It suggests a specific field of design exploration focusing on the development of differentiated components and variable architectural configurations, in a kind of open parametric system.

The consideration of technical aspects early on in the process of architectural design has traditionally been considered a necessity for developing proper solutions, but also represents the possibility for promoting creative alternatives.

Works by Antoni Gaudí, Frei Otto, Eladio Dieste and Santiago Calatrava are frequently cited as key examples where architectural forms have been conceived through innovative structural and constructive considerations.

Nowadays the management and performance of building construction has become substantially more detailed, influencing the constraints, products and complexity of buildings. This necessitates a closer relationship between technical conditions and architectural shape, through design strategies that combine them to support creative explorations.

Parametric design software makes it possible to control numerical aspects of the definition of shapes, establishing mathematical relationships between geometry and varying conditions.

Several examples of architectural designs have shown the use of parametric software for the integration of different requirements or specific evaluation criteria.

The application of this technology during the initial stages of architectural design permits the exploration of multiple possible solutions within determined constrains. Nevertheless, no overall design strategy based on these technologies has been fully defined with regard to the relationship between different factors involved or their specific architectural possibilities.

This paper presents three projects carried out by the authors in the design and definition of architectural structures through the use of different parametric design software and digital fabrication methods, reviewing similar conditions in order to identify common design processes and technical aspects involved.

Design parameters can be considered on diverse levels of a project to define particular elements, to control overall form, to control production constraints of elements and design features, and to respond to site conditions that are determinant for several aspects.

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