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Beijing National Aquatics Center, "the WATER CUBE" PTW Architects and Ove Arup

“Parametric design is not about designing a building,.. it’s about . designing the system that designs a building” . The Beijing National Aquatic Centre or the “Water Cube” as it is better known, captured the attention of the world at the 2008 Olympics with its dramatic generative (or parametric) design. Designed using computers, architects were able to use genetic algorithms to construct the relatively simple rules of ‘soap bubbles’ that makes up the façade of this iconic building. The success and wide-spread knowledge of this building world-wide, the techniques of parametric design behind its construction, are likely to influence and inspire future architectural works, increasing and advancing the use of technology and mathematics in the design of iconic buildings that are yet to come.

Airports such as the Changi Terminal 3 that is pictured in the two images below, show how architecturally airports are becoming more significant and iconic, symbolising the entrance to a new state or country within a continent by welcoming and impressing the visitor with the new age technology and grandeur of the destination. The most unique feature of the T3 is the butterfly roof architecture, which was designed parametrically comprising of 919 skylights that allow soft natural light into the interior while keeping the tropical heat out. This impressive roof contains reflective panels that adjust themselves automatically to allow optimum light into the interior, making this building environmentally aware. With the environment becoming a bigger issue everyday, parametric designing offers a possible avenue for future solutions to such problems in buildings to come.


shanghai terminal 3 WOODHEAD ARCHITECTS AND ARUP, 2008



Similar to the repetitive patterns used in both the water cube and the T3, the following building can be broken down into components. Constructed digitally on google sketch-up, I used many different sized triangles to make up the almost plastic looking roof of my studio earth assignment. While algorithms and mathematical equations were not dominant in the design process, an identical building to this could be quickly and easily constructed using these parametric designing programs, saving time and money if it were designed and built in reality. Overall, while there will always be value in the creativity of an architects sketches and ideas, the use of parametric designing is likely to be increasingly used in the future of architecture, paving the way for more of these repetitive and futuristic-looking constructions that address the issues of tomorrow.

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