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Fallingwater designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Pennylvania, USA.

Last semester’s architecture design studio water required us to place ourselves in the shoes of another architect’s shoes. I was assigned to study Frank Lloyd Wright throughout the whole semester. Naturally, I became very familiar with his works; particularly his organic designs. Organic architecture is primarily focused on nature and therefore growth, His Fallingwater design, pictured above, is the very epitome of organic architecture. The result of placing myself in Frank Lloyd wwWright’s shoes is the design pictured below. My design is based on his ideas of what organic architecture is, but instead of just using pen and paper to design, I used SketchUp to facilitate me in the design process. What really interested me when working with SketchUp was the ability to freely move planes around. This gave me a chance to play around with the geometry and manipulate it freely. With the new era of technology, parametric design is the next big thing with it comes to architecture. I would like to embrace this technology to take what I already know about modelling one step further. Parametric design is generative and computational based design and is responsible for opening new doors and reinventing the limit that existed with the conventional way of paper and pen that architecture once was. I believe parametric design is advancing design to a new architectural discourse for this reason.

Station 20 concept by Peter Ruge Architekten in Sofia, Bulgaria.

A prime example of what parametric design can achieve is this masterpiece by Peter Ruge Architekten. Parametric design allows complex designs such as this to be realised where it is normally difficult or impossible to do via the dated paper and pen method. The complexity that is only possible via computational means exists in the curved shapes that once came from a cylinder. A new era of architectural design begs for a new means to go about it, and it seems that parametric design fits the bill.

The highly complex design pictured below is the Danish Pavilion by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and once again, only exists due to the increased possibilities for complex geometrical shapes that is provided by parametric designs. The result is a complex, elegant and clean design that is very aesthetically pleasing and modern. These designs once again assert me that parametric design is the way to go when it comes to advancing architectural discourse. Danish Pavilion designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) in Shanghai, China.

Computers, as their name implies, are made to compute, and unlike humans, their ability to store and recall memories are not limited. They are also able to process thousands of sequences of information much more quickly and more efficiently than humans can and without error. They are able to represent the results of these manipulations in the form most suitable for human comprehension: in textual reports, tables of numbers, charts, graphical constructions. Computers are there for humans when our brains capacities fall short when it comes to these tasks. Although computers are superb at carrying out instructions, they cannot form instructions by themselves. This is their only major flaw. However, humans on the other hand, although we cannot perform complicated calculations like computers can, we possss both rational and creative abilities that can come up with instructions for computers to carry out the complex algorithms to formulate our design. In other words, humans and computers can form very potent symbiotic design systems capable of amazing designs by complementing each others’ limitations.

Innovations in parametric design started off with CAD (computer aided design) which allowed for nearly everyone, not just architects, to accurately draw diagrams due to its streamlined design process. Many commands are available to draw basic geometries and are accessed with relative ease. CAD started off with 2D drawings represented with lines, and these lines eventually formed networks which led to the creation of curves in 3D. CAD has matured nicely these days in today’s contemporary architectural production, allowing for the creation and editting of highly complex shapes and surfaces while keeping a simple and streamlined interface. This is taken one step further with parametric design with programs such as Rhino with the Grasshopper plugin that allows for the programming of algorithms to generate highly complex forms and designs. Pictured at the bottom is a rendering from Rhino with the Grasshopper plugin. As we can see, the amazing detail and complexity at the same time is undeniable proof of what computer aided design can achieve. This is especially since it can generate complex shapes that cannot be otherwise possible with a pen and paper or even traditional computational design, The algorithmns in Rhino are represented as a graph of connected nodes that show the flow of geometry and data. Modification of these nodes can be done at any time during the design process and they therefore update the output instantly. This design based method allows for the designer to have the ability to design highly complex geometries and not have to worry about little changes to the basic design since it can be changed and updated at any time by the changing of the nodes.