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AI Generative Design

Parametric Design: How is It Applied in Architecture?

Common Examples of Parametric Design Use in Architecture and the Best Software for Parametric Design in Architecture.

Sayjel Vijay Patel
July 13, 2021
AI Generative Design

Parametric Design: How is It Applied in Architecture?

For years, scientists and experts in architectural prototyping have been rethinking their approaches employed in different areas of design with the aim of creating better products. For example, 3D modeling and architectural prototyping have created approaches that emphasize new designs, such as parametric design, which is becoming the new norm. In this post, we will take a closer look to answer two common questions, “What are parametric designs?” and “What is the best parametric software to consider as a building project designer?” 

A Closer Look at Parametric Design

If you look at the common traditional architectural styles, they were characterized by sharp corners, straight lines, and acute angles. Parametricism is a departure from these common styles and giving way to free-form concepts, which can include irregular shapes, curves, and sweeping lines, that help to give every building a unique character. These designs are described as futuristic. 

So, what exactly is a parametric design/ Parametricism? It is a process based on algorithm thinking, which makes it possible to express parameters as well as rules that together encode and define the relationship between design response and design intent. So, what does parametric mean in architecture? In architecture, the definition of parametric design can be summarized in the following four points: 

  • Blending variety with complexity. This is used to help reject homogenous monopolization. 
  • Shared priorities that involve different concepts, including fashion, architectural wonder, interior design and urbanism. 
  • The principle that all elements in design are adaptable and interdependent. 
  • Bias towards advanced computerized algorithms. 

Common Examples of Parametric Design Use in Architecture 

When you look at parametric structures, whether in a computer-generated design or in a real environment analysis, they appear "lawless amalgams" but they are not. Using the right parametric design software, architects look to nature for inspiration. Talk of the earth's unique systems, from the corals in the Great Barrier Reef to contours of the Great Canyon and unique habitats of different organisms. The designs seek to adapt to these forms and functions. 

To demonstrate the application of parametric design in architecture, one of the best examples is the Peix Olimpic, simply known as "Fish" and designed by Frank Gehry in Barcelona. Gehry has become one of the most revered artists for taking organic shapes and using them to create building designs. 

Another example of parametric designs is the Galaxy SOHO Mall, one of the most iconic buildings in China and across the globe. The building design was done by Zaha Hadid Architects and hosts offices, entertainment, and retail sections. The most notable thing about this building is that it does not have visible corners, giving a unique feeling of a space with no breaks, just continuous. 

Another celebrated architect because of his projects in parametric designs is Jean Nouvel. While it is true that he has multiple buildings completed under his watch, the most notable is the Louvre Abu Dabi. Although it is relatively subtle when compared to other high-rise buildings on the globe, the intricate dome puts it in a class of its own. 

This list can go on and on, but one fact that is evident with parametric designs is that they always stand out. If you are an architect and want to also make your mark in parametric design, make sure to get appropriate software. 

The Best Software for Parametric Design in Architecture

From the definition, you can see that parametric designs can be pretty complex, but the resulting structures are truly awesome. This is why you need to have the right software and we are going to list the best options for you: 

  • Solidworks 

Solidworks is one of the best programs for designing mechanical parts. It also works well for architects and 3D designers. With the tool, you can easily create advanced designs that will make your client and public appreciate your skills. 

  • FreeCAD

This is another excellent parametric program, which appeals so much to both new and experienced architects because of its ease of use. It comes with unique features that make rendering various building models easy and fun. It also makes managing architectural functions easy using functions such as robot simulation, geometry kernels, and standard formats. Although it is available as a free version, you are required to pay to unlock more advanced features. 

  • Fusion 360 

This is another piece of software developed by AutoDesk but is not a fully parametric modeling program. Rather, it is a polyvalent CAD app that architects can use in parametric modeling. You will love it because of the unique simulation instruments for enhancing 3D elements for both individual building and urban design. Consider combining this design software with others, such as Revit and SketchUp

  • Inventor 

AutoDesk did a great job when they created the Inventor because it makes the process of developing building designs easy and fast. Architects consider it as one of the best solution to 3D mechanical design, visualizations, simulations and documentation. This is why it is preferred by both new and experienced architects. 

One unique attribute about the Inventor is that it allows architects to integrate both 3D and 2D into one environment, generating a virtual representation for the final building. The software also makes it easy to validate fit, form, and function of your designs before presenting them to clients or authorities for approval. Some of the main tools in the Inventor include freeform modeling tools, multi-CAD translation capabilities, and DWG drawings.  

  • Rhino with Grasshopper 

If you have been working with 3D building design software, perhaps the name Rhino with Grasshopper will not be new. It is a professional full 3D CAD software designed for use in alternative industries. You will also find it very helpful in building design. The software allows you to work on both parametric and non-parametric modeling on your building initiatives. Although some architects indicate that it is difficult to use at first, you will find it awesome after getting used. 

Parametric design is becoming the new norm, and a lot of architects and the public love it. Whether you are designing a skyscraper or an apartment in, a parametric style will make it stand out in the neighboring environment. Remember to get the right software for analysis and to be able to create more attractive, unique, and functional designs. 


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