Designing the design: establishing boundary conditions for designing parametrically by Andrew Maher

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Abstract

During the more than 40 year period since the computer was introduced to architecture, architects have had an ambiguous relationship with the adoption of the computing paradigm to design practice. Recently in architecture, a form of software in which geometric form is controlled through the definition of parameters and application of constraints, has been adopted for architectural use. It is known as parametric software and was originally developed for the aerospace and manufacturing industries. Its adoption to architecture as a technology transfer presents as many challenges as opportunities.

This research investigates what happens in practice, or the border between research and practice, when designing for parametric modelling. The aim of the research was to establish some of the boundary conditions when designing and working with parametric models in architecture. A methodology of practice-based case study research, in which parametric models were designed and tested and several case studies were employed.

The findings are structured around three themes, each focussing on boundary conditions at various stages of a parametric model. These include descriptions of the effort expended to structure a parametric design and design its schema. Once a model has been established a design space, the boundary conditions for how architects might traverse the model are investigated. Finally the resultant implications of parametric models in the broader construction sector are explored.

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