What is Parametric Design? Understanding parametric design in simplification.
What is parametric design, anyway? What comes to your mind when you here this word (parametric design)?
It’s almost impossible to explain parametric design in few words. Which is an great issue so what most people do is just google it and what does it says?
Here are some of the search results “parametric design” or “computational design” lead to some explanation that are according to me just dry explanations that sound good but mostly explains nothing and lead us to just scratch our heads for example, Wikipedia says “a paradigm in design where the relationship between elements is used to manipulate and inform the design of complex geometries and structures”. Matter of fact it is exactly the correct answer, but question is, was it that simple to understand parametric design. So let see what we can do about it and how we can process it to understand parametric design.
Let’s decode this “Parametric Design”
The process of parametric design, the first step of information is the configuration. In simple words everything is known about the subject or object in computed design except its exact dimensions and tolerances. Some special cases have the exact material choice is also beforehand unknown, but in many cases the basic class of material is usually included in the configuration information.
The main aim of parametric design is to add the dimensions and any other specific information needed for functionality and manufacturing. If the materials are not selected than the specific materials are also selected and designated to respective places.
In other words, parametric design helps to provide all the dimensions, tolerances, and detailed materials information necessary to the design considering both the marketing concept and the Engineering Design Specification.
The spirit of least commitment design, computed design should not specify information to any degree of precision that is not actually required by the Specifications, but most of the dimensions are usually determined at the parametric stage.
In short, Think of it like a spreadsheet that you’ve set up to make calculations; you choose which math function that will be performed, you have input the different numbers, and your result depends on what those variables are. This is basically the parametric design process. Guess from where this term “parametric” has derived. It’s not surprising that the term “parametric” does come from parametric equations in math.
Here is a brief case study on parametric design :
Parametric design example :
Project Name: Serpentine Pavilion
A project by: Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Christofferson
Simple brick wall is used as a basic idea. It is pulled from both sides creating a interesting shape.
The simple straight wall is transformed into two sine curves with an undulating interior.
Now they instead of making it smooth and through, made it in pix-elate form, using glass boxes and aluminium extrusions.
Now this is the later stage where they selected the material as discussed above.
Circulation through the derived structure which showcase the art in the gallery.
Now,let talk about exactly how this parametric designs are created.
There are some software which truly help us to make this extra ordinary parametric designs.
This appears to be the biggest tools one can have to create exactly what one visualizes.’
THE game changer & time saver (true savior) in terms of parametric design
Digital systems like these adds a new approach to the designers creation specially for those who work on parametric design concept. One can instantly update any object any time it is altered. It’s also economical; in comparison with the amount of time it might take to do same work and also save us from the iteration with so many changes and also avoid the various mistakes that might occur. With computational design, we can explore so many creative possibilities in parametric design without exhausting resources.
There are various software one can find to carve some beautiful art in parametric design.
CATIA (Computer Aided Three-dimensional Interactive Application).
It was used by architect Frank Gehry to create he design which where based on parametric design concept. He designed some of his award-winning curvilinear buildings such as the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
Autodesk 3DS Max
It is a parametric 3D modelling software which provides various functions for games, film, and motion graphics. 3ds Max uses the concept of modifiers and wired parameters to control its geometry, which gives the user the ability to script its functionality. It is similar to Grasshopper and Dynamo.
It exposes a node graph architecture. Scene elements are node-based so each node has its own attributes which gives control in customization. As a result, the visual representation of a scene is based on a network of interconnecting nodes just like branches of tree. Maya has a scripting language, called Maya Embedded Language.
The Grasshopper canvas with some nodes. It is a plug-in for Rhinoceros 3D that presents the users with a visual programming language interface to create and edit geometry.
It is an open source graphical programming environment for design. It extends building information modelling with the data and logic environment of a graphical algorithm editor.
Some of the other software available for computed design:
BEFORE the age of COMPUTERS: GAUDÍ’S SAGRADA FAMÍLIA
Does parametric existed before the age of digital times ?
Great example of this was, a Spanish architect whose work is famously found throughout Barcelona, Antoni Gaudí. He was the person who first used parametric techniques at the end of the 19th century.
To create the design of the church of Sagrada Família, Gaudí created an upside-down model, using strings weighed down by birdshot. And the most intelligent thing that he did was to place a mirror placed below the model and showing it upside down, after well use of gravity he showed how his creation the church known as Sagrada Família would look like right side up. All of this he has done to show the computed design model:
- A set of parameters:
- Length of the string
- Location of Anchor point
- Weight of birdshot
- A set of outcomes: points on the strings of the various vertexes to determine locations of them.
- Gravity was the outcome derived from math functions . The force of gravity acted on the strings to create the shape, which took away the need for Gaudí to do the math to produce a model.
Limitation of parametric design
Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of parametric design and the design possibilities present out there. There are specialized software such as Rhino which help us to create the product that we imagine whether it might be of any scale and for any industry (such as: furniture, buildings, art pieces, clothing, jewelry).
Modern designers have great tools to create their design. Now it is just their imagination which is restricting them. So I would suggest to just think big, anything is possible.