What is Parametric Design in Architecture?

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As an algorithm-based method merging the design intent with the design outcome, Parametric design has been the most debated design approach among architects. It catches almost everyone’s attention by forming complicated geometries and structures through the interplay of elements. Therefore, this video explains the popular question of what is parametric design. The video explores the origins of parametric design and its applications, including the earliest instances of parametric design in history, major contributing architects, and the most recent software of the realm.

Parametric Design
© KK Clark

Learn parametric design and computational tools from the pioneers of the industry at the PAACADEMY:

The upside-down model of churches by Antonio Gaudi is one of the earliest manifestations of parametric design in which he created intricate catenary arches by suspended weighted strings. By adjusting the position of the weights, He could change the shape of the catenary arches and, accordingly, the entire model. His approach was much like analog computing by observing how the model would look when placing a mirror on the model’s bottom.

Indeed, numerous architects assisted in the field of parametric architecture. For instance, Luigi Moretti was the first architect to use the phrase “parametric architecture,” or Frei Otto captured the experimental nature of parametric modeling by his “form-finding” activities derived from soap films and paths.


In recent decades, parametric modeling has found its way into projects through software packages’ scripting interfaces. Most designers benefit from visual scripting interfaces that incorporate diagrams instead of text. Robert McNeel & Associates’ Grasshopper, Bentley Systems’ Generative Components, and Revit Autodesk’s Dynamo are the primary visual scripting interfaces based on graphs that map the flow of relations from parameters through user-defined functions, usually resulting in the generation of geometry. With the digital tools used in architecture and design in the twenty-first century, architects have been given the maximum flexibility and expression approaches in a little bit of time.

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Studio Workshops:
Learn more about parametric and computational design from the variety of the studio workshops at the PAACADEMY

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