Awhile back we had a guest lecture about Parametric Design by Adam Marcus. I had the privilege of taking Adam’s workshop Digital Provocations in the fall of 2011 where our focus was also on parametric design. According to programmingarchitecture.com, “Parametric Design is a very broad term, but it usually refers to the automated parameter-based generation of architectural elements…If a project is designed in such a way that its elements change based on a specific rule (by the variation of different parameters) then the method of their generation can be programmed. By changing the parameters (defined as variables) the design can be easily controlled and elements can be automatically drawn and eventually produced (1).”
In parametric design today it is vital to understand how to use the computer and programs like Rhino and Grasshopper, along with technology based fabrication machines. However, AIACC argues that, “The computer did not invent parametric design, nor did it redefine architecture or the profession; it did provide a valuable tool that has since enabled architects to design and construct innovative buildings with more exacting qualitative and quantitative conditions (2).” I would actually argue against this statement because I cannot possibly wrap my head around how we ever could came up with the complexity of the designs that the computer allows us to.
The program Grasshopper is completely different from any other design program in that you design through a series of components. These components enable the user to affect several different parameters within seconds, completely altering the model in ways I would argue could not have been before, or at least unless you wanted to spend days making every change to your model. So I would argue that the computer is almost 100% of the reason that parametric design is becoming rapidly popular today, because we can now do literally anything we can think of.