“Bad architecture always validates itself in technical language,” said FAT director Charles Holland in a 2012 interview, unintentionally summarizing the words of parametricism's detractors.
Once heralded as the Next International Style, parametrics has, to some, become a byword for "indulgent" form-making. It is frequently linked with Patrik Schumacher's new world order and the derivative hordes of Gehry's doppelgängers. However, the detractors do have a point—when done thoughtlessly, parametrics provides an innovative veneer for projects that remain religiously devoted to the status quo.
Yet, a shared affinity for digital techniques cannot be equated with a belief or approach. Contemporary parametrics belongs to no single orthodoxy. It instead mirrors the labyrinth-like post-Fordist system within which it has situated itself: winding, constantly changing, and inherently adaptable.
However, parametric projects are as interesting as their architect. Inherent within parametric design is the ability to mass customize and localize individual components within the architectural form, thereby making increasingly complex shapes that are much easier to fabricate. This—the ability to increasingly realize complexity at architectural scales—is a form of making rather than a style.
That's the focus of Architizer's Skillshare class with Nathan Miller of CASE, whose resumé is essentially an exhaustive list of architectural education endeavors and digital techniques know-how. These videos will walk users through step-by-step examples for how to create and develop Grasshopper models. The videos cover a wide range of topics related to interface, data management, and several design exercises that will teach new users how to fluently use grasshopper. Sign up here with the code BRANDNEW and receive 25% off the class!
Curated by Architizer and vetted by CASE, below are 10 parametric projects that actively push the limits of the medium.
Elevator B, Hive City by University of Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning students with Rigidized Metals, Buffalo, New York
When materials manufacturer Rigidized Metals found a beehive in an abandoned grain silo in its hometown of Buffalo, the company decided to form a competition for the relocation and habitation of the colony of honeybees that had taken root there. The winning design, submitted by graduate students at the University of Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning, borrows from the vocabulary of a silo. Made from 18-gauge sheet metal, the "elevator" contains strategic perforation for natural ventilation, light, and heat management.
Holz Schlichten by Gerhard Mayer, Kunsthalle Wil, Switzerland
Using 7,200 wooden sticks, Gerhard Mayer creates an immersive and meticulous environment. His interest in computational design and training in quantum physics provide constant motifs for his multidisciplinary work.
Green Studio by Archi-Union Architects, Shanghai
Three abandoned warehouses in the heart of Shanghai were reclaimed and reimagined by Archi-Union Architects, who created a flowing and mathematically complex parametric skin over the building.
Suppo I + II by Wim Delvoye, New York City
The gothic meets the parametric in Wim Delvoye's graceful and seemingly precarious sculptures. Their material complexity gives them the illusion of infinite depth and intentionally references the baroque. Delvoye's surrealist subversions make them firmly at home in Sperone Westwater Gallery in New York City. This sculpture was also exhibited at the Louvre.
Porch Trellis by Poon Design, Pasadena, California
Beverly Hills-based Poon Design has transformed a Pasadena home’s porch trellis into a modern mathematical marvel. Using a parametric algorithm, architects Anthony Poon and John Kim manipulated translucent acrylic to create a perforated structure composed of water-jet-cut holes. Circles of varying sizes dot the trellis allowing light to softly filter in while still providing ample shade.
Technicolor Bloom by FreelandBuck, Vienna
A kaleidoscopic installation built from 1,400 uniquely cut flat plywood panels, Technicolor Bloom utilizes standard scaleable fabrication technology to produce a doubly curved, digitally designed architectural form.
(n)arcissus is chandelier, mirror, immersive environment, and organic, sprawling life form. SOFTlab's site-specific installation comprises more than 1,000 custom panels, each containing a reflective surface that meets the eye as a constantly moving and shifting mirror.
Aranda/Lasch + Yeasayer
Psychedelic-pop band Yeasayer is known for its adventurous aesthetic choices, such as the drippy triangular prisms on the cover of its live album. So, when it came time to design the stage for the "Fragrant World" tour, the group wanted to take the adventure to the next level. Enter architecture firm Aranda/Lasch, known for its parametric design, who collaborated with software artist Casey Reas, video artist Yoshi Sodeoka, and software designer Aaron Meyers to create a trippy light show as part of Vice and Intel's "The Creators Project."
Yucca Crater expands on concepts borrowed from land art, incorporating the abandoned suburban swimming pools and ramshackle homestead dwellings scattered across the Mojave. Ball Nogues has re-imagined these interventions in the landscape through a method of production in which the tools of fabrication transform into objects for display in their own right.
Loop.ph assembled this honeycomb-shaped installation out of thousands of individual circles woven from composite fibers, which have been lit by a circular series of LED lights.