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Parametricism As the Leading Style in the Architecture of the Future

09.08.2021
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Parametricism Architecture

Do you imagine wavy and flowing lines of buildings, fractal structures or structures of futuristic shapes when you hear the words “modern architecture”? If such images pop up in your imagination, then you probably already met examples of parametricism architecture on the pages of the Internet, architectural magazines, or in the physical world.

The rapid development of science today has raised the criterion of utility to an absolute, since there are tools that allow you to create truly practical buildings – practical not in the eyes of an architect, but practical impartially. The thing is that not just mathematics came to the aid of architecture, but its new digital technologies, designed not to assume, but to accurately calculate any component of a building, to take into account its relationship with the world and man.

Patrick Schumacher, the head of Zaha Hadid’s office, however, attaches a special philosophical significance to parametricism, considering it a style that continues modernism. But one way or another, architects all over the world simply cannot bypass parametrics, no matter how close they are to its external component. This is not a fashion that will pass quickly, but the future of architecture, whether we like it or not.

Let’s take a look at a few fundamental elements of parametricism architecture:

What Is Parametricism?

What Is Parametricism?

Parametrics is a very special appearance of buildings. Today, as a rule, these are streamlined lines, smooth shapes, “peeped” from nature. However, if mathematics says that a building will be most functional if it is embodied in a strict parallelepiped, this will not violate the rules of parametric architecture.

Shape and Volume

The form of a parametric house depends on what is going on inside it. That is, the shape of the building emerges according to the principle “necessary and sufficient”. So, for example, Zaha Hadid created a mobile pavilion, where the supporting structure is literally responsible for everything, becoming either wall, sometimes a roof, or an element of direction. Unfortunately, sometimes architects are overly addicted to the game of making the space work to its fullest and forget about creating a favorable atmosphere for the visitors.

Parametrics makes the object react to new conditions. Just as a cone can squeeze and spread its scales depending on the humidity of the air, so a parametric building is able to adapt to external changes. This is much more than just a smart home that is controlled by programs – architects are concerned with the fact that the building “thinks” for itself: for example, a heated thermocouple can change the configuration of an element.

Parametricism is based on the analysis of a huge number of components, which ultimately turns into a pure algorithm. This is a very complex equation, where you can substitute different data, formulating on its basis the future concept of the building. Basically, the architect presents the machine with a set of data, and it gives the optimal solution, whether it is a bus stop pavilion or a huge building. Moreover, now – while at the project level – architects are even trying to create city plans using parametric when the “digital” itself builds the concept of the quarter, the number of houses, their number of stories, etc. depending on the formation of the urban environment, population size, traffic congestion, etc.

Let’s pay attention to the projects that most fully embody parametric positions.

Parametric Buildings

Chanel Mobile Art by Zaha Hadid Architects

Chanel Mobile Art by Zaha Hadid Architects

A near-perfect example of parametric design Zaha Hadid Architects. The master of architecture took as a basis the model of Karl Lagerfeld’s purse, which consists of many arches. Despite the complexity of the design, the pavilion can be assembled in just a month, and disassembled in just a couple of weeks.?
As a cover, special plastic with fiberglass was used, reminiscent of leather.

Media-ICT Office Building by Enric Ruiz-Geli / Cloud 9

Media-ICT Office Building by Enric Ruiz-Geli / Cloud 9

The Enric Ruiz-Geli / Cloud 9 team designed a true building of the future in Barcelona. Suffice it to say that this office has an inflatable facade! Its outer shell is made of thermoplastic – many air chambers with light sensors. They react to sunlight by changing in size and thus changing the microclimate and the level of illumination inside the building. If a part of a building is exposed to sunlight for a long time, a nitrogen cloud forms there, trapping sunlight.

Let’s add that the building frame consists of metal rails. The accuracy of the mathematical calculations made it possible to make their weight as small as possible, and the final design turned out to be 70 percent lighter than originally planned.

UK Pavilion by Heatherwick

UK Pavilion by Heatherwick

An absolutely fantastic design from Heatherwick represented the UK at the Expo in Shanghai in 2010. The pavilion looked like a huge box of 15×10 meters, from the walls of which were sticking 60 thousand 7.5-meter rods of silver acrylic.

At the ends were seeds from the Kunming Chinese Institute of Botany, a partner of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. Moreover, some rods were attached to the floor of the pavilion, thereby raising it above the ground, and the rods were located so that from any angle one could see the outline of the Union Jack flag in their mass.

Sunlit, the pavilion was a truly amazing sight.

Research Laboratory at the University of Groningen. By UNStudio

Research Laboratory at the University of Groningen. By UNStudio

At first glance, the laconic and gloomy dark aluminum building, created by the Dutch studio UNStudio, is fraught with a lot of secrets. Thus, panels can be depending on the angle of view, demonstrate bright-colored elements: from light yellow to bright green. The light enters through two vertical truncated cone wells that are vertically symmetrical. And from the outside, they are absolutely not visible. Inside the voids, stairs are mounted, along which you can get to the laboratories. The interior of the building is notable for its brightness and dynamism – corridors and walls here are painted in positive juicy colors.

Temporary Art Pavilion

Temporary Art Pavilion

The Art Pavilion was created in 2011 by the Austrian architectural firm Soma, especially for the Salzburg Biennale. Outside, the art pavilion is covered in shiny aluminum rods in a chaotic pattern. The lack of a clear form allows you to focus more on your feelings than on visual images.

To some, the uneven structure resembles an equalizer indicator – depending on the viewing point and lighting, the shape of the pavilion, like the music, is constantly changing. In a sense, the light seems to play on the pavilion, like a musical instrument. The space inside the pavilion is surrounded by a membrane made of lightweight material. The shadows that are projected on this membrane, depending on the position of the sun, also change during the day.

Pavilion PS1 SUR

Pavilion PS1 SUR

The futuristic yet organic SUR pavilion by architect Hernan Alonso Diaz won the 2005 MoMA / PS1 Young Architects Program.

The project is based on the principle of cinematic play: there is no “narration” in it, instead, there are active effects, grotesque aesthetics, and continuous actualization of the space. The SUR construction consists of red and white molded fiberglass, rubber, and aluminum reinforcement topped with white latex. The protruding wavy surfaces function as benches, and the arcs swirling in the air, fastened together with a latex cloth, replace the canopy. The weighted and multi-level structure of the pavilion, as if consisting of fragments suspended in the air, creates an unusual play of light and shadow on a summer day. By the way, the name SUR was taken by Hernan Alonso Diaz from Argentine tango.

We are deeply convinced that the aesthetics of parametricism is gradually penetrating into modern interiors. Smooth lines, curved geometric patterns create a sense of surrealism. Walls and ceilings are no longer flat and static. They open a portal to other dimensions, revealing the curvature of space and time in which we live.

Stay informed and follow the development of modern architecture with us.

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