Benefits and Drawbacks of Parametric Design

Source: Archistar

e come across a few inspiring architectural projects on Archdaily(and sites likewise) that transcend the limits of our imagination and definition of architecture. 9 out of 10 times the beautiful geometry, the perfect balance between various elements, color harmony, and everything seems so perfect. If you’re wondering(like I once did), ‘How can one create the best combination of all aspects?’ I welcome you to the realm of Parametric Design.

Read More: What is Parametric Design? How will it change the face of Architecture in India?

Today, we give you a brief comparison of the benefits and drawbacks of Parametric Design.


1. Accommodate Modifications

Parametric Designing focusses more on the relationship between various geometries, the method of designing rather than the end product. This means you’ll be working predominantly on how something is designed rather on ‘what’ is being designed. This means you can now

  • Create design iterations extremely fast.
  • Seamlessly integrate modifications/updates with other project files.

2. Complexity from Ordered Simplicity

If you are familiar with the concept of OOPS (Object Oriented Programming), you will be happy to know that it forms one of the core principles of Parametric Designing. 

Simple repetitions, loops, geometry along with simple transformations can be used to generate complex geometries. All mind-boggling forms are often simple shapes at first.

3. Seamless Integration

Most software(Grasshopper, Dynamo, Marionette) which accommodates parametric designing tools, also accommodates seamless integration with other traditional software.

Usual integration includes; Environmental Analysis, Physics and Structural Simulation, Clash test, etc. This not only simplifies your task list but also solves the need for creating multiple copies in each software. All data is linked and interoperable.

4. Automation & Optimization

Imagine this; Every change you make to your 3D model, automatically updates the 2D Drawings, the BOQ, the project schedules. Sounds wonderful right? Now, let’s try to take it further up a notch. Imagine that every change in the overall form automatically provides you the best indoor floor plan. Wouldn’t that free up an enormous amount of time?

Thats exactly what drove the designers at Wallgren Arkitekter and BOX Bygg to create Finch — Automatic floor plan generator. While this is one of the developing sectors, it is evident that CODE is replacing CAD.


1. A Steep Learning Curve

The exclusive benefits of parametric are — exclusive. It (like any other skill) requires 1000 hours of practice, patience, and perseverance. While the traditional style of designing usually focuses on the 2D plan first, Parametric design focuses on extensive data collection and setting up relations between various spaces — just to start with the design.

Simply put, one needs to unlearn, and re-learn the entire design process. While this surely is also an advantage, not everyone can afford to spend the time.

2. Data, Data, and Data!

Since this method of design heavily relies on the data we provide during the design phase, extensive research and data collection is usually done at first. Anything and everything from the location, to the available materials, will serve as a key factor.

Example: Location gives you all climatic, topographic information, which when combined with the traffic data (from Google) gives you a rough idea about the neighbourhood.

Architecture schools currently do not emphasize the importance of mathematics enough. One of the key ingredients of Parametric Design is a strong base in Mathematics. Knowledge in the fields of Computer Science also plays a vital role.

3. Production Gap

With all the obstacles tackled, skills learned, and tasks complete, there still is one factor that is out of an individual’s control — The Market. The complex designs require complex manufacturing construction processes. Depending on where one resides, you might/might-not be able to gather the necessary tools, machines, and (not to mention)highly-skilled workforce.

It becomes nearly impractical to import/facilitate resources for the first project. This poses a huge entry-barrier for interested architects and designers.

4. Sometimes, it’s just not worth the hype!

Parametric Design is not always the one to steal the glory. It requires huge investment at the beginning – where we set up the relationships and algorithms. If the end product is a production-ready model with access to various prototyping and manufacturing machines, then the effort will be feasible, for large projects, or when applied to a number of projects.

For small companies, where the end product is only a 2D Drawing, and a visualization of the finished product, the entire scheme might not work out immediately. Traditional design might be the best choice here.

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