We have seen a growing interest in parametric design as it offers a new approach to architecture based on advanced computational design techniques. As parametricism becomes a tool more designers are turning toward, is this method beginning to define the style of our time? In an effort to identify our architectural style to allow it to be recognized, Patrik Schumacher, a partner at Zaha Hadid, has communicated his beliefs in his Parametricist Manifesto. “As a style, parametricism is marked by its aims, ambitions, methodological principles, and evaluative criteria, as well as by its characteristic formal repertoire.”
More about the manifesto after the break.
While some disagree with the notion of categorizing work to fit into a style, Schumacher calls for a conceptual reconstruction, meaning that we must disregard style as a matter of appearance, and move to understand style as “a design research program conceived in the way that paradigms frame scientific research programs.”
“Although aesthetic appearance matters enormously in architecture and design, neither architecture as a whole nor its styles can be reduced to mere matters of appearance…The new style poses many new, systematically connected design problems that are being worked on competitively within a global network of design researchers. Over and above aesthetic comparability, it is this widespread, long-term consistency of shared design ambitions and problems that justifies declaring a style in the sense of an epochal phenomenon,” explains Schumacher.
Schumacher points out that the architecture of today is more of a world architecture, where every work is quickly compared or contrasted to other projects. We experience this constantly as we compare a project to something another firm would have created and argue over which was more successful. Schumacher explains that this “merely implies a consistency of principles, ambitions, and values to build upon so that different efforts compete constructively with each other and can establish the conditions for cumulative progress rather than pursue contradictory efforts.”
What is exciting about this new style is that parametricism offers a flexible set of components to manipulate, which leads to an infinite amount of variation. While in the past, there was a strong allegiance for rigid geometrical figures, now, a conceptual definition of parametricism shows that “the new primitives are animate, dynamic, and interactive entities—splines, nurbs, and subdivs—that act as building blocks for dynamic systems.”
“Parametricism is ready to go mainstream. The style war has begun,” concludes Schumacher.
As seen on The Architect’s Newspaper