The algorithmic or parametric modeling and its design paradigm have come a long way, inspiring creators living in different eras. From Antoni Gaudi and his masterpiece, the Sagrada Família church to Frei Otto, Frank O. Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and others, computational thinking has helped bring different ideas to life. A scientific paper on the topic says.
“Parametric design can be defined as a process based on an algorithmic approach that expresses parameters and rules that, together, can define, encode, and clarify the relationship between the designer’s intent and design response. Such an approach offers dynamic control over geometry and components, allowing the designer to seek appropriate solutions for complex problems with the assessment of multiple variants at the same time.”
To see how the process has changed over the years, we can follow the construction process of Sagrada Família. As known, Gaudi wasn’t able to finish the church as he died in an accident in 1926. Currently, the temple is being constructed and may be completed in 2026, the 100th anniversary of the death of the master.
While building the church, Gaudi created deeply detailed 3D models instead of traditional sketches to be sure that the results would be exactly what he supposed.
Technology and modeling software nowadays allow the creation of digital geometric models more easily. The director and coordinator of construction work at Sagrada Familia, Jordi Fauli I Oller said in one of his lectures that the team is using innovative design and digital manufacturing tools such as parametric computer modeling to preserve Gaudí’s original plan and understand the geometrical complexity of the temple.
Fernando Villa, the Sagrada Familia director of operations mentioned: “There’s a symbiosis of high tech and traditional artisanship in every component.”
Parametric Design as a part of the Computational Creativity Market
The algorithmic approach to design continues to grow in popularity, as it provides new possibilities. Computational creativity software plays a significant role in boosting the growth of the digital creativity market, including art, manufacturing, engineering, etc. A report by Market Research Future (MRFR) says the adoption of computer-based creativity solutions is rising and the Computational Creativity Market size is expected to exceed $1 billion by 2027 growing at a compound annual growth rate of 25.42% by 2026. The key drivers for the rise are deep learning and machine learning algorithms, advancements in the creative industries, automation of tasks, and the integration of automation to improve the design process.
By allowing automated processes through algorithms, parametricism is one of the main methods of digital design. Due to modern parametric modeling solutions, creators can build flexible and outstanding designs, having full control of the building process.
In the initial design phase, parametric modeling helps generate a huge number of solutions without imaginary limitations, while testing and evaluating them quickly. After the early stages of the problem and goal identification, creators build the parametric skeleton according to the chosen solutions. As results are flexible, they can change parameters, and generate new models and forms at a later time. The ability to switch from one shape to another within the same parameterized model is a possibility that no other design methods provide.
In what industries parametric design sees high demand?
Various industries now use parametric modeling and digital tools to expand the possibilities of what can be done efficiently. Parametric computer-aided design solutions boost processes by providing agility and powering the realization of goals.
Let’s look at some of the fields where this design approach sees high demand:
There is no doubt that architecture is one of the sectors that benefit greatly from the parametric design approach. Futuristic buildings in the real and virtual worlds, increased efficiency of energy in constructions, aesthetics, and integration of design and nature are among the reasons why parametricism has become a new great style in the industry. Architect and architectural theorist Patrick Schumacher published a paper entitled “Parametricism: A New Global Style for Architecture and Urban Design,” where he states:
“Parametricism is the great new style after modernism. The new style claims relevance on all scales from architecture and interior design to large scale urban design.”
- Product design
Parametric design plays an essential role in product design and customer-oriented product development. Not only can designers generate products fast, but they can match the demand and preferences of customers.
Modern technology has shortened the product life cycle, allowing designers to create alternatives, and make rapid revisions and detailed designs at the same time. Together with 3D printing and other technologies, it is possible to create revolutionary parametric designs. One of the companies leveraging this method is Nike. The sportswear brand introduced a collection of 3D printed trainers using fewer materials and fewer amounts of energy.
Nike said that the production process takes only 8 minutes, which can help reduce labor emissions. Chief design officer at the company, John Hoke said designers want to control outcomes, and having design control at a parametric level is incredibly exciting to the team.
- Aerospace Engineering
Technology developments along with new materials allow the creation of complex components for cars, aircraft, wind turbines, etc. With the help of CAD platforms, designers can make fast prototypes, collect different parts, test the functioning of electrical systems, and manufacture fluid systems. Geometry-based software tools provide an adaptive environment, which can be used to create both customized and mass-produced objects. NASA has used parametric 3D modeling to build rocket engines. The use of the method helped develop engines with high performance.
An analytical paper by the Linköping University says: “Instant and fast information on the aerodynamics behavior of the aircraft is possible following a parametric modification on the geometric model.
Nature and mathematics are among the main inspirations for crafts. So, you often can see complex and algorithmic patterns in handmade objects. Algorithmic programs allow craftspeople to represent their ideas digitally and update results whenever needed.
For this capability, they have become an invaluable tool in the industry. Parametric modeling software and 3D printing now are extensively available, opening up new opportunities for digital artists and designers. You can find various parametric models on Etsy and other platforms.
What are the main advantages of parametric design?
Parametric modeling (aka algorithmic modeling) is known for high accuracy and visualizations. Compared to non-parametric models, parametric ones contain information like dimensions, constraints, and relationships between various components including edges, sketches, and features, which gives them a number of advantages. Here are some of them:
A research paper by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology states that parametric modeling systems offer more flexibility to design parts and complex groups. Designers can continuously evaluate, revise and update different elements, making necessary changes within the same structure easily. This approach essentially simplifies the whole design process, which enhances the productivity and quality of the results.
One of the features that make parametric models unique is their ability to respond to the requirements of modelers and designers and adapt accordingly. While flexibility allows the change of design easily, adaptability makes it possible to make modifications under different contextual conditions. Comparing parametric design modeling with other computational generative methodologies, analysts concluded that the parametric approach provides an appropriate environment to generate unpredictable design solutions enabling designers to have full control of the process and make changes automatically.
- making changes without the need to delete or remodel
Researchers also mention that innovative parametric modeling tools allow 2D and 3D transformation at any time, helping overcome the limitations of conventional design. This makes it possible to add layers during the design process without breaking the built model. Designers can create a number of complex solutions that consist of different parameters, and manipulate them accordingly. They can generate multiple options without making a new model or reconfiguring the previous one every time.
- 3D interaction
As computer-aided techniques continue to evolve, the product development process changes. Now, the creation of a parametric model requires an interactive environment.
According to an analysis of multi-level interaction in parametric design,
demonstrations of parametric modeling systems mainly are made in a 3D interactive view.
- less time consuming
Parametric modeling replaces the designer’s manual interaction with the model by establishing connectivity between elements. Whereas conventional CAD software was created to facilitate the work in design, allowing the use of simple editing functions such as copy, cut, and paste, modern parametric software allows making changes automatically and building up the design in a highly efficient way. Parametric modeling provides great opportunities to discover project alternatives without time-consuming reworking and adjustments. Moreover, due to the technology and algorithms, designers can explore new solutions that may not be apparent. Professional literature says when a designer changes the values of the parameters or relationships between elements, effects are reflected in the design.
- Detailed and dynamic design solutions
Besides making the design process faster, the parametric approach allows designers to explore possible solutions in a deeper and more dynamic way than traditional methods. Architect Patrik Schumacher says:
“Parametric models offer concrete solutions to clearly stated design problems.”
The parametric approach allows dynamic control over geometry and components, which helps evaluate different variants at the same time and find appropriate solutions.
BeeGraphy, a cloud-based software comes to extend the possibilities
BeeGraphy, a 2D and 3D parametric modeling platform was created to provide more agility and convenience to the working process. One of the things that makes the platform unique is that it’s the first cloud-based parametric modeling software in the world.
Currently, cloud-based technologies are on the rise as they allow users to access storage, files, and various tools through the internet. By combining cloud-based technologies with parametric modeling solutions in a web-based environment, BeeGraphy unlocks more possibilities, filling the gap in the industry.
An essential part of the BeeGraphy platform is the BeeGraphy Editor. Providing a real-time collaboration environment between customers, teams, and designers, the editor makes it possible to work together on different projects, identifying goals and finding efficient solutions fast. Due to the opportunity to see objects in a three-dimensional space in real-time, designers can save time and money, making necessary changes instantly. 3D and 2D models can be edited and reused afterward as they are saved on the cloud storage. Processes are powered by the NURBS Engine, which allows the building of complex parametric designs in a highly intuitive and predictable way.
BeeGraphy also provides a store of 3D models created with BeeGraphy Editor in the BeeGraphy Shop. Users can choose models, change them and get completely different results in minutes.
Parametricism is everywhere; parametric tattoos, ornaments, jewelry, sculptures, clothes, buildings, engines, etc. Not only are parametric designs pleasant to the eyes, but they also help solve such major problems as building flying objects with enhanced performance, or reducing carbon emissions in the manufacturing process.
Continuously learning about this approach, reading analytical papers, and following the experiments, there is no doubt for me that the use and demand for parametric design and its substyles will increase in the future.
Research and numbers prove that. Study shows that the parametric design software market is booming all over the world. Being used with other advanced technologies, parametric design powers the realization of different ideas. For example, an experiment on algorithmic design in virtual reality (VR) indicates that the method facilitates the stage of planning greatly. The process will allow architects to test models and make comprehensive design changes in the virtual environment. Based on the results, researchers concluded that Algorithmic Design in Virtual Reality can enable more meaningful interaction with the created model, improving the overall architectural design experience.
Developments indicate – unthinkable ideas are yet to come true.