Schumacher’s Parametricism & Digital Concepts

Patrick Schumacher presents himself as a strong advocate of Parametricism. In this text he claims that it responds to the complex and heavily consumerist issues of society, merging urban landscape with architectural prototypes to establish seamless, fluid, and continuous forms. The style of the article is written in a unilateral way, but this approach raises questions about Parametricism, as a global style or design tool.

Photographic essence about the network society and architecture.

Photographic essence about the network society and architecture.

The author defines the creative exploitation of the design systems employed as rules or guidelines of Parametricism, labelling it a style. In this way they are implying that animation, simulation, form finding, modeling based on a measurable factor (i.e. parameter) and scripting are elements that must be consistent in each parametric project. However, paradoxically the text outlines the guidelines as design techniques.

When design problems are encountered it is within the architect’s skill to find relationships in order to drive the proposal. This is before the aesthetic has even been discovered. The text confuses the reader regarding the nature of design and the nature of aesthetic, the latter being applicable to the notion of style, as opposed to the tools that Schumacher insists comprise it.

Schumacher states that Parametrism is the avant-guard style that follows Modernism. It maybe the case if one considers Modernism also as an approach to design. Le Corbusier said that, “The architect (…) realizes an order which is a pure creation of his spirit (…) he determines the various movements of our heart and our understanding (…) we experience the sense of beauty.” This notion expresses the ephemeral journey that is explored in the design to arrive at an elegant solution, which is common in both Modernism and Parametricism.

On the other hand regarding Modernism, the guidelines of Modernist International Style are focused on vertical and horizontal lines, free plans, and pilotis. On that note the guidelines expressed in the text about parametrics are not set in stone principles regarding an aesthetic, or archetypal prototype. However the application of Parametricism in the urban fabric creates very distinct, morphological characteristics. Parametricist urbanism accentuates the correlations between multiple systems, such as fabric modulation, street systems, and systems of open spaces. Thus the instrumental process of relativity and organization of spaces, lends itself effectively into the urban and macro framework as an aesthetic.

The author imposes his ideas on the reader. This is demonstrated in his use of negative and positive heuristics, which is a paradox in itself because to be heuristic is to be exploratory, to push outside of the limits. The relevance of parametric modeling is instrumental in the process of changing and observing possibilities in a design scheme. Schumacher is overlooking the actual potential of parametricism to aid in the process of creating new paradigms.

Furthermore the complex information and systematic nature of problem solving involved in parametricism relates to the premise of Manuel De Landa’s studies on the network society. It’s characteristics relate to the multidimensionality and reliance of technology that the network society is based on, creating a systematic density. Architects study the dynamics, constraints and possibilities of an element, finding lines of inquiry that are points of connection, in an attempt to propose an interactive solution in our society’s structure. A possible research inquiry of interest to find the lines of interaction between density and spatial notions of poverty, in a rhyzo-manner so as to establish the root idea and notions of multiplicity.”

To conclude where relational logic provides a systematic framework of theories and ideas, digital logic analyses and explores parameters for both conceptual and design processes, from previously inputed information. Thus informing the relevance of parametricism as a design development tool.


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