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Is the world ready for Parametric/ Morphogenetic Architecture?

Apr 10 '12 103 Last Comment
harveyspecter
Apr 10, 12 1:24 am

My passion includes math,biology and patterns applied to architecture.

notes:

Patrick Schumacher is one of those who took the lid off.  Now everyone tries to do it, but yet we rarely see such buildings executed perfectly. 

The construction industry isnt ready yet I reckon. And yet, I notice that universities are starting to offer Specialization on Bio Digital design, Parametric Design, etc.

BUT I also think that after graduating, most of its students go back to the academic environment as faculty and researchers,while some become founders of their own websites that caters to...what do you know, computational design topics. Only a number of firms could afford a department dedicated to this (such as Arup's Advanced Geometrical Unit, Foster and Partners etc)

 Generally, it does look like an ugly loop i would say:  study, graduate,come back teach to other students that would also soon graduate, come back and teach.

 

My question is:  

Is there any other form of industry that  would demand an expertise on Parametricism?  I mean like , Why take it as a specialization if theres not much demand for it after graduating?

 

 

Tee002
Apr 10, 12 3:51 am

 

Yes and no. If you’re looking for full blown Parametric Rush, the answer is no. But I do believe that you can meticulously integrate into design practice. It also depends on how do you define that –ism.

Is the world ready for blue cheese?

Rusty!
Apr 10, 12 9:49 am

parametrics are over! Next step in nonparametric modeling (a model is “nonparametric” if all the parameters are in infinite-dimensional parameter spaces). A building that is everywhere. Think Starbucks and McDonald's, but EIGHT times more.

Architectural academia hijacked the term 'parametrics' from math and physics departments. They should take it back since we've molested the term six ways from Sunday and should stick to our own jibber-jabber.

toasteroven
Apr 10, 12 10:14 am

in terms of construction, parametricism has been around since the invention of standard brick sizes.  we've just recently been able to automate things with the computer.  it exists, but it doesn't look like this bullshit "biomorphic" stuff - which in reality is expensive because it needs to be hand-fabricated (yes, it's easier to build because the geometries are easier to work out, but it's all custom).  once you get into parametric explorations of "standard" parts, it gets much more realistic for the vast majority of projects - you know, economies of scale.  And no one has figured out a more efficient and flexible form than the dumb box.  so it's either all these unique and overly expensive spaces, or tessellated facades on dumb boxes - or replication of favelas or casbahs or peublo dwellings or structures that are dumb boxes with other dumb boxes tacked on - things that people do on their own without architects or the restrictive parameters of zoning and building codes.  

 

I think this methodology is completely unproven (and a bit disturbing) in terms of program - if applied to individual systems it can help you predict performance, but you never have enough parameters to completely dictate design, and data really only shows us what happened in the past.  plus the performance models only provide an extremely small snapshot of the total ecosystem - and they completely ignore paradoxes.   suburbia is the scary side of parametric urbanism.

 

most of the programmatic stuff you see from parametricists is trying to reduce human behavior to a room full of dumb robots.  look - I moved the common space to the 14th floor so people go up there!  they must go up there because the movement algorithm of the peoplebots tell them to be drawn to common space within a certain distance - so someone will naturally go up a 14 story escalator to get there.  people don't actually behave this way.  some people will be too scared to go up an escalator like that, escalators break down - so people will have to use the elevator (most will prefer to use the elevator anyway) changing the experience of the space... people won't spend that amount of time to go up to a common space on the 14th floor when there's common space on the ground floor...

 

you're better off sitting in a nice public space looking for unexpected behaviors of irrational human beings than trying to develop algorithms for spaces designed for overly rational robots.

Paulie
Apr 10, 12 12:54 pm

....Or irrational behavior can be accounted for in the algorithm.

Sublimespaces,
I think you've pointed out something that happens in many schools of architecture, not just  those teaching parametrics.

There is not much demand for anything nowadays...which makes it even less likely that parametrics will become a world-wide dominating ideology.

Kevin W.Kevin W.
Apr 10, 12 1:02 pm

Parameticism is counter intuitive to creating great Architecture. 

toasteroven
Apr 10, 12 1:28 pm

....Or irrational behavior can be accounted for in the algorithm.

 

do you honestly think a parametricist is interested in irrationality?  The whole point of developing a methodology is to apply a rational and rigorous set of rules to the design process - to try to find order - but in order to balance this methodology with reality we need to constantly think about where things could go wrong, or be able to recognize the happy accidents - something which no algorithm, no matter how perfect, is ever going to predict.  no matter how much we train them, computers still suck at thinking laterally.

J. James R.J. James R.
Apr 10, 12 2:10 pm

This is a pretty good example of parametrics in practice. It's a 30-story hotel that was constructed in just 15 days. Glossy box or not, parametricism is going to rely on economies of scale.

And since parametrics relies of instantaneous scalability— which right now can only really be achieved industrially with the use of robotic arms and routers— it requires a certain kind of infrastructure above and beyond what most countries, especially the U.S., can handle.

It'll essentially force centralization, not only because of the cost of operating custom fabrication facilities, because of the constraints of transportation.

For instance, the weight of the Empire State Building is around 370,000 tonnes.

A single semi-truck can, more or less, carry about 30 tonnes.
A double-stack train can, more or less, carry about 10,000 tonnes.

That's 12,333 truck trips versus 37 train trips.

Logistics.

toasteroven
Apr 10, 12 2:14 pm

Parameticism is counter intuitive to creating great Architecture. 

 

disagree - there is a lot of great Islamic architecture that is highly algorithmic/parametric.  Schumacher is the one who keeps pushing these blobby spaceships as this "new style," but they really are just algorithms applied to gestures.

Rusty!
Apr 10, 12 2:26 pm

toast, there is all kind of confusion on what parametric design means. For younger crowd it means style. Your definition is closer to what I think of parametrics (approach or process).

It's hard to have an informed discussion when we can't agree what we are talking aboot.

Paulie
Apr 10, 12 3:01 pm

do you honestly think a parametricist is interested in irrationality? 

The whole point of developing a methodology is to apply a rational and rigorous set of rules to the design process - to try to find order - but in order to balance this methodology with reality we need to constantly think about where things could go wrong, or be able to recognize the happy accidents - something which no algorithm, no matter how perfect, is ever going to predict.  no matter how much we train them, computers still suck at thinking laterally.

That's simply not true, there is a mathematics to everything, even your point of view.

It's important to distinguish between mainstream parametrics and the role of computation. You can imbed flexibility, accidents, evolution and boredom as parameters. This stuff is in its infancy for architects.

 

 

i r giv up
Apr 10, 12 3:07 pm

do you honestly think a parametricist is interested in irrationality?  The whole point of developing a methodology is to apply a rational and rigorous set of rules to the design process - to try to find order - but in order to balance this methodology with reality we need to constantly think about where things could go wrong, or be able to recognize the happy accidents - something which no algorithm, no matter how perfect, is ever going to predict.  no matter how much we train them, computers still suck at thinking laterally.

incorrect.

you are regurgitating 15 year-old crap arguments that bear little relevance to the current state of computing.

go read about back-prop networks, fuzzy logic, and natural language processing.
stop glorifying humans, we're machines. fleshy machines that act in predictable ways. tagging actions as irrational or rational is a reductionist trend at best.

going after parametrics using arguments that center around optimization is beyond dumb.

toasteroven
Apr 10, 12 5:06 pm

awesome - a debate!

 

flux - calling me "beyond dumb" is not productive. the fact that you attacked my intelligence means that you feel threatened, either I've challenged your core beliefs or you need to use put-downs to bolster your own confidence.  Either way, you've completely discredited your entire comment by resorting to a personal attack, telling me to "go read" something (which leads me to believe that you don't really understand the references well enough to distill them into a cogent argument), and another personal attack.  try again.

 

That's simply not true, there is a mathematics to everything, even your point of view.

 

good start - but I'm curious as to 1. the mathematics of irrationality, and 2. how good the data is that you use to inform your parameters.  I'd also like to know if you can design a building that compels people to commit suicide.

i r giv up
Apr 10, 12 5:26 pm

flux - calling me "beyond dumb" is not productive. the fact that you attacked my intelligence means that you feel threatened, either I've challenged your core beliefs or you need to use put-downs to bolster your own confidence.  Either way, you've completely discredited your entire comment by resorting to a personal attack, telling me to "go read" something (which leads me to believe that you don't really understand the references well enough to distill them into a cogent argument), and another personal attack.  try again.

eh, i could get into an e-manhood measuring contest and drop credentials, but that's so web 1.0.

in all sincerity, i'm feeling lazy.

let's try it anyways:

back-prop networks: computers can learn anything. seriously, anything. they can find you a wife, they can tell you when you're going to fall asleep tonight. data is the limit. btw, they do this way better than humans. architects are humans. optimization arguments are laughable because design is a data-driven process, and your opponent really really outguns you.

fuzzy logic: random seeds are awesome for dealing with outliers. therefore there are no outliers. also, there is no random, just complexity. random is one of those funny words... like will, soul or jesus.

NLP: inputs do not need to be perfect. it's about patterns, not specific structures.

good start - but I'm curious as to 1. the mathematics of irrationality, and 2. how good the data is that you use to inform your parameters.  I'd also like to know if you can design a building that compels people to commit suicide.

you're playing a teleological game with this one.

i'm not indulging you here.

jla-x
Apr 10, 12 6:38 pm

parametrics is all about creating parameters.  It can be a great method, but it is not a solution to anything.  I am all for this if it is done in a thoughtful way, but too often the parameters are arbitrary and used as a way to "justify" fancy little curves.   

When we add the ism to the end of the word it becomes a style or school of thought, and it is probably better left as a methodology or tool. 

also look up "physics envy."  I feel that academia has pushed parametrics because of a little physics envy. 

 

 

EKE
Apr 10, 12 6:59 pm

I'm always a bit amazed at the mixture of icy aloofness, combined with incivility that I witness on internet forums. 

I guess I should expect nothing less. After all, we're just fleshy machines.

 

Paulie
Apr 10, 12 7:01 pm

I think the arguments from both sides of this argument can be summed up in Moneyball

I'm putting more faith in technology though as we move into the future

mdler
Apr 10, 12 9:18 pm

huh?

i r giv up
Apr 10, 12 9:49 pm

it's not incivility. it's the result of having the same conversation with most architects who attempt to impose some sort of phenomenological world-view onto the world of computation (and cognition). Fodor (modular mind) tried that 25 years ago when he tried to face off against the West Coast connectionists. It doesn't work. It gets old having to distill this to people who just don't want to delve deep into computation, and who chose to just copy-paste arguments from first-year studio professors instead of digging, reading and making.

For clarity's sake, I'm not singling anyone out in this thread. It's just that it does get repetitive, and therefore somewhat frustrating.

EKE
Apr 10, 12 10:19 pm

:eye roll:

design
Apr 10, 12 10:43 pm

He's right EKE
You need to read a lot more than Original Green

Tee002
Apr 10, 12 11:20 pm

@jlarch

Thanks. That is my exact thought!

"When we add the ism to the end of the word it becomes a style or school of thought, and it is probably better left as a methodology or tool. " 

design
Apr 11, 12 2:27 am

It's counterproductive to dismiss collective intelligence as a tool. Computation is no less a tool than your brain is.

It's not physics its Quantum mechanics.

..... some people are just slower to catch on...always....they just give up and resort to laziness

EKE
Apr 11, 12 10:19 am

I don't care if he's right or wrong. He's rude. You too.

EKE
Apr 11, 12 10:21 am

BTW, Death. Which interpretation of QM do you prefer?

harveyspecter
Apr 11, 12 10:55 am

You know what I think? It feels like architecture schools are running out of ideas to showcase the world. Seems all have pointed to Parametricism as our promised land. But its full potential will only be revealed in the future; at present we have none (so is the academic sector in panic mode?) Currently,its applications are more practical to product and interior design. 

Parametric Design will eventually explode and evolve in the future.For now, OMA has been racking up commissions all over the globe with his more practical programmatic approach.haha.

 

 

 

jla-x
Apr 11, 12 11:05 am

Not to say parametrics is bad, as I said above I think it has some potential for some applications, but with regard to universities embracing it, I think some of this is going on...

"In science, the term physics envy is used to criticize a tendency (perceived or real) of softer sciences and liberal arts to try to obtain mathematical expressions of their fundamental concepts, as an attempt to move them closer to harder sciences, particularly physics.

The success of physics to "mathematicize" itself, particularly since Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica, is generally considered as remarkable and often disproportionate compared to other areas of inquiry.[1] "Physics envy" thus essentially refers to the envy (perceived or real) of scholars in other disciplines for the mathematical precision of fundamental concepts obtained by physicists. It is an accusation raised against disciplines (typically against soft sciences and liberal arts such as literature, philosophy, psychology, social sciences, and some areas of biology) when these academic areas try to express their fundamental concepts in terms of mathematics, which is seen as an unwarranted push for reductionism.

Evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr discusses the issue of the inability to reduce biology to its mathematical basis in his book What Makes Biology Unique?.[2] Noam Chomsky discusses the ability and desirability of reduction to its mathematical basis in his article "Mysteries of Nature: How Deeply Hidden."[3]

 

jla-x
Apr 11, 12 11:18 am

To add...

Architecture is half art, half science.  The science part is a combination of several soft sciences, ecology, sociology, philosophy...  However there are some hard sciences that are integral to architecture, structural physics, thermodynamics, etc.....I would say that parametrics can be very usefull in the areas of hard science, possibly even some areas of soft science especially on an urban planning scale, but I have yet to see the day that a parametric model can produce this..

i r giv up
Apr 11, 12 11:42 am

these lazy attempts at separating man from machine are getting really old.

Tee002
Apr 11, 12 11:53 am

jlarch,

I'm very sure computation can beat what Louis Kahn did. Probably ten times better. That what the computation oracles are saying. Fear the consequences and heed the advice!

J. James R.J. James R.
Apr 11, 12 12:03 pm

Again, some of you are casually overlooking the costs of computing and making the assumption that computing is infinite and free. Computing is expensive, labor intensive and energy intensive.

Once you make any basic assumption about cost, the law of diminishing returns becomes a major counterpoint to developing any sort of detailed or in-depth model. Then it really becomes a cost-effective and cost-benefit analysis of 'Object A' versus 'Model A.'

Ignoring just the cost of massive computing network, such computational models need data and a lot of it and they also need infrastructure to support such data collection— do we currently have enough network bandwidth to feed such a program?

With the world looking at an impending sooner-than-expected data crunch with the fiber backbone hitting full capacity and a full wireless spectrum, how feasible is it to expand the internet? How much money will it cost to supply programs with terabytes of data per second? Is it even possible to have a continual linear growth in network bandwidth?

And how is data being relayed to these computational networks?  Who maintains all of the sensors, cameras, gauges and other tiddly-bits? Who pays for them?

More importantly, where is all of the energy going to come from?

And from these questions, we can see the pursuit of a superbly and supremely calculated rationality is questionably irrational. The world has so many problems — and not just the major ones of disease, warfare and starvation. Those of us who are lucky enough to live in a world free from rebel militias and malaria face our own problems. Some might call them "non-problems" or "#firstworldproblems."

Many of us live in communities where governments fail to provide basic 19th-century infrastructure— we lack the energy, water and sewage infrastructure to expand our communities:  we have questionable drinking water, no place to dispose of waste in a safe manner and, in many communities, lack the power capacity to run machines of industry.

How are you suppose to facilitate advanced computing networks in areas that don't even have the funds or political power to timely pave roads or provide basic, reliable infrastructure?

 

jla-x
Apr 11, 12 12:34 pm

Hello I am fluxbound!

 

harveyspecter
Apr 11, 12 12:51 pm

... very mature jlarch.haha . is that Steve Buschemi?

" I'm very sure computation can beat what Louis Kahn did. Probably ten times better. That what the computation oracles are saying. Fear the consequences and heed the advice!"

Were approaching the era of Singularity, by 2040, they say computers have exceeded the brain's computation speed...

..... people let us shift our attentions to the current situations and how Parametricism positions itself at present..

i r giv up
Apr 11, 12 1:10 pm

awww jlarch, umadbro?

design
Apr 11, 12 1:53 pm

jlarch is that you?

Let them expire

 

Tee002
Apr 11, 12 1:55 pm

hahaha this thread and the bird one crack me up. It is good to get some laugh once in a while.

Tee002
Apr 11, 12 2:09 pm

Somewhat unrelated/related to this discussion. How come I keep seeing male architects/ architecture students are more into parametric stuff. It is not Julia Morgan or Hadid era when females are very minority part of architecture world. Any thoughts?

 

Paulie
Apr 11, 12 2:14 pm

The level of rigidity in this forum...the same tired emotional arguments......
I don't think we should share any dialogue with you.

toasteroven
Apr 11, 12 2:20 pm

eh, i could get into an e-manhood measuring contest and drop credentials, but that's so web 1.0.

 

hey - you're the one who started the penis-contest - vague threat of "credentials?"  geesh...  You will gain my respect by directly challenging and picking apart my arguments (extra points if you manage to avoid academic jargon and obscure references).

 

back-prop networks: computers can learn anything. seriously, anything. they can find you a wife, they can tell you when you're going to fall asleep tonight. data is the limit. btw, they do this way better than humans. architects are humans. optimization arguments are laughable because design is a data-driven process, and your opponent really really outguns you.

 

right - only as good as the data - garbage in, garbage out. but what I've only seen modeled in any regularity thus far are discrete flows in controlled environments (which, yes, are very helpful - but also potentially runs into the problem of suboptimization).  from what I gather we haven't reached the point where we understand why people congregate - or why people get attached to and maintain certain places over others - or their connection into larger systems - it's all anecdote.  However, I think it's dangerous to have complete faith in what the models tell you because you have no clear idea if the data or the original assumptions going into creating the model are even correct (or, if you're looking at patterns - correlation vs. causality).  I don't think we'll ever get to a point where this stuff is 100% reliable (and, we know that optimization can go horribly wrong).

 

I get what you're saying about complexity - but I think humans actively seek out the outliers and turn them into commonality.  I'm not sure if anyone has figured out how or why we do this.

Rusty!
Apr 11, 12 2:31 pm

These parametric folk sure lost control of this here thread. Must be an errror on data input or somethin'.

i r giv up
Apr 11, 12 2:46 pm

@toaster:

the problem is that asking "why?" is a tunneling trap and it's completely irrelevant to what you want to accomplish, especially in design.

the question to ask is "how do people congregate?" or "how does optimization fail us?". "why?" always devolves into questions of intentionality, which in turn devolve into questions of will. which in turn goes into questions of spirituality. most of which is a bunch of babble.

i'm not espousing faith in models, i'm trying to point out that in the end, arguments around  authorship, when it comes to computation, are completely irrelevant to discussions of method.

Xenakis
Apr 11, 12 2:57 pm

It was weird - I have been doing parametric modeling since "Dream" and "Symbolics" back in 1987 when you had to know C programming, Calc and Analytic Geom to do anything - Took a class at San Jose State in the industrial design dept. and it was all math to do surfaces for car design - then someone ran with it and started Tesla. I am just interested in hoe to make it work on a technical level - in Grasshopper, and Revit API - 

Tee002
Apr 11, 12 2:58 pm

@fluxbound

Why people are so afraid of question WHY? Isn't that one of these best discoveries came out of the question WHY? Let's say discovery of gravity is one of the example. Did people like Galileo Galilei, Newton asked why things are going this direction instead of that direction ? And they keep on searching the reason through analytical thinking.

And yet you are basically saying asking question why would not be beneficial.

design
Apr 11, 12 3:00 pm

Because it's not always possible to ask why?, sometimes the why comes through the how.

i r giv up
Apr 11, 12 3:29 pm

 

what LK said.

and btw, galileo and newton asked how, not why. the only people who really ask "why?" are children, lazy artists and theologians. 

Tee002
Apr 11, 12 4:01 pm

@fluxbound
I want you to ask these two questions to yourself.
Why did the falling process happen?
Vs
How did the falling process happen?
Which one can lead you to the deeper exploration and analytical thinking? Those who want to avoid the question WHY are immature adults who are incapable of analytical thinking to seek the truth. People avoid the question WHY, because they can’t answer the question. They are also afraid that their answer will be analyzed by other people, and then find the weakness and deficiencies. The moment you ask the question why: you have to make efforts to see things holistically.  It is a commitment that people want to stay away from. It as a challenge people want to avoid. It is an adversity people do not bother to face.
Btw, theologians are always one step ahead of the others and they can be ahead of other people because they dare to ask the question WHY? As far I concern, theory are the building blocks of physics world.
Do you even know why you are viciously attacking those who are asking the question why?

 

i r giv up
Apr 11, 12 4:45 pm

"Btw, theologians are always one step ahead of the others and they can be ahead of other people because they dare to ask the question WHY?"

 

ahahahahahaahah.

i rest my case.

jla-x
Apr 11, 12 4:48 pm

how does the universe exist can only explain things up to the singularity.

why does the universe exist is a much more complex question. 

If we ignore why we end up making things for the sake of making things.  just because we can does not mean we should.  How to build...Why to build.   Important to ask why.  And yes, Einstein wanted to know why he can't move faster than light not how he can't move faster than light.

How do we split the atom?  pkewwwwwwwwww...after Hiroshima....Why did we split the atom?

Architecture is no different.  Questions of quality and value cannot be computed.

 

jla-x
Apr 11, 12 4:51 pm

 

i r giv up
Apr 11, 12 4:53 pm

don't fuck with robocop

jla-x
Apr 11, 12 4:56 pm

hahaha

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