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Seminar and strategy meeting “Parametric Design in Practice”

16 November 2009, The Royal Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, The Red House

A strategy meeting was held in November to discuss the Parametric Design workshop in early 2010 and plan other upcoming workshops and seminars including the first symposium to be held in May.   The full-day meeting had presentations by designers from various fields and institutions who are using digital design and fabrication.  Following the presentations, there was a discussion of key themes raised in these projects which can be explored in the Digital Crafting Network.

Architect and engineer Hauke Jungjohann from Knippers Helbig Engineers and formerly with Herzog and de Meuron presented “Parameters to Design/Design for Parameters”, a lecture which featured projects he has worked on including the Museum of Tolerance by Frank Gehry, the Milan Fair Project by Massimiliano Fuksas, and the Roche Tower by Herzog and de Meuron.  Discussion about the themes in the lecture included questions of how to model material performance and the question of whether a project should have one parametric model or many different ones.  In the case of many of the projects that Jungjohann described, the architects brought a nearly fully formed shape that needed to be rationalized, defined and built.  This raised the question of how architects could use digital tools for formfinding and at what stage parametric design should enter the design process.

Martin Tamke from Centre for Information Technology and Architecture (CITA) gave a lecture titled “Parametric Formations” and introduced ideas of formfinding as a way to create form as a dialogue between material and gravity.  He discussed how parameters can be linked to analysis and illustrated these ideas with examples from CITA´s recent projects.  From these examples, discussions emerged about mass customization becoming more practical due to industrialization of the building process and the idea that early planning can reduce costs and time associated with using digital fabrication for unique components.

Jan Karlshøj from Danish Technical University presented a lecture about using cost and time as parameters (the 4th and 5th dimensions) of digital modeling.  Karlshøj discussed the possibility of using multiple interacting tools, and asks “should the model be where all the information is held?”  This led to discussions of how production information can be added as a layer of information in a digital model and how changes can be incorporated into a complex model.    How can designers manage the intersections between digital tools and information?

Asbjørn Søndergaard, from Aarhus School of Architecture presented his current research into optimization in architectural design, focusing on parameter design as a key design challenge.  What should the role and influence of architects be in the optimization process and how accurate are the results of optimization?   Søndergaard presented his ideas about creating digital tools that use flexibility and allow for multiple options, with ideas of modeling the relations between elements rather than just the individual elements.

After the lectures and discussions, possible content and guests were discussed for upcoming workshops and seminars.  Each member of the Network is considering: What is parametric design in each of our particular research contexts? What are the key research questions for the Network?