Parametricism - from computerization to computation

By on

Mid-nineties architectural studios began to adopt computer-aided design (CAD) as a broadly used tool in their design process. Initially a tool used to aid the creation and visualization of a predetermined design, the computer soon became an exploratory tool eo ipso. Particularly influential is the adoption of 3D-software originating from the fields of 3D Visual Effects and game design. The procedural-parametric approach of SideFX’s Houdini and the scripting capabilities of Maya (formerly Alias/Wavefront, now Autodesk), inspired the incorporation of digital animation and simulation techniques into architectural design processes. In “Algorithmic Architecture,” Kostas Terzidis distinguishes between computerization and computation. Computerization entails the act of inputting, editing, and storing information on a computer. The term refers to the automation, mechanization, digitization, and conversion of previously conceived, determined, and definite entities and processes.30 Designs that already exist as a concept in the mind of the designer are digitized and entered into a computer. As part of a design process, this technique was first introduced in the 1960s by Paul de Casteljau, the inventor of the Bezier-curve. 31 Computation, on the other hand, means the exploration of indeterminate, vague, and undefined processes. “[…] computation aims at emulating or extending the human intellect. It is about rationalization, reasoning, logic, algorithm, deduction, induction, extrapolation, exploration, and estimation. In its manifold implications, it involves problem solving, mental structures, cognition, simulation, and rule-based intelligence, to name a few“.32

30 Cf.: Terzidis, K.: Algorithmic Architecture. Oxford 2010. 31 Cf.: Boehm, W., Müller, A.: On de Casteljau‘s algorithm. In: Computer Aided Geometric Design. Nr.7. Amsterdam 1999. Page 587-605. 32 Terzidis, K.: Algorithmic Architecture. Oxford 2010. Page 76.