Parametric Architecture: Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher’s Philosophy

The Parametric Architecture Design Philosophy

Architecture is constantly evolving and developing. New styles and shapes are being created all the time. One of the most recent and popular styles is parametric architecture. This article will explore what parametric architecture is and how it is being used by some of the world's most famous architects.

In fact, parametric architecture is a type of architecture that uses parametric modeling to generate forms and space resolutions. This style of architecture is often associated with Zaha Hadid, who was a pioneer in the field. Next, we'll explore the history of parametric architecture and some of the unique features that make it so special.

In 1988, Patrick Schumacher, a student and novice architect, discovered Zaha Hadid's design philosophy. It was calling for abandoning the architectural design lines and existing angles used by architects in architectural design, and the adoption of a new approach or Theory.

This first consists of translating the curved lines that draw the quick architectural sketches into Architectural drawings. They are read on the basis that they are the design lines that will follow the project design instead of translating lines of sketches fast lines and straight lines first and then converted into architectural drawings.

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That's what the design sketches of Zaha Hadid look like an artistic drawing (Fig.1)

The second thing is that the spaces that flow between the curved lines can be considered architectural spaces that contain building components. The void liquid does not impose barriers or breaker walls between them to separate the components from each other but comes with components positioned within these spaces that contain lines in a way that determines the relationship or link.

Each component of the rest of the components is smooth and soft, and if you look at these forms from any angle you will find that they are harmonious with each other, despite the richness and difference in forms.

The third thing is that Zaha Hadid was able to introduce oblique and twisting shapes into the architectural design dictionary. But what is this new architecture and what it is called? Schumacher named it parametric architecture or the Architecture of Parametric parameters.

Schumacher was the first to name Parametricism in this architectural new direction in 2008 before becoming a global trend and spreading around the world.

Firstly, the architectural design in Zaha Hadid's Office began as architectural sketches that looked like art paintings and were then converted into architectural drawings without the use of a computer. The design lines were still straight but at a non-existent angle, with sloping architectural blocks and possibly declined elements.

The design lines began in the mid-1990s and started to take a series of curves, especially with the computer's deep use in design and the application of logarithmic determinants. It took nearly ten years of losing participants in architectural competitions and trying to convince others of this New Approach.

The office then won the competitions one by one by the end of the 1990s, winning one of its most important projects, the MAXI Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome. The office won also the VW project, and the design lines became smoother and more elegant both inside and outside.

Projects are becoming bigger and more significant, such as the China Opera project, in addition, the office functions are being diversified and the office is working on furniture design, interior design, lighting, clothing, and vehicles. The Office has also applied its design philosophy to city planning projects and increased the staff of the Office from 4 to 400 employees.

However, in his book on architecture, The Autopoiesis of Architecture, Schumacher attempts to explain his parametric architecture design theory, which took 15 years of composition and consisted of a thousand and two hundred pages (2 Volumes).

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Schumacher believes that parametric architecture was able to integrate all the architectural elements and transform them into components logarithmic that are easy to transform and assemble.

This method helps to strengthen the relations between the elements and forms of the project the relation of the building to its surroundings and the transformation of the classic engineering shapes (such as cube, cylinder, pyramid, sphere, etc...) into modern architectural forms.

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Organic bodies of creatures are inspired by parametric architecture and conception, Photo:

"These forms, Schumacher says, if they combine each other to create the final architectural configuration of the buildings do not achieve strong formal relationships among themselves, but create a smuggle architecture and urban as they combine without language uniting."

"As well as in the urbanism of the cities and determine the density and sizes and the formation of neighborhoods and lines of networks of roads there will be liquidity and smooth in the formation of the city and achieve diversity in its forms without prejudice to their interrelationship between them," he adds.

"All the research and projects that are designed within the various architectural schools, which follow the parametric architecture, seem to be interconnected between their components so that they are similar despite the diversity of their functions and sizes, as they are designed by different architects but follow the same principles," Schumacher says.

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Get the books of Patrik Schumacher, The Autopoiesis of Architecture, Volume I and II here!

Volume I: The Autopoiesis of Architecture: A New Framework for Architecture

Cover of Volume 1

Product Details

Author: Schumacher, Patrik S.
ISBN: 0470772980
ISBN-13 9780470772980
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd
Cover: Paperback
Pub. Year: 26-11-2010
SKU 9780470772980
Number of Units 01
Pages: 478

Cover of Volume 2

Product Details

Author: Schumacher, Patrik S.
ISBN: 0470666161
ISBN-13 9780470666166
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd
Cover: Paperback
Pub. Year: 30-03-2012
SKU 9780470666166
Number of Units No
Pages: 784

Live Examples of Parametric Architecture

Parametric architecture is based on principles some of which can be called negative principles which should be avoided and positive principles that must be followed.

The negative principles are the rejection of traditional regulations such as the design of classical forms with inflexible structures, such as repetition or symmetry in volumes, and the collection of incompatible forms among them, and therefore calls for parametric architecture to be inspired by natural organic forms.

One of the pioneers in this field is the structural engineer and architect Frei Otto, who used the building of the tents in his projects through the use of forms that naturally prove the construction as in the natural forms. Otto did not use the computer but was doing experiments on miniature models of tents.

Today, through the use of digital logarithms, shapes similar to natural organic shapes can be found and made structural by digital calculations, such as CAD software applications.

In Schumacher's research at the British Society of Architecture, he transferred natural organic shapes and then transformed them into a barometric design. On the other hand, there are more convergent forms, some of which generate harmonized groups, the forms of parametric architecture.

The lines in which classical geometric shapes are drawn are nonlinear. The lines here define surfaces that can be folded; The design lines in parametric architecture are flexible, easy, and smooth, and can compose soft and different blocks, but there is always a strong bond between them.

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Munich Stadium by Frei Otto (1973) is a good example of parametric architecture, Photo: Wikipedia

The surfaces also form blocks that can be grouped together and integrated into a single mass through their liquid lines. The blocks should be soft, liquid, easily configurable, and must have a formative intelligence.

They follow smart parameters such as material properties that will be used in the configuration, measurements, and structural rules that must be respected to ensure that any solution we choose will maintain these properties, measurements, and rules.

Add other parameters such as manufacturing methods and many other parameters. There must be a distinction between shapes but maintain relations among them. This distinction can also be smart, that is, adaptable to achieve certain determinants that must be followed such as the formation of the mass of the project to avoid the sun's rays and the relationship with the geometry of the sun's vents and openings, distinguish blocks, surfaces, and lines.

Schumacher also believes that we need to be distinguished in terms of expressive and aesthetic standards because these standards also reflect the lifestyle of the current society, whose members prefer excellence rather than repetition.


This excellence also needs city planning projects to offer the greatest number of planning solutions. Excellence can be intelligent for any particular goal or be without a goal only for excellence to suit the different desires of the city's population. There must be reciprocal relations between the elements of the formation.

The cities and buildings are designed through serial systems. There is a primary system followed by a secondary system such as the building block system and the system of the design of the openings. If an adjustment is made to the design of the building block, it will reflect on the design of the openings and so on.

All regulations, whether negative or positive, should be used by the architect to review his design and ensure that they achieve these mutual relations. This also applies to any style and not just parametric architecture.

References in this article:

- Al-Bena'a Magazine (the Digital Version)
- Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia

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