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Parametric Architectural Design Solutions – Some Observed Difficulties of Application

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Version 1 2021-11-12, 15:55
posted on 2023-03-14, 23:31 authored by Fraser, Matthew

It is generally accepted that the restrictions of digital parametric design tools (DPDT’s) are currently shifting. Technology and interface can be engineered to overcome many complex problems within architectural processes, yet this does not necessarily mean solutions are easier to obtain; quite the opposite can occur. As architectural practitioners lean more towards the ubiquitous use of digital processes the decisions made by the designer can be overshadowed by the advantages of time saving technologies and heuristic rules of thumb. The various inherent interfaces of digital processes tend to conceal the real complexity and nuance of the set of possible solutions and analyses. The awareness of the workings of the tools and processes from a ‘base principle’ point of view could be a weak point in regards to the uptake by a new generation of architects who experience a growing simplification of interfaces within new digital design processes. This poses a problem for a profession which seeks to integrate technical skills knowledge into wider, sometimes loosely structured, set of processes. This research highlights the problems faced by architects, students, and specialists who aspire to apply innovative digital processes in a strategic manner. The concern which arises is this lack of understanding of how tools could be used reduces the ability to integrate them within design process. Theoretical literature falls short in providing robust guidance to the application of illunderstood design tools, further compounding the sincere integration of practical solutions. There are ways forward for developers to create new and updated tools, such as form modellers, design aids, and optimisation helpers, but these do not necessarily meet their full potential in providing integrated solutions. It is possible to improve our understanding of these potentials by looking at how these tools can be used in both practical and theoretical terms. In this thesis this is done by framing and answering the following research question: What are the characteristics of some of the observed issues and obstacles revealed in the practical application of digital parametric design tools in architecture? This question is adopted so that the obstacles of DPDT’s may be better understood and allow for better integration, better design outcomes, and better future use of powerful latent potential. This research defines the process of parametric design through analysis of literature and applies this to participantobserver case studies. It finds that a clarification of particular issues and obstacles can be useful to improved understanding of DPDT’s and that certain qualitative characteristics of these obstacles can constrain applications and avenues of exploration.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Master of Architecture

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Donn, Michael