General, Research, Technology

Parametric architecture: can artificial intelligence design cities?

When you think about the future, what paintings get upbefore your eyes? As a lover of retro-futurism, a genre based on the ideas of the people of the past about the future, I always imagined the cities of the future with built-up buildings, like on the covers of 1950s magazines. My vision changed when I learned about a new architectural style - parametric or algorithmic architecture, which has existed in the form of avant-garde design for more than ten years. Over time, the development of computer technology has greatly influenced this style: in fact, all the buildings in the parametric style are designed by artificial intelligence. However, according to Stanislas Chailu of Harvard Graduate School of Design, today the introduction of AI into architecture is at an early stage. From this article you will learn about the principles of the algorithm and unusual buildings that have already appeared with its help.

The combination of natural naturalness and artificial intelligence gives rise to buildings of the future

Actually about parametric architectureIt’s quite difficult to write, since there are completely different ways of considering it and there are fierce disputes between each species in architectural practice. In its simplest definition, parametric architecture creates a system of so-called “parameters” or variables and a set of constraints to obtain a result (say, a geometric shape, such as a cube) that can be changed by changing the variables. In the case of a cube, our variables can be length (X), width (Y) and height (Z), with which we can control its size. Now imagine that instead three simple variables X, Y and Z we have about a thousand parameters, which instead of the cube will create the best of all possible forms of the building, as if solving your design problem. Doubt that this is possible? No matter how!


  • 1 What is parametric architecture?
  • 2 What do parametric-style buildings look like?
  • 3 UK Pavilion
  • 4 Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion
  • 5 Temporary Art Pavilion

What is parametric architecture?

As we said earlier, parametricthe architecture is similar to a box with a set of keys as input, which when combined together help to open the lock. But what happens inside the box?

Algorithm - This is a set of recommendations that describe in detail how to complete the task.

It turns out in its final formparametric architecture creates a rather complex algorithm, which is a set of rules and restrictions. The algorithm accepts the input that we, as architects, provide to it, and then with the help of calculations, create the best structure or architectural form, as it is designed in such a way as to find the optimal answer to the task. However, sometimes it can be difficult to calculate the optimal shape.

By developing the right algorithm, settingcorrect rules and restrictions, as well as adjusting certain parameters, we can consider a wide range of forms and options. The last question remains: what are these parameters and how to determine them?

These are the design factors with whichdeal with architects - for example, climate, culture, functionality and so on. But how to translate all this into a computer language? How can you put the social behavior of residents of the area for which you want to build a shopping center in a quantitative measure? And here the parametric architecture is powerless so far. It is important to understand that parametric design makes it possible find forms and solutions that were not originally conceived by architects. But the most important and cool in parametric architecture, in my opinion, is the study of new opportunities.

About what I’ve learned latelyartificial intelligence and other equally exciting discoveries, read on our channel in Yandex.Zen - there are published articles that do not appear on the site. Subscribe!

What do parametric-style buildings look like?

Favor for parametric architecturedesign has grown since computers appeared, and architects around the world have used this technique in the design process, but there are some who are not happy. So, an associate professor at the University of California at Berkeley and well-known author Christopher Alexander believes that the genius of an architect, his intuition and professional skills should be the main design tools, and not computers, which often require an overly simplified version of the task.

The space of the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center is divided into three program elements - a conference hall, a gallery and a museum.

The power of modern computers is enough forusing the new algorithm. With it, millions of possible combinations of parameters vary with a given end result, for example, a building in which there is not a single straight line. The resulting designs are not like any building ever created by man, but resembles some creations of nature. Look at the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center, which was built in 2012 in Baku - it really does not have direct lines. None. In fact, over the past few years, parametric modeling has been very actively used by designers and engineers. Amazing buildings have appeared in many cities around the world, which cannot be called futuristic.

See also: Artificial Intelligence has learned to recognize emotions. What can this lead to?

UK Pavilion

UK Pavilion has been designedarchitect Thomas Heatherwick, who received the name "Seed Cathedral". This is because London is the greenest city of such proportions in the world. When the pavilion was built, it was a box of 15x10 meters. From each side of the box protruded silver rods of transparent acrylic, each at least 7.5 meters in length. At the tip of each rod, samples of more than 25 thousand seeds from the Kunming Chinese Institute of Botany were presented. In general, the surface of this amazing structure contained at least 60 thousand rods. Some of them, as it turned out, were attached to the bottom of the building. Because of this, it rose one meter above the ground. Unfortunately, the pavilion was dismantled shortly after the end of the exhibition, and acrylic transparent rods were donated to British schools.

During the day, the interior of the pavilion was lit by sunlight that passed through each rod. It was also possible to follow the movement of the sun and the shadows cast by birds flying over the pavilion

I don’t know about you, but to me the UK pavilionIt seems something alien but at the same time, something native. Inside the pavilion, there was also something to see - in the afternoon the interior was illuminated by sunlight, while the rays of the Sun passed through each rod. This made it possible to monitor the movement of the Sun across the horizon and the birds flying over the pavilion. The beauty.

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Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion

You just look at this building -the surface of the Chanel mobile pavilion resembles the leather of which the legendary handbags are made (classic 1955 model). This effect is created thanks to the FRP material, a mixture of plastic and fiberglass. In fact, this mobile pavilion is a technically complex design of arches, which is easy to assemble and disassemble - it takes a month to assemble, but you can disassemble the pavilion in two weeks.

In fact, the pavilion forms a loop - you enter and exit from one of the same points

In the center of the pavilion is a courtyard. The gallery outside continues with a terrace, which is raised above the ground to a height of one meter. Since 2007, Chanel has visited Moscow, New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo and many other cities of the world. At the beginning of 2011, the Chanel fashion house presented it to the du Monde Arab Institute.

Temporary Art Pavilion

Salzburg Art Pavilion was createdAustrian architectural bureau Soma in 2011. The entire building outside is covered with shiny aluminum rods, which are located randomly. In fact, if you look closely, the lack of a clear form allows you to concentrate on your feelings, rather than visual images. But the most amazing thing is what the art pavilion looks like depends on the viewing point and lighting - from different points the shape of the pavilion changes. If this is not the architecture of the future, then I don’t even know.

A very unusual building, which is covered on top with shiny aluminum rods

Inside the pavilion, the space is surrounded by a membrane. Depending on the position of the Sun, shadows are projected on this membrane of light material and also change during the day. Amazing, right? By the way, parametric architecture is far from the most amazing thing that artificial intelligence is capable of. About how in the future it will be possible to treat people, read in the fascinating material of Ilya Hel.