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June 17, 2019

Parametric architecture’s embrace of new technology



As reported on, one of the primary concerns about how technology could negatively affect our society and culture is where many people express fear a future of a robotic takeover of most jobs leaving humans to fulfill the roles of managers and call center operators. Some even worry that the remaining human-filled jobs in management positions will become tedious and boring.  But from the broader perspective of social engagement, an even greater concern about technology is what, precisely, will be the end result of new tech’s creative forays?

In recent weeks, we have been told of how AI is now creating music and may very well be the driving force of our alcohol, but now AI is entering into the realm of design as Patrik Schumacher, partner of Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA), discussed last month at Grohe’s The Wave of the Future talks in Frankfurt. Elaborating his theory of parametricism, calling it the “great new style after modernism,” Schumacher sees the future of architecture emerging from computer calculations and rational data instead of artistic intuition and judgment. Parametricism is epochal, according to Schumacher and the future of architecture must break through social fears of AI as he concluded, “I don’t think we need to answer necessarily whether people like it right away or whether they buy into an aesthetic. I think we need to be market leaders.”

Joined by the head of research at MX3D, Filippo Gilardi, spoke of his company’s 3D-printed bridge for Amsterdam and the move away from linear 3D printing.  Speaking of his inspiration from the industrial revolution when bridges were made on site from one side to the next, Gilardi notes that the future of design and building is bound up with new technology as new tech is taking from the old and inventing the future.

Yet, such technologies are not dominating the field of construction as China’s real estate boom has had structural and mechanical failures, resulting in the death of 33 workers last month alone despite the country’s international construction boom. While media lauded the 30-story hotel in just 15 days and the 57-story skyscraper in 19 days in Hunan province, discussions of style, process and material have fallen to the side where investment returns are pivotal.

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