Courtesy Adam Marcus

Courtesy Adam Marcus

“Parametricism by its very formulation is controversial,” writes Helen Castle, head of RIBA’s professional programs, in Parametricism 2.0: Rethinking Architecture’s Agenda for the 21st Century (2016, Architectural Design). Based on the process of parametric design, whereby algorithms are used to generate formal and spatial information, parametricism has become a style and a movement.

And while parametricism—a term coined by Patrik Shumacher, principal at Zaha Hadid Architects—has not been adopted broadly in architectural practice, it has exerted a measurable influence in the academy. Yet as design students become more familiar its corresponding algorithm-based digital tools, the initial allure of intricately scripted surfaces and twisting towers has begun to fade. A counter-movement has emerged—one that embraces parametric thinking while eschewing notions of style. Its proponents claim that the early infatuation with style has limited the potential of the technical components of parametric exploration.