Can Parametric Design be Applied to Cities as well as Buildings?

If you’ve ever wondered about the digital design process underlying the curvilicious buildings that now dot our cityscapes by the likes of architects like Zaha Hadid, it is called Parametric Design. This is hard to define; one Liverpool University Grad, James Roberts, explains it as follows: “Parametric design revolves around a basic knowledge of geometry and relationships between entities. These properties can then be altered, giving different outcomes of form. For example a line has two parameters – its length and its direction, altering one of these factors gives you a different form. A polyline has the previous two factors plus the positioning of its vertices and if any of these are altered a different form is given, and so on.” Got it?

So far parametric design has been associated with single, sculptural buildings. But can it be applied to cities? That’s the topic to be discussed tomorrow at a conference taking place at USC by leading lights in digital technology (see opposite). All are welcome.