Digital parametric design is the linking of variables to geometry within 3D CAD software relative to constraints defined by the designer of a project. The control of dimensional criteria within a part of a system can be associatively linked to the entire model. A modification to the whole project has its repercussions on the constituent parts of the design without rebuilding the entire model.
Digital Fabrication is the ability to cut and form materials directly from digital information extracted from virtual models. Laser cutting, water-jet cutting and CNC routing are just some of the processes readily available to the designer to go directly from file to physical reality. These techniques are not new to the automotive and industrial design where rapid-prototyping is used in the design process and increasingly in the production of products. The application of digital fabrication to architecture appropriates and transfers technology from the petrochemical and aerospace industries as it scales up. Its has to potential to drastically increase the accuracy and efficiency of the construction process as well as open new territory for innovative structures and patterns in design.
The confluence of these techniques of design thinking and making is driving the innovative work in schools of architecture and is becoming a pervasive part of practice with the proliferation of BIM software and integrated project delivery practices. Texas is uniquely positioned to become a leader in the application of digital technology to building processes due to its pervasive and atomized light industrial manufacturing capabilities and the relative ease to get things done through its “can-do” attitude.
The New Harmony Grotto, a digitally fabricated reimagining of Frederick Kiesler’s design for the Grotto for Meditation currently under construction at the University of Houston College of Architecture, image by Metalab.
A new initiative called TEX-FAB seeks to elucidate these processes to a wider audience and create a forum for networking between allied Texas designers applying digital fabrication in practice and academia. The first TEX-FAB event will be the Parametric Modeling Workshop planned for February 5th and 6th of 2010 to be held at the University of Texas Arlington School of Architecture. The workshops, featuring some of the leading software developers, designers, and instructors in the field of parametric design, are open to current architecture professionals, faculty and students.
For more information or to register for the workshop you can go to www.tex-fab.net.