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Alexandria University

Faculty of Engineering
g Architecture Department
Post Graduate Studies / Master

Internet Applications

Parametricism In
Urban Design
Under The Supervision of:
Prof.Dr. Osama Abdel-Rahman.

By : Arch. Reem Bakri Moustafa.

Paramertricism In Urban Design

Contents :

1.0 Introduction
1.1 Parametricism in Urban Design
1.2 A new Global Style for Architecture & Urban Design
1.3 Implementing Parametricist Urbanism.
1.4 Case study: Zaha Hadid Archiects, Kartal-Pendik Masterplan, Istanbul,
Turkey, 2006

2.0 Parametricist v.s Modernist Urbanism

2.1 Case study: Frei Otto, Occupation with simultaneous distancing and
attracting forces, Institute for Lightweight Structures (ILEK), Stuttgart,
Germany, 1992

3.0 Project : Kartal-Pendik

3.1 Kartal-Pendik. Master Plan. Istanbul,Turkey.
3.2 New City Space.
3.3 Calligraphy blocks-tectonic detail.
3.4 Project Specifications.

4.0 Parametric Urbanism- Deep Relationality

5.0 Conclision: Negative & Positive

1.01.1 Introduction
Parametricism in: Urban Design :

Abstract: Though parametricism has its roots in the digital animation techniques of the mid-1990s, it has
only fully emerged in recent years with the development of advanced parametric design systems.
Parametricism has become the dominant, single style for avant-garde practice today. It is particularly suited
to large-scale urbanism as exemplified by a series of competition-winning master-plans by Zaha Hadid
1.3 Implementing Parametricist Urbanism:

The urban implementation of parametricism is still in its infancy. However, ZHA was able to win a series of
international masterplanning competitions with schemes that embody the key features of parametricism.
1.2 Parametricism: A New Global Style for Architecture and Urban Design
The projects include the 200 hectar One-North Masterplan for a mixed-use business park in Singapore,
Soho City in Beijing comprising 2.5 million squaremeter of residential and retail programme, the mixed use
masterplan for Bilbao including the river island and both opposing embankments, and the Kartal-Pendik
There is a global
masterplan, a mixed convergence in recent
use urban field of 55avant-garde
hectar witharchitecture that justifies
6 million squaremeter of the enunciation
gross buildable of a new style:
comprising The style is rooted
all programmatic in digital
components of aanimation
city. techniques. Its latest refinements are based on
advanced parametric design systems and scripting techniques.
The project is to constitute a sub-center on Istanbul’s Asian side to release the pressure on the historic
This style
centre. has is
The site been developed
being reclaimed over theindustrial
from last 15 years andand
estates is now claiming
is flanked hegemony
with the smallwithin avant-garde
grain fabric of sub-
urban towns. It succeeds modernism as a new long wave of systematic innovation

. Theparametricist
The style finally taboo
closesofthe transitionaljuxtapositions
unmediated period of uncertainty that we
implied that wastook
engendered by the
the adjacent crisis of
context - in
modernism and that was marked by a series of short lived episodes including Postmodernism,
particular the incoming lines of circulation - as an important input for the generation of the urban geometry.
Deconstructivism, and Minimalism.
Maya’s is the great
hair dynamic new stylea after
tool achieved modernism.
parametrically tuned bundling of the incoming paths into larger roads
enclosing larger sites. The resultant lateral path system that exhibits the basic properties of Frei Otto’s
The new style
minimizing claims
detour relevance on all scales from architecture and interior design to large scale urban
design. The larger the scale of the project the more pronounced is parametricism’s superior capacity to
The programmatic
longitudinal directioncomplexity.
was imposed via a primary artery with a series of subsidiary roads running in
parallel. The result was is a hybrid between minimizing detour network and deformed grid. In parallel we
The urbanist
worked potential
with two primaryof fabric
parametricism hastowers
typologies, been explored in a three
and perimeter yeareach
blocks, research agendaasatgenerative
conceived the AADRL -
component Urbanism
geno-type – and
that demonstrated
allows for wide byrange
a series
of of competitionvariation.
pheno-typical winning masterplans by Zaha Hadid
The towers, conceived as cross towers, placed on the crossing points accentuating the path network. The
perimeter block inversely correlates height with parcel area so that courtyards morph into internal atria as
sites get smaller and blocks get taller. Blocks split along the lines of the secondary path-network.

This move, together with the accentuating height differentiation, allows the block type to be assimilated to
the cross-tower type. “pseudo-towers” are formed at some crossing points by pulling up the four corners of
the four blocks that meet at such a corner.

Thus an overall sense of continuity is being achieved in spite of starting with two rather distinct urban
typologies. In terms of the global height regulation – besides the local dependency of height upon parcel size
– we are trying to correlate the conspicuous build up of height with the lateral width of the overall field.
Thus the rhythm of urban peaks indexes the rhythm of widening and narrowing of the urban stretch.
Figure1: Fabric studies 1 : For the block Figure2: The morphological range of the
type. perimeter block type.
1.4 Case study: Zaha Hadid Archiects, Kartal-Pendik Masterplan, Istanbul, Turkey, 2006
Maya hair-dynamic simulates minimised detour net. The path network was thus generated with a digital
woolthread model. The set-up registers the multitude of incoming streets and bundles them into larger roads
affording larger parcels.
Figure 4: Kartal-Pendik Masterplan,

Figure 3: Maya hair-dynamic simulates Istanbul, Turkey, 2006

minimised detour net.
2.0 Parametricist v.s Modernist Urbanism :

Le Corbusier’s first theoretical statement on Urbanism starts with a eulogy of the straight line and the right
angle as means by which man conquers nature. The first two paragraphs of The City of Tomorrow contrast
man’s way with the pack-donkey’s way:
“Man walks in a straight line because he has a goal and knows where he is going; he has made up his mind to
reach some particular place and he goes straight to it. The pack-donkey meanders along, meditates a little in
2.0scatter-brained and vs.
Parametricist distracted fashion,
Modernist he zig-zags
Urbanism : in order to avoid larger stones, or to ease the climb, or
to gain a little shade; he takes the line of least resistance.”

Le Corbusier admires the urban order of the Romans and rejects our sentimental attachment to the
Le Corbusierirregularity of the
realized that medieval
although cities:presents
“nature “The curve
itselfistoruinous, difficult
us as a chaos … and dangerous;
the spirit whichit is a
paralyzing thing.”
animates Nature is a spirit of order ”. However, his understanding of nature’s order was limited by the
science of his day. Today we can reveal the complex order of those apparently chaotic patterns by
Le Corbusier
means insists that
of simulating their“the house,
lawful the street,
“material the town … should be ordered; … if they are not ordered, they
oppose themselvessensibility
Our parametricist to us.” Le gives
Corbusier’s limitation
more credit to theis“pack-donkey’s
not his insistence upon
path” asorder
a formbut
ofhis limited concept of
order in terms of classical geometry.
material computation than to the simplicity of clear geometries that can be imposed in one sweeping
Complexity theory in general, and the research of Frei Otto in particular, have since taught us to recognize,
measure andpioneering
Frei Otto’s simulate theworkcomplex patterns
on natural that emerge
structures includedfromworkprocesses of self-organisation.
on settlement Phenomena
patterns. He starts with like
the “donkey’s path” and the urban patterns resulting from unplanned settlement
the distinction/relation of occupying and connecting as the two fundamental processes that are processes can now be
analyzed and appreciated in terms of their underlying logic and rationality, i.e. in terms
involved in all processes of urbanisation. His analysis of existing patterns was paralleled by analogue of their hidden
related performative power.
crucial features of the settlement process.

He distinguished distancing and attractive occupations. For distancing occupation he used magnets
floating in water and for attractive occupation he used floating polystyrene chips. A more complex
model integrates both distancing and attractive occupation whereby the polystyrene chips cluster
Figure 4: Case study : Frei Otto

1.2 Case study: Frei Otto, Occupation with simultaneous distancing and attracting forces,
Institute for Lightweight Structures (ILEK), Stuttgart, Germany, 1992
Analogue models for the material computation of structural building forms (form-finding) are the hallmark
of Frei Otto’s research institute. The same methodology has been applied to his urban simulation work. The
model shown integrates both distancing and attractive occupations by using polystyrene chips that cluster
around the floating magnetic needles that maintain distance among themselves.
Figure 5: Frei Otto, Apparatus for
computing minimal path systems,
Institute for Lightweight Structures
(ILEK), Stuttgart, 1988

3.0 Project : Kartal-Pendik :

Figure 6: Masterplan: Hybrid detour net &

deformed grid, Final Urban lay-out of streets and
urban fabric .
Zaha Hadid Archiects 2006.
The Kartal – Pendik Masterplan is a winning competition proposal for a new city centre on the east bank
of Istanbul. It is the redevelopment of an abandoned industrial site into a new sub-centre of Istanbul,
complete with a central business district, high-end residential development, cultural facilities such as
concert halls, museums, and theatres, and leisure programs including a marina and tourist hotels.
The site lies at the confluence of several important infrastructural links, including the major highway
connecting Istanbul to Europe and Asia, the coastal highway, sea bus terminals, and heavy and light rail
links to the greater metropolitan area.

The project begins by tying together the basic infrastructural and urban context of the surrounding site.
Lateral lines stitch together the major road connections emerging from Kartal in the west and Pendik in
the east.
Figure 7:
The integration of these lateral connections with the main longitudinal axis creates a soft grid that forms the
underlying framework for the project. Locally, this net can be bundled to form areas of higher programmatic
intensity as well as a vertical build-up of the city fabric. In certain areas the net rises up to form a network of
towers in an open landscape, while in other areas it is inverted to become a denser fabric cut through by
streets, and at other times may completely fade away to generate parks and open spaces. Some areas extend
out into the water, creating a matrix of floating marinas, shops, and restaurants.
Figure 8: Fabric studies 2 : calligraphy block Figure 9: Fabric studies 3: split block
variation. variations
The fabric is further articulated by an urban script that generates different typologies of buildings that
respond to the different demands of each district. This calligraphic script creates open conditions that
can transform from detached buildings to perimeter blocks, and ultimately into hybrid systems that can
create a porous, interconnected network of open spaces that meanders throughout the city. Through
subtle transformations and gradations from one part of the site to the other, the scripted fabric can create
a smooth transition from the surrounding context to the new, higher density development on the site

The soft grid also incorporates possibilities of growth, as in the case where a network of high-rise towers
might emerge from an area that was previously allocated to low-rise fabric buildings or faded into open
park space. The masterplan is thus a dynamic system that generates an adaptable framework for urban
form, balancing the need for a recognizable image and a new environment with a sensitive integration of
the new city with the existing surrounds.
Global Maya model. The model features the interarticulation between cross towers and perimeter blocks
as well as the affiliation to the surrounding fabric. The correlation of global width to global height can also
be observed.
Figure 10: Scripting calligraphy block patterns.

Scripting calligraphy block patterns. Various

scripts were developed that configure the perimeter
blocks depending on parcel size, proportion and
orientation. The script also allowed for random
Figure 11: Global Maya model.
variations regarding the introduction of openings
within blocks.

Figure 12: New cityscape.

3.2 New cityscape.:

The Kartal-Penkik plan incorporates a vast quarry that becomes the largest item in a system of parks that
are spread throughout the urban field. The rhythmic flow of the urban fabric gives a sense of organic

The result is an elegant, coherently differentiated city-scape that facilitates navigation through its lawful
constitution and through the architectural accentuation of both global and local field properties.

This much might be possible to institute with the imposition of strict planning guidelines using building
lines and height regulation. Political and private buy-in is required.

All constituencies need to be convinced that the individual restrictions placed upon all sites really deliver
a worth-while collective value: the unique character and coherent order of the urban field that all players
benefit from if adherence can be enforced.

Ordered complexity here replaces the monotony of older planned developments and the disorienting
visual chaos that marks virtually all unregulated contemporary city expansions.

To go further yet, in terms of our concept of deep relationality, we have to extend our involvement from
urbanism to architecture. Only then we can further intensify the accentuating correlations, involving the
systematic modulation of tectonic features. For instance, in terms of the calligraphy blocks - a third
perimeter block variation that has been designed to both open up the interior of parcels and to cross
parcels – we use a continuous facade differentiation that leads from the street-side to the courtyard on the
basis of an initial distinction of external and internal facades.

Another moment of deep articulation is the coordination of landscape and public spaces, and the
correlation of the secondary path-system with the disposition of internal navigation systems.
3.3 Calligraphy blocks-tectonic detail :
Figure 13: City Space . Kartal-Pendik Istanbul,
The articulation of the facades is a function of the location within the urban field. The exterior of the
blocks is given a heavier relief than the interior. Where a block opens up and the public space flows into
the private courtyard, a semi-private zone is articulated via the gradient transformation between the outer
and inner articulation.

Figure 14: Calligraphy Blocks . Kartal- Figure 15 :Close-up of cross

Pendik Istanbul, Turkey. towers.

Close-up of cross towers.

The cross towers produce the urban peaks. Through their ground-level articulation these tower complexes
participate in the creation of a continuous urban fabric that frames the streets and occasionally widens the
street space into semi-public plazas. This is achieved while maintaining total continuity between the podium-
like ground fabric and the shafts of the towers.
Doubts might be felt when confronted with the possibility of designing an urban field of up to 6 million
squaremeter gross area with a single design team. Are we overstretching our capacity here? The more we are
confronted with large scale development of this kind the more confident we grow that the tools and strategies
we are deploying under the banner of parametricism can indeed deliver something that produces a decisive
surplus value if compared with the usual alternative of uncoordinated, arbitrary juxtapositions.

The contemporary choice of typologies, construction options and styles is simply too large to expect the
underlying pragmatic logics to become legible. The result is a cacophony of pure difference.

Parametricism is able to further coordinate pragmatic concerns and articulate them with all their rich
differentiations and relevant associations. The danger of overriding real-life richness is minimized because
variety and adaptiveness are written into the very genetic make-up of parametricism.

Parametricism Project
the conceptual: shift from part-to-whole relationships to component-system
relationships, system-to-system relationships, and system-subsystem relationships. Parametricism prefers
open systems that always remain incomplete. As the density of associations increases components might be
associated into multiple systems. The correlation of initially independent system implies the formation of a

Figure 16 : Kartal Project - Latest Official Renders.

Total Project Area: 555 Hectares (6 million square meters Project Team:
construction area) Sevil Yazici
Daniel Widrig
Client: Greater Istanbul Municipality Melike Altinisik
Architects: Zaha Hadid Architects Elif Erdine
Project Team: Miya Ushida
Design: Zaha Hadid with Patrik Schumacher Fulvio Wirz
Project Leaders: DaeWha Kang and Saffet Bekiroglu Mairagrazia Lanza
Gonzalo Carbajo
The assumption is that the urban massing describes a swarm-formation of many buildings whereby
lawful continuities
4.0 Parametric cohereUrbanism-Deep
this manifold of buildings.
Relationty :
The systematic modulation of morphologies produces powerful urban effects and facilitates field

Our ambition is deep relationality,. to integrate the building morphology - all the way to the detailed
tectonic articulation and the interior organisation.

Parametric Urbanism might involve parametric accentuation, parametric figuration, and parametric
responsiveness as registers to fulfill its ambition of deep relationality.
5.0 Conclusion: Negative & Positive :
The defining heuristics of parametricism are fully reflected in the taboos and dogmas of contemporary avant-
gared design culture:

Negative heuristics (taboos): avoid rigid geometric primitives like squares, triangles and circles, avoid
simple repetition of elements, avoid juxtaposition of unrelated elements or systems.

Positive heuristics (dogmas): consider all forms to be parametrically malleable, differentiate gradually
Thanks ……….
(at variant rates), inflect and correlate systematically.