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Aggregation Strategies: Associative Geometry and Parametic design

Part 2 Dissertation 2006
Robert Stiles
University of Bath Bath UK
A discussion exploring parametric operations and their implication on the design process.

This paper is primarily concerned with issues relating to associative geometry, one specific mode of parametric design. Through associative geometry, geometric entities can be defined in terms of implicit or explicit relationships, and can be controlled by their respective parameters. This enquiry initially seeks to establish a greater understanding of such methodology, examining the methods and processes of its operation and identifying its limitations. Although predominantly operating through the medium of the CAD environment, the discussion does not seek to address the potential of parametric software, but instead approaches parametric methodologies as a design strategy, utilising the computer only as a powerful tool.

The thesis is predominately founded on a series of lectures presented at a recent conference held at the RIBA [October 2005] entitled “Design as Research”. Based on the premise that both scientific research and the process of design can be classed as creative problem solving activities, the discussion draws an analogy between methods of scientific discovery and design as a research activity; exploring how parametric design operates through a ‘research based creative methodology’ and examining how this modus operandi is affecting the traditional process of design. The question raised is one of generative and creative processes: do the methodologies of parametric design and associative geometry impart an alternative to the typical and established design process?

The theories and ideologies of Italian Modernist Luigi Moretti form a continuous thread of reference throughout the discussion. As early as 1954, Moretti’s theoretical writings set out a frame work analogous with both the philosophical principles and empirical limitations of parametric methodologies as they are currently implemented through computational techniques. Curiously however, Moretti’s research is scarcely, if at all, discussed in the field of computational architecture and its associated philosophical debate. Accordingly, Moretti remains virtually unaccredited for his pioneering research, which in light of avant-garde architectural theory, appears to have been 50 years ahead of its time.

Robert Stiles

This dissertation, entitled "Aggregation Strategies: Associative Geometry and Parametric design", was one of the best to emerge from the MArch programme at Bath for a number of years. The dissertation examines the problem of integrating parametric methods into the architectural design process and discusses what this may mean in terms of aesthetics and the satisfaction of practical requirements, and also what it means for the education of future architects. In the opinion of the independent examiners and the supervisor this dissertation is a document of originality and scholarship and is a model piece of work.

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