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Fully integrated Parametricism

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Beyond the academic discourse developed around parametric techniques, the economic efficiencies of the model have been picked up by the building industry for the development of competitive models for construction. The trend toward vertical integration afforded by the parametric model is accentuated by an economic period where large concentrations of capital are at the disposal of a small number of individuals capable of “disrupting” distributed production through internalization. The narrative of Parametricism makes no intentional attempt to monopolize the market or increase the barrier of entry to architectural production through practices of vertical integration, so we could assume that these consequences are unintended but welcomed, offering a strategic advantage over competitors. While the attempts to develop a parametric urbanism have gone largely unfulfilled, the true face of Parametricism that comes with a clear economic understanding of the need for fully vertically integrated production chains, can be observed in companies such as Katerra. Katerra, a company that has been funded by capital developed in the technology' sector, aims to disrupt architectural production focusing on the optimization of building elements using parametric techniques and implementing a vertically integrated production chain. Katerra, following the model of companies such as Apple, have started pitching for their architecture solutions, demonstrating how their product offers undeniable economic improvements to the market. In this context is where parametric techniques, optimization and vertical integration really shine, offering a predictable value proposition for predefined typolog)' of architecture.

As presented by Taylor Keep, head of building science at Katerra, during the “Prototyping Collective Space” symposium,39 competitors will really struggle to keep up with Katerra, suggesting that the efficiencies achieved by the company through vertical integration would require new participants to the industry to make an initial investment of at least $250 million to compete. Vertical integration can lead to vertical monopolies, increasing the barrier of entry and generating a process of “speciation,” where new potentially copyrighted solutions are no longer compatible with other parts in the market, attempting to generate closed design ecosystems.Vertical integration has a profound impact on tectonics, allowing for new optimized copyrighted parts emerging out of the coalescence of generic components. This process gives immense protections to manufacturers not only in production but also throughout the lifespan of objects. Companies are able to introduce proprietary parts that will force users to seek affiliated repair services in case of a malfunction. As has been pointed out by the “Right to Repair” movement, a critical example occurred in 2009 when Apple introduced the pentalobe screw, designed to alienate users from opening devices and forcing them to seek repairs within the Apple ecosystem. This has given the opportunity for Apple, as has been reported by thousands of customers, to inflate the cost of repairs, which incentivizes the purchase of new items.

The economic danger of vertical integration is the reduction of market diversity, which ensures the perpetuation of the success of already established practices. At a deeper level, the optimization protocol at the core of the fully integrated parametric

Detail of iPhone utilizing the Pentalobe Screws designed by Apple

FIGURE 2.13 Detail of iPhone utilizing the Pentalobe Screws designed by Apple.

network, operating under market incentives, impedes any form of architectural open-endedness.The mapping, acquisition and “disruption” of a production chains formalizes a centralized notion of control far from the rhetoric of emergence and adaptability. Parametricism in this sense attempts, through a narrative of simulation and design articulation, to elevate the decision making of architects and designers with the capacity to dictate what is valuable and what is not. This implies the erroneous and dangerous assumption that a simulation model can indeed demarcate what should be included as an architectural variable. This foreshadows the collapse of forms of architecture that are diverse, idiosyncratic and capable of defining their own value system.

Notes

  • 1 Simon Winchester, The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World (Harper, 2018).
  • 2 William Brian Arthur, The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves (Free Press, 2009).
  • 3 ‘Relativity Space’.
  • 4 Arthur.
  • 5 Roberto Bottazzi, Digital Architecture Beyond Computers: Fragments of a Cultural History of Computational Design (Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2018).
  • 6 Bottazzi, Digital Architecture Beyond Computers.
  • 7 Patrik Schumacher, The Autopoiesis of Architecture: A New Framework for Architecture (Wiley. 2011).
  • 8 Greg Lynn, Animate Form (Princeton Architectural Press, 1999).
  • 9 Greg Lynn,‘Folding in Architecture,’ AD March-April (Wiley, Chichester, 1993).
  • 10 Manuel Delanda, Intensive Science Virtual Philosophy (Continuum International Publishing Group. 2006).
  • 11 Bernard Cache. Projectiles (Architectural Association Publications, 2011).
  • 12 Lynn, Animate Form.
  • 13 Frédéric Migayrou, Architectures Non Standard, Centre Georges Pompidou Service Commercial (Centre Georges Pompidou Service Commercial, 2004). Edited by Editions du Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2003. [accessed 13 April 2014].
  • 14 Mario Carpo, The Alphabet and the Algorithm (MIT Press, 2011).
  • 15 Carpo, The Alphabet and the Algorithm.
  • 16 Michalatos Panagiotis and Andrew Payne.‘Monolith :The Biomedical Paradigm and the Inner Complexity of Hierarchical Material Design,’ Complexity & Simplicity—Proceedings of the 34th ECAADe Conference, 1 (2016), 445-454.
  • 17 David Rutten,‘Grasshopper Interface Explained,’2015 . [accessed 6 June 2018].
  • 18 Kostas Terzidis, Permutation Design: Buildings, Texts, and Contexts (Routledge, 2015).
  • 19 John Frazer, ‘Computational Design,’ 2014 .
  • 20 Steven Shaviro, ‘Against Self-Organization,' The Pinocchio Theory (2009). Blog post [accessed September 2013].
  • 21 Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (Random House, 2007).
  • 22 Elie Ayache, The Blank SwantThe End of Probability (Wiley, 2010).
  • 23 Ayache, The Blank Swan.
  • 24 Ayache, The Blank Swan.
  • 25 Ayache, The Blank Swan.
  • 26 Neri Oxman,‘Structuring Design Fabrication of Heterogeneous,’ Applied Physics Letters, 80.4 (2010), 78-85.
  • 27 Jesse Reiser and Nanako Umemoto, Atlas of Novel Tectonics (Princeton Architectural Press, 2006).
  • 28 Greg Lynn and Mark Foster Gage, Composites, Surfaces, and Software: High Performance Architecture (Yale School of Architecture, 2011).
  • 29 Patrik Schumacher, The Autopoiesis of Architecture, Volume II: A New Agenda for Architecture (Wiley, 2012).
  • 30 Schumacher, The Autopoiesis of Architecture: A New Framework for Architecture.
  • 31 Schumacher, The Autopoiesis of Architecture: A New Framework for Architecture.
  • 32 Schumacher, The Autopoiesis of Architecture: A New Framework for Architecture.
  • 33 Schumacher, The Autopoiesis of Architecture: A New Framework for Architecture.
  • 34 Patrik Schumacher, ‘The Historical Pertinence of Parametricism and the Prospect of a Free Market Urban Order,’ in The Politics of Parametricism: Digital Technologies in Architecture, ed. by Mathew Poole and Manuel Shvartzberg (Bloomsbury Academic. 2015).
  • 35 Schumacher, ‘The Historical Pertinence of Parametricism and the Prospect of a Free Market Urban Order.’
  • 36 Schumacher, The Autopoiesis of Architecture, Volume II: A New Agenda for Architecture.
  • 37 Mathew Poole and Manuel Shvartzberg, The Politics of Parametricism: Digital Technologies in Architecture (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015).
  • 38 Poole and Shvartzberg. The Politics of Parametricism.
  • 39 Taylor Keep, ‘Better, Cheaper and Faster Buildings’ [speech]. Prototyping Collective Space (2019).

References

Arthur, William Brian. The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves (Free Press. New York, 2009)

Ayache, Elie, The Blank Swan:The End of Probability (Wiley, Chichester, 2010)

Bottazzi, Roberto, Digital Architecture Beyond Computers: Fragments of a Cultural History of Computational Design (Bloomsbury Visual Arts, London, 2018)

Cache, Bernard. Projectiles (Architectural Association Publications, London. 2011)

Carpo, Mario, The Alphabet and the Algorithm (Massachusetts Institute of Technology' Press. Cambridge, 2011)

DeLanda, Manuel, Intensive Science Virtual Philosophy (Continuum International Publishing Group. London and New York, 2006)

Frazer, John. ‘Computational Design,’ 2014 [accessed 12 November 2018]

Keep,Taylor,‘Better, Cheaper and Faster Buildings’ [speech]. Prototyping Collective Space (2019)

Lynn, Greg, Animate Form (Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 1999)

--------, Introduction of‘Folding in Architecture,’ Architectural Design, March-April (Wiley. Chichester, 1993)

Lynn, Greg, and Mark Foster Gage, Composites, Surfaces, and Software: High Performance Architecture (Yale School of Architecture, New Haven, 2011)

Michalatos, Panagiotis, and Andrew Payne, ‘Monolith: The Biomedical Paradigm and the Inner Complexity of Hierarchical Material Design,’ Complexity & Simplicity—Proceedings of the 34th ECAADe Conference, 1 (2016), 445-454

Migayrou, Frédéric, Architectures Non Standard, Centre Georges Pompidou Service Commercial (Centre Georges Pompidou Service Commercial, 2004). Edited by Editions du Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2003

Oxman, Neri.‘Structuring Design Fabrication of Heterogeneous,’ Architectural Design, 80 (4), 78-85 (Wiley, Chichester, 2010)

Poole. Mathew, and Manuel Shvartzberg, The Politics of Parametricism: Digital Technologies in Architecture (Bloomsbury Academic, London, New York. 2015)

Keiser. Jesse, and Nanako Umemoto, Atlas of Novel Tectonics (Princeton Architectural Press. New York, 2006)

'Relativity Space' [accessed 17 July 2019]

Kutten, David, ‘Grasshopper Interface Explained,’ 2015 [accessed 6 June 2018]

Schumacher, Patrik, The Autopoiesis of Architecture: A New Framework for Architecture (Wiley, Chichester, 2011)

  • --------, The Autopoiesis of Architecture, Volume II: A New Agenda for Architecture (Wiley, Chichester, 2012)
  • -------, 'The Historical Pertinence of Parametricism and the Prospect of a Free Market Urban Order,’ in The Politics of Parametricism: Digital Technologies in Architecture, ed. by Mathew Poole and Manuel Shvartzberg (Bloomsbury Academic, London and New York. 2015)

Shaviro, Steven, ‘Against Self-Organization,’ The Pinocchio Theory, 2009 [accessed September 2013]

Taleb, Nassim Nicholas, The Black Swan:The Impact of the Highly Improbable (Random House, New York, 2007)

Terzidis, Kostas, Permutation Design: Buildings, Texts, and Contexts (Routledge,Abingdon,2015) Winchester, Simon, The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World (HarperCollins. New York, 2018)

 
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