algorithmic modeling for Rhino

hi guys ... i m new to this term.. can anyone tell me what is the difference between algorithmic and parametric architecture.

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Er...hmm...Imagine doing a rectangle:

Parametric is to use values for width/height.

Algorithmic is to know why are you doing this rectangle (and not some other thing).

Fast forward (after 1Z rectangles): design something where the sum of all human movements is the minimum possible: is this algorithmic, parametric, hallucination or what?

he, he

I'm not an architect but from what I have seen here it's a case of one is 6 Inches and the other is half a foot.

Parametric is a term used for the fact that you have a set of values which you can change within a predetermined set in order to influence the outcome of your design. These parameters go through a set of rules and expressions in order to achieve the results. Another word for rules and expressions is algorithms, or Algorithmic.

I'm not an architect either*, but the way I see it is:

  • Parametric. Geometry is defined by parameters (numbers, pre-existing geometry, images, any data really) and changing any of the parameters will recompute the geometry to reflect those changes.
  • Algorithmic (also 'computational'). It's the same as parametric, except you don't just pick the parameters out of the blue to suit your sense of aesthetics. Instead, you use computation and algorithms to figure out which parameter values are optimal for your goals.

In my view, Algorithmic is what you get if you abandon your ego and inject some rationality into Parametric.

* but some of my best friends are architects...

I would have thought that's the generative aspect of it. far as architects go I wouldn't say any of them are my best friends, I mean, I know some and I would have a drink with them on occasion but I certainly wouldn't sit next them at a restaurant... ;)

...wouldn't sit next them at a restaurant...

Excellent thinking: Architects are bad people (I dislike them too - including myself).

BTW: why not choosing another restaurant? (better safe than sorry).

wow! That's not just bad that's [wait for it] hyper'bad.

Thank you, thank you I'll be here all week... try the veal.

This thread inspired me: I've just start writing a book about that critical matter (I'm already in page 666).

Get this intro to greatness in case that you want to be the next I.M.Pei (he used to be regular in the fishy restaurant posted above: pesto sardines anyone?).

PS: I have plans for the pilgrimage (TT, what else?). Are you still there?


In my view, Algorithmic is what you get if you abandon your ego and inject some rationality into Parametric.

Nice statement! So is your opinion also that there should be more algorithmic than parametric design? I am always struggling with the arbitrariness and the lacking rationality in parametric design.

Btw. don't you have a bachelor degree in architecture? You should give us a little story about your curriculum and why you chose to risk stopping your studies and develop GH on ieatbugsforbreakfast!! Could be motivating for others :-)


this is an interesting topic. the problem is that in many architectural articles, essays etc the term parametric is used with various definitions, leading to a confusion.

Daniel David's thesis has an very nice chapter about this topic where various definitions are presented (Woodbury's, Shumachers Parametricism etc) ending with his opinion.

what is interesting in his approach is that he defines parametric according to the mathematical definition of the term parametric and focuses on parametric modelling.

in this chapter he writes

Therefore, a parametric model is unique, not because it has parameters (all design, by definition, has parameters), not because it changes (other design representations change), not because it is a tool or a style of architecture, a parametric model is unique not for what it does but rather for how it was created. A parametric model is created by a designer explicitly stating how outcomes derive from a set of parameters.

Danny, what have architects done to you? (well i can think of many things hehehe)

Daniel's is easily the most comprehensive definition of "parametric" that I have found to date, and I've been looking.

Moretti did not fear obscurity as much as he feared the incorrect use of mathematical terms like parametric. He wrote to his friend Roisecco that “inaccuracy [regarding mathematical terms] is, in truth, scarier than the ignorance before [when architects knew of neither the terms nor Moretti]” (Moretti 1971, 206)

I find it ironic then that the Algorithmic term is being banded around with ambiguity.

...but then again my friend says I don't understand irony. Which is ironic because we were stood at a bus stop at the time.

I think about those differences in a simlple way, for me parametrics is a model or a rectangle defined by parameters, values defined by the user; and algorithmic its is defined by parameters also but those values are defined by rules and instruccions.

pd (if then) comes to my mind very often when developing a new algorithm






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