Econnected City, urban design for Damasco, Ergin Birinci & Rocky Merchant

  The 21st century has brought a different style of architecture. This is Parametricism, defined by avant-garde structures and the use of new tools and techniques to produce seamless fluidity in buildings. Not only do these tools aid to draft the models, but they also generate designs. Parametric design proposes an ordered complexity and at the same time the articulation of systems that compose a structure, such as facades, structure, circulation, etc. Not only does parametric design apply to architecture, but it has started to play a role in urbanism. We are used to the modernist urban layout with straight lines and 90-degree angles, the style Le Corbusier acclaimed as order and organization. But in the last decade this concept has had a different outcome. Parametric urbanism simulates patterns that emerge from self-organization. Not only does parametricism apply to the geometry, but it analyzes the operations and systems that make up the city. The idea is to create a model of a city that could regenerate itself with the changes in society over time. The main concern throughout the book is if parametricism and the new design tools can be used to model or reformulate cities. Two examples of utopic cities are considered:

  1. Chlorofilia, Los Angeles in a post-apocalyptic era where a new city has evolved. It is self-sufficient and regenerates when it needs to, as cells do in the human body.
  2. An ideal neighborhood composed of a bio structure that builds itself through the Viab (its construction apparatus). Citizens have a stretch connection with the habitat itself.

These examples are just ideas of what the cities of the future should look like. The book suggests that cities developed in a laboratory can have positive results. On the other hand Manuel De Landa states, “Digital simulations used for these processes must be quite complex.”1 A city will not develop merely by following rules imposed by a program. It needs agents that are able to make decisions and attribute these to others. And although the future suggests inter-disciplinary practices in terms of architecture and urban development, we need specialized planners to shape the city of the future. I strongly support the advances being brought up in urban topics, and wish that these concepts could be applied to real cities. As for right now, I do not believe that parametricism or any other paradigm has the necessary foundations to determine the growth of a city and have a positive long-term result. Every city is different and has its own growth pattern. Indeed I do believe that in the geometrical context, parametric design would have an asserted outcome. Although it seems to have a complex organization opposing orthogonal principles, a certain type of order can be achieved with well-articulated elements that imply direction and location. In the meanwhile, parametric design has been successful in smaller scale environments, like buildings or single urban blocks.   1. Leach, Neil “Digital Cities”; page 54.