Chapter 9 – Conclusion

Daniel Davis – 20 September 2013

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Cite as: Davis, Daniel. 2013. “Modelled on Software Engineering: Flexible Parametric Models in the Practice of Architecture.” PhD dissertation, RMIT University.

Chapter 9 – Conclusion

In many ways the conclusion to this thesis is simple: software engineers creating computer programs and architects designing with parametric models share similar challenges, which can often be addressed with similar research methods and similar design practices.

But this simplicity can be hard to discern. Fifty years ago when Timothy Johnson dragged a pen across the flickering screen of Sketchpad, it looked like he was drawing. Today many would say Johnson was toolmaking, almost as if making a tee-square is somehow a precedent for weaving a parametric model from a network of explicit functions. However, unlike the tee-square, or any other prior form of design representation, parametric models merge making and using to the point of indistinguishability. This presents unfamiliar challenges to designers; challenges that have been causing setbacks on numerous architecture projects. These challenges resemble challenges faced in software engineering. My research suggests that such an association offers a proven pathway both for conducting parametric modelling research and for improving the practice of parametric modelling with aspects of the software engineering body of knowledge. Admittedly there is something counterintuitive to the notion that programmers can teach architects about contemporary design representation but, while it can be hard to discern, in some respects the contemporary practice of architecture has more in common with the software engineers of Silicon Valley than the sketchpads used by previous generations of architects.

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