4 Benefits of Using Parametric Approach in designing Masterplans

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You are probably no stranger to parametric design – a process based on algorithmic thinking that enables the expression of parameters and rules that, together, define, encode and clarify the relationship between design intent and design response.

We carried out research around the benefits of using the parametric approach over traditional modeling. Two groups, each of 20 participants, were given a set of requirements (maximum FAR 1.5, site coverage up to 40%, etc) prompts and told to design a new development of 4ha size on a real location in Ljubljana (Figure 1).

The development was split into two equal-sized parts. Half of the group created design manually on part A and using a parametric approach on part B. The other half did just the opposite, designed part A using a parametric approach and part B manually.

Figure 1: Research test location in Ljubljana.

One additional benefit is that parameters can also describe what traditional metric dimensions can’t – eg. phasing, which can then also be taken into account of the final design output.

1. Save Time

We compared the time and accuracy of manual modeling, parametric modeling, and interactive 3D zoning. Of the three methods, interactive 3D zoning achieved the FAR goal of 1.5 without exceeding or being under and while taking a fraction of the time. Leaving you with more time to create more options or refinement.

Figure 2: Average time used and FAR achieved.

2. Create Accurate Designs

Participants were asked to create a model using the traditional metric approach and asked to try and achieve a FAR of 1.5. As the images show, it was incredibly difficult and errors were as great as 40% off the mark. It also took much more time when compared to the parametric approach.

Figure 3: Histogram of the achieved FAR.

The red line, representing parametric modeling has less than 10% error in every single instance. When comparing these it becomes very clear which method allows you to work more accurately.

Figure 4: Assessment of the modeling accuracy.

3. Make Fewer Mistakes

We wanted to investigate if there would be more or fewer mistakes when comparing metric and parametric modeling.

For this part of the research, we used the distance between buildings. When using the manual method, the percentage of misplaced buildings increased. For the parametric modeling test, the number of buildings placed too closely quickly reduced.

This is due to Modelur’s integrated verification system. When specific parameters are exceeded, in this case, the distance between buildings, the program will alert the user about that through its easy-to-use user interface. Our research showed that this proximity warning feature alone diminished the number of errors in the model from 35% to 10% (n=20).

The Modelur warning feature diminished the number of errors in the model significantly.

4. Retained Quality

For the final aspect of this research, we wanted to see if working faster and more accurately has any influence on the overall quality of a design. The research showed that the end result mostly still depends on the human designer. While the parametric design will help you finish faster, it will not make you a better designer. Nor worse, for that matter. But it can give you more time to come up with a better, more thought-out solution in the end.

Modelur enables parametric capabilities in SketchUp

SketchUp does not have parametric modeling integrated, but it is possible through the use of the Modelur extension. Our research showed that using Modelur’s parametric functionality urban designers can reach the same result up to 5x faster not risking the quality of the design.

Give Modelur a try for free and simplify your master planning design process.

Youtube video links:

Metric vs. Parametric Approach to Master Planning Design

Zoning: From 100s of Pages of Text Regulations to Interactive 3D Parametric Zoning

Modelur Walkthrough

Using AI Urban Massing Generator


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Published on June 2, 2021



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