University of Technology Sydney

11315 Architectural Communications: Parametric Modelling

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2022 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Design, Architecture and Building: Architecture
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:


Result type: Grade and marks


The computational capacity of digital technologies has led architects to explore increasingly complex forms and systems. This, in turn, has led to the development of associative parametric design software, which enables designers to concurrently generate and test complex form and relationships while resolving constructional and structural issues to an incredible degree of dimensional accuracy.

Building on a strong foundational base in the use of basic modelling software, this subject aims to introduce students to associative parametric design software, both as an aid to an iterative design process, a method of design exploration and a tool to resolve complex form through the testing and refinement of non-standard architectural systems.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

1. Strategically select and use appropriate computer modelling techniques to develop and communicate a rigorous and explicable design process that can be applied equally in academic and professional contexts
2. Use the various capabilities of modelling software to represent and interpret critical observations and analysis of geometry as well as physical and social contexts
3. Effectively communicate architectural ideas and formal propositions in a digital, 3D and multimedia formats
4. Demonstrate an advanced level of representational expertise to engage with, and contribute to, contemporary debates and modes of working both within the academy and the profession
5. Apply skills, knowledge and understanding of representational tools for use within the professional architectural context.

Teaching and learning strategies

The subject is structured around a mixed mode of delivery but is to run in ‘block’ mode. Content will be delivered through workshops and laboratory demonstrations, which may be supplemented by a short formal lecture series. Students are expected to actively participate in all workshops so as to ensure a productive engagement with the knowledge, skills and techniques covered over in the subject.

Students will be briefed on work expected for each session. The subject will provide formative feedback, primarily through critique and review of work in progress, to allow individuals to discuss and refine this work in subsequent workshops. Submitted assignments will be given feedback through the REVIEW on-line student feedback system. Verbal feedback will also be given during class times.


Assessment task 1: Parametric Relationships


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

.0 and .0

Type: Project
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 40%

Assessment task 2: Parametric Components


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

.0, .0 and .0

Type: Project
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 60%

Required texts

Coates, P. 2010, Programming.architecture, Routledge, London ; New York.
Terzidis, K. 2009, Algorithms for visual design using the Processing language, Wiley Pub., Indianapolis, IN.
Hensel, M., Menges, A. & Weinstock, M. 2010, Emergent technologies and design, Routledge, New York, NY.
Sakamoto, T. & Ferré, A. 2008, From control to design : parametric/algorithmic architecture, Actar-D, Barcelona ; New York.
Littlefield, D. 2008, Space craft: developments in architectural computing, RIBA.
Kolarevic, B. & Klinger, K.R. 2008, Manufacturing material effects : rethinking design and making in architecture, Routledge, New York.
Reas, C. & Fry, B. 2007, Processing: a programming handbook for visual designers and artists, The MIT Press.
Pottmann, H. & Bentley, D. 2007, Architectural geometry, 1st edn, Bentley Institute Press, Exton, Pa.
Terzidis, K. 2006, Algorithmic architecture, Architectural, Oxford.
Aranda, B. & Lasch, C. 2006, Tooling, 1st edn, Princeton Architectural Press, New York.


• Allen, Stan, Points and Lines: Diagrams and projects for the city, (Princeton Architectural Press, NY) 1999
• Beckman, John (ed), The Virtual Dimension: Architecture, Representation and Crash Culture, Princeton Architectural Press: NY, 1998
• Benjamin Andrew, Architectural Philosophy : Repetition, Function, Alterity New Brunswick : Athlone Press, 2000.
• Burke, Anthony & Tierney Therese (eds), Network Practices: New Strategies in Architecture and Design, (Princeton Architectural Press, NY) 2007
• Castells, Manuel, The Rise of the network Society, 2nd ed., (Blackwell publishing, Malden, MA) 1996, especially Chapter 6 “The space of flows”
• Benjamin, Walter, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” 1935 at (accessed 01.19.04)
• De Landa, Manuel, A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity, (Continuum, New York, NY) 2006
• Eisenman, Peter, Diagram Diaries, New York, NY : Universe Pub., 1999
• Evans, Robin, Translations from Drawing to Building and Other Essays, London : Architectural Association, 1997, p 153-193.
• Hensel, Menges and Weinstock (ed.s), Emergence: Morphogenetic Design Strategies, AD vol 74, no.3 may/June 2004 (Wiley Academy Press, London)
• Hensel, Michael and Menges, Achim, Morpho-ecologies, London : Architectural Association, 2006.
• Hight, Christopher & Perry, Chris, Anthony Burke, Collective Intelligence, AD (Wiley Press, London) 2007.
• Kolarevic, Branko (ed), Architecture in the Digital Age: Design and Manufacturing, (Spon Press, NY) 2003
• Lynn, Greg, Animate Form, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1997.
• Rajchman, John, Constructions, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1998.
• Silver, Mike (ed.), AD, Programming cultures, Vol 76, no.4 (Wiley Academy, London) 2006
• Spuybroek, Lars, NOX : machining architecture, London : Thames & Hudson, 2004.

Other resources

• Grasshopper video tutorials <>
• Grasshopper <>
• Understanding Vectors <>
• Dumo blog <>
• Live components blog <>
• Giulio Piacentino blog <>
• Pinupspace <>
• Nathan Miller blog <>

• Rhino video tutorials <>
• Overview of Software Training resources <>
• Guide to reference books <>
• Online video tutorials <>
• Para Cloud (parametric software plug-in for RHINO) <>