Effective communication essential

Effective communication essential

Depending upon one?s point of view, I am either blessed or cursed with what was a highly formalized, rigid and totally traditional education. For example, it created in me a love for history which has increased as I have aged and also for the English language in all its wonderful forms. Familiarity with grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, structure, poetry and so on is a joy. The use of words, written or spoken, to convey all of life?s emotions, ideas and experiences in a glorious cascade is one of life?s delights and a source of envy in me for those who seem to be effortlessly accomplished in its practice.


As architects, effective written or oral communication is one of our most critical skills. An ability to convey our ideas to others, not just one?s peers in the profession is, in my belief, essential. A simple statement delivered with clarity and precision is a thousand times more effective than pages of obscurantist techno-drivel, the purpose of which seems to be (a) to blind the reader with faux science and (b) to appear oh-so-clever to one?s peers.


This overly long and convoluted intro leads me to the subject which has exercised me of late. I was recently reacquainted with an article which appeared in Building Design on 19 September, 2008, entitled ?The future is parametric.? Its author, Patrick Schumacher, is a co-director of the Architectural Association?s Design Research Lab and a partner at Zaha Hadid Architects.


The article, as printed, was an edited version of his manifesto. I can?t bear to repeat the whole (edited) thing, but I?ll give you a flavour by repeating one paragraph (to read the whole go to


?We must pursue the parametric design paradigm all the way, penetrating into all corners of the discipline. Systematic, adaptive variation and continuous differentiation (rather than mere variety) concern all architectural design tasks from urbanism to the level of tectonic detail. This implies total fluidity on all scales.?


(It goes on and on in this vein!)


Ye Gods! He?s talking about buildings; buildings which have precise functions and are for people and things – buildings for which the function should contribute to the form. As far as I can interpret the message, parametricism is all and only about style, the attainment of which renders function and habitation entirely secondary if considered at all. Doing very clever things with computers is all it is! The more mathematically complex, the better; sculpture rather than architecture.


Architecture is a broad church which accommodates a variety of deeply held convictions, often in conflict with each other. This is healthy and as it should be in my view. Therefore to those who say that parametricism is the way I say ? wonderful; it is not my way, nor is it the only way. However, if it is your passion, for the love of God, put it in a way that most of us can fathom what the hell you?re talking about. If we can understand, maybe, just maybe, we?ll be converted.