Functional And Aesthetic: 10 Impressive Parametric Buildings From Around The World

Thet Hnin Su Aung

9 mins read

September 09

National Museum of Qatar reflected in the pond

The architecture industry has been witnessing the rise of many organic and free-form building designs in the past two decades. Any idea what design style they are? It is generally known as parametric building, constructed through the parametric design process. A cutting-edge contemporary style with the use of computational methods, parametric design, or more specifically architecture, is also known as Parametricism, coined by Patrik Schumacher of Zaha Hadid Architects.

Until the late 2000s, such design style was rare, only seen from the ‘starchitects’. However, the advance in computational software has allowed architects to explore design in ways unimaginable before.

In this list, we explore different approaches to parametric design through these ten projects from around the world.

What Is Parametric Design?

Parametric design is a style derived from the parametric modelling approach. Some might say it is not even a style but a design methodology as it can be applied to any style and typology. To be called a parametric building, a design project must be created in parametric software where the design elements, including structure and facade, are manipulated through parameters and algorithms.

10 Remarkable Parametric Buildings Around The World

1. Walt Disney Concert Hall

Walt Disney Concert Hall with its entrances and staircase

Walt Disney Concert Hall (Source:

A building familiar to many architecture students, The Walt Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry is one of his most iconic buildings and an architectural landmark in Downtown LA. Its name is known in parallel with the term ‘deconstructivism’ – a term to describe conceiving a structure or a form through fragmentation and experimentation. Gehry was known for his crinkled paper models, however, even as a conceptual model of a building this size, that was not enough. With comes parametric approach, and software Catia, to design the structure and the curvy metallic surfaces for the facade. In addition to the sweeping facade, the concert hall of the building is also famous for acoustics.

2. BEEAH Headquarters

BEEAH Headquarters against the sunset

BEEAH Headquarters (Source:

This futuristic parametric building is one of the newest projects by Zaha Hadid Architects, opened this year in Sharjah, UAE, as the headquarters of BEEAH Group. In the signature style of ZHA, the design is of swooping domes and curves, both the form and the interiors, as a reflection of its desert site. As much as the form is impressive, what makes the building even more remarkable is that it was designed to achieve net-zero emissions by using ‘next-generation technologies’, as described by the ZHA website. It is only fitting as the client, BEEAH group is involved in clean energy, sustainable technologies and environmental consulting, among its many services.

3. The Peak

Architectural visualisation of The Peak by Studio Symbiosis

The Peak by Studio Symbiosis (Source:

The Peak by Studio Symbiosis is a marvel built into the slope, nestled in the desert landscape. The idea comes from incorporating the local landscape into the design, as well as the local traditional architecture. The recreational spaces are burrowed in the earth, excavating the undulating local terrains. Such a design idea is not purely for aesthetic purposes; it preserves the natural site conditions while protecting the interiors from the heat. The hexagonal patterns also reference the regional architecture as a unifying design element.

4. Museo Soumaya

Museo Soumaya with its surrounding buildings

Museo Soumaya (Source:

The shimmering facade of this museum sure is a head-turner, and the rhomboid form retains the visitors' attention. Museo Soumaya, located in Mexico City, is a private museum designed by FREE to house private collections of nearly 70 000 artworks. The rotated rhomboid structure is supported by 28 curved steel columns and the parametric facade is clad in glimmering hexagonal steel elements (16 000 of them in total!) which gives the building distinct appearances depending on the vantage point and time of the day. The building and the facade are all designed parametrically for a striking structure and appearance.

This parametric building is now regarded as one of the architectural landmarks in Mexico City, serving as a place of community engagement and regeneration.

5. Museum of the Future

Architectural visualisation of Museum of the Future in Dubai

Museum of the Future (Source:

Another museum on our list is the Museum of the Future, another structural marvel in the form of a torus resembling a crescent moon. The innovative ambition of the architect, Killa Design, is displayed in its form - using parametric design - and the construction process - using BIM (Building Information Modelling). The parametric building design, along with low energy engineering solutions, renewable energy solutions and passive design, helped the architect achieve LEED Platinum status. The entire project site consists of three main sections, each with its representative purpose; the green hill on which the building sits, represents the earth, the futuristic building represents mankind with its artistry and harmony, and the elliptical void represents the innovative ideas for the future.

6. The Oculus

The Oculus building with the passerby and surrounding buildings

The Oculus (Source:

The Oculus at the World Trade Center site in New York is a work by Santiago Calatrava, well known for the amalgamation of architectural and structural engineering in his projects. Like his many works, the Oculus features a massive ribbed structure with a glazed central axis as a skylight to bring light into the station interiors. These ribs are of steel and curved outwards like a bird ready to take flight. Moreover, the ribbed structure also acts as a canopy with the rafters springing from two 350 feet arches. In addition to the underground station, the place also has two levels of shops.

7. Endesa Pavilion

Endesa Pavilion on its site with a person resting on the front deck

Endesa Pavilion (Source:

Endesa Pavilion by IAAC shows us that parametric building design is not only meant for swooping curves and odd forms, though admittedly, the building envelope of Endesa Pavilion is nowhere conventional. In this project, parametric logic is used to respond to the site and environmental requirements on each side of the building. The pavilion is a prototype for a multi-scale construction system and made to be self-sufficient in energy production and use through passive design elements, which are also modular – solar bricks, insulation, ventilation and solar protection. The facade is achieved parametrically through innovative design principles and techniques to respond to the solar path.

8. National Museum of Qatar

View of the many ‘discs’ of National Museum of Qatar

National Museum of Qatar (Source:

Jean Nouvel is another name alongside Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry, well known for his parametric approach to design. Perhaps this building can attest to why that is so. The National Museum of Qatar was built to tell the history of the country while also displaying the ambitious future. A series of colliding discs as various roof segments shape the building form, and the inspiration behind it is the desert rose, a mineral formation of a cluster of flat plates. The intersections of the discs in this parametric building resemble the structure of a desert rose, the form igniting the curiosity about what’s inside. In between the gaps are frameless glass panels providing light and a view toward the courtyard and the gardens.

9. Louverwall

Louverwall house and its curved wall and entrance

Louverwall house (Source:

The next parametric building on this list is much smaller than most projects mentioned - a building unit of a cafe and a house. Designed by AND architects, Louverwall, in Paju, South Korea, has a distinctive cladding as its envelope. The louvres, being part of the curtainwall facade, control the daylight entering the building with soft lighting despite the facade facing west. Meanwhile, the building form is irregular, created by two curved walls resulting in a dramatic shape and shadows from the louvres. The facade is designed using the Parametric Louver Design System to find the most suitable cladding system for the building. This Design System has been developed by researchers from Seoul National University using computational algorithms to design the best-performing louvre system for any surface.

10. Shanghai Tower

Shanghai Tower with the skyline of the city

Shanghai Tower (Source:

Ranking as the tallest building in China, Shanghai Tower was designed by Gensler in 2015 with cutting-edge technology. The spiral form with rounded corners was achieved parametrically to withstand the typhoon-level winds through a series of tests. There are over 20 000 curtain wall panels, and with the aid of parametric software, the curtain wall was designed for optimum performance, maintenance and constructability. More than a parametric building, the design also ensured sustainability and has been awarded LEED Platinum Certification and China Green Building Three Star rating.

Parametric design can be applied to buildings, large or small, and other structures such as pavilions and bridges. It is also commonly used in product design, jewellery and automobile design as it allows the designers to explore the design constraints by playing around with the parameters.

Based on this list, we can conclude that parametric design is not only to come up with free-form shapes and structures. Even elements like facades can be designed parametrically.

With the promise of better design exploration and iteration, parametric design and modelling have become the favourite among architects and designers. Master this skill with Novatr’s Parametric Modelling Course and increase your chances for a better career.

Still not sure about parametric modelling? Check out our wide range of articles on our Resources page.

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