Parametric Precast is an exploration into a different approach to the way we use concrete in building façades. This project is an investigation into how far the material can be pushed to generate a façade that breaks away from the use of concrete as mass to create a three dimensional façade that provides abundant light and views.

Why Parametric Precast?: The use of concrete in building in and around Washington DC is abundant, from Brutalist to contemporary to historic. Concrete is appealing because it is cheap, durable, versatile, and malleable. This malleability makes it unique from its masonry counterparts, yet this malleable, plastic material is being largely treated like masonry and is being coerced into flatness. Buildings are being constructed of concrete formed to harness its strength, void of texture and definition, in favor of heaviness and mass. But concrete is fluid. It needs to be formed into what it will become. We can rethink the way we use concrete to embrace its plasticity. Using parametric modeling and digital fabrication, we can generate forms that harness concrete’s malleability and test its strength to generate facades that break away from the use of concrete as mass and provide light, views, and encompass what concrete should be—a three-dimensional material.

Process: Using a precast concrete ‘module’ as a vehicle, the study will include applied research into the generation of form and pattern from environmental and structural input. This input will inform the facade, and test the potential manipulations of the proposed module. The influence from external data can guide the design towards one of economy of material, efficiency of assembly, and environmentally responsive architectural components.

What’s Next?: This iLAB microgrant is currently underway.

Who to contact for more information: Melanie De Cola