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What is

computational design?

What is Computational Design?

Computational design (CODE), is a terminology of a type of design process that uses calculation and mathematical approach to generate and translate complex geometrics in groups of data format.

The term computational design is more commonly associated with Parametric Design, Generative Design and Algorithmic Design in public knowledge. According to research, parametric design, generative design and algorithm design should be classified under computational design for its mathematical methodology.

"Computational Design, the umbrella terminology of
Parametric Design, Generative Design and Algorithmic Design"

Computational Design ≠ CAD
Computational Design ≠ CAD

Computer-Aided Design (CAD)

Computer-aided design (CAD) is a digital medium of a traditional additive drawing method that straight away produces design and output directly from design intentions. The use of computers is and dedicated CAD software such as Autocad for 2D drawings and the recent use BIM and Revit is highly emphasized to complete such tasks.

The traditional drawing method looks something like this:

Hand Drawing.jpg

Traditional Drawing Method 
@AAD Arturo Tedeschi

While CAD looks like this:


CAD Process Diagram
@AAD Arturo Tedeschi

CAD is a quick way to produce output from design intention. However, it is inefficient as a design process for something enormous and complex such as in building design. The design process flow is depicted in the diagram below:


  • Drafting

  • Model Building



Analysis & Review

back to drafting board


  • Conceptual Idea

  • Sketches


Even with the use of digitized tools, the process is highly manual and it is time consuming to redo all the process repeatedly until reaches approval. Computational design on the other hand emphasize the use of computational tools and algorithm to manage the tasks automatically with inputs as parameters and a set of instructions.

Computational Design (CODE)


Computational Design
@AAD Arturo Tedeschi

The term computational derives from the term compute, as mention above it also mean calculate. Instead of designing the output, we are designing a set of instructions for the output. By giving a set of rules and numerical inputs, also known as parameters, the design and drawing process could be automated and the process would follow as per diagram;

  • Parameters


Auto Analysis & Output

Computational Design

  • Algorithm Building


Manual Review

change parameters for instant result


Pros & Cons of Computational Design
Strengths and Shortcomings of Computational Design


  1. design and task automation with dedicated algorithms

  2. ability to generate and navigate complex geometry & to solve mathematical problems in geometry

  3. create different iterations from one design concept & finding the best design using evolutionary process

  4. create living models that can be adjusted instantly according to parameters

  5. aid in form finding with environmental and structural properties


  1. unable to determine the aesthetic features and therefore needed a manual selection process

  2. lack of creativity of design if solely relying on the use of algorithm, so most designers prefer a concept design idea prior starting process

  3. steep learning curve and highly dedicated professionals with knowledge in both scripting and building technology is needed to perform such tasks

  4. computational design is not BIM and therefore it is more challenging to collaborate with other project parties 

Who should use Computational Design ?

In Atech Design, we are currently providing computational design consultancy services primarily in complex free form parametric building in both design and project stages with our type of clients dividing into two groups accordingly;   

1. Architects & Designers

 2. Building Contractors &  Manufacturers

Architects & Designers

For complex parametric designs, following conventional design process based on design theories and practical experiences is often considered impractical because architects and designers often struggled to obtain the design aesthetic they desired from the limitations of a conventional cad software and technical environmental and engineering law requirements. With the use of computational design, they can balance between aesthetic and functions and get the best out of both worlds instantly.


Not only that, computational design also helps in enhancing one’s design thinking strategy. Something that could take up to few days to be completed can be done in just a few minutes with the suitable algorithm.

Building Contractors & Manufacturers

The rise of cost and the lack of manpower has shifted building contractors and manufacturers into the world of digitalizing their venture. With the precision of computers that have the capability of processing large geometrical data in binary form automatically in a short amount of time, it is a wise move to invest in computational design instead of doing it manually to minimize possible errors and risk in repeating but complex task.


Besides, computational design can also translates architectural models into building coordinates and generated fabrication files nested in an order that used the least amount of resources needed so that it is cost saving and environmental friendly

Who should use Computaional Design?
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