Designing with pixels: parametric thinking for patterning dynamic building facades

Zaki Mallasi (Building and Places, AECOM USA, Baltimore, Maryland, USA) (Effat University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Publication date: 20 May 2019



Advances in digital design tools enable exploration and generation of dynamic building facades. However, some processes are formally prescribed and manually driven to only visualize the design concepts. The purpose of this paper is to present a proactive framework for integrating parametric design thinking, paying particular attention to building facade patterning.


This work developed the PatternGen© add-on in Autodesk® Revit which utilizes an analytical image data (AID) overlay approach as a data source to dynamically pattern the building facade. The add-on was used to manipulate the placement rules of curtain panels on facade surface geometry. As means of validating this research model, a real-life design project has been chosen to illustrate the practical application of this approach. Feedback and observations from a short end-user questionnaire assessed qualitatively the facade patterning and panelization approach.


The proposed merge (or overlay) of AID images can be used as a parametric thinking method rather than just theory to generate and articulate dynamic facade design. The facade panelization responds to an AID that resembles design-performance data (e.g. solar exposure, interior privacy importance and aesthetics).


This work identifies a form of parametric thinking defined as the expression of geometrical relationships and its configuration dependent on the AID pixel Red Green Blue color source values. In this type of thinking, it explores the impact of the digital process and parametric thinking utility when driven by an AID overlay. The framework highlighted the practical application of AID pixel approach within a digital process to benefit both designers and computational tools developer on emerging design innovations.



Mallasi, Z. (2019), "Designing with pixels: parametric thinking for patterning dynamic building facades", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 26 No. 4, pp. 668-688.

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