Complex architectural geometry typically has to come at the cost of structural elegance and constructional efficiency. Thin shell structures, on the other hand, have challenges to elegantly integrate programmatic needs. Parametricism proposes a style that capitalises on expressive surface structures as their geometry allows adequately addressing the complex, dynamic programmatic requirements that characterise contemporary institutions. The design and optimization of shell structures thus becomes a natural and central component to the methodology, opening up the opportunity for this historic field of research to grow out of a state of obsolescence. Much of the knowledge to design, detail and build shell structures was available to past eras. But we are now rediscovering and reintroducing it, revisited and enhanced by new research and development in mechanics, mathematics, and computation.
Thanks to very recent developments in structural engineering, particularly in the development of extremely flexible and fast structurally informed computational design methods, but also in multi-criteria optimization techniques, the gap between structural and architectural, complex, curved geometry is being narrowed. The potential of this newly generated knowledge is that it allows truly holistic designs that do not need to compromise on either form or force. Expressive and efficient are no longer oxymorons, but can be synonyms.