“Back” to the Future: Parametric in an Ancient Treatise on Architecture
Authors: Zutshi, Neena Singh
Ancient treatises on architecture in India form a knowledge system which is intertwined with
historical architecture in a complex manner. The content cloaks issues in architectural issues with
philosophy, religion and other contextual references which leads to some practitioners’ contention that
the treatise is “religious mumbo‐jumbo” while others attempt to employ it as a technical construction
manual. This paper submits that the treatise is primarily about architectural theory and practice and its
focus is design processes for different building types set out in the form of textual guidelines detailing the
stages involved in the generation of the built form. This finds resonance in parametric design viewed as a
set of instructions establishing relationship between objects controlled by variables which renders the
treatise relevant to contemporary architecture in general and computation design process in particular.
The utility of the treatise is enhanced in conservation efforts, especially reconstruction of ruined historical
buildings, and post‐colonial scholarship in indigenous knowledge systems. Also, by premising correlation
with contemporary processes in computation design, this paper informs their historical location and
contributes towards their place as integral to design systems. It is premised that by going “back” in history
in the form of an ancient treatise, the future, envisioned as parametric design, is informed.