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eCAADe 2015

Real Time

Volume 2

Editors Bob Martens Gabriel Wurzer Thomas Grasl Wolfgang E. Lorenz Richard Schaffranek Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning TU Wien

1 st Edition, September 2015

Real Time - Proceedings of the 33 rd International Conference on Education and Research in Computer Aided Architectural Design in Europe, Vienna, Austria, 16-18 th September 2015, Vol- ume 2. Edited by Bob Martens, Gabriel Wurzer, Thomas Grasl, Wolfgang E. Lorenz and Richard Schaffranek. Brussels: Education and Research in Computer Aided Architectural Design in Eu- rope; Vienna: Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, TU Wien.

ISBN: 9789491207099

Copyright © 2015

Publisher: eCAADe (Education and Research in Computer Aided Architectural Design in Eu- rope) and Faculty of Architecture and Regional Planning, TU Wien.

All rights reserved. Nothing from this publication may be produced, stored in computerised system or published in any form or in any manner, including electronic, mechanical, repro- graphic or photographic, without prior written permission from the publisher.

eCAADe 2015 Real Time -

Extending the Reach of Computation

Volume 2

Proceedings of the 33 rd International Conference on Education and Research in Computer Aided Architectural Design in Europe

16-18 September 2015 Vienna, Austria Faculty of Architecture and Regional Planning TU Wien

Edited by Bob Martens Gabriel Wurzer Thomas Grasl Wolfgang E. Lorenz Richard Schaffranek


Real Time - Extending the Reach of Computation

This is the second volume of the conference proceedings of the 33 rd eCAADe conference, held from 16-18 September 2015 at TU Wien, Vienna, Austria. Both volumes together contain the 145 accepted papers that are also available digitally in CuminCAD (Cumulative Index of Computer Aided Architectural Design, http://cumincad.scix.net).

The theme of the 33 rd eCAADe conference is Real Time: Seeing architectural design as a time-critical and time-related activity requires new tools, methods and theories that deliver results not only accurately but also timely. As project cycles begin to accelerate, a variety of design decisions need to be taken swiftly and nevertheless accurately. Today's practice needs to explore the solution space through a rapid feedback loop between digital and physical products, used collaboratively and over a distance. To facilitate such a back-and-forth, geometries must be converted to manageable approximations on which intelligent tools can act, providing the designer with feedback and advice. This year's conference seeks to be a platform for research, teaching and practical work conducted in that spirit.

The second volume of the proceedings contains 74 papers grouped under 15 sub-themes, which generally follow a more designernly and educational logic than the works in volume 1 (which follow a more formal approach). As additional part, we have our preceding workshop contributions, which are papers summarizing the workshops given.

The eCAADe 2015 Team:

Bob Martens, Gabriel Wurzer, Thomas Grasl, Wolfgang E. Lorenz and Richard Schaffranek

Sponsors of the eCAADe 2015 Conference

Sponsors of the eCAADe 2015 Conference Autodesk Bentley Faculty of Architecture and Regional Planning, TU Wien
Sponsors of the eCAADe 2015 Conference Autodesk Bentley Faculty of Architecture and Regional Planning, TU Wien
Sponsors of the eCAADe 2015 Conference Autodesk Bentley Faculty of Architecture and Regional Planning, TU Wien
Sponsors of the eCAADe 2015 Conference Autodesk Bentley Faculty of Architecture and Regional Planning, TU Wien



Faculty of Architecture and Regional Planning, TU Wien

Academy of the Austrian Chamber of Architects and Engineers


Quality control is an emerging issue concerning the publishing of a conference proceedings

book. First of all, the timeline is relatively tight as the publication ought to be available shortly before the conference. Secondly, one of the most creative moments during the establishment of the conference schedule and consequently of the table of contents of the proceedings is the allocation of the papers into sessions. There exist some tools that support clustering and scheduling, however, the act of assignment is still predominantly based on "human work". In this context, a match between approximately 150 papers and 30 sessions, requiring a good fit,

is a more than demanding task. ProceeDings, the main editing tool for the present publica-

tion, allows for a continuous working flow between the editors, authors and session chairs. As benefit, authors are able to check at any time the current appearance of their submission. In previous years (i.e. before 2014) the shift from a word processing to a typesetting document created a kind of "black box" situation: In favourable cases the editor(s) would forward the final PDF-document for quick review and feedback to the author(s) at the very end. On the occasion of the 2015 Annual Conference a further working tool was developed,

which allows to assign the papers of a session to a designated session chair at an early stage, i.e. shortly after the full paper submission deadline, expecting that the session chair would go through these entries and deliver condensed feedback (see figure 1). The author(s) received a message saying that their contribution was OK or some revision was required. As a matter of fact, we were able to perceive a significant improvement in overall quality at a relatively low cost in terms of time needed by session chairs and authors. In case a paper was put into the wrong session, chairs could re-assign it to a different track. However, the idea of having such

a ``bottom-up'' session assigment and participatory feedback was not ours - kudos go to Ivo

Vrouwe for raising the topic at the end-reception of the last eCAADe conference in Newcastle upon Tyne, which was the proving-ground where the ProceeDings system was used for the first time (thanks to Emine Thompson!). We would like to express our deeply-felt gratitude to all of the authors, reviewers and ses-

Figure 1 Session Chair View sion chairs with whom we had the honor of collectively

Figure 1 Session Chair View

sion chairs with whom we had the honor of collectively creating this issue of the eCAADe conference proceedings. In that context, special thanks goes to Martin Winchester for over- looking the abstract submission system (OpenConf), which will continue to be one of the main technical pillars for the preparation of this conference. As further novelty of this year, Martin has also made available a photo upload for the voting system (eCAADe Best Paper Award / Ivan Petrovic Award) from which we and future conference organisers will benefit. Furthermore, our keynote speakers and workshop organisers offer a highly appreciated added value to the conference in line with eCAADe's motto - promoting good practice and sharing information in relation to the use of computers in research and education in architecture and related professions. We thank all of you for fostering eCAADe's role as a platform. Besides the (printed or digital) conference proceedings, the team of Wolfgang Dokonal continously provides us with video streams of the paper presentations. This can be challeng-

ing due to a number of reasons - ranging from the purely technical side of digital broadcasting to the more social side of making sure that the footage is recorded correctly. In that endeav- our, he is this year helped by Andreas Krieger from TU Wien's LectureTube service whom we wish to thank as well. From an administrative side, the eCAADe council (and especially Nele De Meyere acting on its behalf) has provided us with valuable input and lessons learned from past conferences. We have also had Mondial Congress & Events as highly-appreciate partner for managing the conference, ranging from the registration process to the actual printing of the proceedings books. A big thank goes you to Melanie Mareiner and Daniela Lenzinger, who did all this hard work. The organisation of such a large conference costs a lot of effort, also financially. Without our sponsors - Autodesk, Bentley, ArchIng Akademie and the Faculty of Architecture and Re- gional Planning at TU Wien, we would not have been able to offer the conference participants the level of quality that they have gotten used to for eCAADe conferences. As a special form of sponsorship, the members of the local conference staff donated their time to help the prepa- ration and realisation of the conference. Thanks for helping us out!

eCAADe 2015 Conference Chairs Bob Martens, Gabriel Wurzer, Thomas Grasl, Wolfgang Lorenz and Richard Schaffranek

Local conference staff Gerda Hartl, Benjamin Heinrich, Bernhard Platzer, Moritz Rosenberg, Benjamin Straßl, Bernadette Arendt, Josef Öhreneder, Patryk Wozniczka, Andreas Ettmayer







Workshop Contributions


Workshop: Developing Building Information Model Visualizations Using a Domain Specific Language Helga Tauscher, Raimar J. Scherer


Digital Tools and Creative Practice in Architectural Research Johan Verbeke, Tadeja Zupancic, Henri Achten


Quadrics Theorems as an Introduction to Geometry, Parametric Design and Digital Fabrication Roberto Narvaez-Rodriguez, Jose Antonio Barrera-Vera


Robotic Woodcraft Philipp Hornung, Johannes Braumann, Reinhold Krobath, Sigrid Brell-Cokcan, Georg Glaeser


ColLab Sketch Kateřina Nováková, Henri Achten


CAAD Education - Concepts


Space for Games Tane Moleta


Generative Design Methods Asterios Agkathidis


The MOOC-ability of Design Education Martijn Stellingwerff


Remarks on Transdisciplinarity as Basis for Conducting Research by Design Teamwork in Real World Context through Two Case Studies of Algorithm Aided Lighting Design Aulikki Herneoja, Henrika Pihlajaniemi, Toni Österlund, Anna Luusua, Piia Markkanen


Integrating Responsive and Kinetic Systems in the Design Studio: A Pedagogical Framework Sherif Abdelmohsen, Passaint Massoud


CAAD Education - Applied


From Shaping to Information Modeling in Architectural Education:

Implementation of Augmented Reality Technology in Computer-Aided Modeling Jacek Markusiewicz, Jan Słyk


Modular Light Cloud - Design, Programming and Making Jacek Markusiewicz, Marcin Strzała, Krzysztof Koszewski


Workshop Digital Manufacturing Stefan Junk, Rebecca Matt


A Course on Biomimetic Design Strategies Sevil Yazici


Teaching and Learning CAAD and CAM in a Fluid Era Ivo Vrouwe, Laurens Luyten, Burak Pak


Integrating BIM in Education: Lessons Learned Ivana Vinšová, Henri Achten, Dana Matějovská


CAAD Education - Tools


Flexible Matter Ioanna Symeonidou


Parametrized Systems: Conceiving of Buildings as Assemblies of Varied Parts Heike Matcha


Parametric Modeling: An Advanced Design Process for Architectural Education Mohamed-Anis Gallas, Kevin Jacquot, Sylvie Jancart, Frederic Delvaux


Programming for Architecture: The Students’ Point of View Rita Aguiar, Afonso Gonçalves


Strategies for Metallic Vault Structures Pablo Baquero, Effimia Giannopoulou, Jaime Cavazos


Memos from an Inconvenient Studio Andrew Wit, Mahesh Daas


Collaboration and Participation


Democratic Play

Joshua Choi


[2+2] Two Architects and Two Galleries Jon Moorhouse, Herbert Peter


Decentralized Version Control and Mass Collective Collaboration in Design Yasushi Sakai, Daisuke Tsunoda


CAAD and Conceptual Design Collaboration between Architects and Structural Engineers Laurens Luyten


Communication, Coordination and Collaboration: Media Affordances and Team Performance in a Collaborative Design Environment Bimal Balakrishnan, Danielle Oprean


Learning from Collaborative Integration Bara Safarova, Edna Ledesma, Gregory Luhan, Stephen Caffey, Cecilia Giusti


Fabrication - Robots


Adaptive Robot Control Johannes Braumann, Sigrid Brell-Cokcan


Smart Architecture-Bots and Industry 4.0 Principles for Architecture Eliot Rosenberg, M Hank Haeusler, Rebekah Araullo, Nicole Gardner


DMR: A Semantic Robotic Control Language Sebastian Andraos


Design=Production Hans Sachs


Live: Real-Time Platform for Robot Design Interfaces Curime Batliner, Michael Jake Newsum, M. Casey Rehm


Informed Design to Robotic Production Systems Sina Mostafavi, Henriette Bier, Serban Bodea, Ana Maria Anton


Fabrication - Design


Physical Feedback Workflows in Fabrication Information Modeling (FIM) Jorge Duro-Royo, Laia Mogas-Soldevila, Neri Oxman


Robotic Design-Fabrication Renate Weissenböck


The Use of Digital Fabrication as a Sketching Tool in the Architectural Design Process Asli Agirbas


Gradient Transparency: Marine Animals as a Source of Inspiration Simos Vamvakidis


Design Methods for Large Scale Printing Manuel Jimenez Garcia, Gilles Retsin


Expanding the Material Possibilities of Lightweight Prefabrication in Concrete Through Robotic Hot-Wire Cutting Pedro Filipe Martins, Paulo Fonseca de Campos, Sandra Nunes, Jose Pedro Sousa


Fabrication - Applied


Making Machines that Make Buildings Bassam Daoud, Johan Voordouw


Between Manual and Robotic Approaches to Brick Construction in Architecture Jose Pedro Sousa, Pedro Azambuja Varela, Pedro Filipe Martins


Digital Design for Disassembly Shannon Hosey, Christopher Beorkrem, Ashley Damiano, Rafael Lopez, Marlena McCall


Decorative Robotic Plastering Joshua D. Bard, David Blackwood, Nidhi Sekhar, Brian Smith


Robotic Fabrication of Tensile Mesh Structures and Real Time Response Odysseas Kontovourkis, George Tryfonos


Graded Light in Aggregate Structures Desislava Angelova, Karola Dierichs, Achim Menges


Material Studies


Soft Robotics and Emergent Materials in Architecture Martina Decker


What and When Is the Textile? Extending the Reach of Computation through Textile Expression Felecia Davis, Delia Dumitrescu


Extending the Perception of Wood Jessica Hunter, Alexandra Cheng, Thomas Tannert, Oliver Neumann, AnnaLisa Meyboom


Osteotectonics Daniel Baerlecken, Sabri Gokmen


Thermal Activated Envelope Isak Worre Foged, Anke Pasold


Generative Design - Concepts


Generative Masterplanning Inspired by Cellular Automata with Context-specific Tessellation Trevor Patt


Architectural Bioinspired Design Sun-Joong Kim, Yuri Choi, Ji-Hyun Lee


Theories and Models of Parametric Design Thinking Rivka Oxman, Ning Gu


Automated Generation of Heuristics for Design Richard Schaffranek, Trapp Harald


Shanghai Lilong Tower Urbanism Christian J. Lange


Generative Design - Applied


Shopgenerator v2 Moritz Rosenberg, Benjamin Straßl


Design by Nature: Concrete Infiltrations Alexandros Kallegias, Elif Erdine


Performative Design and Fabrication of a Parametric Wall Screen for Tropical Climates Thomas Wortmann, Bige Tuncer


Option One: A Model of Participatory Design to Construct a Rural Social Housing From Digital Fabrication Diego Alejandro Velandia Rayo


A Parametric Process for Shelters and Refugees’ Camps Design Elie Daher, Sylvain Kubicki, Gilles Halin


Generative Design - Biological


Biology, Real Time and Multimodal Design Frederico Fialho Teixeira


The Evolutionary Adaptation of Urban Tissues through Computational Analysis Mohammed Makki, Ali Farzaneh, Diego Navarro


Cell-Based Venation Systems Christoph Klemmt, Klaus Bollinger


An Artificial Life Approach to Configuring Architectural Space Tim Ireland


Geometric Identity of Living Structures Translated to an Architectural Design Process Ricardo Gago, Luís Romão


Error as Optimization Yota Adilenidou


Smart and Responsive Design - Concepts


Spacing Time Carlos L. Marcos, Angel J. Fernández


Closing the Loop for Interactive Architecture Henri Achten


A Symbiotic Interaction of Virtual and Physical Models in Designing Smart Building Envelope Do-Young Kim, DoJin Jang, Sung-Ah Kim


The One Day House Andrew John Wit


Designing Real Time Sense and Response Environments through UX Research Kai Hansen, Thomas McLeish


Productive Encounters Özde Özdal, Mine Özkar


Smart and Responsive Design - Applied


Real-Time Multi-Zone Building Performance Impacts of Occupant Interaction with Dynamic Façade Systems Bess Krietemeyer, Kurt Rogler


Beyond Smart Remote Controls Werner Lonsing


Biomimetic-Computational Design for Double Facades in Hot Climates Salma El Ahmar, Antonio Fioravanti


SolSeduction Bernhard Sommer, Galo Moncayo, Malgorzata Sommer-Nawara, Ulrich Pont


Prepared Music Field: Interactive Spatial Music Performances Eric Sauda, Trevor Hess, Evan Danchenka, Scott Christian, Chris Beorkrem

715 A Design Framework and a Digital Toolset Supporting the Early-Stage Explorations of Responsive Kinetic Building Skin Concepts Malgorzata A. Zboinska, Jan Cudzik, Robert Juchnevic, Kacper Radziszewski

Workshop Contributions

Workshop: Developing Building Information Model Visualizations Using a Domain Specific Language

Helga Tauscher 1 , Raimar J. Scherer 2

1,2 TU Dresden, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Institute of Construction Informatics





The rise of digital building models has devalued the broad domain of architectural visualization, a former core topic of the domain. At the same time, digital media has opened up new possibilities for interactive and explorative visual representations. Against this background the workshop advocates to rediscover visualization as a distinct topic in the context of architecture and construction. The workshop introduces a method and a theoretic framework for the creation of visual representations from building information models under involvement of architects and engineers as domain experts, and a prototypical implementation, which serves as a proof of concept and allows for the practical application of the method. The workshop presents the prototype based on selected hands-on examples.

Keywords: BIM, Visualization, DSL


Visual representations and presentations have al- ways been core architectural topics. Since the sub- ject of architectural design is overly complex, visu- alizations are required for architects and engineers to communicate to themselves while designing and constructing as well as to other project participants. However, with the rise of digital building models, the task of creating visual representations has taken a back seat, and so have visualization skills. Nowadays, software tools create drawings, animations, render- ings, and diagrams on behalf of the architects and engineers. The specification of visualization details is thus left to user interface designers and software engineers. Digital media has at the same time opened up new possibilities for representation and spawned

the discipline of information visualization, where re- search from graphics, psychology, human-computer interaction, and computer interaction converges into research on the general question how to visually rep- resent abstract information. Building upon those de- velopments time is ripe to rediscover visualization as a distinct topic in the context of architecture and con- struction.


At the institute for construction information at TU Dresden we proposed a method and a theoretic framework for the creation of visual representations from building information models under involve- ment of domain experts. This method allows to specify visualizations using a domain specific lan-

guage (DSL). A particular visualization specification is then processed together with a building information model

guage (DSL). A particular visualization specification is then processed together with a building information model to produce a particular visualization. This way a particular building information model can be rep- resented in different ways, and a particular visualiza- tion specification can be reused for multiple building information models as shown in figure 1. The suggested software architecture of a respec- tive processing application follows the paradigm of the visualization pipeline (Haber 1979). The pipeline model breaks the visualization process into three suc- cessive steps: filter, map, and render. Filtering and mapping are general issues of information technolo- gies, which have also been studied in the context of building information models (e.g. Katranuschkov 2000). Since previous work on building informa- tion model filtering and mapping exists, visualization generation can be seen as a specific application of these techniques, with a specific target space for the mapping - the space of potential visualizations. The specifics of the mapping task, the visualiza- tion domain and the building information modelling domain allow to narrow down the general purpose mapping concepts. A DSL to describe visualizations has to cover the following concepts: Filters allow to query building information models and to select

objects and attributes. These selected parts of the building model are then to be mapped onto visual- ization objects and their attributes. Simple visual- ization mappings must be combinable to form more complex mapping specifications.


Prototypical implementations of both the DSL and the processing application serve as proof of concept and allow for the practical application of the meth- ods. We called the DSL implementation Building Information Style Language (BISL), in reference to other style languages such as the extensible style lan- guage (XSL). The processing engine implementation is called Billie, the Building Information Style Engine. Billie is implemented with a modular architec- ture according to the visualization pipeline paradigm as shown in figure 2. The modular architecture allows to extend and update single modules such as the vi- sualization models or query languages and engines. Therefore the application acts more like a framework, integrating diverse libraries under a common inter- face. Since Billie is implemented in Java and runs in a JVM, the dynamic programming language Groovy is used in order to leverage its DSL features.

Figure 1


generation from

varying building

information models

and varying



Figure 2 Modular architecture of the visualization processing engine

The prototype can be used as a library to be inte- grated in other applications or standalone as a com- mandline application. The parameters to be given to the engine consist of a building model to be visual- ized and a visualization specification. The visualiza- tion specification can either be given as a file writ- ten in the BISL DSL or as a precompiled Java archive which is then run dynamically as a service implemen- tation (e.g. Knoernschild 2012). The DSL elements which are implemented in- clude the most important visualization objects: rect- angles, polygones, text, lines, bezier curves, boxes, polyeders. The list of implemented objects is not ex- haustive yet. Apart from the spatial properties of ob- jects, their shape and size, the DSL allows to specify temporal properties as changes in time. The combi-

nation of simpler visualization specifications to more complex ones may happen in both space or time. Documentation of both the BISL and Billie can be found at the Github project page [1]. The documen- tation contains also sample cases with respective DSL code.


The workshop is intended to present the aforemen- tioned work, but also to foster architectural and con- struction specific visualization as emerging fields and to constitute a respective community. Thus, in the workshop, the prototype is first in- troduced based on given example visualizations and their descriptions. Participants then proceed to cus-

and their descriptions. Participants then proceed to cus- Workshop Contributions - Volume 2 - eCAADe 33

tomize given visualization descriptions and finally design a custom visualization use case from scratch. The visualization use cases serve as a foil for the intro- duction of technical details, limitations and possibili- ties for the extension of the framework. The material for the workshop is also used for an online tutorial ac- cessible at the project website. The examples for the application of the visualiza- tion framework produced in the workshop are also documented at the website. The outcome includes conceptual sketches, implementation concepts and partial realizations for visualization techniques devel- oped by the participants. Depending on the mixture of participants, their skills, interest and prerequisites, an extension to the framework may also result from the workshop. The workshop is rounded off with the presen- tation and discussion of possibilities to contribute to further development and extension of the frame- work, and to further research and discourse around building information visualization. To this end, the project website provides software downloads, issue tracking, as well as a wiki and discussion forum.


Haber, RB and McNabb, DA 1979, 'Visualization Idioms:

A Conceptual Model for Scientific Visualization Sys- tems', in Nielson, GM, Shriver, B and Rosenblum, LJ (eds) 1979, Visualization in Scientific Computing, IEE Computer Science Press, Los Alamitos, CA Katranuschkov, P 2000, A Mapping Language for Concur- rent Engineering Processes, Ph.D. Thesis, TU-Dresden Knoernschild, K 2012, Java Application Architecture. Mod- ularity Patterns with Examples Using OSGI, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey [1] http://hlg.github.io/billie

Digital Tools and Creative Practice in Architectural Research

Johan Verbeke 1 , Tadeja Zupancic 2 , Henri Achten 3 1 Aarhus School of Architecture / KU Leuven Faculty of Architecture Sint-Lucas 2 University of Ljubljana 3 Czech Technical University in Prague 1 Johan.Verbeke@aarch.dk, johan.verbeke@kuleuven.be 2 Tadeja.Zupancic@fa.uni-lj.si 3 achten@fa.cvut.cz

Recent developments in architectural research show a growing focus on research by design and creative practice research. New working modes are being established (in practice as well as in academia) which are a hybrid of traditional research practices in architecture and explorations in practice. In this paper we outline the characteristics, potentials, and possible future implementation of Research by Design and ask some fundamental questions about the implications for the field of CAAD.

Keywords: Research by Design, Creative Practice, Adapt-r, Design Research


Research has always been part of architectural prac- tice, and design is the core competence of the field of Architecture. Although it is tempting to uphold a distorted view of "pure research" taking place in academic institutes and "pure practice" in architect's and engineering offices, this simply can no longer be maintained as is evidenced by numurous research endeavors. Systematic inquiry in the foundations of architecture can already be seen in Villard de Hon- necourt's lodge-book from the 13th century. Most high profile buildings from the 20th and 21st century such as Sydney Opera House, Centre Georges Pom- pidou, and Burj Khalifa show the important link be- tween research and practice. Many of these modern examples rely on succesful multidisciplinary teams including architects, engineers and other experts. Poelman and Keyson (2008) document for less well- known examples in architecture and industrial de- sign the role of innovation and research in design.

Much of the research described above takes place along well-established patterns. In this paper we want to point out that there is a change going on. Recent developments in architectural research show a growing focus on research by design and creative practice research. Typicalfor these endeavours is that the design work is a core and substantial component for the research process. Examples of such work can be seen in leading architectural offices such as Fos- ter + Partners, HOK, Woods Baggins, ZHA, UN Studio, as well as PhD programmes such as the ones at KU Leuven - Sint-Lucas, University of Ljubjana, Univer- sity of Cardiff and others. This phenomenon is not only visible in such high-profile offices and universi- ties, but also becomes apparent in many young and smaller firms. At the same time we can observe a more narrow research and development cooperation between software firms, academia and businesses, and there are increased numbers of PhD researchers co-located in universities and companies (eg. the in-

dustrial PhDs as stimulated in Denmark, Belgium and other countries). At the same time, a growing num- ber of PhD projects incorporate design activities in ar- chitectural practice. In our view, this means that new working modes are being established (in practice as well as in academia) which are a hybrid of traditional research practices in architecture and explorations in prac- tice. Not only in practice we can see new working modes, but also in academia research projects that are merged with practice are being explored. One of the most appropriate labels which can be assigned to this new way of working is Research by Design. In this paper we outline the characteristics, potentials, and possible future implementation of Research by Design and ask some fundamental questions about the implications for the field of CAAD.


Design research is more than taking care of repeata- bility (as known in science), transparency (humani- ties), theory testing and/or building (from social sci- ences): rigor, consistency and diligence need to be upgraded by imagination and by speculation De- sign projects are projections into the future. Borrow- ing other disciplines through syncretic processes re- quires the creative process to become the focus of the research (Fraser, 2013), and this leads to the de- velopment of immanent methods of the process it- self. Fraser also argues that 'we need to view design research as something distinct from Schön's "reflective practitioner" (Schön, 1983), not least because the lat- ter does not fully take into account the vital processes of knowledge creation in architecture'. The two ques- tions Fraser points out are more than relevant: 'Is de- sign research in architecture something that is already inherent in the design practice, and simply needs to be identified and articulated in the public realm? Or is it something that still needs to be created anew, as a kind of step-change in the way in which architects/a- cademics conceive of and produce their designs?' We can add: (How) is it possible, that the awareness and the development of the ability to explicate the 'tacit

knowledge' (Polanyi, 1966) inherent within the design process triggers other modes of new knowledge cre-

Following Glanville it is

indeed important to enlarge our understanding of research to include not only the way of knowing in the exact sciences, but to also include specific knowl- edge based on our experiences (artistic, aesthetic, so- cial, etc) (Glanville 2012). How can we, in architecture, learn from other art and design disciplines? Some of the answers and also some new questions are poten- tially deriving within the ADAPT-r project framework through establishing a large community of research practice. The European Association for Architectural Edu- cation (EAAE) established in 2012 in Chania, Greece, a Research Charter which was approved by the General Assembly. This Charter includes the following para- graphs:

ation (




In architecture, design is the essential feature. Any kind of inquiry in which design is the substantial con- stituent of the research process is referred to as research by design. In research by design, the architectural de- sign process forms the pathway through which new in- sights, knowledge, practices or products come into be- ing. It generates critical inquiry through design work. Therefore research results are obtained by, and consis- tent with experience in practice. (EAAE, 2012) The Charter further values design as a way to cre- ate insight and understanding as well as the specific types of knwoledge and ways of communication in architecture.


Creative practice research is that research where the research is substantially embedded in a creative de- sign practice. These are the research activities which are undertaken by the architect's office to support the creation of new designs. Such activities typi- cally are under more time pressure than traditional research projects in academia, and are more focussed to an immediately usable result. We can observe that such processes operate on shorter iterativecy- cles (faster) and with a high focus on functionality (does it deliver), realizability (can it be done), cost

(does it reduce cost), etc. and indeed, aesthetics. The answer to the question of what exactly to re- search in a creative practice research project is sim- ple: it is the inquiry into the 'medium itself' (Van Schaik and Johnson, 2011; Blythe and van Schaik, 2013). How to do? Taking all the 'four main disci- plinary approaches within architecture (building sci- ence, social science, humanities and art/design)' into account (Rendell, 2004) brings the opportunity of bringing them together through designing. What happens when it is done 'by design'? (Verbeke, 2013) And what happens then in the case of purified for- malistic endeavours?


The ADAPT-r (Architecture, Design and Art Practice Training-research) project is lead by the KU Leuven, Faculty of Architecture Sint-Lucas and strongly influ- enced by RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Tech- nology, Melbourne). The project further includes the Aarhus School of Architecture, the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Architecture, the University of Westminster, the Estonian Academy of Arts, Faculty of Architecture and the Glasgow School of Art. The upgrade of the joint actions which took place since 2009 is a project within the EU 7th Framework of Re- search, more specifically the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions , ITN program, entitled ADAPT-r. As stated at the project website (ADAPT-r, 2015)

it 'aims to significantly increase European research

capacity through a unique and ground-breaking re- search model. At its core is the development of a robust and sustainable initial training network in an emergent Supra-Disciplinary field of research across

a range of design and arts disciplines - creative prac-

tice research.' The essence of the program is not just the development of the training model, but also the training of new researchers themselves - both at the PhD, the postdoc as well as the supervisor level. The training includes each of these levels of training in or- der to seriously increase the capacity to support the research on and through the venturous practices of the project fellows.

The professional institutional context of the project is enabled through a strong partnership net- work and embeds the research projects in SMEs (ar- chitectural practices, art and design offices, etc.) as a 'substantial opportunity for real-world testing of the research and real-world training'. This usually lacks in more traditional research settings. 'The research that is produced through the ADAPT-r ITN will con- tribute to a wider research effort to increase knowl- edge, understanding and quality of research in prac- tice based creative disciplines and its methods.' The ADAPT-r ITN will establish a deeper understanding of research in creative fields through funding 40 PhD Fellowships, 8 training conferences, two major re- search conference, a major exhibition, five key books, and a website providing public access to research and events. (ADAPT-r, 2015) Thus a new generation of (not just reflective) practitioners is introduced to the methods of creative practice research. As such the ADAPT-r project (with the support of the European Commission) materializes and deepens a movement in architectural research where schools of Architecture show a growing interest in connect- ing their research to designing, design studio work and/or practice (EAAE, 2015). Where in most school of Architecture, there are only a limited number of PhDs ongoing in this direction, the ADAPT-r project creates a pool of 600 research months to reach the abovementioned goals, hence being one of the ma- jor endeavors in architectural research of the last years. The structural relevance of the research' mod- els like this is becoming a more and more impor- tant issues of the discussion (Verbeke and Zupancic,


To consolidate the findings of the first year, the ADAPT-r project organized the 1st Creative Practice Research Conference in Brussels, August 2014 (Ver- beke et al., 2014a and 2014b). In line of the vision to organize research in the medium and through designing, the conference hosted plenty of exhibi- tion presentations. Design studios were cleared and cleaned in order to host exhibitions, carefully re- viewed and selected. Presentations took place within

the exhibition spaces. In fact, instead of presenting images or representations of objects/designs during the presentations of the research, the participants could show and refer to objects present in the exhi- bition space. The conference can be seen as one of the first fully peer-reviewed conferences which facili- tate the communication of research findings through exhibition possibilities. What is crucial in the ADAPT-r project is the fact that the researchers remain embedded in their cre- ative practice and that the outcomes of the research are communicated through the medium of architec- ture itself.


In view of the above development, it is essential for the field of architecture and the digital to engage in the discussion on the implications for the research. What are the implications and opportunities when bringing the new research paradigm of CAAD? How can we incorporate design as a way of developing un- derstanding in our endeavors? Within schools of architecture the following questions seem to be crucial when engaging re- search projects:

• What are the expected improvements for ar- chitecture, research, and digital design prac- tice?

• How will schools & research institutes better integrate findings from practice?

• How will research findings from schools and research institutes better find their way into practice?

• How does this lead to more/higher funding possibilities?

Furthermore, how can we as a discipline contribute in a better way to society, to the quality of build- ings, to the future of the world? How can we include in a strong way the experiences from all the design- ers working every day with design software? How can we channel these experiences into our research

projects? How can we benefit from what is happen- ing in architectural practices?


The research leading to these results has received funding from the People Programme (Marie Curie Ac- tions) of the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013/ under REA grant agree- ment n° 317325.


Blythe, R and van Schaik, L 2013, 'What if Design Practice Matters?', in Fraser, M (eds) 2013, Design Research in Architecture, an Overview, Ashgate, Burlington, pp.


Fraser, M 2013, 'Introduction', in Fraser, M (eds) 2013, De- sign Research in Architecture, an Overview, Ashgate,

Burlington, pp. 1-14 Glanville, R 2012, The Black Boox, volume I. Cybernetic Cir- cles, Echoraum, Vienna Poelman, W and Keyson, D (eds) 2008, Design Processes:

What Architects & Industrial Designers can teach other about managing the design process, Delft University Press, Delft Polyani, M 1966, The Tacit Dimension, Doubleday & Co., New York Rendell, J 2004, 'Architectural Research and Disciplinar- ity', Architectural Research Quarterly, 8(2), pp. 141-


van Schaik, L and Johnson, A (eds) 2011, By Practice, By Invitation: Design Practice Research at RMIT, One- pointsixone, Melbourne

Schön, D 1983, The Reflective Practitioner, How Profession- als Think in Action, Basic Books, New York Verbeke, J, Van Den Biesen, H and Van Den Berghe,

J (eds) 2014a, Creative Practice Conference. Papers. ADAPT-r, Brussels Verbeke, J, Van Den Biesen, H and Van Den Berghe,

J (eds) 2014b, Creative Practice Conference. Exhibi- tions. ADAPT-r, Brussels

Verbeke, J 2013, 'This is Research by Design', in Fraser,

M (eds) 2013, Design Research in Architecture, an

Overview, Ashgate, Burlington, pp. 137-159

Verbeke, J and Zupancic, T 2014, 'Adapting to and adapted by ADAPT-r = Prilagajanje projektu in prila- gajanje projekta ADAPT-r : architecture, design and

art practice training-research', AR, 2, pp. 49-52

[1] http://adapt-r.eu [2] http://eaae.org/research

Quadrics Theorems as an Introduction to Geometry, Parametric Design and Digital Fabrication

Roberto Narvaez-Rodriguez 1 , Jose Antonio Barrera-Vera 2 1,2 University of Seville 1 http://personal.us.es/roberto 2 http://personal.us.es/barrera 1,2 {roberto|barrera}@us.es

The Caterpillar gallery was a teaching innovation project intended to integrate geometry, parametric design and digital fabrication at the earliest stage of the undergraduate training period. This paper shows the contents, based on this project, of the workshop carried out within the 33rd eCAADe conference, Vienna 2015. The geometrical principles -stemming from certain quadrics theorems-, the parametric definition and the digital fabrication of the reduced-scale model executed in the workshop are outlined and illustrated.

Keywords: Architectural geometry, Quadrics, Parametric Design, Digital Fabrication, Education


The use of computation in architectural design has definitely opened a new paradigm in architecture (Terzidis, 2003). The focus of the new design strategy has moved from the object to the process itself. Algo- rithms acquire the role of the new means of represen- tation as the language which translates human think- ing for the combination power of computer-based processes. Indeed scripting languages integrated in CAD systems go beyond visual and mouse-based op- erations establishing a new way of interacting with the geometry involved in the project. On the other hand, the parallel development of digital fabrication perfectly matches with digital design tools, allowing a totally digital architectural process, from concep- tion to materialisation. This new paradigm places geometry in a new po- sition with new roles. The explicit use of geometry is almost the only link between programming/scripting languages and architectural spatial relationships and

forms. Compared with the conventional paradigm, this means major changes in the way in which ge- ometry is applied, represented and even managed along the different stages of a project. In fact, the new relationships between applied geometries -descriptive, projective, algebraic and related dis- ciplines in architecture -CAAD, programming, digital -

foster the emergence of a new disci-


pline which integrates all of them together, Architec- tural Geometry (Pottmann, 2007). The ways of thinking, conceiving, developing and materialising an architectural work are affected by the new paradigm. In most architecture schools,

training matching this new concept is provided within postgraduate programmes. Nevertheless, just because the fundamentals are affected, the authors of this paper strongly believe -after years of tested teaching experience- that the implementation of the digital realm must take place at the beginning of the undergraduate training period, which is exactly the


time when students shape their design methodol- ogy.

The Caterpillar gallery (Narvaez-Rodriguez, Martin-Pastor, & Aguilar-Alejandre, 2015) was a project intended to produce this implementation under a carefully-planned pedagogical structure to avoid gaps of knowledge and competences. It was a ten-meter-long built full-scale prototype which facili- tated the integration of digital tools in a course about the Fundamentals of Architectural Geometry for un- dergraduate first-year students. This paper shows the contents, based on this project, of the workshop carried out within the 33rd eCAADe conference, held in the Vienna University of Technology (Austria) in September 2015. The geometrical principles -based on quadrics theorems-, the parametric definition and the digital fabrication of the 1:6 scale model executed

in the workshop are outlined and illustrated.


As an exercise to be addressed by beginner students,

the design of the pavilion was intended to respond to

a series of requirements; simplicity, constructive ef-

ficiency to be built and assembled by the students, and spatial interest both from the installation itself and the environment relationship. At the same time, the piece must contain the intended geometrical

concepts for the course, including an introduction to algorithmic thinking applied to architectural de- sign, human scale control, vector geometry, basic curves, developable surfaces, intersections, true size and shape for fabrication The result was not a closed-ended design but a generative law based on the use of developable surfaces and simple geometrical operations, which allowed students to propose a variety of solutions. The parameterisation of a quadratic surface theorem by Gaspard Monge (Taibo, 1983), regularly used in teaching to give explanation to classic vaults, is the starting point to address exploration. The statement basically says that if two quadratic surfaces are cir- cumscribed about a third, the intersection curve de- composes into two planar curves. In order to work with simple and developable surfaces, the quadrics chosen are rotational cones or cylinders circumscribed about spheres to force the intersections to be planar curves, particularly ellipses. The spheres are placed at the vertices of a polygonal path with an elevation by way of zig-zag lines and a plan defining the route to follow, as the idea was to create a longitudinal space. Moreover, the diameters of the spheres control and define the spaciousness of the project at every point of the path at two dif- ferent levels; at the ground level and at the average human size. Finally, the shell is defined by keeping

human size. Finally, the shell is defined by keeping Figure 1 Pictures of the built full-scale

Figure 1 Pictures of the built

full-scale prototype, The Caterpillar gallery, University of Seville (Spain),


Figure 2 A-left. Human scale and space control with the set of spheres at the two levels. A-top-right. Set of cones circumscribed about the spheres to define the shell. A-bottom-right. Second quadrics theorem showing the two- dimensional construction to simplify the parametric definition. B. Different stages of the assembly process; the conical fractions are linked to the ground through the use of wooden wedges and to the other fractions with the use of nylon cable ties. Excepting the rigid position of the wedges along the intersection of the cones with the ground, the rest of the linkages can be directly executed, as the drillings for the ties are laid out to geometrically constrain the surfaces to acquire the desired shape. C. Pictures of the resulting model at 1:6 scale.

the desired shape. C. Pictures of the resulting model at 1:6 scale. Workshop Contributions - Volume

every conical fraction located between the two pla- nar intersection curves with the adjacent cones and the ground floor plane. The parametric definition also takes advantage of another quadric theorem which states that the two planar curves resulting from the previous the- orem are projected onto the plane of symmetry of the two quadrics as two straight lines. This simpli- fies, even more, the three-dimensional geometrical relationships to an easy two-dimensional construc- tion. The spheres turn into circles and the rest of the elements, cones, cylinders and their intersections can be represented as straight lines. In addition, this is a good exercise for students to get trained in the use of projective properties of three-dimensional ge- ometries.


The impact of digital fabrication laboratories in ar- chitectural education can also be channelled to pro- duce benefits from the earliest stage of the train- ing period, introducing students to the relationships among geometry, software, the production process and the control over building components and ma- terials (Celani, 2012). In this case, due to the possibility of unrolling the surfaces defining the project, all building com- ponents can be laid out on a plane. Consequently they can be obtained from sheets or panels of differ- ent materials, according to their functions and thick- nesses required, and fabricated with a laser cutter or

a three-axis CNC milling machine. The structural behaviour differences between the built full-scale prototype and the 1:6 scale model must be pointed out. At 1:1 scale, the shell was materialised with five-millimetre-thick plywood pan- els. The fractions of conical surface are not self- supporting. They are used as components that, once assembled, bring about the emergence of the de- sired structural behaviour without any kind of auxil-

iary structure. This behaviour is difficult to simulate at

a reduced scale, therefore conclusions on this matter

are not reliable at 1:6 scale. Nevertheless, essential

conclusions related with the assembly strategy can be achieved. The figures illustrate different stages of this process.


The quadrics theorems stated in this paper, in the particular case of cones and cylinders circumscribed about spheres, provide effective and appropriate ge- ometrical principles to integrate geometry, paramet- ric design and digital fabrication at the earliest stage of the undergraduate training period. Geometry plays new roles within the digital realm in contemporary architecture which must be translated to the educational context. Although The Caterpillar gallery was a successful innovation project in this sense, this is a field which still needs re- search, development and testing in many other archi- tecture schools. Workshops, such as the one showed in this paper, where lecturers, researchers and stu- dents from different countries are involved, foster in- teresting and motivating discussions to keep advanc- ing on this topic.


Celani, G 2012, 'Digital Fabrication Laboratories: Peda- gogy and Impacts on Architectural Education', Nexus Network Journal, 14(3), pp. 469-482 Narvaez-Rodriguez, R, Martin-Pastor, A and Aguilar- Alejandre, M 2015, 'The Caterpillar Gallery:

Quadratic Surface Theorems, Parametric Design and Digital Fabrication', in Block, P, Knippers, J, Mitra, NJ and Wang, W (eds) 2015, Advances in Architectural Geometry 2014, Springer Pottman, H 2007, Architectural Geometry, Bentley Insti- tute Press, Exton Taibo-Fernandez, A 1983, Geometria Descriptiva y sus Aplicaciones. Tomo II, Tebar Flores, Madrid Terzidis, K 2003, Expressive Form: A Conceptual Approach to Computational Design, Spon Press - Taylor & Fran- cis Group, New York

Robotic Woodcraft

Creating Tools for Digital Design and Fabrication

Philipp Hornung 1 , Johannes Braumann 2 , Reinhold Krobath 3 , Sigrid Brell-Cokcan 4 , Georg Glaeser 5

1,3,5 Robotic Woodcraft | University of Applied Arts Vienna 2 Robots in Architecture | University for Arts and Design Linz 4 Robots in Architecture | RWTH Aachen Uni- versity 1,3 http://www.roboticwoodcraft.com/



5 http://www.uni-ak.ac.at/geom/

1 contact@phaad.at

{johannes|sigrid}@robotsinarchitecture.org 3,5 {reinhold.krobath|georg.glaeser}@uni-ak.ac.at


Robotic Woodcraft is a transdisciplinary, arts-based investigation into robotic arms at the University for Applied Arts Vienna. Bringing together the craftsmen of the Department for Wood Technology, the geometers of the Department for Arts and Technology, the young industrial design office Lucy.D and the roboticists of the Association for Robots in Architecture, the research project explores new approaches on how to couple high-tech robotic arms with high-end wood fabrication. In the eCAADe workshop, participants are introduced to KUKA|prc (parametric robot control, Braumann and Brell-Cokcan, 2011) and shown approaches on how to create their own digital fabrication tools for customized fabrication processes involving wood.

Keywords: Robotic woodcraft, Arts-based research, Robotic fabrication, Visual programming, Parametric robot control


Through advances in programming interfaces and increasingly affordable hardware, robotic arms have become relevant tools for the creative industry within a very short timeframe. As a modular sys- tem, they can be equipped with a huge range of tools (Figure 1) and thus be used in a similarly huge spec- trum of applications. We see a particular potential

for robotic arms in the area of high-end wood fabri- cation: As a non-homogenous, anisotropic material, wood can be processed in many different ways, from regular milling to more complex applications such as bending and even additive processes (refer e.g. to Menges, 2012 and Gramazio et al., 2010). At the same time, being a grown material that expands and con- tracts with the level of humidity, wood fabrication

requires less rigid tolerances than metal fabrication, where robots cannot compete with the accuracy of

requires less rigid tolerances than metal fabrication, where robots cannot compete with the accuracy of dedicated metal milling machines. Visual programming environments, especially Grasshopper, coupled with robot control plugins such as KUKA|prc, today enable us to dynamically define, simulate, and execute complex, robotic pro- cesses that go beyond standard-milling applications (Braumann and Brell-Cokcan, 2014). Thus we are not limited to certain pre-defined milling strategies, but can integrate the special, anisotropic material prop- erties into our code.


KUKA|prc provides us with the essential software tools for robot simulation and code generation. How- ever, for complex tasks we have to create custom design tools that integrate certain special proper- ties and parameters. Due to Grasshopper's modu- lar, component-based system, these strategies can therefore be contained within their own compo- nents that expose only the relevant input and out- put ports. The following tools are based on native GH-components, VB-script as well as components by

KUKA|prc. kukaFeeds When working with an anisotropic material like wood and material-optimized cutters, machining velocities are of great importance. To be able to handle different scenarios with their specific speeds a custom component was developed. It de- fines machining related velocities like e.g. rapid ve- locity for movements to, from and above material, plunge velocity for movements cutting into mate- rial, retreat velocity out of material as well as the milling velocity for cutting in material. Unlike com- mercial CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) soft- ware, these properties can then be finely adjusted, e.g. for each individual toolpath, rather than applied globally. revCrvs | revPlns | revLT The resulting quality and final finish of machined contours or surfaces are directly dependent on the internal structure (radial, tangent or axial orientation of fibers) of the initial ma- terial (wood) as well as the direction of cut itself (Fig- ure 1). To enable a quick assignment of specific direc- tionality to a custom designed toolpath three differ- ent components (reverse curves, reverse planes, re- verse lists-tree) were designed.

Figure 1 Multi-axis flank milling of an art installation in cooperation with design studio Lucy.D, Vienna.

Figure 2

events-ONR-data |



quantitative and qualitative summary of unreachable positions or collisions (refer to Braumann, Brell-Cokcan 2015).

or collisions (refer to Braumann, Brell-Cokcan 2015). events-ONR-data | events-ONR-display When handling many

events-ONR-data | events-ONR-display When handling many complex toolpaths in one continu- ous process, the resulting data-set within the plan- ning environment is rapidly increasing. As a conse- quence, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain an overview of the project, possibly causing one to miss problematic robot positions. Therefore, out-of- reach positions as well as collisions have to be pre- checked to avoid kinematic singularities, collisions, or damage to the robot and its surroundings. For a fast quantitative and qualitative summary two com- ponents were developed (Figure 2). In the event of unreachable positions or collisions, the quantitative outputs display the amount, of 'events ONR' (events of no reach and collision), the related axes, axis- values, indices, command ids and command tags. These outputs greatly facilitate spotting affected sit- uations in the toolpath as well as on the program- ming canvas of Grasshopper. As an additional fea- ture, 'events ONR' can be displayed graphically in the rhino viewport. customToolKressElte Special tools allow us to perform operations that would not be possible with regular, commercial end-effectors. A special mount

for a compact Kress spindle was developed by ana- lyzing the limits of our large milling spindle with the goal of creating a complementary tool for situations with complex reachability. Its digital representation allows us to digitally evaluate such situations in ad- vance and avoid collisions with the workpiece (Figure


customToolElte+Fipa Similarly, a custom phys- ical tools was developed that allows us to combine gripping and milling in one seamless process. It is based on a mid-sized electro spindle (Elte TMPE4) and an overhead-mounted vacuum gripper (Fipa TC120x230) on multiple custom flange elements. In many industrial applications, robots are only used for pick and place operations - with new, custom tools this could be easily expanded, but also requires new programming approaches that can cope with the complexity of having multiple tools mounted onto a single machine.


Visual programming has allowed us to quickly and efficiently create robotic processes that embed parts of the material knowledge of artisans and carpenters

within the code, making it accessible to non-expert users (see also Brell-Cokcan and Braumann, 2014).

within the code, making it accessible to non-expert users (see also Brell-Cokcan and Braumann, 2014). Similarly, we can now quickly prototype new robotic tools within a virtual environment, greatly speeding up their development. Therefore custom software allows us to move past the limitations of commercial software, which is generally not optimizedfor materials with a complex- ity like wood, towards new robotic applications. We expect that the use of robotic labor will con- tinue to have a deep impact on the creative indus- try, towards creating new and customizable designs with multifunctional machines and the similarly mul- tifunctional material wood.


This research has been supported by the Austrian Sci- ence Fund through the PEEK program for arts-based research (project AR 238-G21). Suppin, R, 2015, 'Repair My Series 07' as part of his Ph.D. thesis, Vienna University of Technology.


Braumann, J and Brell-Cokcan, S 2011 'Parametric Robot

Control: Integrated CAD/CAM for Architectural De- sign', Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference of the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) Braumann, J and Brell-Cokcan, S 2014a 'Visual Robot Programming – Linking Design, Simulation, and Fabrication', Proceedings of the 5th annual Sympo- sium on Simulation for Architecture and Urban Design (SimAUD) Braumann, J and Brell-Cokcan, S 2015 'Adaptive Robot Control', Proceedings of the eCAADe 2015, Vienna Brell-Cokcan, S and Braumann, J 2014b 'Robotic Pro- duction Immanent Design: Creative toolpath De- sign in Micro and Macro Scale', Proceedings of the 34th Annual Conference of the Association for Com- puter Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA), Los An- geles, pp. 579-588 Gramazio, F, Kohler, M and Oesterle, S 2010, 'Encoding Material', in Oxman, R and Oxman, N (eds) 2010, Ar- chitectural Design, vol 80, Wiley, Hoboken, pp. 111-


Menges, A 2012, 'Morphospaces of Robotic Fabrica- tion', in Brell-Cokcan, S and Braumann, J (eds) 2012, Rob|Arch – Robotic Fabrication in Architecture, Art, and Design, Springer, Vienna, pp. 28-47

Figure 3 Freeform surface machining of a double-curved plywood shell in cooperation with Rüdiger Suppin, TU Vienna, entitled 'Repair My Series


ColLab Sketch

Multi-Platform Collaborative Sketching on the Internet

Kateřina Nováková 1 , Henri Achten 2 1,2 Czech Technical University 1 kata.bruha@gmail.com 2 achten@fa.cvut.cz

Being overwhelmed by computing technologies, we are forwarding more and more of our skills into area of "thinking by head". Our designing capabilities are turning into capabilities of "how to work with very intelligent technology". The processes of human brain, nevertheless, are different to the processes in computer. Designers are said to think by hand. As architects we are looking for final forms that not only fulfil the technical requirements, but are beautiful as well. Therefore sketching is one of the skills that belongs to an architect in order to design and particularly to work in a team. The workshop will accordingly focus on sketching on electronic devices in comparison with sketching on paper. Is it actually possible to switch to tablets when sketching? If yes, which application is the best to use? In order to find that out, there will be a test of three applications: ColLab Sketch, Queeky and FlockDraw. The participants will be sketching on-line and helping to find the best way of communication by sketch. By drawing they will become a part of the research, their work will be post-produced and exhibited at the welcome dinner.

Keywords: Sketching, Internet-based Collaboration, Digital vs. Physical

Figure 1 Sketch produced with ColLab Sketch


ColLab Sketch [1] is a program for sharing and manip- ulating sketches via the internet. It was developed by Kateřina Nováková at Czech Technical University in Prague, in collaboration with ETH Zurich, Chair of Information Architecture. Collab Sketch is multi- platform, working on Android, iPad, and Windows. People can sketch, share their sketches, and work on sketches made by other people - which forms the technical basis of this workshop.

by other people - which forms the technical basis of this workshop. Workshop Contributions - Volume


In the ColLab sketch workshop participants shall ex- perience a real-time sketch collaboration. (If there is enough participants we can break a record in the number of users of ColLab sketch bring connected to one session.) This experiment shall test the pos- sibilities and potential of such a co-working plus It has the aim of testing the social level of remote col- laboration. Two types of co-worker settings will be simulated: In-place and remote collaboration. In the collocated setting maximal number of collaborating participants may be tested together with the actual contribution of sharing sketches and working on the sketches made by somebody else. Firstly, sketches will be switched voluntarily, secondly, they will be switched after 2 minutes. In the next run, sketches will be switched after 10 minutes and finally, partici- pants will be asked to switch sketches as many times as they can within 30 minutes. After this testing, users will be interviewed. In the remote-simulated condition several ques- tions may be posted and may be answered by ob- servation of the participants. First of all, what streems are crucial for architects when collaborating remotely. What is the importance of audio, video and sketch channel in the remote collaboration? Again, what is the maximum number of participants work- ing in one sheet? Does ColLab sketch system of collaboration rise the eventual possible number of sketching participants in the design session? Here, the influence of the used devices must be mentioned. It is assumed that participants will be using their own laptops, tablets and even mobile- phones. The last mentioned cant be recommended if not using stylus. Derived from previous testing draw- ing on Smartphone with the use of finger is so incon- venient and imprecise so that it can not compete with any bigger device with a stylus. Anyway, testing de- vices may not be the core of the workshop. The workshop will start by several drawing games, so that participants learn how to draw on their devices but also loose fear of drawing in front of other people. After that a serious design session will

take place, where the output should be one design with the touch from everybody throughout the de- sign process. The first task will be an easy piece of fur- niture with a special function (e.g. a chair for a witch/- magician/president), in the second task, architecture shall be designed. Again, it will be a something spe- cial with a specific function (Madonna's house, public toilets in Vienna, a lookout tower in the Dead Valley or Robinson's shed on a desert island). To that end, we will be using not only ColLab Sketch but also Queeky [2] and FlockDraw [3].


All results and especially the process of collabora- tive drawing will be exhibited at the end of the day. This is possible because the ColLab sketch program is recording the processes of sketching in each sheet. There will be a questionaire offered to the visitors of the exposition of the ready sketches in order to evalu- ate the results in a qualitative way. For quantitave re- sults time will be measured: the time spent by sketch- ing and the time spent by talking. Also time spent by organising the session itself is important and will be mesured. The whole session will be recorded by a camera.


[1] http://collab.bitwise.cz [2] http://www.queeky.com [3] http://flockdraw.com

CAAD Education - Concepts

Space for Games

Exploring Acquisition of Space Planning Skills through the Use of Real Time Strategy Games

Tane Moleta 1 1 Victoria University of Wellington tane.moleta@vuw.ac.nz


Real Time Strategy games enjoy worldwide popularity. Success in this genre of games requires a high degree of skill in spatial and temporal organisation. These skills are typically built upon a foundation characteristic of an iterative workflow. An iterative workflow is also a desirable behaviour in the design studio of architecture students allowing for a greater understanding of parameters embedded within the design and ultimately leading to better learning outcomes. This paper discusses the potential of Real Time Strategy Games and draws connections between successful player attributes found specifically in Tower Defence Games and how these could be used to introduce skills required in the planning of architectural space

Keywords: First Year Architectural Education, Space Planning, Tower Defence, Real Time Strategy Game


The acquisition of space planning skills seems to be a deceptively simple requirement of an architectural education. One of the hallmarks of architectural de- sign education in the 1960's and 1970's was the use of bubble diagrams and other illustrative approaches. These tools were to allow an abstract environment to enable an iterative testing process. Contempo- rary education however has seen a shift away from this once dominant functionalist approach. While it is not appropriate to resurrect such methods, it is a concern that a fundamental design skill appears to be off the agenda. This also brings to light how might we rethink the acquisition of space planning skills for students who learnt SketchUp or Rhino3D at high- school and whose understanding of space has been

developed within immersive video games. How can we leverage from the skill-set and interests of the dig- ital native to revisit the education of this architec- tural design skill? This paper explores this situation by bringing together established video game genres to alter the delivery of space planning in the context of a first year architectural education. Education researcher Nicola Whitton identifies the potential adoption of games as beneficial but a largely untapped within higher learning. In 'Learn- ing with Digital Games: A Practical Guide to Engaging Students in Higher Education' Whitton argues that game based learning presents a unique opportunity for educators (Whitton, 2010). Whitton's research vouches for the productive capacity for games to be used a transformative tool in higher education. Her

thesis 'investigation into the potential of collabora- tive computer game based learning in Higher Edu- cation' argues that the types of learners is changing,

and that the current student arrives at university with

a different set of capabilities in comparison to histori-

cal university intakes (Whitton, 2007). She states con- temporary students have a greater understanding of technology and an appreciation or desire to engage in more socially oriented activity. Noting that games offer the potential to transform university education,

a new generation of learners can be motivated and

engaged in a way that traditional education does not (Whitton, 2007). In architectural education Chieh-Jin Lin investigated the capacity for the use of an 'elec- tronic game like' interface to teach space planning skills (Chieh, 2005). This project reported a greater understanding of architectural space planning prin- ciples was achieved by the students, however the au- thor concluded that the application operated more like a functionally oriented CAD tool and lacked the compelling or immersive quality of game play ex- pected within a video game context (Chieh, 2005,



The findings from SLG (Space Layout Game) revealed an ability to locate functional architectural design principles within a game like interface. Participation was however diminished due to a lack of a genuine game like experience. Many researchers have noted that one of the most compelling aspects observed in participants of electronic games is their capacity to sustain an active engagement (Dalla Vecchia, da Silva, & Pereira, 2009). The capacity of games to en- gage their participant is largely attributed to the use of game mechanics (Nitsche, 2008). Michael Nitsche describes in his book 'video game spaces' that game mechanics are 'a set of circumstances' and that they are used to encourage players to participate in the activity required of the game' (Nitsche, 2008). Jesse Shell defines these circumstances as primarily a set of challenges that the participant must adhere too, or master as a means to progress within that game

(Schell, 2008, p. 177). Schell also articulates two key points. Firstly, that the participants of any game unanimously hold the assumption that the game op- erates on a fair playing field (Schell, 2008). Sec- ondly, that the participant must be led to believe that they can indeed master the skills required to proceed through the game (Schell, 2008). Another considera- tion Schell introduces is the notion of an interplay be- tween anxieties versus boredom (Schell, 2008). This condition describes an understanding that the par- ticipant engaged in any game activity must operate within a delicate balance between: challenges (dif- ficulty - low to high), and required skill acquisition

to surpass those challenges (ease of acquiring skill -

low to high). The principles outlined by both Nitche and Schell help to define the qualities that would help to produce the compelling and immersive qual- ities expected of a game. This expectation of both progress and the requirement to invest time to mas- ter the principles of any given game would appear to offer a range of compatible qualities required of stu- dents of architecture. The iterative development of design solutions is one of the more desirable behav- iors of successful students. The investment of time by engaging in the iterative process often yields more

successful design outcomes, but also allow the stu- dent to build a catalog of successful design strate- gies that might be deployed by the students at a later stage. These combined qualities offer some markers for how a teaching delivery might benefit from an adoption of game mechanics.


A survey of game types was undertaken to identify

a suitable candidate to trial. Puzzle games with a

complex geometrical or spatial understanding were among the first surveyed: World of Goo (2008) and Strata (2013). These were quickly discounted as these games were focused on solving three dimensional puzzles and did not require the organisation of space. Following this the Real Time Strategy Game genre was introduced. This genre requires a range of desir- able traits for students engaged in the study of archi-

tecture. Success in this genre encourages an iterative understanding of three dimensional space and the ability to organize how items are placed within this space. Three popular titles were observed Star Craft (2000), Age of Empires (2014) and Total War II (2014). This particular type of Real Time Strategy game re- quires the building of an empire, defense, and offen- sive units. The participants begin by positioning at- tack and defense units that are incrementally tested in waves of attacks. They also typically undertake mo- bile attack of targets by re positioning and directing attacking units. This game type was deemed as pre- senting a greater focus on mobile military strategies rather than functional organisation of space. The em- phasis on the chasing of a target offers little to help deliver knowledge of space planning. The 'financial empire' themed games were also explored. Popular titles such as Hay Day (2013), FarmVille (2012) and so on are although compelling, and encourage partici- pants to engage in regular iterative amendments ap- pear to require a degree of spatial organisation, do not however require any functional understanding placement of game items. The key consideration in this genre is the management of time and meeting delivery of requested tasks over the space planning of game items. Following this the Tower Defense genre was identified as a likely candidate. Within the Real Time Strategy Game genre, Tower Defense is unique in that the participant is extremely limited in their engage- ment with the game items. In Tower Defense the participant may choose what is positioned on the playing field, but the units are typically static and no control is offered as to where or what these units will target. The challenge required of Tower Defense participants is relatively simple; to defend an area from the advances of another team. Tower Defense requires participants to evolve an understanding of space planning within an digital environment. Suc- cessful players of Tower Defense are also required to understand the temporal occupation of a site and the sequencing of its habitation. Skilled players learn over time that particular arrangements of functional

units will achieve desirable or successful outcomes. Participants of Tower Defense are usually met with one of two types of game space; a defined field, or an open field. The defined field is typically charac- terized by a maze or path upon which assailants will travel in order to reach the combatants base. Radi- ant Defense (2014), Bloons (2007) or Plants vs Zom- bies (2009) characterize this type. The other type of game is characterized by an open field upon which assailants will enter the playing field and approach the base from all possible orientations. Titles such as Clash of Clans (2012), Total Conquest (2013), King- dom Rush (2011) are popular examples of this type of game. This open field type of game presents par- ticipants a more complex challenge and encourages

a greater investment of time in order to understand

the spatial and temporal problems that will arise as players proceed through levels. The player is encour- aged to organize how pursuers enter the scene and how they travel about the scene by building struc- tures. In order to 'beat' the attacking combatants they are best to consider organizing spatial circum- stances that might alter how their pursuers advance

in their journey across the scene. In order to master

a particular stage of the game the player will often

focus on a single task within a specific scene, even

if this costs the success of the level. Slowly building

on Initial strategies participants explore more volatile configurations which are deployed and tested until failure or success. Eventually players will develop a deeply personal but highly successful series of func- tional configurations in response to the range of sit- uations the game exposes them too. Such qualities seem useful indices and could be directly translat- able to the procedures identified in successful archi- tectural space planning. From the analysis of a brief through to acknowledgment of a pool of acceptable design solutions the Tower Defense game type and

space planning seem to indicate a high degree of commonality.


A provisional study was initiated in the design studio

of a group of first year students. The study sought to

understand if an exposure to a Tower Defense game would bear any impact on the ability of students to

evolve a greater understanding of space planning in an architectural context. From the group of first year students, 30 volunteered to participate. These stu- dent participants were then divided into two teams one of which would engage with Tower Defense and

a group that would not. As first year students in the

first semester of study they had not yet had exposure to space planning. All students were familiar with use of iPad and also happen to engage in some form of casual game play on smart devices, although not Tower Defense games. Initially one group of 15 was asked to engage with the popular Tower Defense game, 'Clash of Clans' and achieve success in 15 levels of the game. This was met with a degree of enthusiasm, and po- tentially an unwanted future distraction to their stud- ies. The students reported a high number of failed it- erations in the early stages of learning the game that slowly improved over time. All students managed to reach the required level in 4 to 8 hours of game play. Students reaching this level demonstrated a func- tional understanding of the various game pieces, an evolved understanding of the assailants that would eventually inhabit the game space, and more impor- tantly students each developed unique strategies to deploy player pieces in functional arrangements to achieve at successful outcomes in the game. A week later all students were then set a design brief that sought to explore the exploration of space planning through across planing exercise. The brief aimed to develop ability of students to research the requirements of a familiar functional programme and develop a design suitable for habitation by them- selves or with their peers. The breif asked students to design within 20m2, and to evolve a space for relax- ation and a space for study. The brief asked the stu- dents to consider how many inhabitants would be in- volved in each space at each given time, and how the

design might transition from one state to another to better service the required activities. The brief asked the students to evolve a response to the brief through

a series of iterative models exploring the spatial con-

sequences of the two potentially conflicting activi- ties. The concepts of 'active' and 'passive' were used

as a means to facilitate thinking centered on a form of exchange in the cross programming exercise. The brief requested a set of 18 models to be constructed. One set of 9 physical models to be constructed in plain white card and photographed in a studio con- text, and one set of 9 digital models to be produced

in Rhino3D and clay rendered in 3DSMAX or VRay. Upon submission of the project a number of con- clusions were drawn from discussion with the stu- dents. The overwhelming outcome form both the physical and digital exercises was a propensity to de- velop highly detailed formal studies. Considerably skilled manipulations of form, space or surface were undertaken by each group. An advance in digital or physical craft was achieved in both cases through the documentation of a range of compelling outcomes. The group of students who engaged in Tower De- fense demonstrated a vastly different design behav- ior than that of their peers. In the study group each of the 18 models presented could be viewed as a con- sidered series of iterations that developed as an ex- tension of each proceeding design. The group that did not engage with the Tower Defense game also produced interesting results but in a much more 'hit and miss' manner. Good outcomes in space planning were achieved by each group but the control group outcomes received more corrective guidance from their tutors. While this outcome seems to indicate

a degree of correlation between design studio skills

and an understanding of Tower Defense game play, the outcome is largely indicating a slight change in the approach of the designer, or the methodologies

that they employ. In relation to the ability of Tower Defense games to impart knowledge in relation to space planning the results were not as clear. If anything the study group produced slightly more measured and or-

thogonal design works. The projects produced by the study group were, arguably very similar to the projects produced by the control group. Although slightly disappointing, this is to be expected, the logic, proportions and structures learned through engagement with 'Clash of Clans' responds to the games own internal logic. The game used does not require any bearing to the physical or inhabit- able world of architecture. This does however indi- cate obliquely that learning can be achieved through an engagement with Tower Defense games, but a knowledge that only applies to that specific situation.


The study investigated a number of Real Time Strat- egy Games types to define if any offer an engaging way to deliver skills in architectural space planning to first year architecture students. The Tower Defense type of game above all others looks to provide an analogous learning environment with attributes that could help in introduction of space planning skills in a compelling and engaging package. The conclu- sion can be drawn that widely available and popular games might offer similarities required of space plan- ning, but that these skills are ultimately tied to the in- dividual game mechanics and are difficult to convert directly into architectural knowledge. This particular situation however may be limited due to the distance of traditional Tower Defense games to adhere to any logic or configurations frequently employed in archi- tectural situations. By leveraging that an influence can occur, the subsequent stage of this study aims to produce a working prototype for delivery in studio. The core logic of the Tower Defense game should be employed, but a challenge lies in aligning logic and requirements of real world space to the competitive world of Real Time Strategy Games.


Chieh, J L 2005 'Space Layout Game: An Interactive Game of Space Layout for Teaching and Represent- ing Design Knowledge', Proceedings of the 10th Inter- national Conference on Computer Aided Architectural

Design Research in Asi, Delhi Dalla, V, Adriane da Silva, L and Pereira, A 2009, 'Teach- ing/learning Architectural Design Based on a Virtual Learning Environment', International Journal of Ar- chitectural Computing, 7-2, pp. 255-266 Schell, J 2008, The Art of Game Design : A book of lenses, Morgan Kaufmann, Burlington Sharma, RC and Whitton, N 2011, 'Learning with digi- tal games', British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(4), pp. E88-E88 Whitton, N 2007, Play Think Learn, Ph.D. Thesis, Manch- ester Metropolitan University Whitton, N 2010, Learning with Digital Games: A Practi- cal Guide to Engaging Students in Higher Education, Routledge

Generative Design Methods

Implementing Computational Techniques in Undergraduate Architectural Education

Asterios Agkathidis 1 1 University of Liverpool asterios.agkathidis@liv.ac.uk


In continuation to the Deceptive Landscape Installation research project (Agkathidis, Kocatürk 2014), this paper investigates the implementation of generative design techniques in undergraduate architectural design education. After reviewing the main definitions of generative design synoptically, we have assessed the application of a modified generative method on a final year, undergraduate design studio, in order to evaluate its potential and its suitability within the framework of a research led design studio, leading to an RIBA accredited Part I degree. Our research findings based on analysis of the design outputs, student performance, external examiners reports as well as student course evaluation surveys indicate a positive outcome on the studio's design approach, as well as its suitability for an undergraduate design studio. They initiate a flourishing debate about accomplishments and failures of a design methodology, which still remains alien to many undergraduate curricula.

Keywords: CAAD Education, Generative Design, Design Concept


Generating form poses one of the fundamental ques- tions in architectural education and practice. Archi- tectural production isfrequently accompanied by de- bates about the legitimacy of its design approach, questioning the relationship between function and form, aesthetics and construction systems, context and structure, user needs and construction costs, in all possible configurations. In recent years, computa- tional tools have introduced innovative form-finding techniques, revolutionizing architectural design and production. These techniques are often described by

terms such as 'generative design', 'parametric design' or 'algorithmic design', to name but a few. These of- fer new design paths to architects by breaking with predictable relationships between form and repre- sentation in favour of computationally generated complexities, thus enabling the development of new topologies. They shift the emphasis from 'form mak- ing' to 'form finding' (Kolarevic 2003). The critics of such design approaches claim that they disconnect architectural output from its context and its users, and lead to a decrease in spatial quality and a build- ing's integration within the urban environment. Fur- thermore, some argue that a totally computerized approach leads to disconnection from physical mod-

elling and drafting techniques - once essential foun- dations of architectural education - and so risks the

loss of material qualities, effects and properties. Yet various generative form-finding techniques existed

in architecture long before the digital revolution. At

the start of the twentieth century, many visionary ar- chitects, engineers and designers, such as Frederick Kiesler and Frei Otto, were applying design methods that were very similar to today's computational ap- proach. It seems that today's new computational de- sign techniques are not as new as they seem, nor im- possible to practise without the use of computational tools. So is it the tools or the design method that should be targeted by critics of so-called digital ar-

chitecture? The following paper will try to cast light on that perpetual conflict. Why, though, should anyone follow a method for designing architecture in the first place? Can ar- chitects not simply rely on personal inspiration or their own sense of beauty? Throughout the evolu- tion of architectural design there have certainly al- ways been schools of thought that have encouraged

a design process based on inspiration or an initial

stimulus. However, others haven promoted adher- ence to a specific design method, based on rules rather than intuition, and many now argue that de- sign methods are necessary in order for architects to deal with today's hyper-complex design briefs, or to prevent self-indulgence and stylistically driven for- mal language. Others affirm that emerging computa- tional design and fabrication tools are changing the architect's role, making design methods a necessity.


There is no single definition of the term, but many complementary definitions with common character- istics, which vary according to different architectural theorists. Overall it can be described as a design method where generation of form is based on rules or algorithms, often deriving from computational tools, such as Processing, Rhinoceros, Grasshopper and other scripting platforms. During the late 1980s and early '90s, just before the boom of computational

architecture, Peter Eisenman started applying a set of design techniques, such as scaling, fractals, over- lay and superposition, influenced by Jacques Der- rida's Deconstruction theory (1976). Eisenman ap- plied these techniques in relation to rules of order, developing several projects on this basis, such as the Biocentrum in Frankfurt and the Nunotani Corpora- tion headquarters in Tokyo (Eisenman 2004). One could claim that his design method was the first con- temporary generative design attempt. As software started to offer new possibilities, Eisenman intro- duced other techniques to his approach, such as mor- phing images, which was soon followed by UNstu- dio and their concept of the 'Manimal', a computer- generated icon that merges a lion, snake and human to represent the hybrid building (van Berkel and Bos


The technique of folding appeared in Eisenman's Rebstockbad in 1991 (Eisenman 2004) and, as com- putational tools advanced further, Greg Lynn started applying new tools such as animation, splines, nurbs and isomorphic polysurfaces, influencing a whole wave of architectural production, often described as 'blob architecture' (Lynn 1999). As algorithms and scripting become more accessible to architects and designers, and digital fabrication more affordable, parametric and panelization tools, simulation soft- ware, optimization and generative algorithms are dominating today's generative design techniques. In their book Generative Gestaltung (Lazzeroni, Bohnacker, Groß and Laub 2009) the authors define generative design as a cyclical process based on a simple abstracted idea, which is applied to a rule or algorithm (figure 01). It then translates into a source code, which produces serial output via a com- puter. The outputs return through a feedback loop, enabling the designer to re-inform the algorithm and the source code. It is an iterative operation, relying on the feedback exchange between the designer and the design system. Celestino Soddu (1994) defines generative de- sign as 'a morphogenetic process using algorithms structured as nonlinear systems for endless unique

Figure 1 Generative design process diagram, by Lazzeroni, Bohnacker, Groß and Laub

process diagram, by Lazzeroni, Bohnacker, Groß and Laub and unrepeatable results performed by an idea-code, as

and unrepeatable results performed by an idea-code, as in nature'. Indeed, the notions of generative de- sign and digital morphogenesis are strongly asso- ciated. The term 'morphogenesis' derives from the Greek words morphe (μορφή, meaning 'form') and genesis (γένεσις, meaning 'birth'), so could be literally translated as 'birth of form'. As with the term 'genera- tive design', there is no unique definition for morpho- genesis, and it seems that the terminology is chang- ing in relation to emerging technologies and tech- niques. Branko Kolarevic (2003) describes digital mor- phogenesis as follows: 'The predictable relationships between design and representations are abandoned in favour of computationally generated complexities. Models of design capable of consistent, continual and dynamic transformation are replacing the static norms of conventional processes. Complex curvilin- ear geometries are produced with the same ease as Euclidean geometries of planar shapes and cylindri- cal, spherical or conical forms. The plan no longer "generates" the design; sections attain a purely an- alytical role. Grids, repetitions and symmetries lose their past raison d'être, as infinite variability becomes as feasible as modularity, and as mass-customization presents alternatives to mass-production.' In addi- tion, he sees such methods as unpredictable mech- anisms of creation, relying on digital tools, where traditional architectural values are replaced by com- plexity, asymmetry, curvilinearity, infinite variability and mass customization. Architectural morphology

is focusing on the emergent and adaptable qualities of form. Form is no longer being made, but found, based on a set of rules or algorithms, in association with mainly digital, but also physical, tools and tech- niques. They imply the rules; the entire process fol- lows. Michael Hensel describes digital morphogene- sis as a 'self-organization process, underlying the growth of living organisms, from which architects can learn' (Hensel, Menges and Weinstock 2006). In their latest book, Rivka and Robert Oxman (2013) categorize form generation into six dominant mod- els in relation to its main driver: mathematical, tec- tonic, material, natural, fabricational and performa- tive. They see digital morphogenesis as 'the exploita- tion of generative media for the derivation of mate- rial form and its evolutionary mutation'. Its key con- cepts include topological geometries, genetic algo- rithms, parametric design and performance analysis. Finally, Toyo Ito compares 'generative order' to the growth mechanism of trees, whose form derives from the repetition of simple rules, creating a very complex order (Turnbull 2012). A tree's shape re- sponds to its surroundings, blurring the boundaries of interior and exterior spaces - qualities that are easy to recognize in Ito's Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London. Based on these key definitions of generative de- sign, a modified design method was developed in or- der to be applied in a year 3 design studio module at the Liverpool School of Architecture.


Main aim of this research paper is to evaluate the suitability and implementation of generative design methodologies into undergraduate design studio. Its main research questions can be described as follows:

• How can generative design methodology be integrated in an undergrad design studio module?

• Which are its strengths and weaknesses?

• Does the applied design methodology achieve its objectives in producing innova- tive design solutions and increase students' design skills and future employability?

• Does the integration of generative design methodology in undergraduate level seem appropriate?


Our research method was based on monitoring the design path of Analysis - Morphogenesis - Metamor- phosis (Figure 02) aiming the production of complete architectural proposals. It was applied in a research led design studio unit of 57 students (studio 04). The studio was led by the author, tutored by four addi- tional tutors and it is part of a 230 student cohort in

the entire year. The design module had a teaching period of 12 weeks. Students were allowed to choose among the four studios offered, according to the dif- ferent studio briefs and teaching methods. Analysis focused on data collection of various as- pects, such as context, programme, material, struc- ture and performance. Morphogenesis, digital or physical, targeted the generation of abstract proto- types, based on spatial and organizational princi- ples, including unit accumulation, surface continu- ity, faceting, volume deformation or subtraction, and algorithmic patterning. The phases of Analysis and Morphogenesis have certain similarities to those de- scribed by Paredes Maldonado (2014), however de- riving from a different starting point and emphasiz- ing strongly on physical model outputs. In many cases notions such as genetic algorithms, cellular au- tomata or shape grammars as described by Fischer and Herr (2001) were applied by using physical mod- elling only, according to the students individual skills and preference. After undergoing a phase of iterations, the resul- tant not-to-scale 'proto-tectonic' structures (Framp- ton 2001) were then 'transformed' into building pro- posals, including floor plans, sections and elevations, as well as physical and digital models and all their derivatives (atmospheric images, visualizations, etc.). The Metamorphosis of an abstract prototype into a building proposal could occur in two different ways.

into a building proposal could occur in two different ways. Figure 2 Generative Design Method applied

Figure 2 Generative Design Method applied in Studio 04

It could either be literal (a direct transformation into

a building envelope and structure) or operational

(functioning as an apparatus, which could generate design solutions in various scales and arrangements). Studio marking consisted out of two compo- nents, split between 30% for research and 70% for design. In Studio 04, the studio presented here, stu- dents had to work collaboratively during the first four weeks allocated to research (analysis and morpho- genesis) and develop their individual projects in the remaining time of eight weeks. Students were of- fered introduction workshops in Rhinoceros 5 and

Grasshopper as well as in digital fabrication tech- niques. Each group was given a precedent to use as a

starting point for their analysis, from which they had

to derive design principles and rules in order to pro-

duce iterations of abstract physical prototypes. The remaining 70% design component was ded-

icated to the design of a middle sized project (in that case a regional ferry terminal). Students were asked

to 'transform' and apply their research findings from

the 30% component into their final design proposal. Deliverables were consisting of all typical drawings, physical models, visualizations and detailing, as re- quired by the RIBA and were identical for all four stu-

dios offered. All projects were reviewed three times by exter- nal juries before being marked by the entire group of studio tutors, moderated internally and examined by external examiners. All data was collected through out the entire year from student assessment and feedback forms, external examiner reports, submis- sion of design project data, as well as an anonymous student survey. Marking criteria for both studio com- ponents (30% and 70%) were co-decided by all stu- dio leaders and were made available to all students and examiners. In particular the marking rubric for the 30% research component was composed out of following marking criteria:

• Quality of site investigations / design exer- cises

• Evidence of research into architectural prece- dents

• Evidence of design drivers / process work / strategy

• Clarity of architectural arguments / overall presentation

Marking criteria for the 70% design components were as followed:

• Development of design process, utilising find- ings from component 1 / innovation

• Architectural agenda and design approach, expressed through diagrams, sketches, mod- els.

• Quality of layout, drawings, 3d exploration, models

• Quality of tectonic approach and structural considerations

• Quality of the 1:20 detail drawings

• Overall body of work and presentation

Analysis of the monitored design output, marking rubric statistics and student survey, which will be pre- sented in this paper are offering an analytical eval- uation overview of generative design methodolo- gies integration in undergraduate education. Ob- viously a decrease in students' average marking, or negative comments by external examiners and stu- dents would be a strong indication that the teach- ing method applied is not delivering the expected results, thus may not be suitable for undergraduate design studio education and vice versa. External ex- aminers reports are based on the examiners annual review of the cohort's studio projects as well as a 10 minute interview every student. They do not relay on a specific list of criteria, but on the examiners' long year experience in practice and education. Student surveys were held anonymously through 'vital' the schools on-line operating system.


By monitoring students' studio choices for the 4 dif- ferent studios offered, first positive signals arise. Stu- dio 04 turned out to be very popular, with 1st choice

demands exceeding the available 57 slots . In addi-

tion the studio's cohort had a high marking average of 64.5%, considerably higher than the other 3 stu- dios (any mark on 70% or higher, is considered as a 1st class project). Overall there were 12 students with

a 1st class average mark, the highest concentration of firsts in all 4 studios. Proceeding with the 30% research component outputs, which included the phases of analysis and morphogenesis it proved to be very successful due to the enormous amount and high quality of design production, including hundreds of models, diagrams, sketches and drawings (Figure 03). High variety on geometrical exploration, typology innovation, scale, geometry and structure has been documented. Students managed to tackle the studio's design approach and requirements quite well, even though

it was the first time they have operated with such a

design approach. This becomes evident by looking at their marking statistics, putting studio 04 at the high- est range with an average score of 69% (Figure 04). Continuing with the 70% design component, student performance drops compared to the 30% component as expected. In comparison to their stu- dio performance in the previous year, the average

studio mark stays almost unchanged moving from

64.5% into 63.5%. Out of the 57 students, 28 improve their score while 20 worsen it. 13 manage to move on

a higher grading band while 13 move to a lower one.

Band changes of grades moving up from from 63% to 80% and from 55% to 72% are among the most ex- treme ones. On the negative site were students who dropped from 70% to 58% and from 60% to 48%. By looking at the on-line studio 04 survey, re- sults appear very encouraging. Its overall participa- tion rate reaches 65%. In the question 'How did you find studio 04's overall design method?', 40% find it very useful allowing them to achieve new outputs, 48.6% useful, neutral 8.5 % and none finds it not use- ful or would rather design the conventional way. That shows an overall acceptance of 88.6%. In reference to the morphogenetic component, the question 'How important were the 1st phase and

the development of the generative models for the de- sign of your final building?' receives 37.1 % for very im- portant, 54% for important (has influenced the build- ing in one or the other way), 2.85% has ignored the generative models and 5.7% consider it as neutral. Again an overall acceptance of 91.1% occurs.

it as neutral. Again an overall acceptance of 91.1% occurs. Figure 3 Model outputs of morphogenetic
it as neutral. Again an overall acceptance of 91.1% occurs. Figure 3 Model outputs of morphogenetic

Figure 3 Model outputs of morphogenetic design component

Figure 4

Marking statistics

on morphogenetic

modelling design


Considering the freedom in design creativity, the ma- jority sees the method as a mean to express their cre- ativity with 51.5% strongly agreeing, 34.3% agreeing, 2.9% disagreeing and 11.4% seeing it as neutral. Referring to taught skills in 3D modelling and digital fabrication 88.5+8.5% strongly agree or agree that they are useful for their future employability while only 3% think this they are irrelevant. Finally in the question 'Do you think that the new skills you have developed in this studio helped you to produce a better project than last semester?' 54.3 % find their current project much better than their pre- vious, 31.4% a little bit better, 8.5% don't like their current project and 2.8% see it about the same.

Figure 5 Market Hall proposal by Yiqiang Zhao

Figure 6 Ferry terminal proposal by Man Jia

By monitoring the external examiner's com- ments and remarks, based on their annual report, stu- dio 4 is not being considered as problematic or inap- propriate. They don't seem to differentiate it from all other studios which follow conventional design methods, except for one complimentary statement. All examiners 'complained' about the lack of context engagement in the entire year except for studio 04:

Andrew Peckham stated: 'It was ironic that it was the studio concerned to 'searchfor new typologies' that best registered a contextual urbanism on a constrained site in the city centre'.


By reviewing the design projects and outputs as- sessed here, a set of conclusions and discussion points arises. Many architectural educators are very sceptical about such unconventional design meth- ods, fearing the loss of design control, materiality, craftsmanship, functionality and relationship to con- text. They tend to blame generative-based design for all the negative aspects of contemporary archi- tecture. However, the design method applied here proves them wrong. It manages to support a high degree of differentiation between the schemes, de- spite the fact that many of the projects were devel- oped using the same techniques (e.g., triangulation). It also inevitably supports creativity and innovation, which is why so many of the projects managed to move beyond standard building typologies and lay- outs such as the market hall building (Figure 05). In- novation emerged not only in formal design aspects, but also in terms of building programme and spatial solutions, offering new building type hybridizations, such as the ferry terminal proposal (Figure 06). The mix of different design tools and techniques, switching from traditional physical modelling, such as plaster casting, to advanced 3D printing and CNC fabrication in one continuous modelling scheme (Figure 07), proved to be of great educational value. It offered students the opportunity to test materials with their hands, and to experience the advantages, difficulties and opportunities advanced technology

has to offer - a design path that is often excluded, due to dogmatism, or ignorance of (or lack of respect for) either handcrafting or computerized techniques. Neither banning computers nor abandoning tradi- tional craftsmanship offers a solution for the future of architectural education. Digital tools can often be seductive for design- ers. However, while speeding up the design process, designing with digital tools makes gravity and mate- riality disappear. Physical modelling helps designers and students to reconnect with these two key ele- ments, which are so important for architectural pro- duction. In addition, the switch between analogue and digital tools allows students to filter out excess complexity within a digitalized design process. By testing digital findings with physical prototypes, they can begin to assess whether a complex solution is re- ally offering spatial, aesthetic or programmatic qual- ities to a project. The issue is not so much whether CAD and 3D modelling software should be banned or embraced in undergraduate architectural educa- tion, but rather to what extend they should be ap- plied, in which educational year and for what pur- pose. The same principle applies for the use of digital fabrication. It is indeed irrational to apply such tech- niques for cutting out rectangular panels, but more than appropriate for mastering fabrication of com- plex geometries.

appropriate for mastering fabrication of com- plex geometries. CAAD Education - Concepts - Volume 2 -
appropriate for mastering fabrication of com- plex geometries. CAAD Education - Concepts - Volume 2 -
Alongside the loss of materiality and craftsman- ship, many critics of generative design methods ar-

Alongside the loss of materiality and craftsman- ship, many critics of generative design methods ar- gue that the resulting architectural proposals are to- tally detached from their context. This is a criticism often applied to modern architecture as well. Dur- ing our programme, the degree of integration or non- integration within a context was up to the designer. Building up a relationship between a building and its context can be achieved in many different ways. It can rely on form, materiality or programme, or all of the above. One can choose to harmonize, ignore or break with a building's context, a decision that does not depend on the design approach but on the de- signer's attitude towards the site. Nevertheless, ex- ternal examiners overviewing the projects expressed surprise at the high degree of site-specific proposals, despite the unconventional design approach. All of the finalized projects managed to comply with stan- dards and requirements defined by the accreditation body (RIBA) and the module descriptors, as evident in the drawing and modelling outputs. In that sense, the generative design method applied proved highly appropriate for design education, helping students to develop their skills and self-confidence, and en- hancing their future employability. This became ev- ident by the student survey, where 97% of all par- ticipants expressed their confidence about gaining higher employability perspectives. Looking at the difficulties accompanying such an approach, findings varied. Scepticism from other col-

leagues and fellow educators was definitely among them. This included guidance from tutors involved in the process as well as criticism from others observ- ing the approach. From a student's point of view, the shift away from conventional design methods cer- tainly appeared to be very demanding. That became particularly evident after the completion of the form- finding phase; it was the Metamorphosis that pre- sented the biggest challenges. As liberating and ex- citing as Morphogenesis might have been for some, abandoning the abstraction of the prototype and transforming it into a building proposal, overcom- ing obstacles of structure, urban context, planning and materiality seemed to be very difficult. Many tended to start from scratch, leaving everything be- hind and following the conventional approach they were most familiar with. Some chose a brutal landing of their prototype into the site, without developing an attitude towards the context, while others failed to use their prototype for something more than sim- ply trendy decoration. Another issue that arose using this approach was having to manage the geometrical complexity that occurred.This was often a problem of representation. Complex geometries are easily produced in a digital environment, but controlling and representing their outputs often requires non-standardized methods as well. This can be a consequence of using software in- correctly, or of using inappropriate software for the task required. How can complex geometries be rep-

Figure 7 Generative models by Yiqiang Zhao, Zhenyu Zhu and Nojan Adami

resented in floor plan, section and elevation? How can such geometries be built in a physical model? This is when guidance is needed. Tutors play a crit- ical role here. Educators need to guide students and enrich academic curricula with new design methods and tutored skills. But it is the student culture that plays an even more important role: the intercourse that occurs between students, either through daily procedures and presentations or through social me- dia, websites and on-line forums. Today's young de- signers belong to a generation that has grown up with smartphones and computer tablets instead of crayons and paper, granting them familiarity with digital technologies from a very early age. These are designers, therefore, who are more than able to deal with unconventional design methods, and who will hopefully revolutionize architectural production in the future.


My acknowledgements got to all studio 04 tutors, Richard Dod, Elif Erdine, Jo Hudson and Jane Moscar- dini for their hard effort and support.


Agkathidis, A and Kocatürk, T 2014 'Deceptive Land- scape Installation: Algorithmic patterning strategies for a small pavilion', Proceedings of eCAADe 2014, Newcastle, pp. p71-79 van Berkel, B and Bos, C 1999, Move (3-vol. set): Imagina- tion/Techniques/Effects, Groose Press, Amsterdam Derrida, J 1976, De la grammatologie, Les Éditions de Mi- nuit, Paris Eisenman, P 2004, Eisenman Inside Out: Selected Writ- ings 1963–1988 (Theoretical Perspectives in Architec- tural History & Criticism), Yale University Press, Yale Fischer, T and Herr, C M 2001 'Teaching Generative De- sign', International Conference on Generative Art, Mi- lan Frampton, K 1995, Studies in Tectonic Culture: The Poetics of Construction in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Architecture, MIT Press, Boston Hensel, MA, Menges, A and Weinstock, M (eds) 2006, Techniques and Technologies in Morphogenetic De- sign, Wiley & Sons, London

Kolarevic, B 2003, 'Digital Production', in Kolarevic, B (eds) 2003, In Architecture in the Digital Age: Design and Manufacturing, Taylor & Francis, London, pp. 46-


Lazzeroni, C, Bohnacker, H, Gross, B and Laub, J 2012, Generative Design: Visualize, Program, and Cre- ate with Processing, Princeton Architectural Press, Princeton Paredes Maldonado, M 2014 'Digital Recipes: A diagram- matic approach to digital design methodologies in undergraduate architecture studios', Proceedings of eCAADe 2014, Newcastle, pp. 333-342 Oxman, R and Oxman, R (eds) 2013, Theories of the Digital in Architecture, Routledge, London Soddu, C 1994, 'The Design of Morphogenesis. An ex- perimental research about the logical procedures in design processes', Demetra Magazine, 1, pp. 56-64 Turnbull, J (eds) 2012, Toyo Ito: Generative Order (Kassler

Lectures), Princeton Architectural Press, Princeton

The MOOC-ability of Design Education

Martijn Stellingwerff 1 1 TU Delft, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment http://www.bk.tudelft.nl/en/ m.c.stellingwerff@tudelft.nl



In the past three years, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have become an important new way for universities to reach out to possible matriculates, life long learners and alumni. Although MOOCs already cover a vast amount of subjects and curricula, it is remarkable to ascertain the lack of Architectural Design courses on the main platforms like edX and Coursera. Online courses do cover design aspects, e.g. about styles and building materials, but 'design as activity' is an exceptional subject in the portfolio of available MOOCs. In contrast, the CAAD community was one of the first to develop Virtual Design Studio's (VDS) and experimental predecessors of MOOC platforms, such as the AVOCAAD course database system (Af Klercker et al. 2001). Yet, the query 'MOOC' still does not ring a bell in the CUMINCAD publication database (per May 2015). In this paper I will explore a palette of design education settings, in order to find a fit to what a MOOC platform can offer. I will compare the 'MOOC-ability' of Design Education to chances in Virtual Design Studio's and developments in ubiquitous mobile platforms.

Keywords: MOOC, VDS, Structured course, Explicit knowledge, Educational setting


This paper draws from a number of key references that shed light on the early developments of VDS (Bradford et al. 1994; Kvan 1997), contemporary re- flections on VDS (Achten et al. 2011), social aspects of VDS (Ham and Schnabel 2012) and pedagogical in- sights on design education (van Dooren 2011). Another inspiration for this paper came from my Delft colleagues at the Faculty of Industrial Design & Engineering. They started an edX MOOC on the 'Delft Design Approach', which is akin to but still dif- ferent from architectural design approaches. Their vast efforts can be seen as the first successful attempt

to cover design activities within the framework of a MOOC. Finally, participating in a MOOC, as a student, was a marvelous experience. I enrolled for the course "The Search for Vernacular Architecture of Asia, Part 1", by the HKU on edX. The insights, from a student per- spective, were very interesting. After this first MOOC experience, I long for spare time to enroll for many more online courses.

Different design education settings

The studio and the classroom, the blackboard, the visiting expert, a talk between tutor and student, a

public presentation or a chit-chat in the café, all these elements and many more have contemporary paral- lels in digital platforms. Each setting allows for differ- ent focus, framing, type of communication and ex- perimentation. In order to have the best learning experience, the most appropriate setting should be matched to the educational goals and the type of learning. Regarding the brief history of computation in general and in education, we still see a lot of lag in developments. We use metaphors in computer in- terfaces that refer to blackboards, shelves and desk- tops. New concepts of learning need to be investi- gated quickly, because the old metaphors and con- cepts mismatch newly available sources of knowl- edge such as from search engines, Wikipedia, blogs and instruction videos. Soon AI speech interfaces, VR and AR will be the channels through which students get, develop and present their information. The institutional education setting is augmented with personal communication devices, cloud storage and all kinds of blended modes of learning. At our model and prototyping workshop tables, we increas- ingly see students sitting with a mixed toolset of lap- tops, mobile phones, scissors, glue, pen and paper. The mobile phone itself is a laboratory of sensors, cameras, BIM viewers, vectorize apps and 3d model repositories. One of our remarkable students (Daniel Aaron Bislip) even developed his own 3dprinter, be- cause he wanted one that fits the dimensions of a campus locker, in order to work and interact with oth- ers at our institute. The emergence of fab-labs and many new initia- tives to enhance education with prototyping work- shops, craft and material experiments, indicate that the vast digital developments require parallel, tangi- ble, real world experiments. In that respect blended learning is not just an extension into the mobile / so- cial and digital realm, it is also a counter movement, back to physical tests and real world collaborations.

Evolutions in online education

To further describe the developments in design ed- ucation I will make a rough distinction into two ed- ucation settings: the design classroom and the de- sign studio. The classroom has to me some ancient connotations like: a closed space where one teacher instructs many students, a space in which well struc- tured courses provide facts, methods and theories. The studio, in my view, can be associated with a more open space, where experts are in conversation with students, where courses take the form of assign- ments and where new ideas will be developed. In digital versions I see a MOOC platform as a new sort of classroom, whereas a VDS obviously rep- resents a studio setting. The first VDS was introduced in 1992, in the year the WWW was born (Achten 2011). In the succeed- ing years, we can see VDS developments that closely follow the availability of techniques. Bandwidth is more confining than types of media. For example video conferencing software was available but lim- ited bandwidth confined the use to some larger ple- nary discussions. File exchange was easier with struc- tured CAD data than with large image files. The avail- ability of websites allowed to exchange and present text and images in a more related way. Soon Vir- tual Reality applications and Collaborative Virtual En- vironments were explored. This all was done within a timeframe of five years. AVOCAAD (Af Klercker et al. 2001) is an experi- mental predecessor of a MOOC platform. This course database had already many enhanced possibilities, but the new MOOC platforms iron out the experi- mental and custom made features, in order to get a stable set of generally useful functionalities. While VDS are focused on exchange of ideas and collabo- rative developments, a MOOC is focused on learning facts and evaluating progress. Most intriguing in VDS and MOOC developments is the incremental insight that you can get. Similar to the stepwise and early VDS evolutions, based on ob- servations from previous experiments, MOOCs pro- vide insights from so-called 'learning analytics'.

MOOC chances and challenges

At first sight MOOCs offer online education related to facts, while VDS are more appropriate to facilitate de- sign activities. A VDS seems also more suitable for the training of open-ended skills compared to a MOOC. Therefore a MOOC seems not an appropriate choice for teaching design as activity. But is that true? Elise van Dooren (2011) argues that performing a skill is an implicit activity, while learning and teaching are largely explicit actions. In that regard, I pose that tacit knowledge needs to be understood and should be made explicit in order to demystify design and cre- ativity. A notable MOOC that takes steps into this direction is the edX MOOC on the 'Delft Design Ap- proach', by my Delft colleagues at the Faculty of In- dustrial Design & Engineering (IDE). In a presentation at IDE, Joop Daalhuizen shared his experiences about their new MOOC. Here I will paraphrase some of the notes I made during his pre- sentation. The MOOC is based on the book: the 'Delft Design Guide', which describes many processes and views on design. The MOOC is intended to show- ing IDE 'gems' to the world and prepare students for studying in Delft. The MOOC resulted from collabo- ration between 12 experts from faculty and 6 profes- sionals. Content of the MOOC:

1. Capture your own morning ritual

2. Deconstruct it.

3. Observe someone else's morning ritual.

4. Define a design problem and challenge.

5. Generate and select ideas.

6. Develop and evaluate concepts.

7. Prototype and test a concept.

8. Present a concept as answer to the design challenge.

What we especially can learn from this first MOOC on design methods is the educational quality you can get by using a general stepwise process to develop

a personally chosen design theme. Guiding involves

a lot of devotion from the education team. Feedback

videos have to be made overnight and the edX plat- form requires all videos to get subtitles. Developing

this all requires effort and devotion. A remarkable insight from the IDE MOOC was the advantage of using peer reviews. A peer review gives the students new perspectives on their own work and the work of others. If the peer reviewing is instructed as part of the course, good quality reviews can be made and those save the course developers a lot of work. Of course a second order review needs to be maintained by the course team. My own positive experience from peer reviews came from participating in the course "The Search for Vernacular Architecture of Asia, Part 1", by the HKU on edX. We, as students, had to write about the her- itage values in our own environment. I wrote about Delft. Then each participant had to review the de- scriptions of other students. I reviewed stories about Bath, Lithuania and Myanmar. At the same time I re- ceived feedback on my own text. The involvement and speed of feedback was unprecedented. The HKU MOOC proved to me that a structured course, with knowledge checks and peer-reviewed tasks brings a valuable online education experience. An important step to assist students in their de- sign development is the identification of a 'guiding theme', which is brought to expression regarding dif- ferent domains, such as type, material, function, site and context (van Dooren 2011). These domains and the development of the guiding theme can be edu-

cated in an explicit and structured form, and this type of didactic is probably more suitable to a MOOC than

a VDS.

What trends can be expected?

MOOCs are popular and belong to a wish to lower thresholds for people to be educated and to educate themselves. Universities see open courseware as an invitation and introduction to their expertise. Stu- dents and life long learners get easy access to high- end knowledge, delivered to their home. It can be

exciting to get in contact with people with similar in- terests, while breaking physical and cultural borders. Such a well running trend can be easily extended to

a near future with even more topics available.

The development of Virtual Design Studios closely followed the trends and the technological ad- vances of web-based technologies in the nineties. Such a relation to contemporary technical innova- tions can also be expected in the further develop- ment of MOOCs. I expect much enhancement in the educational insights based on 'learning analytics'. The data can be used in pedagogic research, in design research and the insights will direct the fine-tuning process of ex- isting courses and enhance the development of new courses. Another use of learning analytics is to find cues where students tend to drop out of the course. Currently MOOCs are often confronted with a so- called 'funnel of participation', drop-out and non- completion rates are substantially higher than in more traditional education (Clow 2013). A real time analytical system could adapt the course in order to prevent students to drop out. For example the stu- dent can be confronted with better performing peers or peers from a similar cultural background. Cur- rent MOOC platforms are still relatively straight for- ward, but the real time adaptation of course elements and the add-in of virtual assistants and online AI help could enhance and adapt regarding the specific per- formance of a student. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will consume MOOCs, but will also act as plug-in for assistance, encourage- ment and explanation. Of course, there will be counter developments. MOOCs will be introduced in the classroom; the class- room will be a metaphor within a MOOC. MOOCs will be collaborating with world wide fab-labs. And then? Then another paradigm comes in view.


Achten, H, Koszewski, K and Martens, B 2011 'What hap- pened after the “Hype” on Virtual Design Studios?:

Some Considerations for a Roundtable Discussion', 29th eCAADe Conference Proceedings / ISBN 978-9- 4912070-1-3, University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Ar- chitecture (Slovenia), pp. 23-32

Bradford, JW, Cheng, N and Kvan, T 1994 'Virtual Design Studios', Proceedings of the 12th European Conference on Education in Computer Aided Architectural Design / ISBN 0-9523687-0-6, Glasgow , pp. 163-167 Clow, D 2013 'MOOCs and the funnel of participation', Third Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowl- edge, Leuven, pp. 185-189 van Dooren, EJGC 2011 'Making explicit in design edu- cation : generic elements in the design process.', In

N Roozenburg, LL Chen & PJ Stappers (Eds.), Diversity

and unity: Proceedings of IASDR 2011, Delft, pp. 1-12 Ham, JJ and Schnabel, MA 2012 'How social is the vir- tual design studio? A case study of a third year design studio', Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Computer Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia, Chennai , p. 173–182 Af Klercker, J., Achten, H and Verbeke, J 2001 'AVOCAAD - A First Step Towards Distance Learning?', 19th eCAADe Conference Proceedings / ISBN 0-9523687-8-

1, Helsinki , pp. 269-274

Kvan, T 1997 'Studio Teaching Without Meeting: Peda- gogical Aspects of a Virtual Design Studio', Proceed- ings of the Second Conference on Computer Aided Ar- chitectural Design Research in Asia / ISBN 957-575-

057-8, Taiwan , pp. 163-177

Remarks on Transdisciplinarity as Basis for Conducting Research by Design Teamwork in Real World Context through Two Case Studies of Algorithm Aided Lighting Design

Aulikki Herneoja 1 , Henrika Pihlajaniemi 2 , Toni Österlund 3 , Anna Luusua 4 , Piia Markkanen 5 1,2,3,4,5 University of Oulu, Oulu School of Architecture




The definition of Research by Design (RD) as a research methodology is not yet well established. RD takes its position not only as a research method next to the 'traditional' sciences but also in relation to the creative design practice, where transdicsiplinarity is in essential role. Rather than defining architecture being transdisciplinary in itself, we see beneficial to conduct research together with various disciplines concerning the complexity of the life-world. Also in this interdisciplinary research group we are willing to hold on the designerly way of knowledge production. Of our practical experience working in an interdisciplinary research group shared values, research project management together with participation with evaluative aims were the most challenging aspects. At its best, attempt for genuine transcdisciplinarity was beneficial and rewarding, though sometimes challenging. We would like to target the discussion how we architects, as researchers identify in an interdisciplinary research group conducting transdisciplinary research.

Keywords: Research by Design methodologies, Transdisciplinary research, Interdisciplinary research group, Real world context, Virtual and physical environment


As transdisciplinarity from the viewpoint of a re- search group is not adequately discussed, further discussion of Research by Design (RD) as a research methodology is needed. Importantly, the discussion on RD methodology should be extended beyond the

level of graduate student projects and doctoral stud- ies (e.g.Dunin-Woyseth 2005; Verbeke 2013) to truly accommodate all phases of academic research. A broadly diversified and widely accepted definition of RD as EAAE Charter [1], however, exists for adminis- trative purposes to foster research in the field of ar-

chitecture. In the more accurate definitions, RD is positioned not only as a research method next to Mode 1 form knowledge production referring to 'tra- ditional' sciences, but also in relation to creative de- sign practice and research, positioning itself to Mode 2 (Gibbons et al. 1994). Definition of RD which em- phasizes insider perspectives, a generative approach and furthermore, operates through rich and multiple layers in real life contexts (e.g., Dunin-Woyseth 2004, Sevaldson 2010). This specification includes trans- disciplinarity, context, mode of applied research, and multiple actors. RD forms a good frame to reflect on the research processes of two of our case studies, Ur- ban Echoes, which was situated in a park context (Fig- ure 1) and SparkSpace, which took place in a retail context (Figure 2). The aim of this paper is to reflect on the def- inition of Research by Design (RD) in the context of interdisciplinary research group (Figure 3) aim- ing to conduct transdisciplinary research. Interdis- ciplinary knowledge is clearly located within schol- arly environments, however, transdisciplinary knowl- edge production entails a fusion of academic and non-academic knowledge. First, we regard the no- tion of transdisciplinarity more closely, since it com- piles quite many aspects emphasized in the defi- nition of RD (e.g., Dunin-Woyseth 2004, Sevaldson 2010). We will start with introducing our research group briefly, but discuss the roles and modes of co- operation along this paper more thoroughly. In general, our research group was much bigger than the researchers hired by the project, its compo- sition was complex and roles of the actors were man- ifold. The composition of the research group was not static; rather, the assemblage was altered depend- ing on the case study, on the phase and on the need for specific expertise. The main research institutions involved were the Oulu School of Architecture, Uni- versity of Oulu (OSA) in both projects, namely Urban Echoes (UE) and SparkSpace (SpS) and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) in SpS. And in UE we co-operated also in many ways with the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering,

University of Oulu (ITEE). The core researchers in both case studies were architect and lighting designer Henrika Pihlajaniemi, with research interest towards design and experience of adaptive lighting, and ar- chitect and digital designer Toni Österlund also in the end of his doctoral studies. In Urban Echoes Pihla- janiemi was researcher hired (part time) by research project AUL, co-operating with SpS, where she was also a business partner through her architect's office M3 Architects and in a teacher's role supervising Piia Markkanen's diploma thesis dealing with adaptive re- tail lighting. Österlund was full-time hired by AUL and co-operating with SpS. The common nominator between Österlund and Pihlajaniemi was the devel- opment process of a tool prototype for designing and simulating adaptive urban lighting (VirtuAUL) that was also customized to be used in SpS demo. Ar- chitect Anna Luusua worked part-time in multidisci- plinary UbiMetrics research project lead by ITEE (prof. Timo Ojala) in co-operation with other disciplines, ar- chitecture being one of them. In the end of the eval- uation phase of both demos she was hired for both projects. Luusua was actively co-operating with cul- tural anthropologists and computer scientists, since she was working with them in the same space called Urban Life Lab. In addition of working with diploma thesis in SpS project Piia Markkanen, now also an ar- chitect, doctoral student of architecture, was hired to join the designing phase of the Spark Space demo. In addition of these core members of the research team there are many master's students both from OSA and ITEE, together with other stakeholders such as companies, customers and citizens that have been attended with one way or another to these two pilots.


Transdisciplinary knowledge production was intro- duced in the epistemologically critical framework of "The New Production of Knowledge" (Gibbons et al. 1994). It has been adopted as the basis of the Re- search by Design approach, particularly by Halina Dunin-Woyseth (2004) and her colleagues (e.g. Nils-

Figure 1 The Urban Echoes Demo in short.

Figure 2 The SparkSpace Demo in short.

Figure 3 The research group in its entirety.

Demo in short. Figure 3 The research group in its entirety. son 2007, Verbeke 2013, Sevaldson
Demo in short. Figure 3 The research group in its entirety. son 2007, Verbeke 2013, Sevaldson
Demo in short. Figure 3 The research group in its entirety. son 2007, Verbeke 2013, Sevaldson

son 2007, Verbeke 2013, Sevaldson 2010). Through this publication (Gibbons et al. 1994) the transdisci- plinary approach became widely spread in relation to the description of two parallel and competitive

Modes 1 & 2 forms of knowledge production. Mode 1 refers to traditional scientific knowledge, such as Nat- ural Sciences belonging to exact sciences, generated within a disciplinary, primary cognitive context. In-

stead Mode 2 form of knowledge is fairly opposite to Mode 1 being holistic of its nature:

"The Mode 2 is carried out in a context of appli- cation and defined by its: transdisciplinarity; hetero- geneity; organisational hierarchy and transience; so- cial accountability and reflexivity; it includes a wider, more temporary and heterogeneous set of practi- tioners, collaborating on problem defined in a spe- cific and localised context." (Gibbons et al. 1994, 3.) However, the relationship between these two types of knowledge production has not been consid- ered fundamentally contradictory. Mode 1 forms do not have to be abandoned, but complemented by

a new Mode 2 form of knowledge production that

focuses on combining different types of knowledge (Nowotny et al. 2006 (2001), Nicolescu 2002, 45; Doucet & Janssens 2011). Before entering into further discussion on trans- disciplinarity in the context of architecture, we should reflect on transdisciplinary in general. The definition of transdiciplinarity varies depending on the features being emphasized by refining, broad- ening or changing the focus of the original defini- tion by Erich Jantsch (1972). His formulation of trans- disciplinarity envisioned a systems theory approach

for the purpose oriented integration of knowledge to grasp the complexity of problems in the life-world. The widely cited Julia Thompson Klein et al. (2001) define transdisciplinarity in general by com- paring transdisciplinarity to a form of learning and problem-solving process involving cooperation among different parts of society and academia in order to meet the complex challenges of society. Klein et al. (2001) stress that this process is practice- oriented in its nature, and is not confined to a close circle of scientific experts, professional jour- nals or academic departments where knowledge is produced: "Through mutual learning, the knowl- edge of all participants is enhanced, including lo- cal knowledge, scientific knowledge and the knowl- edge of concerned industries, business, and non- governmental organisations." (Klein et al. 2001.) It

is noteworthy that Klein et al. (2001) do not discuss

only about the society at large, but also specifically mention NGO's, industries and business as sites of knowledge. Also their way of highlighting the "mu- tual learning" aspect is interesting considering the ar- chitect's professional role as the head designer in a design project directing the whole project where the priority is not in the learning process. In turn, Gibbons et al. (1994) emphasise four fea- tures in transdisciplinarity where the processual na- ture of the approach is distinctive: First, it is an evolv- ing but distinct framework of problem solving gen- erated and sustained in the context of application. By this they emphasize that knowledge is not first produced and then applied, but it is a simultaneous and continuous process. Second, according to Gib- bons (1994) concerning empirical and theoretical as- pects, transdisciplinary knowledge develops its own distinct theoretical structures, research methods and modes of practice, though they may not be located on the prevailing disciplinary map, but they may be generated by the context. Third, instead of keeping the knowledge in academic circles as in Mode 1, the results are communicated to the participants, espe- cially the original practitioners who have participated and the knowledge is accessible for them also after- wards. Gibbons et al. (1994) is the same way against holding on only the academic publishing tradition as Klein et al. (2001); instead, the "diffusion" of knowl- edge should occur among participants. And fourth, Gibbons et al. (1994) emphasize the dynamic nature of transdisciplinarity; it is problem solving capability on the move. The Handbook of Transdisciplinarity Hirsch Hardoun et al. (2008) give compiled general defi- nition of transdisciplinarity, in which they have been reflecting among others the definitions of Gibbons et al. (1994) and Klein et al. (2001), but also bring forward the experience gained from the practical projects carried out in the "life-world". The defini- tion of transdisciplinarity by Hirsch Hardoun et al. (2008) as follows: Transdisciplinary research is research that includes cooperation within the scientific commu- nity and a debate between research and the society at

large. Transdisciplinary research therefore transgresses boundaries between scientific disciplines and between science and other societal fields and includes delibera- tion about facts, practices and values (Hirsch Hardoun et al. 2008, 435). Despite differences of emphasis, Hirsch Hardoun et al. (2008, 437-439) summarises in their book Handbook of Transdisciplinarity four core concerns which appear in all definitions of transdisci- plinarity or related terms: First, the focus on life-world problems; second, the transcending and integrating of disciplinary paradigms; third, participatory research; and fourth, the search for unity of knowledge beyond disciplines. In order to reflect on transdisciplinarity in archi- tecture, we have to first take a stand or at least dis- cuss architecture as a discipline. Isabelle Doucet and Nel Janssens (eds.) (2011) Transdisciplinary knowl- edge production in architecture and urbanism: towards hybrid modes of inquiry point out in a recapitulating manner that architecture has a twofold role as a dis- cipline and a profession. Architecture's complex ar- rangement with the world, acting as it does in both roles, requires us to deal with a broad range of dis- ciplinary and practical forms of knowledge. (Doucet & Janssens 2011, 2). Architecture has been called as `weak´ discipline because it integrates and yet de- pends upon many areas of knowledge (Troiani et al. 2013). Jane Rendell (2004, 144) also holds that ar- chitecture encompasses several disciplines, but she has also emphasised architectural design as a partic- ular type of practice-led research; a disciplinary spe- cific that cannot be found in other types of practice or design (Rendell 2004, 144), or in Nigel Cross' terms "designerly ways of knowing" (Cross 2001). Alain Findeli (1999, 3) discusses designerly ways of know- ing, which he calls research through design. Over- all, concerning the production of design knowledge, Doucet & Janssens (2011,3) propose that all these three approaches (Rendell 2004, 144; Cross 2001; Findeli 1999, 3) should be considered under the term Research by Design, even though they do not make explicit use of the term . It is easy to agree with the aforementioned

writers that interdisciplinary knowledge is located in scholarly environments, and also that transdis- ciplinary knowledge production entails a fusion of academic and non-academic knowledge. However, Doucet & Janssens (2011, 4) also conclude that trans- disciplinarity in architecture is the fusion of theory and practice, discipline and profession, and this we find rather surprising. When discussing about the ob- viousness with which hybrid modes of enquiry are part of the knowledge landscape, which is easy to agree with, Doucet & Janssens (2011, 4) state that [b]ecause (architectural, urban) design engages, both

as a discipline and as a profession, with broader soci- etal concerns (e.g. situated knowledge, participatory

design, everyday practices) [

ing with the intended content we are concerned how easily these "societal concerns", such as situated knowledge, participatory design, and everyday prac- tices are considered as natural contents of architec- ture, either as a discipline or profession. This sug- gests that architects would have self-evident under- standing of "life-world problems", or "the society at large" (e.g. Hirsh Hardon et al. 2008), or that they would have existing procedures or effective practices to study broadly the "context of application" of Mode 2 knowledge production (Gibbons et al. 1994), or indeed to handle the "mutual learning" process un- aided. Unquestionably, we see the very valuable at- tempt to legitimize the "designerly ways of knowing" in architectural research, and we are also eager to implement it in our research projects. Nevertheless, at the same time our research group is concerned about losing the true potential for interaction with the society at large if RD is reduced to be considered automatically transdisciplinary. For example we ar- gue that the various "users" of the end-product are relatively unknown for architects, urban designers and planners; this long-held understanding has been strengthened through co-operation with cultural an- thropologists. Though these professions design for people, the genuine participatory procedures are still fairly new in these fields, and often treated as a formal obligatory necessity as in urban design and planning

]. Rather than disagree-

(Räihä, 2009; Mansikka, 2011) or they exist only as tacit knowledge in architectural design, since partic- ipatory procedures are not required at all in the area of building design. It is important to remark that in the publication Transdisciplinary Knowledge Production in Architecture and Urbanism (Doucet & Janssens 2011) most of the work refers to doctoral level studies and dissertations. This is actually the case also in other publications or articles concerning research in architecture, and the RD approach in particular, which often include graduate student projects as examples (e.g. Dunin- Woyseth 2004, Verbeke 2013). Of course we acknowl- edge the great value of having RD studies in schools' curricula and having great impact also to studies conducted in the post-doctoral phase. Hence, it is clear that when the context of discussion from grad- uate and doctoral studies are transferred to research projects, new aspects will obviously occur. Since we wish to discuss RD also in the context of transdisci- plinary research group conducting research projects together we will next reflect on the work we con- ducted in two of our demos, namely Urban Echoes and SparkSpace.


The six stumbling blocks in transdisciplinary research practice pointed out by Hirsh Hardon et al. (2008) forms a good frame to discuss about the challenges we have faced in practice working as a research group: Participation and mutual learning, Integration and collaboration, Values and uncertainties, Manage- ment and leadership, Education and career building, and Evaluation and quality control. We identify two profound challenges in work- ing within an interdisciplinary research group with a transdisciplinary approach: First, shared values or rather, the genuine attempt to share them. The crucial differences in the ontological and epistemic foundations of the participating disciplines may cause a wide-ranging ripple effect to the whole re-

search project. The question of shared values is also present when looking at the discipline of architec- ture as transdisciplinary of its nature. When following the former described division by Doucet & Janssens (2011, 4) the two-fold nature of architecture as a disci- pline, referring to the theoretical contents with inter- disciplinary features, and as a profession, referring to practical contents. The second major challenge is the skill of managing a transdisciplinary research project. Transdisciplinary research projects exist usually for only a limited time and they do not follow any single administrative division. In addition, we will reflect on the experiential and emic (Luusua et al 2015) evaluative research that was an intended part of our RD approach, and the participatory processes which this subsequently in- troduced into the research project. Of course we rec- ognize also all the other stumbling blocks pointed out by Hirsh Hardon et al. (2008), but with these three: shared values and research project manage- ment together with participation with evaluative aims have been most challenging.

About research project management and leadership

The project management by Hirsch Hardoun et al. (2008) is logical for a successful transdisciplinary re- search project where various disciplines are involved. However, the strategy is fairly rigid for research projects in which the RD approach with its generative and heuristic means of working is applied. It is note- worthy that research projects usually last from two to four years. Rather than using project management contents and structuring, which was suggested by Hirsch Hardoun et al. (2008), we perceive a research project managing of temporary organizations more suitable, consisting of the four main features: time, task, team and transition (Ernø-Kjølhede 2000; Lundin et al. 1994). The idea of considering the implemen- tation of the research project to be an expectations- action-learning loop, a cyclical design process could be repeated at least twice (Packendorff 1995). In our case, we accomplished this with UE as the first

and SpS as the second iteration. Erik Ernø-Kjølhede (2000) argues that project management tools are of-

ten misleading since they are used as a blueprint for

a research project rather than as flexible tools. The

proposal of Hirsch Hardoun et al. (2008) structure

the process into different parts in containing phases

of disciplinary contents side by side with intense col-

laboration. Again, theoretically it is easy to agree with Hirsch Hardoun et al. (2008) about the proposed way of project management, especially when pre- structuring the working periods. However, in cases where a real life demo through applying the RD ap- proach is implemented, long-term planning is chal- lenging. For example, negotiations about the place or site or other arrangements for the demos are of- ten complex and therefore time-consuming, but fi- nally the suitable opportunity may occur suddenly, as with the SpS demo. These kinds of situations have force majeure like nature, where the time table, as- semblage and operation diagram is customized by

the needs of the real life demo which is tailored for

a specific place or site. The seamless, inventive and

solution-oriented co-operation of the entire transdis- ciplinary research group is fundamental for a success- ful implementation.

As an alternative for using overly rigid ways used project management tools Ernø-Kjølhede (2000) re- minds us of the importance of constant communi-

cation. He also prioritizes the importance of team- building, but above all he emphasizes the impor- tance of designing the project in such a way that

it is in fact capable of managing itself. The reason

for coming to this conclusion is somewhat surpris- ing due to the knowledge imbalance i.e. parts of the project are known to all participants but all de- tails of the project are known to no one single per- son. Unfortunately, we did not find Ernø-Kjølhede's (2000) thoughts until the UE and SpS projects had

ended. Rather, we proceeded intuitively during the projects using the project management and problem solving skills of practicing architects. The lighting designer Henrika Pihlajaniemi and digital designer Toni Österlund, both architects, had the leading role

in the self-managing process. They had the skills, knowledge and vision concerning the outcome of the demo. If there was a thing they did not know how to do, they either decided to learn it or persuaded others, researchers (e.g. cultural anthropologists) or other stakeholders (e.g. companies) to co-operate with them, with all the problem solving capacity of practicing architects. More generally, as such work- ing in an interdisciplinary research project is a skill of its own that has to be learned, usually in practice. But it is even more challenging when a real life demo is involved.

About participation and mutual learning process

The participation processes of the UE and SpS demos the approach was only partially transdisciplinary, since neither of the demos were started, in an ab- sence of preconceived ideas or predetermined goals, from tabula rasa. In the beginning, the emphasis was on the generative and technical aspects. How- ever, we wanted to consider the viewpoints of var- ious user groups. In the UE demo, we first drafted user profiles and wrote scenarios in various antici- pated users' first-person perspective in order to em- pathize with the various citizens using the park, and to imagine their everyday life situations. In the SpS demo, the scenarios were written from the perspec- tive of different users of retail environments; clients, employees, technical staff members and designers. Those of these narrative scenarios that were de- veloped into visual ones were then further scruti- nized. Even though our scenarios could not replace the perceptions and expectations of real-life users of the retail environment, the scenarios from differ- ent users' perspectives supported the knowledge we had gained from prior literature reviews about ex- perience of light in urban and retail environments. However, our approach follows the idea of transdis- ciplinarity in RD, through the emphasized "context of application". Bringing the cultural anthropologist into the Urban Echoes project already in the start- ing phase would have made the transdisciplinarity of

the project more apparent and thorough. However, their disciplinary expertise was used later in partici- pation process with the park visitors during walking interviews. The participatory method could be devel- oped further by arranging co-design workshops with participants, architects and cultural anthropologists and through analyzing these events we would have achieved grounds to continue to discussions of for- mulating the shared questions. Participation in the UE project, then, took place within of the evaluation phase, which was designed partly interlocking with the design of the demo. For example, the design process of the lighting scenar- ios, which were used in walking interviews, was act- ing as development context of the VirtuAUL design tool functionalities (Pihlajaniemi, Österlund & Her- neoja 2014). Different team members had partly dif- ferent research interests concerning the interviews and walking in-situ interviews that were carried out at this phase. The architect who served as the respon- sible person for the design of the evaluation did not really consider her study as only an evaluation that served a larger project; it was a study of a real-life phenomenon in its own right, with separate research questions and separate knowledge interests. Indeed, all those involved brought their own research inter- ests into the project, and while this took some navi- gating and negotiating, it was a study for the subse- quent participation process, which was designed in a truly transdisciplinary manner, including two groups of citizen participants. Over the course of the UE par- ticipation process, on-the-go learning was abundant. Thus it became obvious that it would be beneficial to design subsequent participatory evaluation stud- ies and demos simultaneously, so that data collec- tion and future participants' anticipated needs would be taken into account in the design of the demo. Thus, the architect-evaluator continued working with the team in a more lengthy collaboration in the SpS demo. Consequently, the participatory evaluation of the demo was designed at the outset, in collabo- ration with the demo's designers and various stake- holders.

About genuine attempt for shared values

As differing and as conflicting the values of partici- pating researchers and stakeholders often are, Hirsch Hardoun et al. (2008) underscore the most deci- sive a kind of self-defined transdisciplinary problem definition. Ontological and epistemic foundations of the participating disciplines are strongly value- loaded. When Hirsh Hardoun et al. (2008) discusses about aiming for a set of shared values, he stresses the importance of building a mutual learning atti- tude by creating broad ownership of the problems and by building value-consciousness through reflexive pro- cesses among researchers. In the process of genuinely attempting to find shared values, we borrow Ernø- Kjølhede's (2000) idea of research project manage- ment: "parts of the project are known to all partici- pants but all details of the project are known to no one single person" and apply it to the field specific differences in ontological and epistemic foundations, since these questions may be too big issues for one research project to gain mutual understanding. We have noticed that researchers or stakeholders who understand each other to even some extent, or share even the slightest common interest should stretch the limits with working closely together in the same sub-groups of a research project. Usually some of the members of sub groups intuitively assume a bridg- ing role, and mingle between the groups building coherence to the group as a whole. For example, in our project, architect Anna Luusua was the bridging person between cultural anthropologists and com- puter scientists. In addition, architect and lighting designer Henrika Pihlajaniemi was the bridging per- son between architects and the researchers of digital design, information and lighting technology. Step by step, they learned a little bit from each other each time through discussions. In the process for find- ing shared values, the "hands-on" co-operation in de- signing and realizing of both the pilots, had an es- sential role. A collective, practical problem-solving process helped us in creating shared values and con- cepts for creating new knowledge. Even if the two ways of knowledge production

Mode 1 and Mode 2 are not considered fundamen-

tally contradictory as discussed earlier (Nicolescu, 2002, 45; Doucet & Janssens 2011), not all the barriers have been knocked down. However, digital design is an area of research in architecture of its own, but to- gether with other more qualitative research interests

in architecture or broader, in co-operation with other

disciplines than architecture, enables great grounds for combining qualitative and quantitative contents.

The mathematical tools of digital design belong to exact sciences, but harnessed to the use of design- ers and architects it offers the means for producing

experiential qualities. We definitely agree that there

is no reason for confrontations of Mode 1 and Mode

2 production of knowledge, but on the other hand there is no shortcuts from mathematics to experien- tial qualities either. Our solution was working within an interdisciplinary group where in addition of tight co-operation, also space for disciplinary like exper- tise was given. For example reflecting Toni Österlund, who was concentrating on developing the graphical design tool VirtuAUL for the design, control and real- world implementation of adaptive lighting, through the four criteria of transdisciplinary research (Hirsch Hardoun et al. 2008, 29). Österlund's focus was in the

life-world practical problems even working with digi-

tal design tool mostly in virtual surroundings. He was actively co-operating with the lighting designer Pih- lajaniemi who set the functional and qualitative aims from the viewpoint of lighting design. We could con- sider that together with Pihlajaniemi, Österlund was transcending and integrating disciplinary paradigm. And further, Pihlajaniemi and Österlund together did

in all times search for unity of knowledge, though

sometimes through long discussions, beyond at least research interests if not "disciplines" of digital and lighting design.


Transdisciplinarity appears as a certain kind of an attitude towards conducting research rather than

a uniform definition, and interpretations and em-

phases seem to differ by the context of discourse.

Along the discussion of transdisciplinarity through Research by Design appear somewhat introverted and self-powered, seemingly turning its back to the other disciplines and society in large, since theory and practice, (inter)discipline and profession are al- ready present in architecture. In the other hand such a core-strengthening attitude of defining transdisci- plinarity within the sphere of architecture is clarify- ing the two-fold, if not the many-fold nature of ar- chitecture. However, when capitulating to conver- sation with researchers of other disciplines than ar- chitecture aiming for co-operation beyond multidis- ciplinarity we need to re-adjust architecture in re- lation to transdisciplinarity. We are willing to hold on the designerly way of knowledge production in Re- search by Design, but we do not want to retain ev- erything within architecture, since we see the gen- uine transcdisciplinary approach of its best benefi- cial and rewarding, though sometimes also challeng- ing, even disruptive. Therefor we would like to tar- get the discussion to how we architects, as design- erly knowledge producers, as researcher identify our- selves, as members of a research group consisting of researchers from various disciplines and sharing the common attempting to study the complexity of the life-world. - In the beginning of the learning process of writing this article we were hesitating whether we are transdisciplinary research group or not? Or won- dering how to position ourselves as a research group in relation to transdisciplinarity? Towards the end, when gaining a little more understanding of the es- sential features of transdisciplinarity, the importance of genuine intention of aiming for transdisciplinarity turned out to be the most crucial one.


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brid modes of inquiry, Springer, Dordrecht, pp. 1-14 Dunin-Woyseth, H 2005, 'The "thinkable" and "unthink- able" doctorates: Three perspectives on doctoral scholarship in architecture', in Michl, J and Nielsen, LM (eds) 2005, Building a doctoral programme in ar- chitecture and design, Oslo School of Architecture and Design, Oslo Dunin-Woyseth, H and Nielsen, LM (eds) 2004, Discussing transdisciplinarity: Making professions and the new mode of knowledge production, AHO, Oslo Dunin-Woyseth, H and Nilsson, F 2011, 'Building (Trans) Disciplinary Architectural Research – Introducing Mode 1 and Mode 2 to Design Practitioners', in Doucet, I and Janssens, N (eds) 2011, Transdisci- plinary knowledge production in architecture and ur- banism : towards hybrid modes of inquiry, Springer, Dordrecht, pp. 79-96 Ernø-Kjølhede, E 2000, Project Management Theory and the Management of Research Projects. MPP Working Paper no. 3/2000, Department of Management, Pol- itics and Philosophy, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

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p. 42 Nicolescu, B 2002, Manifesto of Transdisciplinarity (Trans- lated from French by Karen-Claire Voss), SUNY Press, New York Nilsson, F 2007 'Forming Knowledge – On architectural knowledge and the practice of its production', The Unthinkable Doctorate, Le Lettre Volée, Brussels Nowotny, H, Scott, P and Gibbons, M 2006 (2001), Re- Thinking Science. Knowledge and the Public in an Age of Uncertainty, Polity Press, UK, Cambridge Packendorff, J 1995, 'Inquiring into the Temporary Or- ganization: New Directions for Project Manage- ment Research', Scandinavian Journal of Manage- ment, 11(4), pp. 319-34 Pihlajaniemi, H, Luusua, A, Markkanen, P, Herneoja, A and Pentikäinen, V 2014A 'Experiencing Adaptive Retail Lighting in a Real-World Pilot', Proceedings Ex- periencing Light 2014. International Conference on the Effects of Light on Wellbeing, Eindhoven Univer- sity of Technology, Eindhoven, pp. 90-93 Pihlajaniemi, H, Österlund, T and Herneoja, A 2014B 'Ur- ban Echoes: Adaptive and Communicative Urban Lighting in the Virtual and the Real', MAB '14 Pro- ceedings of the 2nd Media Architecture Biennale Con- ference: World Cities, Aarhus, Denmark, pp. 48-57 Rendell, J 2004, 'Architectural Research and disciplinar- ity', Architectural Research Quarterly, 8(2), pp. 141-


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Integrating Responsive and Kinetic Systems in the Design Studio: A Pedagogical Framework

Sherif Abdelmohsen 1 , Passaint Massoud 2 1 The American University in Cairo (AUC), Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt 2 The American University in Cairo (AUC), Cairo, Egypt 1 https://aucegypt.academia.edu/SherifMoradAbdelmohsen 2 https://aucegypt.academia.edu/PassintMassoud 1,2 {sherifmorad|drpassaint}@aucegypt.edu

Responsive architecture is one of the growing areas of computational design that is not getting adequate attention in CAAD curricula. A pedagogical approach to designing responsive systems requires more than the typical knowledge, tools or skill sets in architectural design studios. This paper presents a framework for integrating responsive and kinetic systems in the architectural design studio. The framework builds on findings of two design studios conducted at The American University in Cairo, Egypt. In both studios, students were asked to design elements of responsive architecture that work towards the development of their projects. The paper demonstrates the process and outcomes of both studios. It then demonstrates how concepts of integrated project delivery are incorporated to propose a framework that engages students in designing, fabricating and operating responsive systems in different phases of the design process. A discussion follows regarding dynamics of design studio in light of the proposed framework.

Keywords: Responsive architecture, Kinetic systems, Digital fabrication, CAAD education, Integrated project delivery


CAAD education has traditionally focused on deliv- ering skills related to specific software tools. With today's abundance of computational methods and systems, this approach has proven to be flawed in terms of its learning outcomes. One of the growing areas of computational design, which has not ade- quately received sufficient attention in CAAD curric- ula, is responsive and kinetic architecture. Compared to other constituents of an architectural project, a

pedagogical approach to designing systems such as responsive structures or kinetic façade systems re- quires much more than the typical knowledge and skill set. It extends to include a variety of components such as digital fabrication and making, physical com- puting, parametric modeling and generative design, kinematics and motion, and material exploration, to name only a few. In this paper, we propose a pedagogical frame- work that integrates responsive and kinetic systems

in the design studio. Some of the key questions ad- dressed through this proposed framework include:

How can the skills and tacit knowledge required for designing responsive systems be delivered to stu- dents of architecture? How can the process of de-

signing these systems be integrated in the design studio? How does this process change the dynamics and logistics of the architectural design studio in gen- eral? And how can it augment - rather than impede

- fundamentals of the design studio, such as design

thinking and integrity, in addition to drawing skills and representation?

We first present a review of pedagogical ap- proaches to incorporating kinetic and responsive sys- tems in architectural design. Then we describe the process and outcomes of two architectural design studios that incorporated the design of responsive systems. In both studios, groups of students at the American University in Cairo (AUC) worked on de- signing responsive elements for their projects, in- cluding components of an exposition center, such as

a hotel tower, an office building, a conference center

and exhibition halls. The goal was to identify an ele- ment that responds to exterior aspects, such as envi- ronmental conditions, or interior aspects, such as be- havioral patterns within architectural spaces. We show the process and outcomes of both design studios, as the process was intentionally slightly different in sequence. In the first studio, stu- dents start by developing their group and individ- ual projects throughout design development, then work on designing their responsive system. In the second studio, they design their responsive system upfront and then work on design development. In both cases, they are asked to show how their systems reflected on the overall architectural or urban design development and detailing. The paper discusses re- sults of both studios, implications for CAAD educa- tion, and proposes a framework for integrating re- sponsive systems in the architectural design studio.


Attempts to integrate the design of kinetic structures in education go back as early as 1970, but more in- volving product than process (Zuk and Clark, 1970). More recent pedagogical attempts include the work of Fox and Hu (2005), which focused on a bottom-up approach of designing mechanical structures then adding sensors and actuators to produce full scale responsive environments. Other efforts, such as El- Zanfaly (2011), provide basic guidelinesfor designing kinetic structures based on shape and motion gram- mars. Efforts that followed include intensive work- shops or brief course modules. This paper aims at

a more comprehensive integration of designing re-

sponsive systems as a pedagogical approach in archi- tectural design studio. We propose a framework for designing respon- sive systems in the design studio that incorporates learning by doing (Ozkar, 2007) and making in design (Blikstein, 2013). We hypothesize that integrating the learning of these systems in studio enhances student perception of spatial quality, mechanism and struc- tural integrity, behavior and time, in addition to at- tention to scale, detail and connections, therefore in- forming the design process at both the architectural

and urban design level. We introduce below the process of two design

studios in two consecutive semesters at the Depart- ment of Construction and Architectural Engineering

at the American University in Cairo (AUC). This digital

design studio (Architectural Design Studio V) aimed at integrating parametric and generative design in architectural projects, within the wider framework of integrated practice and project delivery, building information modeling, and advanced building tech- nology. Within the studio, students designed, fabri- cated and operated elements of responsive and ki- netic architecture that addressed a specific need in

their projects. To do so, the students first devel- oped parametric models of their proposals and then linked them to sensor networks feeding continuous real time input data. This data represented con- ditions from the surrounding exterior and interior

environment. Sensor-planning-action mechanisms were proposed to develop the responsive systems. This was done using Grasshopper and Firefly plug-in, and a physical computing environment using the Ar- duino microcontroller. The first studio was mainly divided into three phases: (1) master plan and preliminary form gen- eration, (2) design development of individual build- ings, and (3) design, fabrication and operation of a responsive/kinetic component. Students worked on an exposition center in the heart of Cairo, consist- ing of a 500-room hotel, a 20-storey office building tower, conference center, shopping center, and an exhibition area. In phase (1) of the course, each group was required to develop a master plan for an expo- sition center based on parametric design strategies. Individually, students then worked on one building type within the master plan, and were encouraged to use simulation and analysis tools, producing design development drawings by the end of phase (2). In phase (3), which is the main focus of this paper, each group was asked to work on a level of detailed de- sign that involved developing working prototypes of kinetic and responsive systems or structures in their designed buildings. They were free to design ele- ments that represented shading devices, façade pan- eling systems, window apertures, canopies, lighting features, etc. The students were asked to reflect on how this phase affected their design thinking process at different levels and scales of their projects. In the second studio, the sequence of phases was slightly modified, with the assumption that switching phases(2) and(3) would add to the richness of the de- sign development process. The phases for this studio were as follows: (1) preliminary form generation, (2) design, fabrication and operation of a responsive/ki- netic component, and (3) design development and detailing. The students were exposed in parallel to design computing literature and readings in areas of parametric design, scripting, responsive architecture, emerging practice, building information modeling, and integrated project delivery. They were asked to work in groups to design a 300-350 room hotel tower

in downtown Cairo. While working on one build- ing in this studio rather than developing a master plan, each group was asked to develop specialties among its group members while developing their de- signs; for example, a project architect, a BIM man- ager, a façade designer, a fabrication specialist, and a sustainability analyst. The goal was to delve into as much detailing and development as possible for the building components and process. In phase (3) of the project, the students worked on developing and de- tailing their buildings, and were encouraged to build on their findings in phase (2) to inform their design development effort, and develop models involving evaluation methods and using simulation and anal- ysis tools regarding a topic of their choice.


We describe below the main outcomes and general observations in both studios. Out of three group projects per studio, we chose two per each for obser- vations and discussion.

Studio I (Fall 2014)

Students varied in their approaches regarding the lo- cation and function of their selected responsive el- ement. Some students developed alternatives for building elements such as apertures and louvers, and others developed alternatives for outdoor shading elements and structures. Group 1A chose to develop an outdoor roof structure as their responsive ele- ment. Conceptually, this structure was based on ki- netic movement, where human behavior and density underneath the outdoor structure would generate electricity based on piezoelectric materials within the environment, in addition to volumetrically altering the space underneath, therefore allowing for larger spaces and more ventilation in high traffic areas and durations. In this sensing-planning-action mecha- nism, the environment would sense the thermal be- havior and movement of users in space, and accord- ingly plan for necessary changes in height in the roof structure, in addition to generating electricity. For the exercise prototype (Figure 1), the students devel-

oped a scaled model of their roof structure.

oped a scaled model of their roof structure. The students used simple laser-cut triangular MDF connected

The students used simple laser-cut triangular MDF connected parts to represent the roof structure, and pullies to simulate the motion of the roof parts, mov- ing up and down to change the volume of space underneath. An Arduino microcontroller was con- nected to the model, and 6 servo motors were used to pull and push wire threads connected to the pul- lies to simulate the desired motion. The students used their cell phones to simulate the sensing com- ponent of the model using a light source, where the intensity of light controlled the volumetric change underneath the roof. Group 1B chose to develop a building facade screen consisting of kinetic window apertures that respond to environmental conditions. Conceptually, the element was based on response to exterior con- ditions such as solar heat gain and daylighting, where the responsive aperture within a double-skin screen would open and close to allow for different daylight- ing and heat gain scenarios according to different times of the day. For the exercise prototype (Fig- ure 2), the students developed a full-scale model of a 60cmX60cm screen using MDF boards. The screen was divided into four identical panels, each hosting a central core with motion rails working in 2 perpendic- ular directions to guide the kinetic movement of the modular screen units that shape the overall screen

pattern. An Arduino microcontroller was connected to the model, and 4 servo motors were connected to each of the motion rails to achieve the desired open- ing and closing movement of the screen units. The students simulated the sensing activity using their cell phones, where the intensity of light controlled the angle of motion of the motors and consequently aperture sizes.

of motion of the motors and consequently aperture sizes. Studio II (Spring 2015) Instead of introducing

Studio II (Spring 2015)

Instead of introducing the responsive exercise at the last stage of design, this studio aimed at integrating it as part of the design process, with the goal of inform- ing stages of design development. Students also var- ied in their approaches and their choices of respon- sive elements, where some selected elements related to the building facade skin, and others selected ele- ments related to outdoor kinetic structures. Group 2A developed an outdoor responsive structure at- tached to their hotel building, as a shaded pathway taking users from the surrounding landscape to the building entrance. Conceptually, the structure would provide continuous shading and semi-shading for users along the path leading to the entrance of the hotel, by both responding to user movement and daily sun movement patterns. For the exercise pro- totype (Figure 3), the students developed a scaled model of a segment of the shading pathway using MDF and cardboard.

Figure 1 Responsive prototype of Group 1A: Kinetic Roof Structure

Figure 2 Responsive prototype of Group 1B: Window Aperture

Figure 3 Responsive prototype of Group 2A: Outdoor kinetic shading pathway

Figure 4 Responsive prototype of Group 2B: Dynamic Building Facade Screen

prototype of Group 2B: Dynamic Building Facade Screen The model consisted of pieces of cardboard running

The model consisted of pieces of cardboard running across wooden rods representing guide rails for the shading path. The students used a number of pullies connected with threads to simulate the movement of the shading elements along the rails. An Arduino mi- crocontroller was used and connected to Grasshop- per, and 4 servo motors were used to control the mo- tion around the pullies and consequently the shad- ing patterns along the pathway. Group 2B chose to develop a building facade screen consisting of a kinetic skin system. The system is composed of 1mX1m units that respond to heat gain analysis. Using a pre-programmed system that pulls weather and heat gain analysis data, the build- ing facade should automatically respond to external conditions, while still allowing for user intervention upon desire. Each modular unit consists of muscle wires comprising electrostrictive materials that con- tract or expand based on the electric power they re- ceive. These contractions and expansions produce variations in the overall shape of the building screen, producing varying patterns in the interior of the ho- tel building. For the exercise prototype (Figure 4), the stu- dents developed a full-scale model of a sample 90cmX60cm screen using MDF. The screen was di- vided into six identical panels, each hosting a num- ber of motion rails to guide the kinetic movement of the modular screen units that shape the overall build- ing pattern. An Arduino microcontroller was con-

nected to the model, and 6 servo motors were con- nected to each of the units to achieve the desired opening and closing movement and patterns. The students simulated the sensing activity using their cell phones, where the intensity of light controlled the angle of motion of the motors and consequently aperture sizes.

of motion of the motors and consequently aperture sizes. Some of the basic findings and observations

Some of the basic findings and observations upon conducting the two previous studios are: (1) the sig- nificance of the order of introducing responsive sys- tems within an architectural project, and (2) the stu- dent team dynamics and collaborative process, and (3) the skill set and knowledge required to integrate responsive systems in a project. Typically in the Fall studio, the students could not capitalize on their re- sponsive elements in developing their designs, as they were introduced in the final phase of the project. In the Spring studio however, there was a significant progress in the detailing and development that stu- dents expressed in their designs. Getting the stu- dents to design, fabricate and operate their respon- sive elements early in the process allowed for devel- opment at a number of levels, including structural detailing, environmental analysis, parametric model- ing, and facade design. As the students were asked to assume different roles in the Spring semester within their teams, this allowed for a further level of detailing. Project archi- tects were expected to set the general strategy for

the building form and function, sustainability ana- lysts were expected to work on a detailed daylight- ing and heat gain analysis of the responsive system, facade designers on the overall building facade pat- tern design, fabrication specialists on the construc- tion and operation detailing of the responsive and kinetic system, and BIM managers on software co- ordination within the team and programming the sensing-planning-action mechanisms for the system. Students varied in their approaches to applying these roles. Some teams worked within a discrete role-per- student model, while others distributed the tasks and roles among all team members. In both cases, this al- lowedfor a thorough level of detailing of the projects, as well as a high level of awareness of integrated de- sign and project delivery.


Based on the previous findings, we propose a ped- agogical framework for integrating responsive sys- tems in the architectural design studio (Figure 5). This framework involves two main components: (1) the phases of design in which responsive systems are to be integrated, and (2) the different tasks, roles and skill sets required from students in order to de- sign and develop those systems. The framework pro- motes phases of design as devised by the Ameri- can Institute of Architects' Integrated Project Deliv- ery (IPD) Guide in 2007 [1], where the phasing of design is slightly different than that in traditional project delivery based on some of the fundamen- tal principles of integrated design and project deliv- ery. These principles include collaborative innova- tion and decision making, early involvement of key participants, early goal definition, intensified plan- ning, and the use of appropriate cutting edge tech-

nologies. For this framework, we highlighted the fol- lowing IPD phases as most relevant in the design of responsive systems and applicable in an educa- tional studio setting: conceptualization (expanded programming), criteria design (expanded schematic design), detailed design (expanded design develop- ment), and implementation documents (construc- tion documents). We identified tasks, roles and skill sets that are most relevant to the design of responsive systems, such as BIM management, facade design, fabrica- tion and detailing, and cost and sustainability anal- ysis. By BIM management, we refer to all the required skill sets related to modeling, selection of appropri- ate tools, interoperability, in addition to dealing with the physical computing programming environment and sensing-planning-action mechanisms. By facade design, we refer to all tasks and skill sets related to building facade pattern design, and form generation and massing strategies. By fabrication and detail- ing, we refer to all tasks and skill sets related to the hardware components of the responsive system, fab- rication, assembly and operation of its components, as well as construction detailing and documentation. By sustainability analysis, we refer to all tasks and skill sets related to environmental analysis of the opera- tional use of the responsive system, especially day- lighting analysis, solar heat gain and visual accessi- bility. By cost analysis, we refer to all skill sets related to checking and optimizing the cost of the responsive system, both in its prototype and actual construction phases. Within this framework, students of architecture should be encouraged to work in teams (possibly in- terdisciplinary teams as well if applicable with more complex systems) in order to acquire collectively the necessary skill sets. Concepts of BIM management, interoperability, integrated design and project deliv-

interoperability, integrated design and project deliv- Figure 5 Framework for integrating responsive systems in the

Figure 5 Framework for integrating responsive systems in the architectural design studio

ery, thermal comfort, daylighting, energy analysis, fa- cade design and retrofit, cost analysis, digital fabrica- tion, parametric modeling, and physical computing all contribute towards the success of designing, fabri- cating and operating such responsive systems. These concepts and their related literature should be highly integrated within this studio as well as in relevant prerequisite courses where appropriate. Below is a brief overview of the expected activities and work- flow in the design studio for each of the aforemen- tioned phases: conceptualization, criteria design, de- tailed design, and implementation documents.


The main purpose of this phase is to allow the stu- dents to develop a conceptual approach and mech- anism narrative for the required responsive system, while understanding and analyzing its value and sig- nificance to the architectural project. Following the principles of IPD, students should integrate concepts of BIM, cost, sustainability, facade design and fabri- cation collectively at this early stage in design. Below is an outline of some of the activities required at this phase:

BIM management. At this early stage of de- sign, the activities related to BIM management in- clude defining the general modeling strategy for the responsive system components, identifying the re- quired software and programming interfaces, mod- eling the different alternatives, and planning the re- sponsive system scenario in the software develop- ment environment. Facade design. At this stage, the activities re- lated to facade design include devising the general strategy for facade treatments, analyzing and gener- ating patterns for building skin, developing alterna- tives for responsive mechanisms, and studying im- pact on building exterior form and interior functional spaces. Fabrication and detailing. At this stage, the ac- tivities related to fabrication and detailing include ex- tracting modeling data of responsive system com- ponents and their alternatives for prototyping and

fabrication, building preliminary physical models for evaluation and testing, and testing basic sensor- planning-action mechanisms based on the narra- tives. Sustainability analysis. At this stage, the activ- ities related to sustainability include specifying per- formance goals, target values and sustainability crite- ria for responsive system, analyzing building massing and orientations, and developing narrative for day- lighting, and solar radiation, in addition to any spe- cific environmental considerations such as acoustics, visual access, etc. Cost analysis. At this stage, the activities related to cost analysis include identifying a preliminary bud- get for responsive system elements in the project, and extracting modeling data of responsive compo- nents and their alternatives to generate cost esti- mates for prototypes and projected total costs upon construction, based on material selection, scale, sys- tems and technologies implemented.

Criteria Design

The main purpose of this phase is to allow the stu- dents to test, evaluate and select an appropriate re- sponsive system for development and implementa- tion based on a number of set criteria. Below is an outline of some of the activities required at this phase:

BIM management. At this stage, the activities related to BIM management include coordinating the testing and evaluation of all design alternatives and selecting best fit based on the criteria set in the con- ceptualization phase, in addition to programming the required interface of the responsive system, and linking parametric model data to the physical com- puting interface. Facade design. At this stage, the activities re- lated to facade design include evaluating and ad- justing the proposed facade designs and generated patterns according to building function and desired exterior form until an optimum facade design is se- lected. This evaluation should take into account user behavior and interaction with responsive system

within building spaces, as well as exterior environ- mental factors. Fabrication and detailing. At this stage, the activities related to fabrication and detailing include digitally fabricating the selected responsive system prototype, connecting physical components such as sensors, motors and micro-controllers to the pro- gramming environment and building model data, and studying the materials, size and implemented technologies of the system upon actual construction. Sustainability analysis. At this stage, the ac- tivities related to sustainability include evaluating all responsive system alternatives against desired day- lighting and solar radiation target values, selecting best fit options and conducting the necessary opti- mization procedures. Cost analysis. At this stage, the activities related to cost analysis include evaluating all responsive sys- tem alternatives against the budget identified in the conceptualization phase, selecting best value alter- natives, adjusting system components, and updat- ing prototype estimate and projected total cost upon construction.

Detailed Design

The main purpose of this phase is to allow the stu- dents to develop, detail and further refine their se- lected responsive system. Below is an outline of some of the activities required at this phase:

BIM management. At this stage, the activi- ties related to BIM management include linking the developed building model data (and environmen- tal simulation data) to the physical computing inter- face of the responsive system, executing the scenario of use and operation of the responsive system un- der the set requirements and constraints, and con- ducting continuous refining and testing of the sys- tem based on updated building model data and in- put variables to ensure correct and complete opera- tion of system. Facade design. At this stage, the activities re- lated to facade design include finalizing both the overall facade pattern scheme and details of the

building envelope design by means of studying par- tial wall sections and 3D models, and updating the scheme based on refinement of fabrication details and operation of responsive system, in addition to devising a detailed scheme of materials, textures and colors. Fabrication and detailing. At this stage, the ac- tivities related to fabrication and detailing include fi- nalizing the responsive system prototype regarding materials, connections, assembly, and operation of sensors, micro-controllers and actuators. This phase requires attention to the mechanics and assembly lo- gistics of the system, especially with regards to forces, weights, torque values, kinetic behavior of materi- als and the different applied mechanisms, as this can only be visualized and assessed upon physical testing (or otherwise in complex simulation software), and may require testing with actual users in case of full- scale models. Sustainability analysis. At this stage, the activi- ties related to sustainability include continuous simu- lation and optimization operations of the selected re- sponsive system with respect to daylighting, solar ra- diation and any other desired environmental factors. Results of these operations should be coordinated between building model data and physical comput- ing interface to allow for accurate refining of the se- lected system. Cost analysis. At this stage, the activities re- lated to cost analysis include continuously updating the building model with cost data such that the de- velopment and detailing effort of the prototype and final constructed project is always informed by the cost factor. At this point, major decisions regard- ing cost cuts should be enforced, such as reducing panel sizes and thicknesses, modifying material se- lections, and optimizing the use of physical comput- ing components by devising for example mechanical schemes that use fewer actuators while preserving the required performance.

Implementation Documents

The main purpose of this phase is to allow the stu- dents to properly document their responsive system design for construction. Below is an outline of some of the activities required at this phase:

BIM management. At this stage, the activities related to BIM management include extracting all rel- evant data for full documentation and construction of the responsive system and its components and de- tailed drawings. Facade design. At this stage, the activities re- lated to facade design include documenting and pro- ducing technical drawings for the building facade skin, including elevations, wall sections, 3D details, and blow-up details. Fabrication and detailing. At this stage, the activities related to fabrication and detailing include carrying the responsive system from the prototype phase to actual construction phase, where a thor- ough study of mechanisms, systems, materials, pan- els, glazing, and technologies is conducted. Sustainability analysis. At this stage, the activ- ities related to sustainability include extracting simu- lation and optimization data for documentation and producing technical drawings, and carrying out fur- ther analysis for actual construction based on data for materials and systems. Cost analysis. At this stage, the activities related to cost analysis include updating cost data and ex- tracting it for documentation of quantities and pric- ing, and conducting further refinement for actual construction based on updates from sustainability and construction data.


The benefits of addressing responsive systems within the integrated design and project delivery realm rather than a discrete phase of design were seen as twofold: (1) facilitating the process of designing, building and operating responsive systems, and (2) augmenting the basic principles and dynamics of the architectural design studio. First, the skills, tasks, and tacit knowledge required for designing, build-

ing and operating responsive systems could be de- livered to students of architecture in a way that fos- ters collaboration and allows for group thinking and learning. As students assume specific roles in the process or are conscious of the types of activities re- quired to comprehensively fulfill the design and op- eration of a given responsive system, the tacit knowl- edge required is infiltrated indirectly into the gen- eral design process. Observations from the Spring semester case study showed that the explicit roles re- lated to sustainability, fabrication, facade design and BIM management and their integrated roles among the teams forced the students to develop their re- sponsive system designs in a much more elaborate and all-encompassing process. The students realized that even if they did not work in a model where their role was discretely defined as a specialist in any of the assigned domains, they were still able to capture what was required of them as an integrated team in order to produce and deliver their designs. At the same time, it was important not to com- promise the dynamics of the design studio nor im- pede fundamental skills typically acquired in a de- sign studio setting. The proposed phasing of the in- tegrated design process addresses specifically this is- sue. Students are still exposed to a thorough devel- opment, detailing and documentation process fol- lowing their conceptualization process and their ex- tensive non-conventional iterations with digital fab- rication, physical computing and programming. The added value, however, is that the students perform these documentation procedures and go through in- tensive technical drawing exercises while being in- formed by a rich cycle of iterations, digital and phys- ical prototyping, testing and operation. Another added value is the rationale that is carried along each of the design phases at different levels, where students can feel more comfortable about their de- signs, having tested them virtually and physically. Throughout the proposed phases, students can jus- tify their design decisions in different domains, in- cluding constructability, cost and value engineering, sustainability and environmental control, and opera-

tion and management. Looking at the large picture, engaging students in a model far from a conventional educational set- ting, but rather a simplified model of architectural teams in practice like the one proposed in this pa- per, would further their understanding of teamwork and interdisciplinary collaboration in the AEC indus- try. We hope to further develop this work by testing this pedagogical framework in the coming semesters and build on the feedback of students and of practic- ing professionals. Including participants from other disciplines such as structural and MEP engineers in an interdisciplinary course would also enrich our under- standing of this framework and help develop it to a wider scope of implementation.


This paper proposed a pedagogical framework for in- tegrating responsive systems in the architectural de- sign studio. Based on the findings of two design studios at The American University in Cairo, the pro- posed framework engages students in a design pro- cess that utilizes the concepts of integrated project delivery in its phases and activities. The framework builds on introducing students to a number of neces- sary skill sets, activities and concepts in order to de- sign, fabricate and operate responsive systems, such as BIM management, facade design, fabrication and detailing, cost analysis, and sustainability analysis. The paper demonstrates how these activities can be integrated in different phases of the design, rang- ing from conceptualization to implementation doc- uments.


We would like to thank all participating students in both AENG 4556 Architectural Design V studios for Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 at the Department of Con- struction and Architectural Engineering at The Amer- ican University in Cairo, Cairo, Egypt. Without their hard work and the dedication of the teaching assis- tants Ahmed ElShafei and Amira Abdel-rahman, this work would not have been possible. We are also

grateful to all professors and colleagues who par- ticipated as reviewers for this course and provided invaluable constructive feedback and insights for further development, including Basil Kamel, Khaled Tarabieh, Ebtissam Farid, Mostafa Rabea, and Dina El- Zanfaly. We would finally wish to thank the American University in Cairo for supporting this effort.


Blikstein, P 2013, 'Digital Fabrication and ‘Making’ in Edu- cation: The Democratization of Invention', in Walter- Herrmann, J and Büching, C (eds) 2013, FabLabs: Of Machines, Makers and Inventors, Bielefeld: Transcript Publishers El-Zanfaly, D 2011 'Active Shapes: Introducing guide- lines for designing kinetic architectural structures', Proceedings of the 15th Iberoamerican Congress of Digital Graphics (SIGRADI 2011) Fox, M and Hu, C 2005 'Starting From The Micro: A Peda- gogical Approach to Designing Interactive Architec- ture', Proceedings of Conference of the Association for Computer AidedDesign in Architecture(ACADIA 2005), pp. 78-93 Zuk, W and Clark, R 1970, Kinetic Architecture, Van Nos- trand Reinhold, New York Özkar, M 2007 'Learning by Doing in the Age of Design Computation', Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Computer Aided Architectural Design futures (CAAD Futures 2007), pp. 99-112 [1] http://info.aia.org/siteobjects/files/ipd_guide


CAAD Education - Applied

From Shaping to Information Modeling in Architectural Education: Implementation of Augmented Reality Technology in Computer-Aided Modeling

Jacek Markusiewicz 1 , Jan Słyk 2 1,2 Faculty of Architecture, Warsaw University of Technology 1 j.markusiewicz@gmail.com 2 jan.slyk@arch.pw.edu.pl

While learning computer-aided modeling techniques, students of architecture should not only gain knowledge on how to model three-dimensional forms, but also how to define and understand the information beneath the shapes. Architectural presentation as an intellectual communication-focused process requires new media to channel information in a contemporary way. These can be text, image, sound, video or a digital model. The integration of augmented reality in teaching computer-aided modeling in architecture school provides more thorough learning experience as it opens new opportunities. The authors present the process of implementing AR technology in architectural education - its theoretical background, the outcome of students' work and technical solutions. They argue that the use of AR interface increases the effectiveness of user-model interaction in comparison to standard mouse-based techniques of three-dimensional manipulation due to the intuitive touch-screen interaction and direct control on the camera.

Keywords: Augmented Reality, Computer-aided Modeling, Unity 3D


The physical elements of a building's structure, the- oretical concepts being the outcome of functional, ergonomic or financial constrains, as well as histori- cal and cultural context all form a unique characteris- tic of an architectural project. A model representing the project should focus on information. Thus, while learning computer-aided modeling techniques, stu- dents of architecture not only should gain knowl- edge on how to model three-dimensional forms, but also how to define and understand the information beneath the shapes. The integration of augmented reality (AR) in

teaching computer-aided modeling in architecture school provides more thorough learning experience as it opens new opportunities such as interaction, ac- cess to video and sound data and the possibility of organizing content in a multilayer layout. This im- plies the necessity to master multiple skills: advanced knowledge of architectural modeling using BIM tools and/or freeform surface modeling software, man- agement of data concerning specific project, tools of communication between the author and the ob- server. All of these are crucial for future architects. In this paper, the authors describe the process of implementation of AR technology in architectural ed-

ucation using the example of the course of modeling held in the Faculty of Architecture at Warsaw Univer- sity of Technology in academic years 2013/2014 and 2014/2015. The authors describe the theoretical and academic background of the process, the outcome of students' work that involves augmented reality, the technical solutions that have been applied and the educational significance of the course.


The way one perceives and understands their sur- rounding affects one's needs and their fulfillment. Ar- chitects traditionally represent reality with sketches, technical and perspective drawings, physical and digital models. By using these means of represen- tation, they create images of their work. Processing these images helps predicting the results of future materialization. The conceptual model and the fi- nal result are not identical in architectural practice both in conceptual stage (verification of ideas) and in phase of construction (issuing of instructions). The understanding of architecture is conceived due to the interpretation of sensory impulses - mainly due to visual perception. One acquires information by ana- lyzing optical effects, tactile and acoustic sensations and past experiences. The language of architectural representation reduces collected data to compact message. By sketching and creating models, archi- tects create hierarchies of their observations and pos- sible solutions. Geometry - as mathematical means for 3d space interpretation - is essential in achieving understandable representation. (Słyk 2012) Thales introduced geometrical concepts such as line, point, angle, as well as theorems on relations be- tween objects, similarity and proportions. The sys- tem built on his thoughts led Euclid to formulate 'Ele- ments' - the base for geometrical research until 18th century and Giovanni Girolamo Saccheri's 'Euclides ab omni nævo vindicatus'. The works on perspective of Ambroggio Loren- zetti, Filippo Brunelleschi and Piero della Francesca as well as the science of optics investigated by Al- hazen, Witelon and later by Simon Stevin and Jo-

hannes Kepler, gave us the ability to represent three- dimensional objects with drawings. Thanks to 17th century works of René Descartes the theory of space and the theory of numbers could be combined in a coordinate system. Algebraic description of geome- try opened the possibility to computational manage- ment of objects and transformations in 20th century. The year 1963 and Ivan Sutherland's Sketchpad was a breakthrough for architectural drawing. The first computer-based design tools were a digital ver- sion of a 19th century drawing board they replaced. Later, they evolved to advanced dynamic databases, supporting building information management, its process of construction and lifecycle. Today's tools provide users with shaping, analyzing and editing ar- chitectural creations based on digital models. Antonino Saggio defines architecture as dual:

consisting of objective and subjective space. The first is strictly based on materiality and measure- ments. The latter involves individual perception (Saggio 2010). Jan Słyk points out that a model (or hypermodel) and instruments of perception (that can be amplified through interaction and affecting mul- tiple senses in an innovative way due to technology) are instruments sufficient for understanding archi- tecture (Słyk 2012).


The subject of the course "Computer-Aided Model- ing" held in the Department of Architecture is to create models of historical and modern examples of projects that had major contribution to the ar- chitecture of single-family houses. These models have three main objectives in the process of architec- tural education. Firstly, they are tools to learn com- puter aided modeling. Secondly, they allow students to better understand building components such as walls, slabs, columns etc., which is crucial at the early stage of architectural studies. Finally, during the modeling process, the students gather information on the modeled building and thus gain knowledge on the structural, functional and aesthetic solutions implemented in acclaimed examples.

Figure 1


content of

Farnsworth House

presentation. (All

figures by

Markusiewicz 2015)

Figure 2

Farnsworth House

alternative content.

During the course the students are involved in

three major stages of using information technology

in architecture: (1) information modeling, (2) param-

eterization and (3) communication. At the beginning of the course, the students ac- quire the necessary information about each building and transform it into a digital model. The geometry of the model is complemented with data about the specific context. This data varies from structural so- lutions, to materiality, function and spatial solutions, to historical background or building's relation to the surrounding. This information can be defined as at-

tributes inside of BIM program, additional 3d form, schematics or text message. After the initial modeling stage, parameters changing the perception of the model may be intro- duced. Every building has elements that can be af- fected by variables. It this stage we focus especially on the examples that are modular, parametrically generated or contain kinetic elements. These exam- ples can be defined with scripts or parametric mod- els. Other examples can be altered through different means in form of interactive presentations revealing various aspects of the project, videos showing the construction process or structural simulations. At the end, a message for potential spectator is defined in form of a presentation. The constraint is

a static printed panel on which the work has to be

presented. This often results to be an insufficient medium to effectively present the work when con- fronted with a digital model enhanced with addi- tional media. The message resulting from the modeling pro- cess is supposed to meet the criteria of a new medium as described by Lev Manovich, i.e. numer- ical representation, modularity, automation, variabil- ity and transcoding (Manovich 2002). Implementa- tion of augmented reality gives the students the op-

portunity to show their work in a more flexible way, whereas the spectators are provided with a more un- derstandable presentation.


Following media classification by Piotr Gajewski, it is assumed that the presentation can be augmented with one of the following content types: text, image, sound, video or an additional digital model. (Gajew- ski 2001)

sound, video or an additional digital model. (Gajew- ski 2001) CAAD Education - Applied - Volume
sound, video or an additional digital model. (Gajew- ski 2001) CAAD Education - Applied - Volume
The text accessible through augmented reality application can either provide users with extra in- formation

The text accessible through augmented reality application can either provide users with extra in- formation or it can become a hypertext allowing ac- cess to external resources such as online repository of information on the model or its particular com- ponent. The presentation of Urbanowicz-Muszyński twin house in Warsaw by Bohdan Pniewski is com- plemented with fragments of a critical article on the building from 1936 'Arkady' written by Edgar Norw- erth. The spectator chooses between the analytical description provided by students and historical opin- ions. Images or series of images provide better under- standing of the modeled object by e.g. showing his- torical evolution of the surrounding area or focus- ing on real-life details that were not included in the model itself. The panel presenting students' work on the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe is an example of a virtual presentation consisting of text and images organized in different layers that are only accessible via augmented reality technology. The printed panel itself contains abstract graphics and when browsed with an AR application it is supple- mented with visualizations and description in two al- ternative organizations. [Fig. 1 and 2] Sound is often used either to strengthen users' perception or as a more artistic impression. It can also provide access to a musical piece that was an in- spiration to the architectural form. The Philips Pavil- ion by Le Corbusier became a motivation to create a Grasshopper definition for parametric generation of geometrical forms based on rhythm, scale and length of a musical composition. The students based their creations on two musical pieces that can be accessed through QR codes that are placed on the panel. Videos combine the assets specific to both im- age and sound resulting to be useful when present- ing the work through a flythrough animation, physi- cal simulation of kinetic elements or a more personal, graphical analysis of the project. Students mod- eling Shigeru Ban's Curtain Wall House performed physics-based simulation of the curtain's behavior with Grasshopper and Kangaroo Physics. The simula-

Figure 3 Video showing physical simulation of a curtain in Shigeru Ban's building.

Figure 4

Heidi Weber

Pavilion video


tion was recorded as an animation and rendered on top of a printed still frame extracted from the video. Viewing the printed panel through an AR application gives the impression of motion of a static printed el- ement [Fig. 3]. Another interesting example of video usage was an artistic impression on Le Corbusier's Heidi Weber Pavilion. It is an animated decomposi- tion of the building's elements and its conversion to a planar colorful composition. [Fig. 4]

its conversion to a planar colorful composition. [Fig. 4] An interactive model accessible through augmented reality

An interactive model accessible through augmented reality allows free and intuitive perception from dif- ferent angles and distances and can be easily altered by turning on and off particular layers of informa- tion, such as architectural elements (external walls, roof) or hierarchical organization (floors, functions). One example is a digital model of Jacobus Johannes Pieter Oud's Weissenhof Row Houses that can be cus- tomized by a spectator. By touching the screen of a handheld device, one browses through a sequence of different layers of the model: (i) the whole row of houses with closest surrounding, (ii) one module sep- arated from the context or (iii) the module with exter- nal walls turned off to show the interior [Fig. 5]. An- other example is Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, where the user can decide which floor to turn on or

off to better understand the complexity of the func- tion. [Fig. 6] The model can be further supplemented with other media, such as sound or text rendered when zoomed on a point of interest. In Czesław Przybyl- ski's Willa Julisin's model one can hear piano music when zooming a handheld device on the living room, which focuses on its main function via the sense of hearing. In Wright's Robie House the viewer gains ac- cess to hyperlinks containing more specific informa- tion when zoomed on a piece of furniture. Such digi- tal augmentation constitutes the multilayer typology of a hypermodel. It may emphasize certain charac- teristics of the project the model represents and en- hance its perception by affecting determined senses.


At the early stage of implementing augmented real- ity in the course of modeling in the academic year 2013/2014, a set of freeware computational tools was used as addition to the standard modeling software taught during classes. Metaio Creator was used as a tool for converting planar graphics to AR trackers and supplementing them with digital content with an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface that does not require programming. Final setups were published with Metaio Cloud and could be accessed via QR codes with a free mobile application Junaio. In the academic year 2014/2015 the solution de- scribed above was replaced with a custom AR appli- cation. The reason was to ensure bigger flexibility in programming particular application features, pro- vide access to augmented content without the use of QR codes and become more independent from third- party software. The first version of the application was created by Jacek Markusiewicz using a game development platform - Unity 3d with Vuforia extension provid- ing assets and SDK for augmented reality imple- mentation. Digital models exported from McNeel's Rhinoceros3d as Wavefront .obj or .3ds files are im- ported as assets to the Unity project and assigned to corresponding trackers, that are abstract graph-

ics designed for the application's purposes. The be- havior of virtual camera is established by Vuforia plu- gin. Interaction is defined with C Sharp scripting lan- guage in Unity's MonoDevelop IDE. The platform al- lows the usage of materials and effects rendered in real time. It also facilitates compiling the final appli- cation for a specified platform. The AR application provides the students and spectators with intuitive touch-screen interaction and simplifies model browsing by giving them direct control on the camera. This type of interface seems to be increasing the effectiveness of user-content in- teraction in comparison to standard mouse-based techniques of three-dimensional manipulation. In the authors' opinion, hardware aspects of human- computer interaction is the field of computer-aided modeling that needs most of attention when con- trasted with highly advanced modeling and analysis software that users nowadays have access to. The way users edit and browse three-dimensional con- tent with a mouse, a keyboard and a screen is un- derdeveloped - its effectiveness and intuitiveness can and should be improved. One of the reasons to that is what Słyk calls a double projection effect. Standard computer mouse navigation is by definition two-dimensional. Thus, all three-dimensional operations such as zooming, panning and orbiting have to be projected from the three-dimensional imagination of the user onto a two-dimensional plane on which a mouse can op- erate. The actions performed with a mouse have to be then processed by software and applied in three- dimensional coordinate system. (Słyk 2012)

in three- dimensional coordinate system. (Słyk 2012) Figure 5 Weissenhof Row Houses by J. J. P.

Figure 5 Weissenhof Row Houses by J. J. P. Oud as presented in the Unity-based application.

Figure 6



interactive model.

Figure 6 Wright's Fallingwater interactive model. What we define as three-dimensional navigation in software, in real

What we define as three-dimensional navigation in software, in real life is a simple and intuitive ac- tion, where looking at an object from different dis- tances and different angles does not require intellec- tual effort and consists of moving and rotating ei- ther one's head or the object they perceive. How- ever translating such movements and rotations (of either a virtual camera or a three-dimensional ob- ject) into mouse operations results in mathematically complex transformations that have to be defined by the user. In other words, in real life one's brain per- forms inverse kinematics transformations that meet our needs, whereas while using computer software, one needs to perform forward kinematics transfor- mations in order to achieve the desired effect. The double projection and the forward kinemat- ics manipulation may lead to imprecision, latency and, what is most important, the shift of user's focus from the content to tool management. Even though human-computer interaction ex- perts such as Jef Raskin and Bruce Tognazzini ques- tion the existence of fully intuitive interfaces (Raskin 1994, Tognazzini 1992), research shows that many types of interaction such as tangible user interfaces positively affect the efficiency, cognitive processes

and three-dimensional abstraction of a user (Kim and Maher 2006, Sharlin 2004 after Abdelmohsen and Yi-Luen Do 2007). Augmented reality seems to be at least partially solving navigation issues as look- ing and perceiving is intuitive and follows the inverse kinematics mechanism: pointing a handheld device camera on a virtual object visible on the screen is di- rectly understood as camera transformation.


Architectural presentation is an intellectual process that focuses on communication. The use of aug- mented reality can channel a message through mul- tiple senses and provide interaction between the re- ceiver and the medium of communication. The stu- dents that employ augmented content in their pre- sentations tend to use different means of expres- sion than the ones that present their work in a tra- ditional way. The printed panels of the first are more schematic and contain less explicit information while the digital content accessible through a mobile appli- cation is complete. Moreover, the possibility of including media such as video and sound, otherwise impossible, en-

courages students to do so, resulting in more time

spent on creative work during the semester. Such workflow is exceptionally well received by the stu- dents, which is reflected in the results of a survey conducted amongst 66 course participants in June

2014. Course's scientific and educational content

was graded 4.71/5 (4.25 being the average score of all courses held at the faculty), didactical skills of the tutor were also graded 4.71 (4.17), tutor's attitude to- wards students 4.79 (4.40), technical conditions and equipment 4.61 (3.97) and formal aspects such as grading criteria: 4.76 (4.20). Finally, the students eval-

uated their own involvement as 4.5/5, being higher than usual (4.13). AR-based presentations also seem to affect the way spectators explore architectural models. Con- tent of such presentations is not directly accessible but requires exploration. Due to its hierarchical or- ganization, some additional information has to be searched for by either zooming on specific elements or triggering an event with for instance a touch. This provides an element of mystery and surprise and leads the spectator to think they are playing a game - which results in their greater immersion. (Caillois


Further development in applying augmented re- ality in architectural education is planned. The course of modeling shows that both students and specta- tors respond positively to working with architectural model through this technology. Its intuitive interac- tion and efficient navigation can be further investi- gated in applications that not only allow users to per- ceive architectural content but also alter it by reor- ganizing, customizing and finally modeling architec- tural or urban elements. Although it still seems un- likely to create a fully functional architectural or free form modeling software based on augmented reality, the authors want to introduce elements of AR-aided interactive modeling in the future courses to explore the possibilities of facilitating architect-computer in- teraction.


Abdelmohsen, S. and Yi-Luen Do, E. 2007 'TangiCAD:

Tangible Interface for Manipulating Architectural 3D Models', Proceedings of the 12th International Con- ference on Computer Aided Architectural Design Re- search in Asia Caillois, R. 2001, Man, Play and Games, University of Illi- nois Press Gajewski, P. 2001, Zapis Myśli o Przestrzeni, Politechnika Krakowska Kim, M. and Maher, M.L. 2006 'The effects of tangi- ble user interfaces on deisgners cognitive actions.', Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia Manovich, L. 2002, The Language of New Media, The MIT Press Raskin, J. 1994, 'Intuitive Equals Familiar', Communica- tions of the ACM, 37:9, p. 17 Saggio, A. 2013, The IT Revolution in Architecture. Thoughts on a paradigm shift., lulu.com Sharlin, E., Itoh, Y., Watson, B.A., Kitamura, Y., Sutphen, S., Liu, L. and Kishino, F. 2004, 'Spatial Tangible User In- terfaces for Cognitive Assessment and Training', Bi- ologically Inspired Approaches to Advanced Informa- tion Technology, 3141 Słyk, J. 2012, Źródła Architektury Informacyjnej, Oficyna Wydawnicza Politechniki Warszawskiej, Warsaw Tognazzini, B. 1992, Tog on Interface, Addison-Wesley Professional

Modular Light Cloud - Design, Programming and Making

Towards the Integration of Creative Actions

Jacek Markusiewicz 1 , Marcin Strzała 2 , Krzysztof Koszewski 3 1,2,3 Faculty of Architecture, Warsaw University of Technology 1 j.markusiewicz@gmail.com 2 marcin@strzala.pl 3 krzysztof.koszewski@arch.pw.edu.pl

Modular Light Cloud is an installation that is conceived to explore the boundaries of architecture and art. Its interactivity is a metaphor of mutual influences that derive from activities performed in space - associated with motion, sound and light.It is an experimental project focused on the integration of architectural elements, structure, information technology, performing arts, electronics and digital fabrication in architectural education.The project was completed in a two-week student workshop in collaboration with a contemporary dance artist. The students were taught the basics of parametric design, programming of electronic components and digital fabrication during tutorial classes. The making process combined three stages of development: design, construction and programming of interaction.The final form consists of two irregular spatial trusses made of aluminum profiles connected with 3d printed nodes. The profiles are equipped with LED strips and electronic components:

light sensors, sound and communication between them. These systems control the intensity of light emitted by the diodes based on the inputs.The result is a working prototype presented as interactive installation featuring contemporary dance artist. It was displayed at art festivals and other events.

Keywords: Parametric design, Interactive installation, Artistic performance, Digital fabrication, Responsive design


Architecture - as discipline - is experiencing dynamic changes in understanding its condition among other creative activities. Contemporary theoretical ap- proach ranges from opinions situating architecture in broader, expanded field (Vidler 2008), seeking inspi- rations and gaining experience from a wide array of arts and sciences, to positions of architecture as self-

referential, independent domain (Schumacher 2011). But even while seeking the roots of autopoiesis of dis- cipline we are encouraged to look outside of it - trig- gered by experience of interdisciplinarity and cross- referencing, implemented in day-by-day practice. Ex- amination of material, functional, programmatic as- pects of architecture, frequently associated with ad- vances in computational technology, must be sup-

plemented by exploration of non-physical, mental, symbolic aspects of our creations. This is the reason why architects tend to cross blurred boundaries be- tween their discipline and fine arts, examining the potential of interactivity, real-time, sensuality, mem- ory, emotions and feelings. Since space is the realm of their creativity, architects experiment with fields of art that use it as one of substrates - like instal- lations. These are not necessarily "architectural ob- jects", or buildings, turned into works of art (like Gor- don Matta-Clark works)(Świtek 2013). They are rather dissected aspects of human activity, that may hap- pen in space, like works of Lab[au], Diller+Scofidio, Mark Goulthorpe, Marco Casagrande (Bonnemaison, Eisenbach, 2009). Computational methods facilitate equipping them with sophisticated interactivity, in- troducing invaluable possibility of adding human factor. Such installations may be perceived as works of art, but also - as created by architects - as specific tools for exploring these peculiar immaterial proper- ties of architecture. This affinity is not only one-directional. Explo- ration of spatial aspects of human existence has be- come a vital theme of discourse related to arts and humanities in the last decades of 20th century, and this interest lasts until now. So called "spatial turn" (Soja 1996) resulted in many works and publications related to these aspects, suddenly there were not only architects who shape our everyday environ- ment. From minimalist roots of "architectural sculp- ture" leaving white box of the gallery in the sixties of the past century, to architectural scale sculptures of Richard Serra, overscaled objects of Claes Olden- burg, to Olafur Eliasson installations - artists entered the realm of creation in space, treating it simultane- ously as substrate and context for their works (Świtek 2013). Moreover, interrelation of contemporary art and problems of the city is getting stronger. "The fu- ture of art is urban" as says Nicolas Whybrow (Why- brow 2011). These mutual influences create inspiring back- ground for experiments related to the potential of space as technically aided field of interaction and ex-

pression. On the other hand all mentioned inquires emphasize epistemological role of such experiments in architects' activity. Modular Light Cloud, as de- scribed hereafter, is one of the examples.


Modular Light Cloud (MLC) is an interactive structure designed and built by students of architecture during a two-week summer workshop. The workshop was organized by Architecture for Society of Knowledge master program at the Faculty of Architecture, War- saw University of Technology. It took place in August 2014. The project was conceived as a result of co- operation between students, tutors and a contempo- rary performance artist invited to the workshop. The structure, as stated in project's initial conditions, was supposed to be interactive, parametrically designed and constructed using available materials - such as aluminum profiles - using digital fabrication technol- ogy.

As part of workshop arrangements the tutors prepared tools and materials for the participants. On one hand, these were hardware equipment el- ements: LED strips with aluminum profiles, elec- tronic components of various types and a 3d printer. On the other hand, computer-modeling software (Rhinoceros 3d), custom parametric design algo- rithms (Grasshopper definitions) and microcontroller programs (Arduino scripts) were provided. During the workshop the tutors delivered introductory lec- tures on parametric design, electronics and digital fabrication. The tutors defined project's require- ments and were fully involved in the design process by giving daily desk critiques and sharing their expe- rience in the matter. The performance artist's task was to act as project's client, define the specifications for the form and interaction as well as to prepare final perfor- mance. The role of the artist was crucial due to con- stant negotiations with workshop's participants lead- ing to improvements in project's solutions. The artist introduced basic knowledge on performance art and provided consultations for students.

Workshop participants gained the necessary knowledge and skills that were later used in de- sign and production process. The installation was shaped taking into account its structural perfor- mance, the artist's interactivity conditions, aesthetic values, available resources and time dedicated for construction. After completing the design, the par- ticipants took part in the making process that con- sisted of preparing reactive structural elements made of aluminum profiles and LED strips, assembling elec- tronic circuits with protective elements and connec- tors, as well as 3d printing of joints for the final assem- bly that took place during last days of the workshop. [Fig. 1 and 2]

Figure 1 Conceptual phase of the workshop.

Figure 2

The fabrication

process: circuit


Figure 2 The fabrication process: circuit assembly. Prototypes and artifacts generated during both de- sign and
Figure 2 The fabrication process: circuit assembly. Prototypes and artifacts generated during both de- sign and

Prototypes and artifacts generated during both de- sign and production contributed to knowledge on the explored technology and were part of iterative process, which led to the final outcome.


Modular Light Cloud as designed and produced dur- ing the workshop is a sum of three complementary components: spatial form, interactive layer and dig- ital fabrication technology. All three aspects affect each other influencing the degree of complexity of the project; hence, they had to be developed in par- allel. The structure is based on two three-dimensional irregular trusses made of aluminum profiles equipped with LED strips connected using 3d- printed joints. The trusses mark an interior space enclosed in a 4x4x2.5 m cuboid. The profiles ad- jacent to the interior space are equipped with LED strips; whereas the joints that combine them - with electronic circuits. When lit, the LED lamps draw a three-dimensional composition consisting of planar convex polygons. [Fig. 3] The profile lengths were optimized parametrically to match modularity of LED strips. The form's irregularity caused every joint to be unique. Parametric design and digital fabrication provided the designers with a lot of freedom in shap- ing the structure. However, there were certain limits to be taken into account, e.g. a big number of struc- tural elements combined in one joint and acute an- gles between them would increase the size and thus production time of such joint. Another condition was the placement of sensors and their accessibility. One of the principal form-shaping aspects of Modular Light Cloud was its interactive layer. Due to the usage of aluminum profiles equipped with LED strips, two functions could be integrated in one reactive-structural element. On one hand, the profile provides stability and works as a structural member of the truss; on the other hand Arduino-controlled LED lamp complements the structural element with virtual content. The final part of the project, which physically in- tegrated the above issues, was to develop and man- ufacture the relevant joint elements. Due to the uniqueness of each joint and freeform fabrication potential, additive manufacturing methods were se- lected as an instrument of production. In this partic-

ular case a fused deposition modeling based Strata- sys Dimension 1200es units were used. Due

ular case a fused deposition modeling based Strata- sys Dimension 1200es units were used. Due to the time factor and the limited duration of the work- shop, a two-pronged approach to the project was developed. The first goal was to design an abstract model of network structure made of LED fixtures. In this case the objective conditions such as maxi- mum length, stiffness, strength and ergonomics of the project were taken into the account. The second goal was to design aesthetic form of a joint connect- ing the network elements together.


The interaction of Modular Light Cloud is controlled by electronic circuits based on Arduino Nano 3.0 boards. The circuits are powered with 12 V DC and the behavior of sensors and actuators is defined with

a program written in C and uploaded to the board using Arduino IDE. The program converts input read- ings into numerical values and specifies output sig- nals that drive LED strip actions and communication between the circuits. The systems are autonomous and no external computer is needed to define inter- action. [Fig. 4 and 5]

Figure 3

Modular Light


Figure 4 A scheme showing the electronic circuit with its inputs (1), outputs (2) and communication module (3).

its inputs (1), outputs (2) and communication module (3). The most relevant signal used as interaction

The most relevant signal used as interaction in- put is sound as it is a medium of communication be- tween the artist and the structure. This is due to the significance of noise, vibrations and voice in the performance. Their amplitudes and frequencies af- fect the intensity of light emitted by particular parts of the structure. Microphones connected to interac- tive circuits provide readings of sound. Sound wave is a complex signal composed of multiple frequen- cies of different amplitudes. Decomposition of these frequencies was solved programmatically using Fast Fourier Transform, i.e. a mathematical transforma- tion that breaks down complex wave into a sum of simple trigonometric functions, frequencies and am- plitudes of which can then be estimated (Cooley and Tukey 1965). This allows custom control of different parts of structure depending on the pitch and vol- ume. The second input used to affect the performance of the installation is light. Light sensors were built based on a photoresistor and a fixed resistor. Illu- minating the photoresistor lowers its resistance and thus amplifies voltage on the fixed resistor. This change of voltage is read by Arduino board. When a programmatically specified threshold is reached, the circuit triggers a predefined sequence of LED illumi- nation. The actuators of the installation are LED strips. Their brightness is controlled using pulse-width

modulation (PWM), that is a method of controlling average voltage by switching a transistor, to which the LED strips are connected, on and off at a fast rate (Huang 2011). The brightness can be controlled in two ways. On one hand, the light intensity is propor- tional to sound input volume. The proportionality is not linear as it is also influenced by the sound pitch. Middle frequencies influence the light to a greater extent than low and high rates. This is because the sounds emitted by the artist are of middle frequen- cies while low and high frequencies are considered unwanted noises. On the other hand, during the se- quence triggered by light input, the LED brightness is modulated gradually from minimal intensity (no light) to maximal and back to minimal after a speci- fied period of time. The circuits are equipped with a simple com- munication module used during light-triggered se- quences. The communication is binary and takes place through wire connections between every pair of adjacent circuits. By controlling voltage on output pins and reading voltage drops on input pins, a sig- nal can be exchanged between all circuits. The pre- defined sequence of illumination takes advantage of that possibility. After LED brightness modulation be- gins in one of the circuits, a delayed signal is being sent to all the adjacent circuits, which triggers LED brightness modulation in those. Then, the signal is being passed to next adjacent circuits and so on. This creates a chain reaction effect that gradually illumi- nates the whole structure. [Fig. 6] The structure is powered with three 12V/150W power supplies. Supply wires were placed inside of aluminum profiles the way that groundings of all power supplies and interactive circuits are con- nected, power transmission wires of different power supplies are not joined, each interactive circuit is powered with exactly one supply and the circuits are connected in parallel to each other. Two signal wires are placed in each aluminum profile that connects two interactive circuits. Each LED strip is divided in two parts, each part being managed by the adjacent circuit. [Fig. 7]

DIGITAL FABRICATION Between architectural idea and its realization there is an area of discontinuity much
DIGITAL FABRICATION Between architectural idea and its realization there is an area of discontinuity much


Between architectural idea and its realization there is an area of discontinuity much wider than the one found in other fields of art (Słyk 2012). By the term of

digital fabrication we understand a number of indus- trial and technological processes aimed at facilitating and speeding up and at the same time eliminating er- rors in manufacturing products, in the present case architectural elements fabricated via means of addi- tive manufacturing. Of course as with other methods, the choice of a solution entails a number of conse- quences, such as the nature of the material, manu- facturing speed, its resolution/precision. The correct use of a given tool requires a full understanding of its principles and is crucial for the development of valid solutions (Wright 1901). In this particular case this understanding of the machine and freeform fabrica- tion potential of additive manufacturing was used as a complimentary element of research by design ap- proach. Due to the time constraints the connector ele- ment needed to be designed before the final struc-

Figure 5 A node equipped with an electronic circuit.

Figure 7 The artist interacting with the structure.

Figure 6 A sequence of LED illumination triggered by a light input.

ture of the Modular Light Cloud. A generative Grasshopper definition was created to address this problem. This allowedforfabrication of prototypes at the stage of determining preliminary scale, function and form of the installation. The network model that was designed later was used as an input to automat-

ically generate all forty-two joints. Although each of the connectors was unique, all of them were gener- ated using the same procedure:

1. The program recognized position and as- signed numbers to all nodes in the structure.

2. Additional axis pointing at central part of the

the structure. 2. Additional axis pointing at central part of the CAAD Education - Applied -

structure was added, for each of the connec- tors that had to be equipped with an elec- tronic circuit. Then, for each of the sections beginning or ending at a given point a per- pendicular plane was set. On each of these planes, at the intersection with corresponding section a circle with a diameter equal to the di- ameter of the LED profile plus wall thickness parameter of the sleeve carrying (3 mm) was created.

3. All the circles assigned to that node were moved along corresponding section away from the node's center. The offset was cal- culated to avoid collisions and overlapping of the forming planes.

4. All circles in that node were capped and con- nected with minimal surface generating vol- ume of each individual joint.

5. The bushings for LED profiles were generated. These took the shape of tubes.

6. The final step in nodes generation was the ad- dition of spigots connecting tubes with the main element. A number indicating the cor- responding node was added on each pin.

7. Finally, the program would generate a list of all the necessary elements needed for the fab- rication process.

As expected, the project of joint element had to un- dergo a series of optimizations at the stage of rapid prototyping as well as during the production cycle of final products. These changes had an impact on two main issues: the time required for fabrication of a sin- gle node and thus the whole structure as well as the material usage along with physical properties of the object. As a result of the design process and discussions, two solutions for the main part of the joint were pre- sented. Although similar in shape, they differed by production time that if multiplied by 42 nodes would sum up for a total of 3360 minutes - roughly 56 hours. Even assuming a continuous use of two printing de- vices and ignoring the time necessary to prepare the files, post process finished models, etc. this meant

more than a day of production. Estimating minimal supply of security it comes up to more than two ex- tra days spent on fabrication. Taking into account already overwhelming production time of over 240 hours as well as other relating matters such as prepar- ing and programing of electronics, a decision was taken to develop the first solution. [Fig. 8] After deciding on the joint element shape, the next step was to optimize geometry of the tubes that connected nodes with LED strips. The most impor- tant issue was the strength of the element, as it had to bear the greatest loads. In subsequent iterations the main parameters such as length or thickness of the walls of the tube elements were changed and tested. No less important was the shape of a hole for mount- ing electronics and wiring the installation.

hole for mount- ing electronics and wiring the installation. However, the internal structure of printed element

However, the internal structure of printed element was the most important aspect of 3D printing tech-

nology. In practice only the outer stroke along with

a fixed or predetermined thickness were produced

as full volume. All of the remaining space was filled with a grid of controlled shape and density. Being

aware of this property affected the efficiency of fab- rication - both from material durability and econom-

ical point of view. In the case of equipment (Strata- Sys Dimension 1200es) used during the workshops we were dealing with grid deposited in one of three possible variants: Low Density (where the distance between the printed forming lines is about 5 mm); High Density (where the distance between the lines

is approximately 2 mm); and a solid (in which follow-

ing lines are printed one next to another tightly filling

Figure 8 The two options taken into consideration when designing a joint element.

Figure 9 Preparing a parametrically generated 3d model of a node for production.

the space). [Fig. 9]

3d model of a node for production. the space). [Fig. 9] In this case no grid

In this case no grid pattern was created, however it is worth noting that successive layers are printed al- ternately in the Y and the X-axis. This solution avoids formation of internal stresses resulting from cooling of the material. In the case of the two previous meth- ods, this problem is negligible. This specificity has an impact on a number of interrelated factors that in- crease with the amount of material used for printing. The first factor is the printing cost, where the relation is direct and closely linked to the budget foreseen for the implementation. The second factor is the print- ing time, to which the change in the density of the filling is not directly proportional. Incrementing the density by one step increases the print time by 10% to 20%. Which meant that applying High Density grid would take 110% and the Solid one 130% of the basic time needed for Low Density filling. At the same time, the amount of material used will be approximately 140% and 200% in relation to the quantity consumed in Low Density mode. The final factor is the strength of the print. Similarly as in the first point, the relation- ship here is direct. Applying the High Density grid, which is increasing quantity of a material to a small extent, causes a significant improvement of the me- chanical properties of manufactured items. Based on the experience described above final optimization decision was to fabricate all tubes as solids because of the need to bear the greatest loads and problems with dissectioning of the models ex-

posed to the shear torque. The density of main node elements was based on sketch simulation done in Kangaroo plugin for Grasshopper.


The final result is a working prototype presented as interactive installation featuring contemporary dance artist. It was presented in a 10-minute spec- tacle entitled "Glow". The act is a contemporary metaphorical representation of a music box with a ballerina imprisoned inside. Instead of depending on the mechanism, the ballerina is using it as her instru- ment. Her actions cause the machine to glow and she is desperate to stay in its light. The performance itself is an attempt to explore relations between dy- namic human emotions and programmed, technol- ogy driven interactive structure, allowing interpreta- tions related to contemporary, technologized archi- tecture. All the interaction between the artist and the MLC takes place in space, shaped and structured by the installation itself, thus making it again an archi- tectural trope. Modular Light Cloud was inaugurated during Warsaw art festival Wawa Design in September 2014. The performance was later a part of Syntezje Festi- val in Cracow and in Warsaw edition of Museums at Night at the Faculty of Architecture, Warsaw Univer- sity of Technology. The system of structure genera- tion, its fabrication and assembly along with the in- teractive circuits can be adapted to create different installation versions. It was used as part of 'MON- adOLOGIa: a Treatise on Relationality' - a spectacle inspired by Gottfried Leibniz's monad theory - dis- played at Warsaw's Museum of Modern Art. [Fig. 10] Technological innovation was not a major objec- tive for the creators of Modular Light Cloud. Interac- tion, parametric design, digital fabrication and per- forming arts are not entirely new to architecture and its relation to art, as it was stated in the introduc- tion. However, the collective usage of these aspects in architectural education is noteworthy. During an intensive two-week workshop, students had the op- portunity to familiarize with emerging technologies

leading to the creation of an installation based on human-machine interaction. The knowledge and ar-

leading to the creation of an installation based on human-machine interaction. The knowledge and ar- tifacts generated during that time are certainly base for further research and can be developed during fu- ture workshops and experimental projects organized by Architecture for Society of Knowledge at Warsaw University of Technology.


Benedikt, M. 1969, 'Sculpture as architecture: New York letter, 1966 – 67', Minimal Art, pp. 61-91 Bonnemaison, S. and Eisenbach, R. 2009, Installations By Architects: Experiments in Building and Design, Princeton Architectural Press Cooley, J. and Tuckey, J. 1965, 'An algorithm for the ma- chine calculation of complex Fourier series', Mathe- matics of Computation, 90, p. 297–301

Greenfield, A. 2006, Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiq- uitous Computing, New Riders Publishing Henricks, T. S. 2010, 'Caillois’s Man, Play, and Games An Appreciation and Evaluation', American Journal of Play, 3, pp. 157-185 Huang, J., Padmanabhan, K. and Collins, O. M. 2011, 'The sampling theorem with constant amplitude variable width pulses', IEEE transactions on Circuits and Sys- tems, 58, pp. 1178 - 1190 Schumacher, P. 2011, The Autopoiesis of Architecture: A New Framework for Architecture, Wiley Soja, E. W. 1996, Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places, Wiley-Blackwell Słyk, J. 2012, Źródła Architektury Informacyjnej, Oficyna Wydawnicza Politechniki Warszawskiej, Warsaw Vidler, A. 2008, 'Architecture’s Expanded Field', Architec- ture Between Spectacle and Use, 59, pp. 143-154 Whybrow, N. 2010, Art and the city, I. B. Tauris Wright, F. L. 2008, 'The art and craft of the machine',

Figure 10

An alternative

configuration of

MLC system

designed for


in Pfeiffer, B. B. (eds) 2008, The essential Frank Lloyd Wright: Critical writings on architecture., Princeton University Press Świtek, G. 2013, Gry sztuki z architekturą. Nowoczesne powinowactwa i współczesne integracje.