CU Teaching, NYC

Parametric Realizations Fall 2009

[with Mark Bearak and Brigette Borders]

"... exploring the intrinsic relationship between parametric algorithms and material explorations.

Parametric modelers are commonly used in the development of digital architectural models, but they are rarely taken to the point of becoming physical realities. This course will look at the process of generating parametric algorithms then turning those models into physical realities. Students will work in groups to design an installation that will be the physical realization of their scripted protocol.

Students will work in groups to design an installation that will be the physical realization of their scripted protocol. Groups will develop mathematical algorithms using parametric modelers such as Rhino.script, Grasshopper and Generative Components. Concurrently students will be testing modeling techniques in order to create a prototype for their final physical system. Students will then take their digital models, rationalize them, and physically construct the system using a material process from their prototype.

Students will start by researching certain room typologies such as wall panels, lighting elements and furniture pieces; each group will choose an element that will be used as a seed for their scripted cells. Students will use parametric modelers to generate their individual cells while keeping in mind the constraints of physical materials. Over the course of the semester students will apply specific techniques to differentiate their cells in order to create a series of distinct modeled elements. While students are developing their differentiated cells they will start testing their proposed modeling technique based on a single modeled cell. Students will streamline the modeling techniques that will generate a 1 to 1 prototype of one of their cell." (Excerpt from syllabus)

Cocoon - Benedict Clouette, Kerri Henderson

This project aims to create a place of intimacy through a thin, tensioned surface. Mylar pieces are punched together seeking an optimal pattern of light and material, the most controversial density and porosity conditions to enable movement and calm, solitude and company at the same time.


Self-generated pyramidal sculpture - Farzam Yazdanzeta, Byaina Bogossian, Maurizio Bianchi

A completely automated process allows for absolut control of this proposal's mode of production. From its formal state to its physical manifestation, code is not only the means for idea translations, but the absolute design driver of the sculpture. The team decided to create a spatial object that could be displayed under different environmental conditions, for which they wrote a code that would ultimately control the ideal and material production: this is, from the very shape of the object to the assembly of its manyfold -yet rationalized- components.

The result is a highly complex system through which different outputs can be studied. The one hereby presented is merely a case study, one formal manifestation among the very many possible options the systems can create.


Tilling the landscape - Diego Urrego, Mazdak Jafarian, Shadi Sajjad

Casting offers numerous possibilities of expression in fabrication. This project puts into question the artificiality of the distinction between vertical and horizontal facings and paraments in architecture through the hybridization of a surface and its very inner structure.

The components are casted as single parts of an hexagon, which is the closest shape to optimal surface coverage. As such, the casting process opens up a wide varidety of possibilities regarding expression through material, which are explicitely taken as pattern recognition devices.

Whether located vertically or horizontally, this projects offers a unique experience of otherwise neglected surfaces.


Triply minimally perforated surface - Eleneora Encheva, Debbie Lin, Caren Faye

Geometry is for architecture an endless source of inspiration and admiration. Minimal surfaces, among others, expand architectural limits due to their surface and structural properties: minimal surface is one which mean curvature is zero. "These include, but are not limited to, surfaces of minimum area subject to various constraints. Physical models of area-minimizing minimal surfaces can be made, among other procedures, by dipping a wire frame into a soap solution, forming a soap film, which is a minimal surface whose boundary is the wire frame" (wikipedia).

This project takes triply minimal surfaces as inspiration to create a casted, tilled wall. As in the example above, the intention is to create variability from the capacity to assemble a unique, coherent piece from many interchangeable prefabricated parts. The designer -or even the final user- could then decide which particular aggregation would suit his/her interests best, and develop profound new agglomerates each time.


Adaptive canopy - Eric Tan, Nate Klinge, Wei Wong

As opposed to other above presented examples, this proposal deals with explicitely generated geometry. Designed for a specific place, this installation constitutes a significant attempt in the detailing of component-based surfaces. Every component is the result of the triangulation of the crafted surface. Every piece, then, is further explored in terms of porosity and lightness, in order to optimally distribute the work's own weight and other stresses through the structure. The result, as can be seen, is a higly precise, self-bearing installation.

Search Fall 2009

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"This workshop explores generative design methodologies through the application of algorithmic techniques - we look at fundamental coding principles (recursion, feedback, modularity and I/O) while working within an object-oriented framework, opening the door to complex simulation and animate formation. Artificial life, material intelligence, interactivity, and other second-order principles will be approached from the vantage point of "dynamics" and "search" - or the introduction of directed intelligence into a dynamic process of making.

Development : A process in which something passes by degrees to a different stage.

Behavior: The aggregate of responses to internal and external stimuli.

Behavior and development are understood to be a sum, or aggregate, of a multitude of innocuous decisions. Each is a 'dynamic', or a process 'in time' that necessarily feeds-back and regulates procedures to promote higher levels of form, organization, and movement. Students will develop a focused inquiry into a specific area of algorithmic dynamics. Here, "dynamics" is meant as a inclusive term for all kinds of activity: formal development, flocking, embryology, automata, FEA, fractals and l-systems are all examples of time-based recursive practices. The class is meant to flesh out a vocabulary and structural understanding of a wide array of algorithms, to look for correspondences among dynamics, mapping and search heuristics. By casting a wide net, we hope to see opportunities for portability and the development of a critical stance towards algorithmic 'tooling.'

Object-oriented programming (OOP) is a crucial part of the seminar's approach to algorithms. Modularity is the key to moving beyond simple 'scripting' operations, which necessarily focus purely on geometry, towards a behavioral architecture; we wish to provoke architecture into a robust dynamism, to look for correspondences between formal and spatial articulation, environmental factors and other mediums of agency. To achieve this, we must exploit platforms such as Processing that can support spatial research at a speed, intensity and multiplicity beyond that available in the scripting languages of Maya or Rhino.

The workshop consists of two short projects: a generative procedure and a system of valuation. As a last step, we used meshing as a means to translate various types of information into topologically complex form. This workshop is an exploration of algorithmic design methodologies rather than a scripting tutorial and although some prior scripting experience will be useful, NO scripting experience is required. We are interested in the economic deployment of short, modular pieces of code that become inter-operable and give rise to complex structures and novel behaviors." (Excerpt from syllabus, modified)

Band tracking - Julie Jira and Georgia Bullen

This applet identifies bands and cities as agents of the same reality -migration movements. The project is a tool to visualize in real time those particular migrations caused by precisely chosen social phenomena, such as natural disaster, economic fluctuations, human rights -or leisure.

In this case, the authors decided to deal with a more gentle cause of human fluctuations -concerts- and their visited cities. Visited locations are represented in the globe as single growing lines, -higher lines identify preferred concert locations- while each band path leaves a blue trail behind. [See applet]

Towards a new visual paradigm - Maider Llaguno and Augustus Chan

Visualization is one the fields most quickly evolving. Architecture, arguably the most "technically enhaced engineering-craft", not only uses continuously enhances the virtually-built visual spectrum. Taking this as point of departure, "towards a new visual paradigm" embraces the new 3d-visualization technological tendencies in order to partially recreate the geometry of Aggrippa's Parthenon in Rome, as well as to explore the possibilities of influencing, "on the fly" that very geometry in its digital form.

The user will experience a quite unique vision of the building, as well as a certain confussion as the original display is influenced by the navigation through the object itself. Red points assume those parts of the building that are more likely to be perceived by visitors through time. [See applet]

Multiple agency - Jesse Blankenship and Shadi Arani

Object Oriented Programming allows for a deeper understanding of complex systems through modelization of Agent-Based_Systems. Even though this project merely scratches the surface of those complex systems and their implementation, it is a first step into the exploration of the various degrees of feedback present in those. Parallelly, a study of the several properties and states of the system is also attempted, and explicitely expressed as a goal in the project.


Artificial Life, Self-Sustenance - Eleonora Encheva and Tzu-Hsuan Hsu

Another instance of an initial attempt to model complex systems thorugh their agent-based implementation. In this case, the system responds to its own needs, as a mirroring of those systems that depend upon their own capacity to manage resources and optimize their exploitation. [See applet]

Digital Spir-O Graph - Ye Yang and Monica Friday

Processing is a powerful tool when it comes to digital craft. This project explores basic processing capabilities in regard to graphical automation.

Swarm Intelligence Fall 2009

[with Roland Snooks-Kokkugia] - for further information see:

"This seminar examines the role of agency within generative design processes. The course engages algorithmic techniques in the development of a computational methodology grounded in swarm intelligence. While discussing the political and social role of agency, the workshop will focus on an abstract design methodology, recasting simple decision making ability into agents capable of self-organizing into an emergent intelligence. Scripting will form the basis for algorithmic models which enable localized interaction of agents to generate emergent topologies in the design of proto-architectural forms, structures and articulation. Unlike the typical application of swarm systems in design, this workshop does not simply engages in the mapping of these complex systems, but instead, we will mine the self-organizing potential of the systems to negotiate between a complex set of desires and parameters in the generation of architecture.

The semester focused around two areas of research, initially developing simulations of vector based swarm systems and then using these as the basis for developing an architectural design methodology which operates within a topological substrate. This second stage of the research logically shifts away from any analogous relationship to an existing swarm systems model and aims to develop a design process capable of negotiating architectural inputs.


Computational design is shifting away from the reliance on heavy platforms such as Maya's MEL scripting language into lightweight object oriented programming environments, enabling the massive iteration required for emergent processes. In anticipating this shift, the workshops will focus on the newer lightweight languages such as Processing and Python. As the research shifts into a topological substrate these languages will be transferred into Maya (Python) and RhinoScript to enable agent intelligence to be embedded into geometry." (Excerpt from syllabus, modified)

Structural Ornament - Sofia Krimizi, Byaina Bogosian, Kyriakou, Naomi Ocko, Sohith Perera

Ornament is widely treated as an addition to other architectural components. The belief that ornament is mere cladding, or an attached component to the "raw" design in architectural practice is one of the questions to be put to the test. This experiment searches a common ground for both structure and ornament, trying to define not their boundaries but points in common, dependencies and relationships.

The clapping Project - Bart Jan Polman, Yeoun Ban and Johanna Muszbek

A study of synchronized and asynchronized patterns as a further development of clapping in a defined crowd.

Bridging - Maider Llaguno, Marina Cisneros, Maurizio Bianchi and Augustus Chan

This is an attempt to directly apply an agent based system to a real situation: the issue here was to create a bridge in a location of London by means of a virtual modelization of crowd behavior and its response to conditions external to the system. [See applet]

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