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MSc Adaptive Architecture and Computation

Overview

Our Adaptive Architecture and Computation programme (MSc/MRes AAC) offers a unique perspective on the application of technology to the built environment. Technology is seen not only as a way to create emergent form, but as a means to create an architecture that adapts to its occupation; one in which design is embodied within our experience of place, and the components of design are transparently embedded within the environment; one in which society and space are combined as a unitary entity, brought together through a knowledge and understanding of computation as applied to our presence in the world.

To achieve this synergy, our course aims to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the practical skills required to create generative, emergent and responsive form, through exposure to real programming environments, alongside a solid grounding in analytic and synthetic techniques and the creation of physical systems engendering interaction and adaptation. You will also have access to a set of complementary modules providing you with a more cohesive experience, with a clear focus on the skills learnt within each module.

Programme Objectives

Our two courses - the MSc Adaptive Architecture and Computation and the MRes Adaptive Architecture and Computation - offer tailored experiences depending on your needs:

  • our MSc provides a full learning experience with set projects and structured learning. It can be taken by those without any computational experience or those looking for industry-applicable skills
  • our MRes, concentrates on your research skills, offering a self-directed route if you are intending to take a doctoral degree or are looking to take your existing architecture and computing experience to a higher level.

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Structure

The MSc AAC is intended for those with little or no scripting skills, and for more advanced programmers, who would like to specialise in parametric design, emergent architecture or interactive systems. The taught course leads students into theory and advanced skills for computational design as well as embedded and embodied techniques for adaptive architecture.

Term One Term Two Stream
Computational
Analysis
Computational Synthesis Theory
Introduction to Programming Morphogenetic Programming Skills
Design as a Knowledge Based Process Skills


Optional Unit One Embedded and Embodied Technologies

Body as Interface

City as Interface Practice

Optional Unit Two Digital Interaction

Digital Studio

Digital Ecologies Practice

Students take 120 credits of taught material and 60 credits of personal research project over an intensive year-long course running from September to September.

View the course structure of the MRes Adaptive Architecture and Computation.

Compulsory Modules

BENVGACB Computational Analysis
Module tutor: Sean Hanna
Credits: 15 credits
Assessment: two-hour exam
Term 1

BENVGACC Computational Synthesis
Module tutor: Sean Hanna
Credits: 15
Assessment: 3,000 word term paper
Term 2

BENVGACH Introduction to Programming for Architecture and Design
Module tutor: Martin Zaltz-Austwick
Credits: 15
Assessment: programming task
Term 1

BENVGACG Morphogenetic Programming
Credits: 15
Assessment: digitally-fabricated piece and documentation
Term 2

BENVGAAD Design as a Knowledge-Based Process
Module tutor: Sean Hanna, Sam Griffiths
Credits: 15 credits
Assessment: 2,500 word written essay
Term 1

Project Unit One: Embedded and Embodied Technologies

BENVGACJ Body as Interface
Tutor: Ava Fatah
Credits: 15

BENVGACK City as Interface
Tutor: Ava Fatah
Credits: 30

Project Unit Two: Digital Interaction

BENVGACE Digital Studio
Tutor: Ruairi Glynn
Credits: 15 credits

BENVGACL Digital Ecologies
Tutor: Ruairi Glynn
Credits: 30 credits


Content

BENVGACB Computational Analysis of space, structure and other aspects of architecture facilitates an understanding of the complexities of the built environment. A number of methods are introduced in this module, including the simulation of natural vision, machine learning algorithms and intelligent systems, with emphasis on their application in design-related domains, from agent simulation to structural engineering. This content is presented in the context of its implications in the creative process, emergent behaviour and relevance to design. The module is an important theoretical basis for the creation of architecture via the generative methods presented within the Computational Synthesis module.

BENVGACC Computational Synthesis introduces a range of algorithmic techniques used for generating architecture, from parametric modelling to generative methods based on procedural rules. These are presented first as independent techniques, but also in the context of optimisation, which requires the framing of explicit design objectives and computational methods for evaluation of designs. Each session describes the theory and implementation of a particular algorithm or computational method. It exposes students to the potential for computation to be used to enhance architectural process, and gives an appreciation of the cutting-edge techniques currently being developed, so that they form a basis for onward research by the student.

BENVGACH Introduction to Programming for Architecture and Design gives students an introduction to the basics of computer programming through simple material related to design and architecture. It builds in theory of computing in addition to mathematics useful to two- and three-dimensional design, as well as computer graphics in general. It gives students the opportunity to write a programme to achieve a set goal, with a focus on understanding the programming concepts to be applied.

BENVGACG Morphogenetic Programming gives students a practical introduction to the construction of parametric and generative structures. The focus is on learning algorithmic implementation in detail, with advanced programming techniques. At the same time, students are encouraged to think about how form and structure may adapt to its context and, in particular, how architecture may evolve through its occupation. Students are asked to prepare a morphogenetic structure using digital printing or milling techniques and to document its basis in code.

BENVGAAD Design as a Knowledge-Based Process introduces theories of design as a knowledge- or evidence-based process and provides a range of concepts that suggest how the nature of design may itself become the object of research. The course explores contrasting perspectives in architecture, theories of scientific knowledge, linguistics, social theory and theories of technology via student debate on issues of design practice, the nature of collaboration, machine intelligence and creativity. The module is intended to get students reflecting on what they do as practitioners by asking them to consider design as a knowledge domain with a particular knowledge base, rather than simply in terms of a tacit community of practice.

Project Unit One: Embedded and Embodied Technologies

BENVGACJ Body as Interface

BENVGACK City as Interface

These modules introduce the concepts and processes of embedding and embodiment within the public space. These are used to conduct creative and detailed explorations relating to understanding the space of potential interactions: person to person, person to digital, person to physical, digital to physical, and digital to digital. The modules integrate teaching, discovery (research) and application (practice). They adopt an open form of education and encourage students to work across boundaries of various types of creative endeavour such as dance, film and music. The modules include a one-week physical computing workshop.

Project Unit Two: Digital Interaction

BENVGACE Digital Studio

BENVGACL Digital Ecologies

These modules give students experience in using computation for creative production in a studio context. The project concentrates on architecture as it relates to the creation of space about our body through movement and dance, thus there is a focus on the performative aspect of architecture. A series of structured lessons takes students through programming techniques that are relevant to architectural computing as a whole, as well as to the implementation of a digital theatre piece, including the creation of film and video interaction. The modules include a one-week physical computing workshop.


Staff

The course team, drawn from the world-leading SPACE research group, comprises both architects and experts in artificial intelligence. Programming is taught through the processing language, which was created to teach computation to designers with no prior experience of computing. Time is dedicated to studio sessions with experienced tutors who have a track record of research into architecture and computation.

Course Director

Sean Hanna
Module tutor: Computational Analysis, Computational Synthesis, Design as Knowledge-Based Process
Send Sean an email

Staff teaching on the programme currently include:

Ava Fatah
Tutor: Body as Interface, City as Interface
Send Ava an email

Ruairi Glynn
Tutor: Digital Studio, Digital Ecologies
Send Ruairi an email

Sam Griffiths
Module tutor: Design as Knowledge-Based Process
Send Sam an email

Martin Zaltz-Austwick
Module tutor: Introduction to Programming for Architecture and Design
Send Martin an email

Martha Tsigkari
Module tutor: Morphogenetic Programming

Angelos Chronis
Module tutor: Morphogenetic Programming

AAC Tutors*

Daniel Hirshmann; Iris Asaf; Kinda al Sayed; Kaiti Papapavlou; Marilena Skavara;  Michal Piasecki; Przemek Jaworski; Tasos Varoudis; Vlad Tenu

Invited Speakers*

Yasmine Abbas; Robert Aish; Timo Arnall; Assa Ashuach; Philip Ball; Mike Batty; Peter Bentley; Andreas Broeckmann; Jason Bruges; Mark Burry; Tom Carden; Cristiano Ceccato; Ben Croxford; Christian Derix; Tim Greatrix; Antony Gormley; Usman Haque; Martin Hemberg; Daniel Hirschmann; Ludger Hovestadt; John Jordan; Iestyn Jowers; Vassilis Kostakos; Stefan Kueppers; Irene Lopez de Vallejo; Armando Menicacci; Eyal Nir; Miquel Prats; Roo Reynolds; Kerstin Sailer; Holger Schnadelbach; Anthony Steed; Sean Varney; Charles Walker; Hugh Whitehead; Chris Williams; Michael Yorke

Workshop and Specialist Tutors*

Francis Aish; Massimo Banzi; Matt Biddulph; Carolina Briones; Guillem Baraut; Jeroen Coenders; Ben Doherty; Nancy Diniz; Steven Downing; Gustav Fagerstrom; Mattia Gambardella; Michael Georgiou; Ben Gimpert; Richard Grimes; Pavel Hladik; Lars Hesselgren; Roly Hudson; Martin Kaftan; Yiannis Kanakakis; Judit Kimpian; Karen Martin; Magda Mavridou; Christian Nold; Bob Sheil; Tristan Simmonds; Bengt Sjölén; Adam Somlai-Fischer; Nick Weldin

*Teaching assistants, speakers and tutors vary from year to year

Applying

As part of the application process for this course, applicants may be requested to submit a portfolio and/or write a short essay on a relevant topic while their application is under consideration by the course director. Applicants from a design background are encouraged to send a portfolio of work when applying. Online applicants may include this with their digital submission as a .pdf file attachment no larger than 2Mb in size.

Please click through to the UCL graduate prospectus page for this course, from where you can find information on application fees, eligibility, tuition fees, scholarships, and then complete the online application process.

Applicants should also review the faculty specific admissions information and the FAQ on admissions.

Opportunities

The MSc and MRes AAC programmes at the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies provide students with both the critical and technical skills to undertake academic research, and a number of graduates have moved into careers in academia. Further opportunities for continuing research in similar topics are available via the Bartlett's PhD programme, and the EngD Centre for Virtual Environments, Imaging and Visualisation, run jointly with Computer Science.

After completing the MSc and MRes AAC programmes, many graduates go on to join leading architectural and engineering practices, either directly with design teams or with specialist modelling groups.

In the past three years, AAC graduates have joined Foster + Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects, KPF Associates, Aedas, Arup and Mott MacDonald. Alumni have also joined (or founded) cutting-edge emerging digital design practices such as United Visual Artists or Moving Brands.

Publications

A selection of student project work, along with academic publications arising from AAC research can be found in the publications section of the AAC micro-site.

Direct links are here to student thesis reports, papers and books.