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Design Computing - Penn State Architecture

Close-up of geometric spherical shape fabricated from laser-cut fibreboard.

Architecture Research Cluster

The Design Computing research cluster investigates computation as a subject of critical and creative inquiry in architecture. Exploring computational design as it relates to materials, representations, theories, and cultures of practice, the cluster systematically interrogates the technological imagination and production of today’s built environment. Faculty and students in the cluster study issues including architectural robotics, performance-driven design, generative design and fabrication methods, responsive artifacts and environments, wearable computing, experimental software development, and the history and theory of computational design media. Faculty members in the Design Computing Research Cluster are recognized scholars and practitioners of the field, and bring perspectives from both industry and academia into their research and courses.

The Stuckeman Center for Design Computing, located in 151 Stuckeman Family Building, provides space and computational facilties for researchers devoted to advance design research and learning in computational design.

People

Explore the faculty and students in this research cluster.

Core Faculty

  • José Duarte: mass customization; generative systems, shape grammars, parametric design; responsive environments; urban modeling; materials design and digital fabrication
  • Yasmine Abbas: atmosphere, neo-nomadism
  • Felecia Davis: development and use of computational textiles and materials, wearable computing, augmented intelligence and intelligent environments
  • Benay Gürsoy Toykoç: computational making, digital fabrication, shape grammars, basic design education, cognitive studies of design processes
  • Heather Ligler: shape grammars and visual computation; shape grammar implementations; rule-based design; design scripting; new media for architectural history and theory
  • Darla Lindberg: functionalist theory; relationship of design and technology; sustainable design

Associated Faculty

  • Shadi Nazarian: architecture of glass – exploring recycled glass, ceramics, cement and their mutual interfaces; materials design and additive manufacturing
  • Laia Celma: sustainable architecture

Ph.D. Students

  • Negar Ashrafi
  • Özgüç Bertug Çapunaman
  • Ali Ghazvinian
  • Eric Mainzer
  • Farzaneh Oghazian
  • Vina Rahimian
  • Elena Vazquez
Grid of six images showing groups of students engaging with
Responsive façade system using smart and bistable materials. Student: Elena Vazquez; faculty: José Duarte, Zoubeida Ounaies, Clive Randall, Benay Gursoy.

Faculty Research

Section image: Responsive façade system using smart and bistable materials. Student: Elena Vazquez; faculty: José Duarte, Zoubeida Ounaies, Clive Randall, Benay Gursoy.


3D Printing Food Waste

A line drawing flow chart of the 3d printing waste tooling process shown above three photos of a coffee cup made of coffee waste using that process. Image credits: Benay Gursoy and Berfin Evrim.
Waste tooling process shown above three photos of a coffee cup made of coffee waste using that process. Image credits: Benay Gursoy and Berfin Evrim.


3D Printing Food Waste

Lead Faculty: Benay Gürsoy

Team: Berfin Evrim, Grant Davis, Josh Tubay

Affiliations: Design Computing Cluster, SCDC, College of Arts and Architecture, ForMat Lab

Funding: President’s Fund for Undergraduate Research/Creative Activities


In this research, an alternate consumption cycle is proposed in which the traditional landfill waste disposal model is averted by developing design objects that are fabricated with household biowaste materials. Food decomposition in landfills not only wastes the energy and emissions input into the original production process, but also releases methane. By rerouting this waste for secondary use as novel design objects and tools, food waste is repurposed by employing different fabrication strategies, including powder-based 3D printing and molding.


Publications:

  • Evrim, B., Davis, G., Tubay, J., & Gursoy, B. (2020). Recipes for Waste-Tooling: Using Food Waste in Design, in Proceedings of the Sigradi 2020 Conference, November 18-20, 2020.

Additive Manufacturing at Construction Scale

Two views of 3d-printed concrete twisted column, Additive Manufacturing of Concrete Structures. Student: Harrison Lawrence; faculty: Jose Duarte, Shadi Nazarian.
Two views of 3d-printed concrete twisted column, Additive Manufacturing of Concrete Structures. Student: Harrison Lawrence; faculty: Jose Duarte, Shadi Nazarian.


Additive Manufacturing at Construction Scale

Lead Faculty: Jose Duarte, Shadi Nazarian

Team: Sven Bilen, Ali Memari, Nick Meisel, Aleksandra Radlinska, Randall Bock, Nate Brown, Nate Watson, Negar Ashrafi, Naveen Muthumanickam, Gon.alo Duarte, Daniel Henneh, Amanh Alsaqer

Affiliations: Design Computing Cluster, SCDC, AddCon Lab, College of Arts and Architecture, College of Engineering

Funding: Autodesk, NASA, Hilti Foundation, MRI-IEE, The Raymond A. Bowers Program for Excellence in Design and Construction of the Built Environment, Autodesk, Inc., and Golf Concrete Technology (GCT)


The aim of this multi-disciplinary project is to develop the technology to 3D print architectural structures, to enable the materialization of mass customized affordable housing. It explores two lines of research related to concrete- and clay-based mixtures and it addresses a multitude of issues concerning the design of materials, printing system, toolpath, structure, and building.


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Bamboo Architecture for Bio-Digital Futures

Computer rendering of two African women carrying a Fufuzela – deployable low-cost bamboo structure

Research into bio-digitally enabled bamboo building systems


Fufuzela: A Deployable Low-cost Bamboo Architecture for Bio-digital African Futures

Lead Faculty: DK Osseo-Asare, Yasmine Abbas

Team: Oulimata Gueye, Cher Potter, Nana Oforiatta-Ayim, Tiffanie Leung

Affiliations: HuMatLab, Æffect Lab, Material Matters Cluster (primary), Design Computing Cluster (affiliate), Stuckeman School, College of Arts and Architecture, SEDTAPP, College of Engineering, Materials Research Institute, RE2 Lab

Funding: Materials Research Institute, Stuckeman Collaborative Design Research Center, Le Lieu Unique (France), Victoria & Albert Museum (UK)


This project employs a transdisciplinary “humanitarian materials” approach to explore open design strategies for co-creation of deployable low-cost bamboo architecture (fufuzela) that reformat spaces of learning and making for bio-digital African futures. Global multi-partner team (USA, Europe, West Africa) seeks to advance transformal techniques for upcycled biocomposite material assemblies via design research that integrates materials methods and green architecture (modeling, simulation/form-finding, physical prototyping, testing/validation) with participatory future design, biodesign and African computation toward interactive architectural interfaces that enable environmental customization of spatial æffect and hyperspatial networking.


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Computer wireframe graphic showing orbital pattern definition of fufuzela (skeleton-skin) multi-speciation, by DK Osseo-Asare & Yasmine Abbas.
Orbital pattern definition of fufuzela (skeleton-skin) multi-speciation, by DK Osseo-Asare & Yasmine Abbas.

Decoding + Recoding Urban Settlements

3D scanned image of the favela Santa Marta, Rio, by Debora Verniz.
3D scanned image of the favela Santa Marta, Rio, by Debora Verniz.


Decoding + Recoding Urban Settlements

Lead Faculty: Jose Duarte

Team: Sven Nate Brown, Fernando Lima, Vina Rahimian, Debora Verniz, Lara Garcia

Affiliations: Design Computing Cluster, SCDC, AddCon Lab, College of Arts and Architecture

Funding: SCDC, CAPES, Hilti Foundation


The goal of the project is to use new technologies to understand the structure of formal and informal settlements and then develop new approaches to urban design that support the creation of more affordable, sustainable, and resilient environments. Among the technologies used are 3D scanning, virtual reality, generative systems, machine learning, and optimization.


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Optimization of urban layouts following a variety of generative strategies. Faculty: Fernando Lima, Nate Brown, Jose Duarte.

Optimization of urban layouts following a variety of generative strategies. Faculty: Fernando Lima, Nate Brown, Jose Duarte.

Machine Learning for Generative Redesign

Grid of 12 Rule-Based Structural Labeling and Circulation Analysis diagrams
Rule-Based Structural Labeling and Circulation Analysis. Student: Daniele Melo Santos Paulino; Faculty: Heather Ligler, Rebecca Napolitano.


GA + SG + GANs: ML for the Generative Redesign of Existing Infrastructure

Lead Faculty: Heather Ligler

Team: Rebecca Napolitano, Daniele Melo Santos Paulino, Jennifer Carvajal Moreno, Sierra Hogan

Affiliations: Design Computing Cluster, SCDC, Beam Lab, College of Arts and Architecture, College of Engineering

Funding: SCDC


The aim of this interdisciplinary research is to develop a preliminary machine learning (ML) workflow, combining generative adversarial networks (GANs), genetic algorithms (GA), and shape grammars (SG), to implement structural diagnostics of existing infrastructure and rule-based design generation to promote the circular, sustainable reuse of buildings. The project explores how GANs trained on different data sets, here a GA-generated structural training set for optimization and a SG-generated architectural design training set for spatial relations, can accelerate this process and intervene to overcome current limitations of adaptive reuse.

Mass Customization + Grammar Studies

The Grammar of Siza’s Malagueira Houses by Jose Duarte shows an overhead view of 25 house design iterations.
The Grammar of Siza’s Malagueira Houses by Jose Duarte


Mass Customization + Grammar Studies

Lead Faculty: Jose Duarte

Team: Eduardo Castro e Costa, Anja Wutte

Affiliations: Design Computing Cluster, SCDC, College of Arts and Architecture, College of Engineering

Funding: SCDC, Design Innovation Fund


The goal of this project is to develop the tools to support the mass customization of housing, work spaces, and daily use objects. It addresses both the grammatical analysis of existing building and object types, as well as the development of design systems encoding new types.


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Mycelium-Based Composites in Architecture

(A) Treatments in bags at the Mushroom Research Center; (B) Treatments in formworks at the Mushroom Research Center; (C) DIC equipment at the Materials Research Institute; (D) DIC System at the Materials Research Institute; (E) Start of the compression test of an MBC sample; (F) End of the compression test of an MBC sample. Image credit: Ali Ghazvinian (A) Treatments in bags at the Mushroom Research Center; (B) Treatments in formworks at the Mushroom Research Center; (C) DIC equipment at the Materials Research Institute; (D) DIC System at the Materials Research Institute; (E) Start of the compression test of an MBC sample; (F) End of the compression test of an MBC sample. Image credit: Ali Ghazvinian


Mycelium-Based Composites in Architecture: A Biodegradable and Renewable Alternative to Architectural Construction

Lead Faculty: Benay Gürsoy

Team: John Pecchia, Ali Ghazvinian

Affiliations: Design Computing Cluster, SCDC, College of Arts and Architecture, ForMat Lab, Mushroom Research Center, Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology

Funding: SCDC, CDR Grant 2019, IEE Seed Grant


Mycelium-based composites (MBC) are biomaterials that are biodegradable and renewable. The integration of MBC in architectural constructions can decrease the construction waste and reduce carbon emission. In this research, the focus is on 1) enhancing the material properties of MBC for architectural use, 2) developing structural systems that work under compression considering the constraints and affordances of MBC and using computational form-finding techniques, generative design and optimization methods, 3) automating the construction by robotically 3D printing mycelium.


Publications:

  • Ghazvinian, A., Farrokhsiar, P., Vieira, F., Pecchia, J. & Gursoy, B. (2019). Mycelium-Based Bio-Composites in Architecture: Assessing the Effects of Cultivation Factors on Compressive Strength. ECAADE + Sigradi 2019 Conference Proceedings.
  • Corbley, T., Chesakis, A., & Gursoy, B. (2019). Growable Architecture: Mycelium as Blocks and Mortar. Materiart Conference Proceedings.
  • Ghazvinian, A. (2020). A sustainable alternative to architectural materials: Mycelium- based Bio-composites. Divergence in Architectural Research Symposium.

Persistent Algorithms in the Archive

Grid of 12 Coordinate Unit Arrangements representing simple to complex architectural floorplans.
John Portman’s Coordinate Unit Arrangements from Housing to High-Rise. Faculty: Heather Ligler.


Persistent Algorithms in the Archive: Relation, Reinvention, and Rehabilitation in the Arts and Architecture

Lead Faculty: Heather Ligler

Affiliations: Design Computing Cluster, SCDC, College of Arts and Architecture

Funding: SCDC


This research focuses on revisiting design history, theory, and criticism in terms of persistent spatial relations that can be described in algorithms that animate what has been traditionally understood as the diagram, parti, configuration, etc. into an active, rule-based implementation. The goal is to explore new ways of describing, interpreting, and evaluating artifacts of the design disciplines through contemporary computational media that are inherently visual and productive, leading to novel possibilities for design generation, education, research, and practice.

See–Sense–Respond: Robotic Fabrication

Line drawings indicating proposed workflow and proximal goals of research on augmenting robotic fabrication. Image credit: Özgüç B. Çapunaman
Proposed workflow and proximal goals of research on augmenting robotic fabrication. Image credit: Özgüç B. Çapunaman


See–Sense–Respond: Augmenting Robotic Fabrication

Lead Faculty: Benay Gürsoy

Team: Özgüç Bertuğ Çapunaman

Affiliations: Design Computing Cluster, SCDC, College of Arts and Architecture, ForMat Lab

Funding: University Graduate Fellowship


The integration of robotic arms to architectural design and research have opened new possibilities for conceptualizing and materializing architecture. Although robotic arms provide precision and control in the fabrication process, they have significant limitations in seeing, sensing and responding to the environment in real-time. In this research, our goal is to develop a robotic fabrication framework which will 1) see the environment using computer vision, 2) sense its materiality using force feedback, and 3) respond to the changes in the environment through adaptive toolpath generation.


Publications:

  • Gursoy, B. (2018). From Control to Uncertainty in 3D Printing with Clay. In Kepczynska-Walczak, A., Bialkowski, S. (Eds.), Computing for a better tomorrow – Proceedings of the 36th eCAADe Conference. (2), (pp. 21-30).

Shape-Changing 3D Printed Hygroscopic Wood


Shape-changing 3D Printed Kirigami Geometry. Image credit: Elena Vazquez


Shape-Changing 3D Printed Hygroscopic Wood

Lead Faculty: Benay Gürsoy, Jose Duarte

Team: Elena Vazquez

Affiliations: Design Computing Cluster, SCDC, College of Arts and Architecture, ForMat Lab

Funding: SCDC, CDR Grant 2019


In this research, the aim is to develop shape-changing architectural systems by 3D printing wood-based composite materials that respond to the changes in the relative humidity of the environment. Custom 3D printing protocols have been developed and the effects of 3D printing parameters and geometries on shape-change are analyzed in order to formalize the shape-changing behavior as a set of computational rules.


Publications:

  • Vazquez, E., Gursoy, B., & Duarte, J. (2020). Formalizing Shape-Change in Design: 3D Printed Shapes and Hydro-Responsive Material Transformations. International Journal of Architectural Computing, Volume: 18 issue: 1, page(s): 1-17. DOI: 10.1177/1478077119895216
  • Vazquez, E., Gursoy, B. (2020). Responsive Wood Interfaces: Prototypes for Actuating Shape-Change in 3D Printed Wood, in Proceedings of the Sigradi 2020 Conference, November 18-20, 2020.
  • Vazquez, E.; Gursoy, B.; Duarte, J.P. (2019). Designing for shape- change: Case studies of 3D Printing Composite Materials for Responsive Architectures, in Proceedings of the 24th CAADRIA Conference, Auckland, New Zealand, April 15-18, 2019.

Smart Materials + Buildings + Cities

Responsive façade system using smart and bistable materials. Student: Elena Vazquez; faculty: José Duarte, Zoubeida Ounaies, Clive Randall, Benay Gursoy.
Responsive façade system using smart and bistable materials. Student: Elena Vazquez; faculty: José Duarte, Zoubeida Ounaies, Clive Randall, Benay Gursoy.


Smart Materials + Buildings + Cities

Lead Faculty: Jose Duarte

Team: Benay Gursoy, Clive Randall, Zoubeida Ounaies, Elena Vazquez, Berfin Evrim, Vyom Mehta

Affiliations: Design Computing Cluster, SCDC, College of Arts and Architecture, College of Engineering

Funding: SCDC, Waddell Biggart Graduate Fellowship, CDR Grant 2020, AIA UpJohn Grant 2020


The goal of the project is to use new technologies to support context-sensitive, responsive, or smart design at different scales. The idea is to develop strategies to design and operate built structures that are optimized from a multitude of viewpoints, consume the least amount of energy and material resources, while guaranteeing high performance standards. Among the technologies used are smart materials, digital fabrication, generative systems, machine learning, and optimization.


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Student Publications

Theses in Design Computing

Interlocking Construction System of 3D Printed Clay Components, Kamrun Naher Tithi (2019)
Adviser: José Duarte | Committee: Shadi Nazarian, Benay Gürsoy Toykoç, Tom Lauerman (Visual Arts)

Residential High-Rise Building Facade Design: Generating Diversity, Fei Guo (2018)
Adviser: Shadi Nazarian | Committee: José Duarte, Ali Memari, Eduardo Castro e Costa

Masonry Screen Walls in Paragruay. Creating a Digital Framework for Optimizing Environmental Performance Through Shape Configuration, Elena Vazquez (2018)
Co-Advisers: José Duarte, Ute Poerschke | Committee: Denise Costanzo

Design Features in Communal Spaces: Impact on Quality and Satisfaction in Social Housing Projects, Angelica Rocio Rodriguez Ramirez (2017)
Adviser: José Duarte | Committee: Alexandra Staub, Mallika Bose

The Ephemeral Dream Space: (Re)Activating an Evocative Architecture Through Computational Devices and Bodily Interaction, Nasim Motalebi (2017)
Adviser: Marcus Shaffer | Committee: José Duarte, Andrew Hieronymi

Towards a Soft-Mold Based Hybrid Fiber Form Defining Approach, Xiao Han (2017)
Adviser: Felecia Davis | Committee: Loukas Kalisperis, Katsu Muramoto

Using Recycled Plastic Composites to Develop Earthquake Resilient Housing for the Region of Kutch, India, Dhaval Chheda (2016)
Adviser: Felecia Davis | Committee: Darla Lindberg, Shadi Nazarian

A Step Towards a Topology of Responsive Architecture: Actors, Interactions, Transformations, Seoug Oh (2014)
Advisor: Daniel Cardoso Llach | Committee: Donald Kunze, Peter Aeschbacher

Design of a Computer Controlled Sun-Tracking Façade Model, Mahzad Tashakori (2014)
Advisor: Ute Poerschke | Committee: Jeffrey Brownson, Loukas Kalisperis

Investigating the Energy Footprint of Conventional Facade Systems To Modern Multi-Layered Façade Systems, Neeraj Chatterji (2012)
Advisor: Ute Poerschke | Committee: Lisa D. Iulo, Loukas Kalisperis

An Investigation into a Visual Framework Integrating BIM-ESS workflow in the Early Design Phase, Rohan Haksar (2010)
Advisor: Ute Poerschke | Committee: Loukas Kalisperis, George Otto

An Investigation into the Methods to Facilitate Understanding of the Use of Energy Simulation Programs by Architects in the Early Design Stage, Suhas Bambardekar (2009)
Advisor: Ute Poerschke | Committee: Lisa D. Iulo, Loukas Kalisperis

Twisted wire figure with Carnival costume; part of a shape grammar architectural study