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Design Computation [20FL UVA]

Department of Landscape Architecture
Department of Archtiecture
University of Virginia School of Architecture
Fall 2020

Collborators: Xun Liu, Katie Stranix

Computation has a profound impact on a contemporary understanding of architectural and landscape architectural form,space and structure. It shifts the way in which form is perceived, purposed and produced. This course introduces new conceptual frameworks on computational thinking, spatial structures and associative modeling in conjunction with long-standing architectural techniques, technologies and software workflowsfundamental to the design process. It will investigate the potential of algorithmic logics for computational design and provide a new method to explore spatial organization.

This course will give students introduction to geometrical and terrain modeling in Rhino and Grasshopper, representational strategies in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, and the workflows between different softwares. Through a series of lecturesand interactive lab sessions accompanied by readings and exercises, students will gain technical fluency while also building a strong critical framework for understanding how computation has historically and presently informed design in both architecture and landscape architecture.

Learning Objectives

  • To expand on the architectural techniques of observation, translation, abstraction and notation covered in the Summer Design Institute through additive and associative modeling of sites and geometries.
  • To contextualize contemporary computational design methods within a critical, historical framework to build an understanding of the evolving role of technology in the design process.
  • To introduce students to design tools and methods that promote computational and systems thinking while simultaneously cultivating a practice of self-learning, experimentation and discovery.
  • To equip students with the technical and representational skills to better realize and render their designs while giving them the opportunity to discover and test formal and representational strategies outside of a studio setting.

Module 01: Translate & Transform (5 weeks)
  • Precedent Research
  • 2D to 3D Translation
  • Intro to Geometrical Modeling(GH & Rhino Curve, Surface, Solid Tools)
  • Intro to Representational Techniques (Rhino-Adobe Workflow)

Module 02: Amend & Associate (5 weeks)
  • Moving from Additive to Associative Design
  • Algorithmic & Systems Thinking
  • Working with Constraints

Module 03: Interpolate & Hybridize (4 weeks)
  • Responding to Context
  • Hybridizing Elements into a Cohesive System

A series of three cumulative assignments, each supplemented by a series of weekly exercises, build fluency in a wide range of computational methodologies. More detail about each assignment and its weekly exercises will be distributed with individual assignment briefs.

  • Assignment 01 - Translate & Transform
  • Assignment 02 - Amend & Associate
  • Assignment 03 - Interpolate & Hybridize

Training + Tutorials
Pre-lab tutorials and weekly exercises will strive to provide a strong foundation in geometrical modeling and computational design techniques. However, it is impossible to cover every technique and aspect of the software in class. Therefore, students will be expected to make use of available online materials such as video tutorials to supplement the exercises and tutorials in this course. The following resources are recommended resources, however you are welcome to use other resources as well.

Student Works

© 2021 Zihao Zhang