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The MSc Computing & Design programme

Emergent architectures of form and space - the CECA philosophy

The principle of self organisation is fundamental to our new understanding of morphology and structure in nature.

 We think it can only be properly taught, understood, and explored through a thorough grounding in the mechanisms of feedback in systems, parallel simulation and basic ideas in Artificial Life developed by zoologists, biologists and computer scientists.

To become truly creative in the development of these ideas we need to engage with the machine at a more profound level than buying the latest software. Building generative and evolutionary models is the best way of understanding them in nature and exploring their uses in architecture.

This is why at CECA we have always insisted on teaching our students the basics of scripting in CAD, and through it to investigate the use of emergent algorithms and their effects in architecture.

The MSc computing and design hosts a lecture series drawing on leaders in the field, and our staff and associated lectures are contributing to cutting edge research. Ex students hold many positions in the computational design field.

This course will give you the tools not just to become a digital form-maker but to interact creatively with the computer at a more fundamental level, to simulate growth process, complex mappings and computation geometry - to understand the underlying principles of computation and how it has affected our ways of understanding form as a process.

Students on the course are embedded in a rigorous process of learning algorithmic design through cad scripting, in a practice focused environment. Many students have taken up positions in practice as part of computational modelling teams.

Paul Coates / Christian Derix Spring 2007

The programme

This programme aims to provide students with advanced CAD skills and at the same time introduces ways of thinking about the role of the computer in architectural design beyond the current practice in offices through the medium of end user scripting. The course uses CAD as an introduction and vehicle for design research, and is concerned with space and form and their determinants. This programme introduces the new ways in which computers can be used to explore and generate designs. It is founded on the notion that architectural outcomes can be seen as the result of some process; that its three dimensional form can be described not just geometrically, in the conventional top down way, but as a set of rules derived from an analysis of the design problem couched in a different dynamical perspective. Since 1991 the School has pioneered work in this expanding field of generative modelling, and has developed a range of new tools for designers which are available for students to explore and extend.

PhD programme (some current research topics)


Students and staff have contributed papers to a multitude of conferences, i.e. ECAADE, CAAD FUTURES, Generative Arts, DCC since 1991.

Former students have collaborated on spatial research and immersive systems with recent work at the ZKM in Karlsruhe and the ARS Electronica.

Former students and staff continue to develop computational methods for architectural designs in R&D groups of large architectural pratices.




The programme forms part of the master’s umbrella programmes integrated with the Architecture programme, and with access to a wide range of digital arts programmes at AVA:

© 2006

School of Arts and Digital Industries

Programming.Architecture By Paul Coates

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Centre for Evolutionary Computing in Architecture