In computer science, algorithms are habitually defined as fixed and often finite procedures of step-by-step instructions understood to produce something other than themselves.
These logic structures interface with data, sourced from any computable phenomena, becoming the basis for a new array of design strategies. The Computational Design Seminar focuses on emergent design strategies based on algorithmic design logics. From the physical spaces of our built environment to the networked spaces of digital culture, algorithmic and computational strategies are reshaping not only design strategies, but the entire perception of Architecture and its boundaries.


Computational design lies at the core of innovation in architecture and design nowadays. Increasingly the tools that we now use to design have expanded the range of our options to design, allowing for performance and complexity, and extending beyond the three dimensional space into a virtually limitless parametric realm of different versions of the design intent upon which to choose from. 

By being able to effectively set up a parametric model, navigate these options and confronting them with analytical tools that are embedded in the design process, designers are able to take better informed decisions in order to create projects that are complex and performative by whichever metrics the designer wishes to challenge them with. 

For this purpose, Grasshopper has significantly become the standard for computational design, not only within academia but across many trades and disciplines that encompass the creating process, providing easy access to algorithmic thinking and a large ecosystem of plugins that enables an easy access to a broad range of tools for advanced design. 

The Computational Design I Seminar is divided in two groups according to the grasshopper level of the students.

Group A – Mastering the basics. The course focuses on teaching the fundamentals of visual scripting through Grasshopper while exploring the most basic concepts of computational design. From the generation of geometry as data into how to manage multiple geometrical information algorithmically, students become proficient in algorithmic thinking in order to navigate fluently in the complexity of geometrical data.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn how to navigate fluently in the Grasshopper environment;
  • Learn the basics of visual programming and algorithmic thinking;
  • Understand fundamental concepts of computational design and geometry;
  • Create parametric models defining inputs and outputs;
  • Learning the fundamentals of data trees and data management in grasshopper.

Group B – Developing the skills. Students that have enough grasshopper experience focus on developing their skills further by visiting advanced concepts of parametric design and learning the most recently developed tools to aid the algorithmic process. This course aims to solidify the ground of the basics of grasshopper while amplifying already existing concepts into more advanced notions that can be put into practice. 

Learning Objectives

  • Obtain a deeper knowledge of algorithmic design concepts and parametrisation of geometry;
  • Obtain a deeper knowledge of data management in grasshopper;
  • Learn in deep about the parameterisation of complex geometries;
  • Learn about the most recent workflows for complex modelling;
  • Understand the notions and practical use of optimisation algorithms.


Projects from this course

Reimagining the Bayfront Pavilion

The Bayfront Pavillion redefines architectural boundaries, featuring cutting-edge sustainable materials and dynamic design elements. Its fluid contours echo the surrounding environment, promoting harmony with nature. Functionality meets elegance in this pavilion, boasting versatile spaces adaptable for cultural events, exhibitions, and communal gatherings. The UTD Advanced Architecture Laboratory has ingeniously engineered a landmark that not only … Read more


CONCEPT This pavilion in George Orwell Square in Barcelona stands as an architectural landmark that merges contemporary aesthetics with adaptive functionality. With undulating panels forming a captivating spiral, it challenges architectural conventions. Strategically located, it seamlessly integrates into the square, adapting or host various community activities. Beyond its visual appeal, the pavilion evokes a sense of … Read more

UK Pavilion Expo 2020 Dubai

________________________________________ The UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai by Es Devlin Studio is a testament to parametric design principles, seamlessly blending functionality and aesthetics. The pavilion’s innovative architecture, characterized by the “Poem Pavilion,” showcases a dynamic interplay of form and technology. The structure’s responsiveness, driven by artificial intelligence, allows it to generate personalized poems, adding … Read more

China Pavilion Milan Expo 2015

Computational Design Analysis For the 2015 Expo at Milan, a New York based studio: Studio Link-Arc paired with Tsinghua University in China to design and build the China Pavilion. The idea was to showcase China’s deep connection to both the cities and the countryside that reside within its borders. To do this the pavilion is … Read more

The Knot

A pavilion bridging the gap between government and society The Knot aims to redefine the relationship between governmental structures and the communities they serve. The pavilion punctures the intimidating, rigid structure of the Ayuntamiento de Barcelona in Plaza Sant Jaume I and smoothly transitions it into a fluid, open space. This creates an inviting and … Read more

Peace Pavilion – Atelier Zündel Cristea

 The Peace Pavilion have been created by Grégoire Zündel and Irina Cristea AZC for the summer of 2013. This was a temporary inflatable pavilion built in the heart of the Museum Gardens, in London. It expresses a sense of peace providing an ideal contemporary space with a sense of tranquility, beauty and exceptional aesthetic. The construction … Read more

Floating Branches Pavilion | Kozlowski + Cardia Design

Reference Architect Gabriel Kozlowski has partnered with Gringo Cardia, Bárbara Graeff, and Tripper Arquitetura to design a structure of floating tree branches for the Brazil pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. The pavilion is inspired by one of the greatest technological achievements of Brazil: the improvement of the Direct Planting System over a straw. The design conceptually mimics this scheme through its layered arrangement – … Read more


INSPIRATION CONCEPT The pavilion draws inspiration from the Pillar of Dreams in terms of form, materiality, and structural innovation. The design concept will explore the dynamic interplay between light, shadow, and form, creating an immersive experience for visitors. The pavilion will also prioritize adaptability, allowing for alterations in response to various architectural parameters such as … Read more

Waves Genetic Optimization

The architectural project aims to create a captivating and engaging experience for visitors, allowing them to explore thefascinating generation and interaction of waves. Inspired by the dynamic energy and graceful movement of water, the designfocuses on crafting a space that immerses visitors in the midst of a wave, offering them a truly unforgettable encounter. The … Read more

Erosion-Resistant Housing

A self-buring house that uses its inclined roof to deflect wind, control processes of erosion and increase accumulation of local sand particles. Through time, a covering sand dune affects the level of enclosure, transparency of the house and patterns of the shadows’ internal spaces. The aim of the project was to design a housing building to house between 20 and … Read more

Genetic Optimization: PerforaDen

00_ Project Manifesto Perfora Den is a unique shell structure located within Ranthambore National Park in India. Designed as a shelter for wildlife enthusiasts  and animals in the middle of the forest. This perforated brick structure harmonizes with its surroundings while neglecting disruption to the natural vegetation. This project optimizes the site’s topography, requiring minimal … Read more


Project agenda Project: TENSEGRI(CITY) Studio: RS.I X-Urban Design Achieve maximum use of space (solid volumes) at the same time providing open and efficiently insolated inner spaces inside the dense structure volume. Project: TENSEGRI(CITY) Studio: RS.I X-Urban Design Algorithm set up Optimisation Algorithm Process of fitness evaluation The fitness of each design solution is evaluated by … Read more


Manifesto This project is a development of a previous redesign of the Serpentine Pavilion 2017. It aims to use Wallacei to optimize the form of the pavilion to achieve maximum shading according to Ladybug. The design is divided into structure, roof and wall. The parameters are set to be the axes and openings of the … Read more

Genetic Optimization Towards Arches

MANIFEST: In this project, we are looking for a design procedure that employs Genetic Optimization through Galapagos as the driving force to achieve optimal dimensions in height, arc length and number of main blocks for Catenary Arches with three basic modules. Embracing Galapagos as our guiding light, we embark on an evolutionary journey, refining parameters, … Read more

Genetic Optimization- Pluvial Harvest

ASSIGNMENT INTRODUCTION The aim of the final assignment in the computational design seminar was to comprehend how various evolutionary solvers could be used in an architectural context in order to produce an optimized output. Using generative design tools like Galapapagos, Biomorpher and Wallacei, certain elements of a architectural project are to be experimented with respect … Read more


GENETIC OPTIMIZATION THROUGH COMPUTATIONAL DESIGN This work aimed to genetically optimize through computational design of a rainwater filtration tower. The tower is part of the design developed for the Digital Matter Studio. The group proposes to create a landscape structure that can collect and filter rainwater through chitosan, a bio-based material made from mussel shells … Read more

Form Follows Availability

Genetic Optimization: Assignment 3 The project aims to provide the most optimal solution to maximize the shading of this housing project. The algorithm reflects the process of natural selection where each individuals are selected for the reproduction in order to produce descendant of the next generation. Through the exploration of Ladybug and Galapagos, we can … Read more

Genetic Optimization: DIAS 365

Manifest A monolithic tower structure which is exposed to lightning and attracts their immense energy. The aim of the project is to harvest and invest their electric potential into a structure which will be sheltered and protected to allow visitors to live in. The skin of the building will be lightning-based: the high voltage discharges … Read more

Alambique – Genetic Optimization

MANIFEST Alambique is an innovative housing project that explores the experience and integration of heat and water systems. The design revolves around a central core, which serves as the structural support and houses the vertical pipes responsible for moving up hot vapor. Surrounding the core are the bedroom, bathroom, living area, and kitchen, all constructed … Read more