MArch in Architecture & Urbanism (Design Research Laboratory) DELTA - Studio: Theodore Spyropoulos, Assistant: Mostafa El Sayed, Team: Necdet Yagiz Özkan (Turkey), Anju Veerappa Satish (India), Avneesh Rathor (India), Irina Igorevna Safonova (Russia)

Design Research Laboratory

Director Theodore Spyropoulos Founder Patrik Schumacher Course Masters Robert Stuart-Smith, Shajay Bhooshan Programme Coordinator Ryan Dillon Course Tutors Suzan Ibrahim Abed, Pierandrea Angius, Doreen Bernath, Apostolos Despotidis, Mostafa El-Sayed, Soomeen Hahm, Tyson Hosmer, Alicia Nahmad Vasquez, Alexandra Vougia Technical Tutors Albert Williamson-Taylor, Alessandro Margnelli, Ed Moseley Software Tutors Torsten Broeder, Octavian Mihai Gheorghiu, Julian Lin Paul Jeffries Eva Magnisali Jorge X Méndez-Cáceres Ashwin Shah


16 months (four terms)

Experimentation and Innovation (v.19)

The Design Research Laboratory (DRL) is a 16-month post-professional design research programme leading to a Masters of Architecture and Urbanism (MArch) degree. For the last 20 years, the world-renowned lab has been at the forefront of design experimentation, pioneering advanced methods in design, computation and manufacturing. The lab is structured around an evolving framework of three-year research cycles that interrogate architecture and urbanism fr architecture, design and engineering, the AADRL pursues innovation and interdisciplinary design rchitecture and fostered through partnerships with companies such as Ferrari, Festo, AKTII, Reider and Odico Robotics. The lab remains a space of collaboration and curiosity and looks to develop the next generation of architects who will aduates esearch groups or teach at schools worldwide.

Course Structure

Four terms of study are divided into two phases. Phase I, a three-term academic year beginning each autumn, introduces design techniques and topics through a combination of team-based studio, workshops and seminar courses. In Phase II, which begins the following autumn, teams develop their Phase I work into comprehensive design thesis projects. At the end of January these projects are presented to a panel of distinguished visiting critics who have included Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Jeff Kipnis, Wolf Prix, Ali Rahim, Marta Male-Alemany, Alisa Andrasek, Michael Hansmeyer, John Frazer, Ben Van Berkel, David Ruy, Hernan Diaz Alonso, Tom Wiscombe, Caroline Bos, Mark Cousins, David Greene and Marcelo Spina.

Phase I Design Research Agenda

Behaviour Complexity (v4)
The AADRL explores advanced computational development in the pursuit of architectural systems that are adaptive, generative and behavioural. The aim of the resear a conceptual tool in order to synthesise the digital world with the material world. Using the latest in advanced printing, construction and computing tools the lab's pioneering work challenges today's design orthodoxies. Exploring architecture that is mobile, transformative, kinetic and robotic makes up a core part of the AADRL agenda as it aims to expand the discipline and push the limits of design within the larger cultural and technological realm.

Phase II Design Research Agenda

Behavioural Complexity (v3)
Theodore Spyropoulos' studio, Soft Robotic Taxonomies, explores autonomous, self-aware and assembled systems that examine softness through multi-material agency. Evolution of Responsive Structures, led by Patrik Schumacher, utilises elastic deformation, rather than hinge-based mechanics, to integrate the responsive kinetic capacities of structures. Such adaptive deformations might be stress-induced, such as via loads from occupational uses, or result from environmental parameters, like humidity or temperature. Robert Stuart-Smith's studio, Behavioural Production: Investigations into Swarm Printing, develops rapid, adaptive, swarm 3D-printing-enabled construction that orchestrates design and production as a singular creative process to respond to diverse social and economic time- based scenarios. Shajay Bhooshan's studio, Additive House, investigates the design potential in subjecting house-scale additive manufacturing to constraints of structural stability during al formative capacities of material.

Phase I Design Workshops

Material Behaviour
Robert Stuart-Smith, Shajay Bhooshan, Apostolos Despotidis, Mostafa El-Sayed
Term 1
Term 1 begins with two sets of three design workshop modules that emphasise computational and material prototyping as both an analytical methodology and the prime mode of design production and repr introducing students to a range of concepts and techniques that can be further developed in the year-long Phase I and Phase II studio projects.

Phase II Prototyping Workshop

Adaptive Systems and Structures
Theodore Spyropoulos, Patrik Schumacher, Robert Stuart-Smith, Shajay Bhooshan, Pierandrea Angius, Mostafa El-Sayed, Tyson Hosmer, Alicia Nahmad Vazquez
Term 1
esses a detailed aspect of the spatial, structural, material and environmental systems of each team's thesis project. The workshop emphasises modelling techniques that can feedback into the testing and development of larger-scale proposals. A presentation in November will serve as a major interim review.

Phase I Core Seminars

Design as Research I - Open Source
Robert Stuart-Smith
Term 1
Pursuing design as a form of research raises a series of questions that relate to larger technological, economic and cultural contexts. The seminar will explore ways of associating design with forms of research, as well as the implications of using this methodology in architectural and design practice. Weekly sessions will include presentations related to course readings.

Conceptualising Computing
Mostafa El-Sayed
Term 1
This seminar offers a foundation in the contemporary history of design computation, trom the deployment and conceptualisation of computational logics and strategies relative to design objectives.

Synthesis: Project Submission, Writing & Research Documentation
Alexandra Vougia and Doreen Bernath
Terms 1 & 2
In weekly sessions students will review the basics of writing and research related to DRL course submissions. Presentations will cover resources in London and beyond, the preparation of thesis abstracts, writing styles and issues related to essays, papers and project booklets. Regular tutorials will discuss research topics and seminar and studio presentations.

Behaviour: Examining the Proto-Systemic
Theodore Spyropoulos and Ryan Dillon
Term 2
This core seminar follows a behaviour-based agenda to engage with experimental forms of material and computational practice. Through an examination of cybernetic and systemic thinking in relation to seminal forms of prototyping and experimentation, the seminar will look at experiments that have manifested since the early 1950s as maverick machines, architectures and ideologies. Team-based presentations will examine these methods and outputs as case studies for studio experimentation.

Design as Research II: Computational Space
Robert Stuart-Smith
Term 2
This seminar is an overview of computational approaches to architectural design, strategies and processes. Weekly readings on software technologies and design systems will relate computational work in art, music, new media, science and other aspects of contemporary architectural discourses around parametric design. Teams will make weekly presentations related to the readings and provide analyses of selected projects.

Constructed Histories: Techno-Centric History of Design and Relation to the Mathematics, Tools and Materials of the Age
Shajay Bhooshan
Term 2
This seminar traces synoptic histories of the built environment as a consequence of the liberating power of geometric abstraction to then understand such histories as additive manufactur by and reciprocally shaping mathematics of graphic statics and stereotomy.

Phase I Prototyping Workshop

Responsive Systems
Apostolos Despotidis
Term 2
The workshop introduces students to prototyping and physical computing. Students will learn to use the Arduino platform while exploring various fabrication processes to give shape to their ideas. In Phase II, these techniques will serve as essential skills during prototype development.

Software Platforms

Maya, Rhino, 3D Studio, Processing, Arduino, Softimage, Adobe Suite, Python, Openframeworking & Scripting
Shajay Bhooshan, Torsten Broeder, Soomeen Hahm, Paul Jeffries, Eva Magnisali, Jorge X Méndez-Cáceres, Ashwin Shah, Pavlina Vardoulaki
Terms 1 & 2
These optional workshops introduce a number of digital tools and software systems to give students a grounding in the skills required to construct and control parametric models and interactive presentations. Sessions will build up to advanced scripting, programming and dynamic modelling techniques.


Theodore Spyropoulos is director of the experimental architecture and design practice Minimaforms and co-founder of the New Media Research Initiative at the AA School. He has been a visiting research fellow at MIT and has taught in the graduate school of the University of Pennsylvania and the Royal College of Art, Innovation Design Engineering Department. Previously he worked as a project architect in the and Zaha Hadid Architects.

Patrik Schumacher is a practising architect and architectural theorist promoting parametricism. He studied philosophy and architecture in Bonn, Stuttgart and London and received his doctorate in Cultural Science at Klagenfurt University. He is a partner at Zaha Hadid Architects and has recently been the John Portman Chair at Harvard’s GSD.

Robert Stuart-Smith is a director of RS-SDesign and co-founding director of the research practice Kokkugia. He has practised of Lab Architecture Studio, Grimshaw Architects and as an algorithmic design consultant for both Ove Arup AGU and Balmond Studio for design engineering. His work, which is widely published and exhibited, has received three consecutive nominations for Russia's Chernikov Prize.

Shajay Bhooshan is an MPhil candidate at the University of Bath and a research fellow at ETH Zurich. He also heads the research activities of the Computation and Design (co|de) group at Zaha Hadid Architects in London.

Ryan Dillon trained at Syracuse University and the AA, where he is currently Unit Master of Intermediate 5 and a lecturer in the History and Theory programme. Previously a designer at Moshe Safdie Architects, he now works at EGG Office.

Suzan Ibrahim Abed is an architect and artist. A graduate of University of Waterloo School of Architecture, she received her MArch in Architecture and Urbanism (DRL) in 2016.

Pierandrea Angius holds a PhD in Building Technology from the Politecnico of Milan and received his MArch in Architecture and Urbanism from the AA School. He is an architect at Zaha Hadid Architects and since 2009 has taught at the University of Pennsylvania Visiting Design Studio.

Doreen Bernath is an architect and a theorist across disciplines of design, technology, philosophy, visual art, media and cultures. Trained at Cambridge and the AA, she won an RIBA scholarship and was a finalist in 2011 for the RIBA President’s Award for Outstanding Thesis. She teaches at the AA, UCL, Leeds and is the founding director of SpaceMedia Int and DEZACT.

Apostolos Despotidis is currently working for Fosters + Partners and has previously workedfor Minimaforms London where he has been involved in projects of various scales from urban planning to installation design. He holds an MArch from the AADRL.

Tyson Hosmer works as a project architect and computational researcher with Cecil Balmond in London.
He has worked in the offices of Asymptote Architecture, Axi:Ome and Kokkugia. He holds a Masters from the AA and a Bachelors from Virginia Tech.

Mostafa El-Sayed is the co-founder of Automata Technologies and previously worked as a member of the Computation and Design group at Zaha Hadid Architects. He is a graduate of the AA and the American University of Sharjah. He has taught and presented work at various events, workshops and institutions both in London and internationally.

Alicia Nahmad Vazquez is a PhD Fellow at the Welsh School of Architecture, University of Cardiff. She previously worked with the parametric design group at Populous, London and has accumulated design and construction experience in various practices including Zaha Hadid Architects and Grupo Inmobiliario Altiva, Mexico. Her research focus includes the mediation between digital design and traditional material crafts and the incorporation of human-robot interactions on the construction site.

Albert Taylor-Williamson has been the lead technical tutor on the AADRL MArch programme since 2011. He is an active member on the Steering Committee of the Council for Tall Buildings, and as co-founder of design-led structural engineering firm AKT II he brings a passion for cutting-edge technology to the many projects that he oversees. He has extensive experience in award-winning designs that emphasise innovation and computational research in combination with a sustainable approach to technology and respect for heritage.

Programme site

Projects Review 2017


Graduate Admissions Team AA School of Architecture
36 Bedford Square
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T: 020 7887 4067 / 4007

Links & Downloads


Prospectus 2016-17
Foundation Course Booklet

Graduate Prospectus


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