MSc./M.Arch Emergent Technologies and Design Emtech staff and students with Arup and TRADA, Fingers Crossed, Design-Build Project 2013-14

Michael Weinstock, George Jeronimidis, Evan Greenberg, Mehran Gharleghi and Manja VandeWorp

MArch, 16 months (four terms)

MSc, 12 months (three terms, plus thesis work)

The Emergent Technologies & Design programme continues to evolve through the development of our research in the studio, in seminars and in dissertations. The programme aims each year to produce new research that takes forward our interests and expertise in material organisation and the design and development of systems in a variety of scales.

Our work focuses on the interdisciplinary effects of emergence, biomimetics and the evolutionary computation of design and production technologies, which are developed as creative inputs for new architectural and urban design processes. Building on the achievements of our past studies, we will include greater involvement from experts in the fields of component systems and material computation, urban physics and algorithmic urban design, engineering, advanced computation and computationally driven fabrication. We will continue our Masterclass series for the fifth year, along with lectures, tutorials and workshops from Wolf Mangelsdorf (Buro Happold), Achim Menges (ICD Stuttgart), Francis Aish (Applied Research and Development - and partner in Foster + Partners), Jordi Truco (HYBRIDa), Janet Barlow (Urban Physics, Reading), Sergi Valverde (Complex Systems Lab, Universitat Pompeu Fabra) and Suryansh Chandra (Zaha Hadid Architects).

The instruments of analysis and design in Emergent Technologies are computational processes. The seminar courses and core studio are designed to familiarise students with these instruments, their associated conceptual fields and with their application to architectural design research. The courses are thematically and instrumentally cross-linked with the core studio and each other. Core studio 1 centres on the exploration of material systems and their development into distinct surfaces and assemblies. These assemblies demonstrate the potential for integrated structural and environmental performance, which produces local ‘microclimatic’ variations that define spatial arrangement. In core studio 2 we examine urban systems and generate new material, social and ecological organisations as part of an investigation into a larger, more complex piece of the city.

Core Studio 1 and 2 - Active Systems
Evan Greenberg, Mehran Gharleghi and Manja van de Worp

Core Studio 1 - Material Systems
Evolutionary strategies and computational techniques are used to develop the architectural qualities of different material systems. Physical models will explore the integration of material behaviour and fabrication processes. Core studio 1 is supported by weekly sessions on associative modelling in Grasshopper/Rhino, workshops on scripting in Python and in Grasshopper, sessions on geometry and iterative processes to model and control growth processes. The studio concludes with fully fabricated and digitally modelled, doubly curved material systems that exhibit integrated structural and environmental properties.

Core Studio 2 - City Systems
The core studio 2 project extends the system logics to a larger and more complex piece of the city. The microclimatic, typological and social organisations of a defined urban tissue are studied, and an analysis is made of interactions across the hierarchical levels analogous to cell, tissue and organ. A generative set of rules at neighbourhood-scale is developed and initiated. The studio concludes with the design of a new urban tissue and its systems, and the detailed design of one ‘cell’ within it, with digital and fully fabricated models.

Emergence Seminar Course
Michael Weinstock
Terms 1 & 2
Emergence has been an important concept in biology, mathematics, artificial intelligence, information theory and computer science, newer domains of climatic modelling and other complex systems analysis and simulations. A survey is presented of the mathematics of evolution and embryological development, the data structures and processes of the genome, population dynamics and pressures. Applications to architectural design are explored in the generative design experiments, which conclude with the detailed modelling and analysis of the set of evolved forms, surfaces and structures.

Biomimetics Seminar Course
George Jeronimidis with Evan Greenberg
Term 1
An introduction to the ways in which organisms have evolved through form, materials and structures in response to varied functions and environments is followed by an account of engineering design principles that have been abstracted from nature in current research projects for industry and material science. A study is made of a natural system (general form, anatomy, energy flows and behaviour), along with an exploration of interrelations and an abstraction of engineering principles. This analysis continues into Term 2.

Design Research Studio and the Thesis/Dissertation
Terms 3 & 4
Three main fields of design research are offered: Active Material Systems with Advanced Fabrication, Natural Ecological Systems Design (currently focused on shorelines and deltas), and Urban Metabolic Design (presently centred on the algorithmic design for energetic models of new cities in emergent biomes). Students may choose one of the three fields, and will work in pairs. The design research studio facilitates a deeper understanding of emergence and its application to advanced production in architecture, urbanism and ecological engineering, while integrating theoretical discourses, science and the insights gained from experiments. The studio will develop students’ abilities to analyse complex issues and to engage in independent research, working towards the presentation of the fully developed individual thesis/dissertation proposal.

Unit Staff

Michael Weinstock was born in Germany, lived as a child in the Far East and West Africa, and then attended an English public school. At the age of 17, after reading Joseph Conrad, he ran away to sea, where he spent years in traditional sailing ships, gaining shipyard and building experience. Studied architecture at the AA and has taught at the AA since 1989. His research interest lies in exploring the convergence of bio- mimetic engineering, architecture, emergence and material sciences. He received the Acadia Award for Excellence 2008. He has published The Architecture of Emergence and Emer- gent Technologies and Design - Towards a Biological Paradigm for Architecture, and has been visiting professor at Rome, Barcelona, Calgary and Yale.

George Jeronimidisis the director of the Centre for Biomimetics in the School of Construction Management and Engineering. He is an active member of the Smart Materials and Structures Committee of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IoM3). He has published extensively in these fields with articles in scientific journals, books and conference contributions, including keynote lectures. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Max Planck Institute of Colloid and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany and is on the editorial board of the International Journal of Virtual and Physical Prototyping.

Evan Greenberg is a researcher, designer and educator. He has worked with architects, engineers, artists and fashion designers around the world. He has taught at the AA since 2008 upon gaining his MSc with distinction in Emergent Technologies and Design. He has directed workshops and lectured internationally and is a fellow of the Biomimicry Institute.

Mehran Gharleghi is an architect, researcher and designer. He has worked for a number of architectural practices including Plasma Studio and Foster + Partners and received his MArch in Emergent Technolo- gies and Design from the AA. In 2009 he co-founded Studio INTEGRATE with Amin Sadeghy.

Manja van de Worp trained as an architect and structural engineer at the Technical University of Eindhoven and Emtech at the AA. Her interests lie in finding synergies between structural design and architecture through technology, geometry and fabrication. She has worked or Arup in London in the Advanced Geometry Unit, and Advanced Technology and Research group and is now the Principal of NOUS Engineering London.

Programme site


Graduate Admissions Team AA School of Architecture
36 Bedford Square
London WC1B 3ES

T: 020 7887 4067 / 4007

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Graduate Prospectus


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