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MSc./M.Arch Emergent Technologies and Design Design I, Aysu Aysoy and Kai Yeh


Programme Head Elif Erdine
Founder Michael Weinstock
Studio Tutors Alican Sungur, Abhinav Chaudhary, Eleana Polychronaki, Lorenzo Santelli
Teaching Assistants Milad Showkatbakhsh

The Emergent Technologies and Design programme is open to graduates in architecture and engineering who wish to develop the skills and knowledge of architectural design science, situated in new production paradigms.

We investigate new synergies of architecture and ecology through the critical intersection of computational design and fabrication. Our focus is on exploring the experiential and social potentials of new material and spatial configurations for architectural and ecological urban designs, situated in the dynamic contexts of emerging biomes. The programme is designed to stimulate critical thinking through experience of research-driven design projects that are developed in an intellectually rigorous and creative studio environment. Our projects are pursued by multiple iterations through hypothesis, material and computational experimentation, robotic fabrication and evaluation; reflected upon in verbal presentations and group discussions, and documented in analytical and scientifically structured papers.

Design research is central to the agendas of Emergent Technologies and Design. The programme proceeds from the fundamental premise of a shared understanding, between staff, students, researchers and collaborators across the world, that nature and artifice are strongly coupled; that the cultural production of artefacts and systems exists as part of the environment of other active systems and that they are subject to change. We also share the understanding that causality of change is complex and multi-scalar and that the dynamics of change are perturbed and accelerated by human activities – we share a concern for the consequences of those changes to society and the natural world. Design processes in this domain are developed through iterative computational processes of serial experimentation and analysis, generative propositions and simulations. The programme is structured to provide skills and knowledge of a coherent set of linked and convergent discourses, methodologies and concerns that cross multiple disciplines in the Studio, and the opportunity to further develop those skills and deepen knowledge in the Dissertation.

The programme has two distinct phases – the Studio and the Dissertation. Both are aligned with and supported by the research of the programme team and the advanced expertise our alumni and research colleagues in practice and industry.


The Studio is comprised of workshops, seminars and design projects that are led by EmTech staff and our associated researchers. It offers a creative and intellectually rigorous sequence of study that builds knowledge and skill. It provides an intensive engagement with Design Science and introduces students to the wider community of design researchers in London practices. It concludes by guiding students through the formation of a detailed proposal for an original architectural inquiry, to be pursued in the Dissertation.


This two-week workshop presents a comprehensive introduction to the core skills and techniques of algorithmic thinking, geometry, digital design and fabrication. It will be centred on the development of associative geometric models in Grasshopper and the relations between digital morphogenesis and material realisation. Students will become familiar with the necessary exchange of data between the digital and physical realms through the formalisation of the inherent geometric relationships that characterise the different elements of developed designs. The course will be supplemented by seminars and tutorials on parametric logic, geometry and material systems, and on the appropriate techniques for recording, describing and documenting digital and physical experiments. The Induction workshop will conclude with fabricated and digitally modelled material systems that resolve problems of parametric control, material behaviour, structural integrity, tessellation of three-dimensional components, precise dimensional control and spatial organisation.

The Scientific Method is an evolving set of procedures based on systematic observations and measurements, the formulation of ideas (hypotheses) and predictions from those observations that are tested by experiment, the subsequent modification of these hypotheses and further experimentation until there is no distance between the hypothesis, predictions and observed results from the experiment. Design Research is a unique class of enquiry that may include some combination of the larger set of principles of form and behaviour, integrated knowledge of the natural or cultural sciences, a specified degree of mutability such as a relational model capable of adaptation to differing circumstances or environments, testable propositions and principles of implementation, and an expository design (conceptual, physical or computationally simulated) to be used for testing and evaluation.

This series of seminars builds on the techniques and methods explored in the Boot Camp to develop proposals with advanced computational design, analysis and fabrication strategies. It aims to engage analytical tools as methods for generative design and explore a variety of computational workflows. Seminars and hands-on workshops will explore the application of scientific methods to architectural design research and concentrate on experimentation, analysis, evaluation and decision-making processes. A range of computational formfinding and analysis methods will be introduced alongside an induction in Python programming and advanced digital fabrication techniques. Areas of investigation include:

• Python Programming
• Structural Analysis
• Environmental Analysis
• Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)
• AR / VR technologies
• Emergence / Evolutionary Computation

The seminar course aims to develop an understanding of how biology can be a model for material, mechanical, spatial and computational systems. An introduction to the ways in which organisms have evolved formally, materially and structurally in response to varied functions and environments is followed by an account of engineering, logical and organisational design principles that have been abstracted from nature in current research projects and material science. A study is made of a natural system, along with an exploration of interrelations and an abstraction of design principles. The methods of analysis, as well as system logics and material performance, studied in this seminar will be further developed within Design I. Student groups will investigate mathematical, geometric, material and hierarchical logics to develop a critical view of the relationships between systems design and performance. These areas of investigation will formulate the second series of a three-year research agenda on innovative solutions that aim to devise analytical computational approaches through the study of social insect behaviour.

Evolutionary algorithms have been used extensively in recent years to mimic the principles of evolutionary science in solving common real-world problems through search and optimisation procedures of single or multiple objectives. Ranging from the fields of economics and politics to music and architecture, they have proven to be an efficient problem-solving technique, enabling the discovery of trade-off solutions to problems that possess multiple ‘fitness criteria’ (objectives) that are in conflict with one another.


This project explores the physical and digital computational techniques used to develop the architectural qualities of different material systems adapted for specific climatic contexts. Digital models will develop possibilities in response to various environmental parameters, while physical models will investigate the integration of material behaviour and robotic fabrication processes. Techniques derived from the concepts and knowledge of the hierarchical organisation of biological systems and computational models (developed in the Natural Systems and Biomimetics seminar course) will be implemented. The opportunities and limitations of selected robotic fabrication techniques will be associated with the material organisation, fabrication and assembly workflows of a 1:1 scale working prototype. The purpose of Design I is to design, develop computational workflow techniques, analyse and fully fabricate material systems that are situated within the EmTech Design and Build research agenda.

The second design project is focused on creating new design experiments and system logics for ecologically sensitive settlements with urban tissues in extreme climates and ecological contexts. It is founded on the logic that the patterns of human inhabitation are determined by the needs of the infrastructure of the ecology – designed, grown and developed as integrated natural and cultural systems, with the ambition of being resilient to change. Designs will be developed for a land/water entity that is both a place of mariculture production and inhabitation for people. Situated in the intertidal zone and marshes, the design will integrate wetlands, their intricate hydrological reservoirs and hydrological networks with patterns and clusters of dense and/or distributed urban blocks and associated productive landscapes that have their own specific networks.


The Dissertation Research Studio extends the acquisition of research competence through extensive, collaborative dialogue with EmTech's research community of active post-doctorate researchers and PhD candidates. There are two main fields of Design Research in which we are active: Dynamic Material Systems with Advanced Fabrication (including robotic techniques) and Ecological Urban Design in emergent biomes. Students integrate explorations of the theoretical discourses, relevant sciences and case studies of 'state of the art' projects in the domain of their chosen topic and set out the methods and protocols for the development of their Design Proposal. The development and conclusion of the final proposal is pursued through the iterative design cycles by which students have acquired knowledge and skills during the early phases of the programme.

Design and Build is our 'extracurricular', collaborative student project. It is an essential part of the pedagogy and the culture of EmTech. It runs right throughout the year, alongside both Studio and the Dissertation, and provides the opportunity to design and deliver a built project with real material, structural and dimensional constraints. The experience gained enhances the design, computational and analytical skills that student acquire in the Studio and develops crucial, transferable skills that are applicable to professional practice. Our Design and Build projects have been published internationally in the architectural press and have received industry awards.


ABHINAV CHAUDHARY is an architect currently employed at PLP Architecture in London as a Computational Design specialist. He received a BArch from the Sushant School of Art and Architecture and the Emergent Technologies and Design MArch with distinction from the AA.

ELIF ERDINE is an architect and researcher. Her PhD thesis focused on the integration of tower subsystems through generative design methodologies informed by biomimetic analogies. She teaches and co-ordinates various AA Visiting School programmes.

ELEANA POLYCHRONAKI is a Computational Designer and graduate of the Emergent Technologies and Design programme, with a broad range of computational expertise.

MILAD SHOWKATBAKHSH is a PhD candidate under the directorship of Michael Weinstock and co-author of Wallacei (2016).

LORENZO SANTELLI is a charted architect and structural engineer. Since he graduated from EmTech in 2015, he has been part of Eckersley O’Callaghan’s Structural Glass Team, Digital Design Group and Glass Technology Group.

ALICAN SUNGUR is currently a Computational Designer at Wilkinson Eyre Architects. He is a graduate of the Emergent Technologies and Design programme.

MICHAEL WEINSTOCK is an architect and researcher who studied at the AA. He is the Founder of the Emergent Technologies and Design programme. He received the ACADIA Award of Excellence 2008 and is a Fellow of the RSA.

Architectural Association is approved by The Open University as an appropriate organisation to offer higher education programmes leading to Open University validated awards.

The Architectural Association (AA) has been granted the power to award its own degrees. Taught Degree Awarding Powers (TDAP) give UK higher education institutions the right to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees. As of 1 October 2019, the AA has the right to establish new academic programmes and degree awards. Therefore, from September 2020 students admitted to the taught postgraduate programmes at the AA will be awarded AA degrees.

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The Architectural Association receives Taught Degree Awarding Powers by the Lords of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council.

The Architectural Association (AA), the oldest independent school of architecture in the United Kingdom, is pleased to announce that it has been granted the power to award its own degrees. As of 1 October 2019, the AA has the right to establish new academic programmes and degree awards and is working to create some of the world’s most pioneering courses in architecture to shape and build the future.

Taught Degree Awarding Powers (TDAP) give UK higher education institutions the right to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Prospective students worldwide can apply to the AA Foundation Course (Foundation Diploma), Experimental Programme BA(Hons), Diploma Programme (MArch), and nine taught postgraduate programmes encompassing History and Critical Thinking in Architecture (MA), Projective Cities (Taught MPhil) and Sustainable Environmental Design (MSc/MArch), amongst others.

AA Director, Eva Franch said, ‘since our founding in 1847 we have never ceased to create new horizons, institutionally and academically. This is a significant milestone for the AA and demonstrates how we have grown and progressed as an institution that has always valued independence. Receiving TDAP marks a new era for our institution; these are exciting times for the AA. The process has required considerable work from all members of staff and students. I would like to take this opportunity to credit them for this major achievement’.

President of the AA Council, Victoria Thornton added, ‘the TDAP process has recognised our strong governance, academic standards, scholarship and teaching as well as the environment supporting the delivery of taught higher education programmes’.

The School’s application for Taught Degree Awarding Powers was supported by the Architects Registration Board, the Royal Institute of British Architects and The Open University.