The Bartlett School of Architecture


Inaugural Lecture: Professor Sean Hanna

14 March 2024, 7:00 pm–8:30 pm

Sean Hanna Data Design Image

Sean Hanna delivers his inaugural professorial lecture with an introduction by Christoph Lindner, Dean of The Bartlett Faculty.

This event is free.

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The Bartlett School of Architecture


Christopher Ingold Auditorium
The Bartlett School of Architecture
22 Gordon Street
United Kingdom


Sean Hanna delivers his inaugural professorial lecture, hosted and introduced by Christoph Lindner, Dean of The Bartlett Faculty. This lecture will take place in the Christopher Ingold Auditorium, 22 Gordon Street, at 19:00, followed by a reception in The Bartlett School of Architecture Exhibition Space.  


Design machines: AI as a Model of Creative Thought

In addition to generating increasingly impressive output, new methods of artificial intelligence, and the varied computational models that precede them, have also served as models for understanding of our own thought processes. Through examples of AI in design, this lecture will examine what this might mean for creativity, the degree to which it depends on interaction with others, the world and external representations, and whether thinking creatively is a uniquely human phenomenon. A discussion of aims for machine learning broader than data fitting and error reduction provides a context for a range of work, from skilled fabrication and manipulation of heterogeneous materials, to prediction of human behaviour, to analysing patterns of urban morphology. It will be proposed not only that design and creativity are the beneficiaries of technological development, but that their particular processes are relevant to the ongoing development of AI. 


Sean Hanna is Professor of Design Computing at The Bartlett School of Architecture, and a member of the UCL Space Syntax Laboratory. For more than two decades he has researched and developed computational methods for dealing with complexity in design and the built environment, including the comparative modelling of space, and the use of simulation, optimisation and AI techniques in design and fabrication, often conducted in close design industry collaboration with architects and engineers, artists, and technology producers. His more than 150 academic publications address the fields of spatial modelling, human movement and cognition, machine intelligence, collaborative creativity, among others, and his work has been featured in the non-academic press, including the Architects’ Journal and The Economist. 

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Image: Sean Hanna