The Bartlett School of Architecture


Niccolò Casas



Digital Decadence – The aesthetics of Ugliness in the age of digital architecture

First and second supervisors 


"One evening, I saw Beauty in my lap. – And I found her bitter – And I cursed her." – Arthur Rimbaud (Collection of poetry and prose pieces, A Season in Hell, 1873)

Even though a lot has been said about how new digital techniques have radically influenced the research of designers towards beauty, style and elegance, not much has towards the sublime, mysteriousness and furthermore ugliness. 

While ugliness seems to be a domain relatively unexplored in architecture, other disciplines such as art,the movie industry,poetry and advertisement have always been open to the fascination of imperfection, horridness and abhorrence.

I propose to define the characteristics of a new sensibility to the aesthetic of ugliness emerging in contemporary architecture as well as analyze the origin of this sensibility and its implication in science and art.

Ugliness as an attitude and strategy is a strong topic crossing multidisciplinary fields as biology, psychology, philosophy, medicine, design, art and finally architecture.

I would undertake the study of ugliness not as an aesthetic quality/condition per se but as a result of the processes of decline, aging and death (not ugly aesthetic but aesthetic of ugliness - aesthetic emerging from the processes of decline).

I believe that a deep investigation on morbid sensibilities is crucial and I aim to define the the characteristic of Digital Decadence as a contemporary movement founded on the poetics of ugliness.  

The significance of this research would be in the attempt to translate the theoretical framework into design experiments and finally to define of a new conscious language of ugliness in architecture.

By investigating and applying the possibilities of hybrid technologies, as well as testing new design territories such as scripting, biogenetic and new materials I would explore ugliness as a new kind of aesthetic paradigm based on disease, downfall  and mutation.


Niccolò Casas Investigates the possible applications of digital techniques in the fields of Architecture, Design and Fashion Design.

He graduated with a Master en Architecture at the UCL (ISA St Luc Bruxelles) after having previously studied in Italy at the Università degli Studi di Firenze.

He has been part of international research programs at "Sci-Arc" Los Angeles, "U.I.C." Chicago and "Architectural Association" London.

Niccolò is Professor of Digital Modeling Techniques - computer 3D at "Accademia di Belle Arti di Bologna" and he has previously taught as professor of Project Laboratory at the Università di Bologna Facoltà di Ingegneria Edile/Architettura.