The Bartlett School of Architecture


Mr Richard Beckett

Associate Professor

The Bartlett School of Architecture

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
1st Aug 2011

Research summary

Bio-Digital Design: bio-digital design aims at a new paradigm that goes beyond the traditional design approach that is based on ‘top-down’ modelling of forms/shapes that are later manufactured. Instead the growth of cells or matter are monitored and scanned, influencing the scripts that result from each growth phase and the environmental vicissitudes that determine this growth. This work aims towards an ecological model for architecture that responds to environmental conditions and the inter-facial properties of materials with microorganisms. In opposition to the traditional complexities and highly costly ‘green architecture’, the use of such designed systems promotes a new symbiosis between buildings and nature that is more computationally sophisticated, and far less costly for buildings in densely populated cities.

SYN.DE.BIO (co-edited with Marcos Cruz) is a forum that disseminates bio-digital work in the emerging crossroad of design, biology and engineering. It promotes a new network of designers, artists and scientists who employ novel design methods and innovative fabrication techniques to explore biological material in the built environment. Advances in the field of synthetic biology, biotechnology, molecular engineering and material sciences, as well as new modes of production and simulation in architecture, product and textile design, are leading towards an increasing complex approach to design. The result is a new sense of materiality, new hybrid technologies and unprecedented living forms.

Novel Digital Fabrication Techniques: Exploration and production of design projects using novel additive layer manufacturing, and 7 axis robotic manufacturing. Ranging in scale from textiles to be worn on the body, to architectural facades this work aims to disrupt the notion of 3D printing as a prototype or model scale activity. A body of work entitled digital stone has explored digital fabrication of stones and marbles within the context of digital architecture applied to traditional masonry concepts of blockwork, tiles, cladding or facings.

New Materials:

i. Digital Materiality. Emerging additive layer systems now afford the ability to design below the macroscopic scale. This work has focused on the design of new, hybrid materials in which every element of their properties can be prescribed at the design concept. This is towards a new architecture which encompasses a scalar hierarchy of matter involving the concurrent design at a range of scales.

ii. Design of materials for additive manufacturing including 3D printed Ceramics (patent pending) and 3D printed cements.

iii. Design of bioreceptive materials for microbiological colonisation. Laboratory based physical and chemical manipulation of materials to achieve key physical properties at the inter-facial layer between material and environment.


University College London
Other higher degree, Master of Architecture | 2011
University of Westminster
First Degree, Bachelor of Architecture | 2008


Richard is a Lecturer at the Bartlett School of Architecture. He is currently currently PI on an 18 month AHRC funded project NOTBAD, exploring a novel approach towards preventing the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the built environment by adding beneficial microbes to the indoor microbiome.

Richard initially studied physiology and biochemistry before going to work in R&D for Glaxosmithkline as a physical properties scientist. He then went on to study architecture, obtaining his undergraduate degrees from the University of Westminster and a Masters degree in Architectural Design from UCL at the Bartlett School of Architecture.

His investigations in to architecture have remained cross-disciplinary focusing on the contemporary discussion on digital architecture and fabrication alongside the impact of biotechnology on Architecture and more specifically, investigations into the use of living or semi-living materials in our built environment. This background acquires him with a cutting edge expertise in the field of computational data production, 3D printing and digital manufacturing as a material and technical innovator.

He has lectured and given workshops internationally and has been an invited critic at various UK universities. His work is internationally exhibited and published. Outside of the school, he is co-editor and organiser of Syn.de.Bio, a new online forum to disseminate bio-digital work that is emerging in the crossroad of design, biology and engineering. He also co-founded Arch-T, a digital fabrication data consultancy for the construction industry.