This programme explores the frontiers of advanced architecture and design, with an emphasis on the latest technological advances, particularly computation and robotics.
About the programme
Design is a crucial agency for uncovering complex patterns. This course belongs to the School's suite of B-Pro programmes and explores the frontiers of advanced architecture and design and their convergence with science and technology.
Spending around two thirds of their time undertaking studio-based design enquiry, students work with internationally renowned researchers and practitioners towards a major speculative design project and thesis. The design modules are structured in groups known as research clusters, each with its own research specialism, and all underpinned by shared technical and theoretical resources and expertise.
The course culminates in the annual B-Pro Show - an exhibition of student work, attracting thousands of visitors to the school’s central London home.
- gain an understanding of the role computation plays in complex design synthesis
- work with an international body of experts and students
- be introduced to highly advanced coding, fabrication and robotic skills, and the latest approaches to AI, CNC fabrication, 3D printing, supercomputing, simulation and interactivity
- have access to B-made - workshop facilities and fabrication expertise unrivalled in the UK
- Programme Director: Gilles Retsin
- History and Theory Coordinator: Daniel Koehler
- Skills Coordinator: Vicente Soler
- All MArch Architectural Design staff
Professor Frédéric Migayrou
Frédéric Migayrou is Chair, Bartlett Professor of Architecture at The Bartlett School of Architecture and Deputy Director of the National Museum of Art, Centre Pompidou in Paris. He was the founder of the Frac Center Collection and of ArchiLab, the international festival of Prospective Architecture in Orléans. Apart from recent publications and exhibitions (De Stijl, Centre Pompidou, 2011; La Tendenza, Centre Pompidou, 2012; Bernard Tschumi, Centre Pompidou, 2013; Frank Gehry, Centre Pompidou 2014), he was the curator of Non Standard Architectures at the Centre Pompidou in 2003, the first exposition devoted to architecture, computation and fabrication. More recently, he co-organised the exhibition Naturalising Architecture (ArchiLab, Orléans 2013), presenting prototypes and commissions by 40 teams of architects working with new generative computational tools, defining new interrelations between materiality, biotechnology and fabrication. In 2012 he founded B-Pro, The Bartlett’s umbrella structure for post-professional architecture programmes.
B-Pro Deputy Director
Andrew Porter studied at The Bartlett School of Architecture and has collaborated in practice with Sir Peter Cook and Christine Hawley CBE. In 1998 he and Abigail Ashton set up ashton porter architects, they have completed a number of award winning commissions in the UK and prizewinning competitions in the UK and abroad. Andrew is co-leader of The Bartlett’s MArch Architecture Unit 21, and has been a visiting Professor at the Staedel Academy, Frankfurt and guest critic at SCi-Arc, Los Angeles and Parsons New School, New York.
MArch AD Programme Director
Gilles Retsin is the founder of Gilles Retsin Architecture, a young award-winning London-based architecture and design practice. He is a lecturer at The Bartlett School of Architecture and co-directs the UCL Design Computation Lab. His work has been acquired by the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and he has exhibited internationally in museums such as the Museum of Art and Design in New York, the Vitra Design Museum in Weil-am-Rhein, Design Exchange Toronto and the Zaha Hadid Gallery in London. He has lectured and acted as a guest critic in numerous universities internationally.
BiotA Lab Co-Director, RC7 Tutor
Richard Beckett is Manager of The Bartlett’s 3D printing centre, RC7 Tutor and leader of MArch Unit 20 with Marcos Cruz and Marjan Colletti. He recently co-created Syn.de.Bio with Marcos Cruz. Before studying architecture, Beckett studied physiology and biochemistry and worked as a physical properties scientist. His investigations in to architecture have remained cross-disciplinary, focusing on the impact of biotechnology on architecture and investigations into the use of living or semi-living materials in our built environment.
Dr Marcos Cruz
BiotA Lab Co-Director, RC7 Tutor
Marcos Cruz is an architect and Reader at The Bartlett School of Architecture. He was the Director of the School from 2011-2014. He leads BiotA Lab and co-leads The Bartlett’s MArch Unit 20 with Marjan Colletti and Richard Beckett, and recently co-created Syn.de.Bio, a forum for bio-digital work at the crossroads of design, biology and engineering. Cruz’s research has focused for many years on the design and creation of innovative environments in architecture, particularly the use of living matter, such as algae and bacteria, in buildings. Cruz has written, taught and exhibited internationally.
Since completing the architecture and design programme at the State Academy of Fine Arts, Stuttgart, Stefan Bassing has been involved in numerous national and international design projects. His work is focused on contemporary design methodologies involving computation and object- orientated research for the capacity to comprehend and respond to architecture at a multiplicity of scales.
Daghan Cam is an architect and a researcher whose work is focused on supercomputing. He holds an MArch degree from the AA. Previously, he worked for Zaha Hadid Architects and taught at AA Visiting Schools and on various other workshops.
Mollie Claypool is a writer, designer and theorist with research interests in mechanisation, production and fabrication, the philosophy of science and computational methodologies. She is a Teaching Fellow in Architectural Design at The Bartlett, where she is the BSc Architecture Programme Leader and runs MArch Architecture Unit 19.
Lisa is currently working with Wilkinson Eyre Architects, London. She graduated from the Architectural Association with a Masters in Architecture and Urbanism. Prior to this, she studied in both New Zealand & Denmark, gaining her BArch from Victoria University Wellington. Lisa has tutored within architecture in New Zealand and has worked in a number of architectural practices both in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Natsai Audrey Chieza
Natsai is a designer and researcher at Studio Natsai Audrey, a London-based Design Futures R&D studio working within the realm of living technology, or biodesign. The studio's research and creative endeavours are driven by a desire to develop, prototype and question resilient systems of manufacturing and design-making through the convergence of life science technologies and design craft processes. In addition to a growing portfolio of R&D projects for industry, she is also deeply passionate about her role as an educator in this field, and is always keen to share new ways of thinking and making with students in Design and Architecture. Natsai holds a degree in Architectural Design from the University of Edinburgh, and a Masters from MA Material Futures, Central Saint Martins.
Manuel Jimenez Garcia
Manuel Jimenez Garcia holds an MArch from the AA (AADRL) and has previously taught at the AA, Universidad Politecnica Madrid and Universidad Europea Madrid. As well as teaching on AD, he is Unit Master of MArch Unit 19; co-curator of the Bartlett Plexus and co-founder of Emeidiem, an architecture practice based in London.
Professor Stephen Gage
Report Module Coordinator
Stephen Gage studied at the AA and has worked in the UK and California. He has taught at The Bartlett since 1993, where he is Professor of Innovative Architecture. He has been an external examiner at The University of the Arts and the University of Liverpool; he is part of the RIBA architectural course validation panel.
RC1 and RC6 Tutor
Soomeen Hahm is a senior designer at Zaha Hadid Architects. Her interests are focused on generative and algorithmic design through the use of computer coding. She is also involved in various educational projects, such as Plethora-project.com – where she is Director for China, as well as being Director of the AA Seoul visiting school.
Dr Guan Lee
Guan Lee graduated with a BSc in Architecture from McGill Montreal, and received a Diploma and MA in Landscape Urbanism from the AA. He holds a PhD in Architecture by Design from The Bartlett School of Architecture. His practice, Grymsdyke Farm, is set in the Chilterns in Buckinghamshire. Guan is a lecturer in Design.
Dr Christopher Leung
Christopher Leung trained as an architect at The Bartlett and earned a doctorate from UCL for his work on passive thermal actuators applied to environmental control in buildings. His work explores the relationship between machines, occupants and buildings, and has been published in peer-reviewed journal articles, together with his collaborations in the sixteen*(makers) group.
Gilles Retsin’s work investigates new architectural models which engage increased computational power in design and fabrication. He is interested in the impact of computation on the core principles of architecture – the bones rather than the skin. Prior to founding his own practice, he worked in Switzerland with Christian Kerez, and in London with Kokkugia.
Daniel Widrig founded his studio in London in 2009. After graduating from the AA, Daniel worked for several years with Zaha Hadid. He has received international critical acclaim and has been published and exhibited internationally. He is a recipient of the Swiss Arts Award, Feidad Merit Award and the Rome Prize.
Modes and duration
Full time - one year, taught over 12 months
Normally a minimum of a second-class degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Candidates will be asked to submit a portfolio of their design work once their completed application has been received.
Application deadline: 27 July 2018 for 2018 entry
We strongly advise early application, as our programmes are over subscribed and competition is high.
The Architectural Design MArch programme offers a number of research-focused clusters and labs, all of which allow students to pursue a rigorous approach to architecture within a speculative and creative environment. Browse the sections below to find out more about this year's research clusters.
- Research Cluster 1: Daghan Cam, Davide Quayola, Martina Rosati, with Alexandros Kallegias
Research Cluster 1 explores automated and autonomous systems to discover new architectural design and construction processes. The boundaries between the digital and the physical have started to disappear with the emergence of cyber-physical systems such as autonomous vehicles, industrial robots, drones, 3D printers and scanners.
As the world becomes a more connected, efficient and yet complex place, humans are learning to think like machines and machines are gaining more human capabilities. This cross-evolution is radically changing the role of the architect. This year Research Cluster 1 is creating autonomous systems that can adapt to complex prototypical architectural scenarios. Students are focusing on designing systems that can self-generate efficient architectural structures using Artificial Intelligence.
- Research Cluster 2: Maj Plemenitas with Tomaz Pipan
Cross-Scale Design: The Amphibious Laboratory
Research Cluster 2 focuses on cross-scale design rather than finite outputs, enabling students to tackle highly complex questions that are beyond the effective range of traditional design practice. Students explore how small-scale processes can influence large spaces, periods and processes and vice versa. This year Research Cluster 2 is focusing in particular on the interfaces between the built environment and water systems at all scales, including the world's interconnected water issues and water's ability as a material to flow, dissolve, change state and cross international borders.
Research Cluster 2 uses progressive design processes, experimental computational design and generative simulation to investigate the material, structural, cultural and environmental relationships at building and system levels. Students also study the dynamics of change, such as programmatic evolution, structural re-formation, resource flows and state-changing matter, and the economic, geological and climatic processes that impact the built environment.
- Research Cluster 3: Octavian Gheorghiu, David Reeves, with Jordi Vivaldi Piera
- Research Cluster 4: Manuel Jiminez, Gilles Retsin, Vicente Soler, with Mollie Claypool
Elementary Particles: Autonomous Architecture
Research Cluster 4 is interested in architecture that is fundamentally digital, both as a design process and as a physical artefact. This means Research Cluster 4 works with every element as a standardised 'bit' and develops design processes and discrete fabrication techniques to automate the assembly and computation of these elements.
Research Cluster 4 students are challenged to develop habitat proposals that capitalise on robotic automation and are both highly economical and light in terms of the resources they consume. Students consider how computational procedures and robotic capabilities can make high-quality housing more accessible for all and what the relationship is between people and these processes.
- Research Cluster 5: Adam Holloway, Guan Lee, with Ruby Law
Research Clusters 5 and 6 work together as one research laboratory, Material Architecture Lab, and conduct their research in two main areas: material innovation and material application. These clusters focus on how material innovation does not necessarily mean inventing new materials since traditional materials can be refashioned by altering the way they are processed or utilised.
The method of inquiry in Research Clusters 5 and 6 is hands-on, testing matter and fabrication on an architectural scale. Beyond experimenting with materials, these clusters develop advanced computation design and digital fabrication. Students question established modes of production and make prototypes that are rigorously and iteratively refined.
- Research Cluster 6: Stefan Bassing, Igor Pantic, Daniel Widrig, with Arturo Revilla
See Research Cluster 5 above.
- Research Cluster 7: Richard Beckett, Marcos Cruz, Javier Ruiz Rodriguez, with Shneel Malik
Research Cluster 7 (BiotA Lab) explores new modes of simulation and production in architecture, as well as current advances in the fields of synthetic biology, biotechnology, molecular engineering and material sciences, looking at how these subjects are shaping an increasingly multidisciplinary approach to environmental design.
Each year, the work of Research Cluster 7 is produced between the design studio and laboratory, where innovative building systems are developed with the help of advanced computation. Modelling and simulation tools are implemented in parallel to material testing and organic growth in real laboratory conditions, providing feedback and data for the fabrication of construction components and prototypes.
Image: Bioreceptive Calcerous Composites, Research Cluster 7
- Research Cluster 8: Kostas Grigoriadis, with Sheng-Yang Huang
The Imminent Reality of Multi-Materiality
The assimilation of graded materiality in architecture promises a fundamental shift in how elements come together, opening up a new understanding of constructs as continuous fields, consisting of diverse materiality varied on a local level. Research Cluster 8 explores new procedures for designing and building with material gradients to match the anticipated, radical developments in manufacturing and construction.
The first part of these explorations concerns the attempt to assimilate graded information digitally and to target the distribution and engineering of digital sub-materials to meet aesthetic, structural, and functional criteria. The second part is to physically manufacture graded elements or full-scale constructs. Research Cluster 8 creates prototypes and structures that are more than just a collection of individual parts, initiating a new type of architecture for the future.
- Research Cluster 9: Soomeen Hahm, Alvaro Lopez, with Abel Maciel
We are living in the 'Age of Augmentation' – machines have become an inseparable part of our daily lives. We are immersing ourselves in rapidly developing mixed realities, with devices that augment our perception of the environment. In a similar way, craftsmanship and fabrication processes can be reinforced through augmentation: digital information can be intuitively projected through mixed reality, extending the possibilities of traditional crafting techniques via wearable machines.
Research Cluster 9 is looking at this issue through the utilisation of mixed reality technologies and the 'Internet of Things'. With current computational design discourse and the potential of virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence technologies in mind, students challenge the modes of interaction between the designer and virtual models, emphasising intuitive input throughout the design and production processes.
- Design Computation Lab
Mollie Claypool, Manuel Jimenez Garcia, Gilles Retsin and Vicente Soler
Design Computation Lab is a research laboratory that develops design methods that use computational technologies in architectural design, fabrication and assembly.
Design Computation Lab believes that architecture should be wholly digital on every scale from the particle to the building. The lab's digital architecture work closes the gaps between the way in which architects design and the way in which objects, buildings and even infrastructure are fabricated and assembled.
This enables architects and designers to think creatively about engagement with other disciplines, industries and professions, including robotics, construction, computer science, manufacturing, policy-making, and material sciences.
Research areas of current projects
Modularity, pre-fabrication, robotics, additive assembly, computational methods, 3D printing, open-source, user interaction and participation.
BiotA Lab is an innovative design research platform that merges architecture, biology and engineering. The lab explores new modes of simulation and production in architecture as well as advances in the field of synthetic biology, biotechnology, molecular engineering and material sciences. The lab also investigates how this ever-increasing multidisciplinary approach to environmental design is resulting in a new sense of materiality and new hybrid technologies.
Members / Collaborations
Dr Chris Leung, Dr Guan Lee, Vicente Soler and Javier Ruiz
For EPSRC-funded research: Prof Bill Watts and Dr Sandra Manso
BiotA Lab includes the students of Research Cluster 7, as well as PhD students who form part of an international network of critics and experts in environmentally led design and novel applications of advanced biotechnologies in architecture. Academic collaborations of BiotA Lab also include ArchID Lab at the University of Newcastle UK, C-Biom.A at the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia Spain, and REX Lab at the University of Innsbruck Austria.
BiotA Lab work is produced between the design studio and laboratory where innovative building systems are developed with the help of advanced computation. Students and researchers design, grow and build bio-digital prototypes that explore a new ecological model for architecture, based upon the relationship between environmental conditions and material surfaces equipped with micro-organisms. Unlike traditional and costly ‘green architecture’, BiotA Lab explores an alternative symbiosis between buildings and nature that is cheaper and more computationally sophisticated.
Opportunities / Dissemination
Members of the BiotA Lab develop unique skills that bridge innovative computational design, materials, fabrication and laboratory protocols, making them highly desirable in practices. The collaborative nature of the work allows BiotA Lab students to work individually as cutting edge designers or as part of greater design teams that respond to the increasing environmental challenges in our cities. Work produced in the BiotA Lab is also regularly exhibited and presented in international events, including Syn.de.Bio (2014), Biofabricate (2015), Biosalon (2015) and Ecobuild in London (2016).
- Material Architecture Lab
Led by Daniel Wildrig and Guan Lee