Digital Media: Design Systems

The course is an introduction to fundamental concepts, methods and practical techniques in design computation with emphasis on a systems perspective. We take a view that computational design requires designing of systems instead of forms/geometries directly and that the quality of such systems reflect the success of the design outcome.

A system can be understood as a set of detailed procedures to achieve a specific objective, which takes input data/signal and transforms it into output/feedback. To design a computational system, it is necessary to adopt a particular way of thinking: identifying, abstracting, and decomposing a design goal. In addition, the data and procedures to achieve the goal requires the use of logical and numerical constructs. On the contrary to such a reductionist approach, it is important to note the output of a design system needs to be accessible to human thoughts for holistic and intuitive evaluation. In other words, the perspective of system helps elucidate the different modes of thinking embedded within the use of the digital medium for design.

The course will be comprised of three learning segments: (a) computational and geometric notations, (b) data organization and algorithms, (c) data flow and design control; introduced through a series of lectures and hands-on workshops. Students will create, analyze, and evaluate computational and geometric constructs within design-as-a-system thought-paradigm. Simultaneously, the course provides students with the basis for developing critical thinking towards computational tools through working on a series of design exercise and a final project. We will use Rhino, Grasshopper environment and C# where we expect the students to be familiar with 3D modelling and basic digital fabrication such as laser cutting and 3D printing. It is designed for architecture students with little programming experience who are interested in understanding the underlying principles of computational tools and customization of design processes using the tools. The success of students is evaluated not solely on technical accomplishments but according to the integrity of the produced design processes and products in engaging the given theoretical concepts.