Howard Griffin takes part in Creative Folkestone and South East Creatives’ Tech Week

MA Architectural Visualisation programme director, Howard Griffin, alongside Paul Simms and Fabrice Bourrelly, will be presenting at Tech Week, organised by South East Creatives and Creative Folkestone with their talk titled, ‘Designing architecture in a virtual space’ on Tuesday 16 June at 10.00am BST.

This talk will look at how gaming technology changes the way we think about design. In this discussion, Paul, Fabrice and Howard will explore the ways (Architectural) design is going through significant changes as 3D, VR and gaming technologies are maturing and becoming increasingly adopted across industries such as automotive, aviation and fashion whilst becoming affordable.

All talks will be live-streamed via the Creative Folkestone Facebook page; they are also inviting up to 10 people to join in the room via Zoom to take part in the live Q&A element. Places are limited so book your place.

Howard Griffin organises online conference as part of Architecture Media Politics Society

Howard Griffin, a member of the Centre for Research in European Architecture (CREAte) and the Digital Architecture Research Centre (DARC) has organised a conference called Connections: Exploring Heritage, Architecture, Cities, Art, Media and is part of the Architecture Media Politics Society (AMPS) research organisation’s series of major international conferences. AMPS sees the definition, debates and concerns of the built environment as intrinsic to those at the heart of other social, cultural and political discourses. Its focus is cross disciplinary and draws on the media, politics and the social sciences. It invites participation from all sectors: architects, planners, policy makers, artists, academics, the public and community activists. It functions as an open access platform for publication, a forum for debate through conferences and workshop, a conduit for book publications.

The conference, which will be hosted online on the 29 – 30 June 2020, notes that, particularly in recent months, the ‘digital’ is ubiquitous across all disciplines connected with life in cities: urban history, architecture, planning, art, design, media, communications, and more. As the tools we use today merge and blur across disciplines, this conferences asks educators and professionals to consider the following. How can we best manage, direct and utilise the unique potentialities of this interdisciplinary and technological moment? Are we rethinking objects of art and design from the past and future? Are we reconsidering modes of communication, styles of teaching and ways of living? Are we seeing new links between designed objects, visualised spaces and cultural meanings? Are we understanding creative, documentary and media practices in new ways? Are we developing our own knowledge through the technologies, tools or thinking of other disciplines?

A number of staff and students at the University of Kent will be presenting papers. Howard Griffin will be presenting about his virtual reality project, created with MA Architectural Visualisation students in his paper, The Future of the Past: Reconstructing St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury.  Head of School, Professor Gerald Adler will present his paper titled, ‘Script, Nondescript’, Professor Gordana Fontana Giusti will present her paper titled, ‘Designing Public Spaces to Empower Citizens: Reversing the Subject / Object Relation in Smart Cities’, and PhD student, Rafaella Siagkri will be presenting her paper titled, ‘Understanding and Preserving Cultural Heritage in Expressionist Architecture Using Virtual Reality.’

Dr Tim Ireland publishes new paper, ‘Bateson Information Revisited: A New Paradigm’

Director of Digital Architecture Research Centre (DARC), and programme director for MSc Bio Digital Architecture, Dr Tim Ireland has published a new paper titled, ‘Bateson Information Revisited: A New Paradigm‘. This paper is the latest in a line of papers written in collaboration with Dr Jaime Cardenas-Garcia, University of Maryland. This paper is product of a presentation by Dr Cardenas-Garcia at Conference Theoretical Information Studies (TIS), which took place in Berkeley, California in June 2019.

The goal of this work is to explain a novel information paradigm claiming that all information results from a process, intrinsic to living beings, of self-production; a sensory commensurable, self-referential feedback process immanent to Bateson’s difference that makes a difference. To highlight and illustrate this fundamental process, a simulation based on one-parameter feedback is presented. It simulates a homeorhetic process, innate to organisms, illustrating a self-referenced, autonomous system. The illustrated recursive process is sufficiently generic to be the only basis for information in nature: from the single cell, to multi-cellular organisms, to consideration of all types of natural and non-natural phenomena, including tools and artificial constructions.

IMAGE CREDIT: IS4SI 2019 SUMMIT

Dr Peter Buš publishes new article, ‘On-Site Participation for Proto-Architectural Assemblies’

Lecturer and member of Digital Architecture Research Centre (DARC), Dr Peter Buš, has recently written an article titled, ‘On-site participation for proto-architectural assemblies encompassing technology and human improvisation: “Fish Trap” and “Orchid” architectural interventions‘ which has been published in the special issue of Complexity. Complexity is a journal specialising in reporting ‘advances in the scientific study of complex systems’. Dr Buš’ article features in their special issue titled, ‘Tales of Two Societies: On the complexity of the coevolution between physical space and the cyber space’.

Dr Peter Buš writes, “This research investigates the notion of builders’ on-site engagement to physically build architectural interventions based on their demands, spatial requirements, and collaborative improvisation enhanced with the principles of uniqueness and bespoke solutions which are previously explored in computational models.

The paper compares and discusses two physical installations as proto-architectural assemblies testing two different designs and building approaches: the top-down predefined designers’ scenario contrary to bottom-up unpredictable improvisation. It encompasses a building strategy based on the discrete precut components assembled by builders themselves in situ.

The paper evaluates both strategies in a qualitative observation and comparison defining advantages and limitations of the top-down design strategy in comparison with the decentralised bottom-up building system built by the builders themselves. As such, it outlines the position of a designer within the bottom-up building processes on-site. The paper argues that improvisation and builders’ direct engagement on-site lead to solutions that better reflect human needs and low-tech building principles incorporated can deliver unpredictable but convenient spatial scenarios.”

Kevin Smith and Julien Soosaipillai discuss collaborative process of creating PPE in fight against Covid-19

Kent School of Architecture and Planning (KSAP), along with colleagues from School of Computing and the School of Engineering and Digital Arts (EDA), have collaborated to design and supply 300 sets of personal protective equipment (PPE) for East Kent’s largest hospice charity, Pilgrims Hospice.

KSAP’s Workshop Manager, Kevin Smith, along with 3D CAD Technician, Julien Soosaipillai worked on the project from inception. They documented the pitfalls and progress of the project to date, “We experimented with several designs which were sent to NHS facilities; they preferred the PRUSA 3D V3 printed frame design which is designed to hold a clear plastic screen, bent around the head secured on a radial arrangement of forward-facing location studs. These are sized to just fit through a standard paper hole-punch hole, the idea being that anyone with a hole-punch could make the clear plastic shield front screen.

The original design called for 0.5mm PETG but this is in very short supply due to the unprecedented global demand. We experimented with the 1mm PETG we use for laser cutting but found it to be too stiff; i.e. it kept popping off the frame. PETG is preferred as it is fairly tough and reasonably resistant to solvents (often used for machine guards etc.).

We wanted the shields to be as sterile as possible. The 3D parts can withstand being soaked in Isopropanol to achieve this, so the screens needed to be similarly treatable. We also needed something that was available in paper sizes in case a hole-punch was to be used and preferably available in easily accessible large numbers. We had a stock of 0.24mm PVC A4 Binder covers and experimented with these. Although unable to withstand any significant heat they proved to be completely safe with Isopropanol so we cut a few samples and sent them to a local GP practice and the Pilgrims Hospice for trials. The feedback was good but said they would prefer a more wrapped around design.


3D CAD Technician, Julien Soosaipillai, redesigned the frame using Fusion 360, pulling the side arms in whilst retaining the hole-spacing. The modified sets were duly dispatched and approved. The University of Kent’s Design and Print Centre made 2000 PVC sheets available and the Schools of Engineering and Digital Arts and Computing supplemented our dwindling supplies of filament with everything that they had.

We have now set up a 3D printing Hub in the Digital Crit space using all the KSAP printers together with those from EDA, The School of Computing and School of Physical Sciences. Currently we are running eight Ultimakers, along with four Prusa printers, all printing a mixture of PLA and PETG.  Jigs were duly designed to drill and trim 100 screens at a time and a rotary winder is used to wind on elastic at a predetermined length, speeding up the cutting.”


The visors are supplied flat packed, each pack consists of 10 frames, 10 screens, and 10 lengths of elastic with some printed instructions. Kevin Smith, Workshop Manager, estimates that the team can make and pack 280 – 300 visors per day. Kent Innovation and Enterprise has been co-ordinating enquiries from the start and are currently arranging funding to order more materials to maximise production.

PhD students to present at SAHGB Architectural History Workshop

Two Kent School of Architecture and Planning’s PhD students, Ben Tosland and Rafaella Siagkri are due to present at The Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain’s Architectural History Workshop 2020. This year’s workshop is due to take place at a postponed date, and will take place at The Galley in London. The theme of this year’s workshop is, ‘Beyond the Academy: Architectural History in Heritage, Conservation and Curating’.

Ben Tosland will be presenting with his talk titled, ‘Methodological reflection: problems researching 20th century architecture in the Persian Gulf’. Ben’s doctoral thesis thesis faced numerous methodological challenges which this presentation will discuss, sharing the problems – in some cases unsolved – with researching a region in constant political and economic flux, characterised by cultural, political and economic contrasts. He will discuss the issues surrounding what study material to choose, or which buildings might be necessary, explaining the case studies and architects I chose for my thesis (focusing on Max Lock, Candilis-Josic-Woods, Alfred Roth, Doxiadis Associates and Jørn Utzon), describing their position in the Gulf’s contribution to a picture of a global modernism.

Rafaella Siagkri will be presenting, ‘Virtual Reality as an investigative tool to better understand architecture in historical films’. Her presentation will assess the significance of Virtual Reality (VR) as a reconstruction method. Using 3Ds Max Software to model film sets from the film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and using Unreal Software to transfer to Oculus Rift technology will allow the generation of VR simulations to be used in this study. This provides the capability to recreate old, iconic expressionist film sets and to better understand its space.

MA Architectural Visualisation students take part in Cheriton Light Festival

MA Architectural Visualisation students have taken part in the Cheriton Light Festival 2020 over the weekend, exhibiting their architectural projection mapping work.  The festival which takes place every two years attracts over 10,000 visitors and hosts a number of international artists.  Festival organiser, Brigitte Orasinski, noted that the contribution of the MA Architectural Visualisation students, “…was so spectacular. [It] was wonderful to see this building brought to life by the work.”

Programme Director, Howard Griffin, explained the value of this public exhibition to the students’ studies, “Our students are continually replicating and recreating the built environment around us in digital form.  With this work, we reverse the process, bringing the digital world into the real.  Much of the work we do in architectural visualisation is about simulation and the ‘virtual’.  By working on live events, such as Cheriton Light Festival, students gain real experience of staging events, that is nearly impossible to simulate.”

Digital Architecture Open Lecture: Milad Showkatbakhsh

The next DARC (Digital Architecture Research Centre) will be given by Milad Showkatbakhsh with his talk titled, ‘Evolution as a Design Model’ on Tuesday 11 February at 6pm in Marlowe Lecture Theatre 1.

Evolutionary Algorithms have been used extensively in recent years to mimic the principles of evolutionary science to solve common real-world problems through search and optimization procedures of single or multiple objectives. Ranging from the fields of economics to politics and music to architecture, evolutionary algorithms have proven to be an efficient problem-solving technique to find multiple trade-off solutions for problems that possess multiple design objectives that conflict with one another. Precedence for the application of an evolutionary model as a problem-solving strategy dates back to the early 20th century. It has since developed into a model that has been applied in a multitude of different fields to provide solutions to problems that required objectivity, optimality and efficiency. Within the design field, applications of biological evolutionary principles have been seen through the work of many architects/planners/designers throughout the second half of the 20th century (Batty, 2013; Coates, 2010; Weinstock, 2010; Marshall, 2008; Frazer, 1995; Steadman, 1979).

This lecture expands on the theory behind evolutionary computation, its foundation in biological evolution and its significance as a model in design. The lecture will culminate by presenting the application of evolutionary computation as a design methodology in a range of scales and complexities using Wallacei, a robust evolutionary multi objective optimisation engine.

Milad holds M.Arch. from Pratt Institute in New York, where he graduated with the Sidney Katz award for design excellence in 2015. He is currently a Doctoral candidate at the Architectural Association researching under the directorship of Dr. Michael Weinstock. Milad has worked for several architecture and design practices in Tehran, New York and Shanghai. Alongside practicing, he has been a fellow researcher in different computer-aided design research projects which were culminated as published papers in peer reviewed journals and conferences, posters and robotically fabricated installations. Milad has been actively teaching in academia in graduate and postgraduate courses and international architectural and computational workshops. Milad is currently teaching in the EmTech program at the AA and is also the co-director of the Istanbul branch of the AA Visiting School, where he is using his knowledge of evolutionary principles in the design and development of architectural projects that range in scale and function. Among many professional and academic activities, He is the Co-Founder and Co-Developer of ‘Wallacei,’ an evolutionary multi-objective optimisation engine with an embedded analytics engine that allows users to have full control over their optimisation problems in Grasshopper 3D. Milad’s current research focuses on the application of biological principles of evolution and morphogenesis into the design processes. For complex design problems, the priority should be given to how to formulate the question rather than finding an answer.

All welcome!

Interested in Postgraduate Study? Join one of our Google Hangouts to find out more

Kent School of Architecture and Planning are pleased to announce we will be hosting a series of Google Hangouts for prospective students and current applicants interested in our postgraduate courses. These events are free, and will be held online, hosted by our respective programme directors. The full list of dates and times are below:

To book your place on any of our online Google Hangouts, please email ksapadmissions@kent.ac.uk with the Google Hangout(s) you would like to attend, and the email address you would like your invitation sent to.

Invitation to MSc Bio Digital Architecture Google Hangout

Kent School of Architecture and Planning (KSAP) are pleased to announce we will be hosting a one-hour Google Hangout on Tuesday 3rd March for students interested in finding out about the latest addition to our postgraduate portfolio: MSc in Bio Digital Architecture. This course provides students with the skills and know-how to practice architecture at the cutting edge of digital design. The programme is designed to provide a theoretical basis of Computer-Aided Architectural Design as an academic discipline while simultaneously teaching the use of the computer for analysis of design problems and a tool for the generation of space and form.

Led by KSAP’s Director of Digital Architecture, Dr Tim Ireland, the course is primarily intended for graduates and professionals from a range of design backgrounds, including architecture, interior, graphic and urban design, who wish to develop computational techniques in architecture and gain the ability to use programming as easily as any other form of communication.

If you are interested in finding out more about the programme including course structure, entry requirements, career progression and more, please email ksapadmissions@kent.ac.uk to book your place on the MSc Bio Digital Architecture FREE online Google Hangout on Tuesday 3rd March from 11.00 – 12.00 GMT.