ARCH 4605/6605/7152
Special Topics in Construction: Matter Design Computation

Square of 25 images of small sculptured figures, patterned fabric, and cellular structures.

Selection of work produced in the Sabin Lab at Cornell AAP, Jenny Sabin Studio, and Sabin and Jones LabStudio, 2006–18.

  • Instructor: Jenny Sabin
  • Time: T 12:20–2:15 p.m.
  • Location: 142 East Sibley Hall
  • Credits: 3

Although there have been tremendous innovations in design, material sciences, and bio- and information technologies, direct interactions and collaborations between scientists and architects are rare. One approach is to couple architectural designers with engineers and biologists within a research-based laboratory-studio in order to develop new ways of thinking, seeing, and working in each of our fields. This course is part two of an introduction to fundamental concepts in matter design computation. Course work includes exposure to different theories, research, and practices of emerging technologies, digital fabrication, computational design, experiments in building construction techniques, new materials, bioinspired design, and human-centered adaptive architecture. Project work will be closely aligned to ongoing research in the Sabin Lab at Cornell AAP with emphasis upon material systems, generative design, simulation, intermediate computational design, physical modeling, and digital fabrication within a hybrid lab plus studio setting. Project work will follow three parallel topics: robotic sensing and fabrication, 3D printed componentry, and biosteered generative design. The class situates itself at the forefront of a new direction for 21st-century architectural research practice — one that investigates the intersections of architecture and science and applies insights and theories from biology and computation to the design of material structures. In particular, this course will unfold long-standing traditions of shared relationships between architecture and biology, with subtopics that include sustainability, ecological design, biomimicry, digital fabrication, experimental structures, and materials science.

Instructor permission required:

Admitted students must have prior experience (through a class, studio, internship, research position, etc.) in computation, computational design and/or digital fabrication. This course will not include introductory scripting and parametric workshops. It is expected that students have intermediate to advanced digital skills. All students must attend the first class.

View a PDF of this class description.