cecil balmond | ezio blasetti

arch 704: research studio | spring 2012
university of pennsylvania
school of design
department of architecture


Jordan Barr
Gouverneur Cadwalader
Wenyuan Guo
Brian Heller
Jason Jackson
Nam Joe
Young Bum Kim
Konstantinos Letymbiotis
Laura Lo
Mark Nicol
Sang-Uk Park
Yuncong Xia
Yufan Zhang

final review guests

Vito Acconci
Karl Chu
Ed Keller
Ferda Kolatan
Carla Leitao
Roland Snooks
Danielle Willems
Michael Young

midreview guests

Pia Ednie-Brown
Camille Lacadee
Paul Minifie
Francois Roche
Tim Schork
Roland Snooks
Jan Van Schaik

project objectives

This studio will investigate non-linear systems and self-organization at both a methodological and tectonic level. This exploration will take the form of design research into algorithmic methodologies and will be tested through an architectural proposal.

conceptual framework

Since the 1960’s the world in which we live is increasingly being understood as an emergent outcome of complex systems. Research into complexity cuts across traditional boundaries as the self-organizing systems which underlie one phenomena can be found to operate at various scales within a diverse set of circumstances. Consequently this studio will explore the nature and operation of complex systems as well as their application to design. This will involve extracting the processes that operate within the physical world as well as developing new models of self-organization. The development of non-linear design methodologies involves a shift in the design process from invention to that of orchestrating systems in the generation of an emergent architecture.


The major project for the semester will be the design of a Museum of Art and Design situated within sparsely populated extreme environments such as arctic or desert regions. The project will be concerned with the relationship of art and architecture, formation and sculpture.


Students will explore non-linear algorithmic design methodologies in developing complex systems. The studio will focus on how these non-linear systems interact and operate within geometry in response to a set of architectural criteria. The research will explore how specific architectural intent can be programmed at a micro level enabling local interactions to self-organize into coherent structures and forms. Algorithmic design does not operate through a specific technique or medium - digital or analogue - however scripted techniques will be encouraged as they enable a rapid investigation and testing of algorithmic methodologies. Research will be focused by, but not restricted to, successful models brought forth from the fall semester seminar on Form and Algorithm. Algorithmic workshops will be conducted in the first half of the semester to help in rapidly developing scripted techniques.

studio visit @ rmit & symposium