Matter Design Computation

The Art of Building from Nano to Macro

In conjunction with the launch of the new program, Matter Design Computation, housed within the Graduate Field of Architecture at Cornell University.


The evolution of digital media in the last decade has prompted generative techniques in fabrication alongside new understandings in the organization of material through its properties and potential for assemblage. Recent advances in computation, visualization, material intelligence, and fabrication technologies have begun to alter fundamentally our theoretical understanding of general design principles as well as our practical approach towards architecture and research. This renewed interest in broadening the discipline has offered alternative methods for investigating the interrelationships of parts to their wholes, and emergent self-organized material systems at multiple scales and applications. The advantages of researching and deploying such methodologies in the field of architecture are immense as they impact aspects of material systems, fabrication and construction, sustainable and ecological design, optimization, and formal aesthetics.


Two of the most promising technologies are 3D printing and rapid assembly via robotics for manufacturing of individual and continuous component parts or fibrous assemblages. Together, these technologies are geared towards becoming indispensable tools for nonlinear manufacturing, automated building construction, as well as complex form making. How might advancements in 3D printing and rapid assembly in alternate industries and disciplines impact the design and fabrication of building components and skins?


This symposium features pioneers who are leading this new field through rigorous multi-directional and multi-disciplinary investigations that are shaping the future trajectories of these material innovations and technologies for architecture. The symposium aims to advance materials research and digital fabrication across disciplines in order to effect pragmatic change in the economical, ecological and cultural production of complex built form. Participants from diverse disciplinary backgrounds investigate the intersections of architecture and science, and apply insights and theories from biology, engineering, and mathematics to the design, fabrication, and production of material structures. While nonlinear concepts are widely applied in analysis and generative design in architecture, they have not yet convincingly translated into the material realm of fabrication and construction. No longer solely privileging column, beam and arch, our definition of architectural tectonics has broadened alongside advancements made in computational design at the intersection of architecture, biology, materials science and engineering. How have these advancements impacted material practice in architecture, engineering and construction at economic, technological and cultural levels? How might we address these issues during the design process? The main thrust of this symposium concerns the evolution, discourse, and application of material and digital fabrication processes in architecture.


Chair and Lead organizer: Jenny E. Sabin, Arthur L. and Isabel B. Wiesenberger Assistant Professor, Cornell University

Technical Chair and Co-organizer: Sasa Zivkovic, Assistant Professor, Cornell University

Christopher Battaglia, Teaching Associate, Cornell University