Morphogenetic Programming - AR856

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Spring 7 30 (15) DR T Ireland checkmark-circle


The Morphogenetic Programming module introduces students to generative algorithms for creating structures to challenge traditional notions of designing architectural form and space, and (in tandem with the Discourse and Theory module) will cultivate a bio digital outlook to architectural design for the students research-oriented thesis project. Students will study various methods of simulating natural processes of growth and pattern formation using computational methods and explore how these may be utilised for design and the generation of architectural form and structure.
The module is taught through a blend of lectures and seminars that introduce and describe concepts and models of morphogenesis, and workshops in which students will develop their computer programming skills and exercise computational methods of form generation to explore their application to the generation of architectural space, structure and form.
Workshops will be studio based to emphasise a design ethos and promote exchange between learning concepts, methods, code and application. The module will shift from taught workshop demonstrations initially to tutorial/studio oriented sessions in which the students will exercise and adapt the modelling methods presented to develop architectonic propositions generated through bio-inspired spatial self-organisation.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

36 hours

Method of assessment

Report (100%) (3000 to 5000 words)

Indicative reading

Flake, G. W. (1998). The Computational Beauty of Nature: Computer Explorations of Fractals, Chaos, Complex Systems, and Adaptation. The MIT Press: Cambridge, Mass.
Frazer, J. (1995). Evolutionary Architecture. AA Publications: London.
Leach, N. (2009). Digital Morphogenesis, in Architectural Design, 79, 1, pp. 32–37
Reynolds, C.W. (1987). Flocks, Herds, and Schools: A Distributed Behavioural Model, in Computer Graphics, 21(4), July 1987, p25-34.
Theraulaz G. (2014). Embracing the Creativity of Stigmergy in Social Insects, in Architectural Design 84, p54–59.
Tibbits, S., van der Harten, A. and Baer, S. (2011). RhinoPython 101 Primer.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

8.1 A comprehensive understanding of biological morphogenesis and evolution and its abstraction and systematisation for computational modelling.
8.2 A comprehensive understanding of the relationships between morphological models and parametric modelling.
8.3 Ability to demonstrate knowledge and skills of geometrical and spatial understanding of digital morphogenesis and computational design processes.
8.4 A comprehensive understanding of decentralised processes of configuration to speculate how processes of form making and pattern generation in nature may be applied to (re)formulate and (re)articulate how we think about space, architecture and the built environment.
8.5 A comprehensive understanding of the computer as a tool to simulate bio-inspired spatial self-organisation.

9.1 Knowledge and skills in the analysis and evaluation of morphological systems for architectural design, and an ability to apply these skills appropriately.
9.2 A comprehensive understanding of generative algorithms and their applications in creating space, form and structure.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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