Image representing Bio Digital Architecture

Bio Digital Architecture - MSc

2019

Our new MSc in Bio Digital Architecture 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.

2019

Overview

The programme provides an excellent environment for computational methods in architectural education, with digital workshop and fabrication facilities, computer labs and an open digital architecture lecture series drawing on leaders in the field to present their work providing students a valuable opportunity to interact with academics and practitioners.

Theory and practice are taught in tandem so that students learn theory through application and testing, enabling them to apply this knowledge and understanding in design studio projects.

It 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.

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Architecture and Planning was ranked 8th for research intensity and 8th for research output in the UK.

An impressive 100% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 88% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of research of international quality.

Course structure

Modules

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

Compulsory modules currently include Credits

This module will introduce students to thinking about form and spatial organisation as a bottom-up process and give students an introduction to the use of the computer as a tool to model generatively. Students will be introduced to a series of concepts and theoretical positions to anchor their outlook, facilitate engagement with the computational logic of the programme, develop their understanding of key concepts and ideas to support and further their design thinking, and develop their understanding of the role and application of computing in and for architectural design.

The module consists of a blend of lectures, seminars and workshops. Concepts and theories fundamental to the programme are presented in lectures and seminars, which are married with workshop sessions in which students are introduced to computer modelling methods that demonstrate the theory. Workshops will be studio based to emphasise a design ethos and promote exchange between theory, demonstration and application. Students will be required to adapt a method presented towards the generation of architectural space and form.

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This module will introduce students to the basics of computer programming to take them from beginners through to intermediate programmers, using Processing, a Java-based language created for visual designers, architects and artists. Through the course, students will learn how to use core Processing methods, and transferable programming techniques, to create architectural spatial formations.

Students will be taught the fundamentals of computer code through a series of workshops, which are studio based to emphasise a design ethos and promote exchange between learning code and application. Students will learn how to write short programs that create dynamic patterns and then, having grasped the fundamentals of coding, will study Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) and Agent-Based Modelling (ABM). The module will shift from taught workshop demonstrations initially to tutorial/studio oriented sessions in which the students will develop a short ABM program generating architectural space and form as a result of interaction.

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30

This module aims to develop the student's overall understanding of contemporary scientific theories pertinent to avant-garde architectural design methodologies. Students will develop an interdisciplinary and contemporary understanding of architecture, architectural design, and how people perceive and interact through the study of concepts from other fields relevant, yet traditionally separate, to architecture; such as biology, psychology, computer science and philosophy.

The module consists of lectures that introduce and describe contemporary concepts and theories applicable to bio digital architecture, and seminars in which students will debate and analyse propositions to critically reflect on architecture, architectural design and the quality of the built environment. The aim of the module is to develop the student's ability to write in a way that deals with complex issues, and that addresses the outcomes of the module.

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30

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.

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30
Compulsory modules currently include Credits

Students develop their communication and research skills to a high professional standard in an academic or industrial setting. Working with an assigned tutor, students elect to produce a theoretical, interdisciplinary or practice-based written dissertation or project in a topic related to the field of study and as directed by the programme leader. Students develop a research proposal, incorporating a methodology and schedule for the work. Students are expected to develop their ability to gather and synthesize data, as well as to analyse it in a coherent and convincing manner. In addition, they are expected to situate their own investigation in the broader context of their chosen discipline. Interdisciplinary investigations that further inform thinking are encouraged.

The project provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate their capacity to work at Level 7 as independent researchers in their chosen area of specialism through a substantial piece of written work and/or research project, and will include necessary visual material and, where appropriate, new project proposals.

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60

Teaching and Assessment

Assessment is mostly based on coursework, with presentations, case-study analyses, design proposals, essays and the dissertation.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • provide students with advanced computer-aided-design (CAD) skills
  • introduce students to the use of CAD as a vehicle for design research
  • introduce ways of thinking about the role of the computer in architectural design beyond typical architectural practice, through the medium of code
  • promote an awareness and understanding of systems-oriented thinking and its application to architectural/design problems
  • encourage observation of natural systems and phenomena and their applicability to architectural design, to develop understanding of how digital techniques and knowledge of natural systems can inform and provide new possibilities for architectural thinking and practice
  • promote and encourage interdisciplinary thinking and how cross-disciplinary knowledge and understanding can benefit architectural thinking and design
  • introduce new ways in which computers can be used to explore and generate designs – understood from a dynamical process oriented perspective, whereby architectural space and form are the result of rules derived from an analysis of the design problem
  • develop and encourage ability to work with advanced software applied to architecture for 3D modelling, parametric, CAD/CAM, scripting and other digital innovations that appear as technology develops
  • promote the capacity to reflect on the principles and methods of scientific research/understanding and its application to architecture; especially through digital tools
  • promote and encourage innovation in the development and application of ideas in the context of research in nature inspired and digital architecture
  • provide teaching informed by research and scholarship
  • promote and support independent research skills
  • enable students to develop skills required for both autonomous practice and team-working. Support students in fulfilling their full potential in the programme.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • the principles of CAD software and digital tools, and their use for modelling architecture
  • computer code, enabling investigation of the use of emergent algorithms and their effects in architecture
  • the idea of 'laws of form' and how generative processes can be used to explore architectural design
  • dynamic systems and how to model them
  • the use of computers to explore configurations of form and space
  • the history of design methods using Artificial Intelligence/Artificial Life
  • the status of architectural design with regard to recent history of scientific knowledge of perception and new models of understanding
  • current developments in computational design, digital architecture and contemporary architectural practice and related design industries
  • the historic development of computing and its application to architectural thinking and design, enabling analysis of how digital technology and contemporary theory may be applied to influence spatial, social and formal aspects of architecture in a reflective and critical manner
  • how the theories, practices and technologies of the sciences and arts influence architectural design
  • how to apply such knowledge creatively to design studio projects, in terms of their conceptualisation and representation
  • the relationship between people and buildings, and between buildings and their environment.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills to:

  • analyse and interpret Computer-Aided Architectural Design issues
  • relate technological options to practical implementation
  • identify and solve complex problems and issues in the generation of algorithmic design projects
  • grasp techniques and methods from computer science and identify their applicability to architectural problems
  • think in an interdisciplinary manner, to grasp the value of theories and identify their applicability to architectural problems
  • analyse and evaluate the thinking, methodology and quality of design, existing and proposed, of computer-aided architectural design projects, and to present the results of such analysis to both a specialist and lay audience
  • demonstrate independence and creative and critical thinking.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills to:

  • use software tools, techniques and packages to produce and develop computer-aided architectural design proposals
  • think algorithmically
  • use the computer creatively to analyse architectural problems and generate design ideas
  • be competent in design and presentation. Ability to communicate with a variety of media to professional and general audiences
  • gain critical understanding of how knowledge is advanced through research to produce clear, logically argued and original written work relating to computational design as it relates to architectural culture, theory and design
  • work in multi-disciplinary design teams.

Transferable skills

You gain the following transferable skills:

  • prepare and manage well-supported critical analyses based on theory and empirical evidence
  • exercise initiative in either carrying out or commissioning research and analysis
  • independently define and appraise ideas and make reasoned judgements.
  • demonstrate an ability to evaluate assumptions, arguments and research methodologies, to develop critiques of them, and to explore alternative strategies
  • communicate effectively using a variety of media
  • work in multi-disciplinary groups
  • systematically plan, carry through, and manage a project in a given time
  • be self-critical about own work and constructive in how to address and progress it
  • use of digital methods and technology.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

The School of Architecture and Planning studios include a dedicated computing suite with a range of environmental construction software, and a new digital crit studio. There is a fully equipped architectural model-making workshop for constructing models and large-scale prototypes.

Professional links

The School has excellent contacts with businesses and culture in the local area, including regional organisations such as the Kent Architecture Centre, Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Kent County Council and Kent Design Initiative. The Sustainable Communities Plan is particularly strong in south-east England, making the region the ideal place in which to debate innovative solutions to architectural issues.

Kent also has excellent links with schools of architecture in Lille, Bruges, Rome, Bauhaus-Dessau, Beijing and, in the USA, Virginia and California.

Academic study is complemented by a mentoring scheme organised in collaboration with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and involving students in events with local practices.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Architectural Research Quarterly; Architectural Review; Building and Environment; The Journal of Architecture; The World of Interiors. Details of recently published books can be found within our staff research interests.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Entry requirements

A minimum of a second-class UK degree, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard, in architecture or related discipline in the built environment, or associated disciplines to the subject of Bio Digital Architecture is required. Some basic computing experience is expected. Applicants must present a portfolio as part of their application. If the applicant has a non-design background, an interview may be required in lieu of a portfolio.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country.  Please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

Research centres

KSAP incorporates the Centre for Research in European Architecture (CREAte), which focuses on research in architectural humanities and design, the Centre for Architecture and Sustainable Environment (CASE), which promotes research in the field of sustainable architecture, and the new Digital Architecture Research Centre (DARC), which researches the use of digital technologies in architecture and the built environment.

CREAte

The Centre provides a focus for research in architecture in the European context. Its emphasis is on the role and contribution of humanities to architecture and urban design in the context of urban and regional regeneration, nationally and internationally.

CREAte provides a platform for evening lectures by contemporary architects and scholars; hosting debates and events that are in the heart of architectural agenda of today.

The Centre builds upon its staff specialisms, interests and skills in the following areas: regional studies, contemporary architectural and urban theory and design, architectural history and theory (ranging from antiquity to contemporary European cities), sustainability, European topographies (landscape, urban, suburban and metropolitan) etc. Staff participate in the activities of AHRA – Architecture Humanities Research Association and are internationally published authors.

CASE

The Centre promotes research in the field of sustainable environment regionally, nationally and internationally.

Its research focus encompasses different aspects and scales of the sustainable built environment from the individual building to the urban block, promoting the wider environmental agenda and keeping the School at the forefront of research and development in the field. CASE also pursues research into the historical and cultural dimension of environmental design to foster links between the sciences, arts and humanities. There is a strong interest in understanding the environmental behaviour of historic buildings and the strategies originally deployed to manage the internal environment.

The Centre has already secured funding from various sources. This includes three EPSRC projects on climate change weather data for a sustainable built environment, sustainability of airport terminal buildings and design interventions in the public realm for affecting human behaviour, and two TSB-funded projects on Building Performance Evaluation. CASE is also involved with the recent EPSRC large-scale network on Digital Economy Communities and Culture.

DARC

The Centre is the newest research centre at Kent School of Architecture and Planning (KSAP) in the application of digital technology in architecture. The focus of the Digital Architecture Research Centre (DARC) will be the creative use of digital technologies to enhance design and fabrication possibilities for architecture and the built environment.

The centre will have three streams headed by members: 1) Generative design and computational creativity, 2) Digital fabrication and robotics and 3) Digital visualisation and mixed reality.

DARC will promote an innovative interdisciplinary research environment exploring intersections between architecture and digital technologies, to open up and expand the schools research agenda and funding possibilities. The new research centre will promote a fundamental shift in architecture and design thinking to develop design methods for the utilisation of computational technologies in architectural design, fabrication and assembly.

The centre is a new interdisciplinary direction for KSAP, founded on members' expertise and international research profiles to open up new avenues of research activity. The centre draws on university-wide contacts and expertise, and attracts additional expertise, knowledge and research in the field of digital architecture through existing and future collaborations, adding to its high quality research output, and looks to enhance the faculty's Digital Humanities theme, principally in the areas of Digital Creative Arts and Digital Heritage.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Dr Peter Bus: Digital Architecture Lecturer

The development of custom-based computational environments, design workflows and simulation strategies within the field of Responsive and Adaptive Cities focusing on end-users’ perspective.

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Dr Timothy Ireland: Senior Lecturer, Director of Digital Architecture

Computational design; understanding space and spatiality; digital design methods; natural architecture; algorithmic and biological design; swarm/collective intelligence and distributed cognition; generative design; understanding morphology and structure in nature; analysis of architectural space and form.

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Fees

The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Bio Digital Architecture - MSc at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time
Part-time

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 

Funding

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both: