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Exploring Algorithmic Tectonics

Algorithmic Tectonics is a course on creative computing in architecture and design. By learning to create computational design artifacts (such as experimental software, responsive objects and robotic fabrication applications) participants explore computation as a territory for speculative, critical and poetic thinking about design (rather than merely as an instrument of production or representation). Departing from the conventional approach of programming courses based on lectures and problem-sets, the course introduces each topic in a project-oriented fashion through design questions. Organized in three modules, design, visualize and make, the class prompts students to develop an appreciation for current developments in computational design, and to create their own projects with an incremental degree of sophistication: from simple interactive computer graphics to architectural robotics applications.

This book reports on the course as taught for the first time at Penn State in the Spring of 2015. It is not a conclusive work but rather snapshots of an ongoing process. Together, the assignments, projects, and their descriptions, reflect a fledgling imaginary of design that continues to evolve around software and other technological infrastructures. In combination with the online code repositories and blogs that accompanied the course, this book may be useful for others confronting questions about pedagogies of computing in design.

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Instructor: Daniel Cardoso Llach, Ph.D.
Collaborators: Ardavan Bidgoli, Shokofeh Darbari, Jamie Heilman
Students: Dhaval Chedda, Clarissa Ferreira Albrecht, Xiao Han, Matthew Kenney, Rohan Mohana, Vernelle Noel, Vina Rahimian, Nastaran Tebyanian, Angela Urbano, Seth Waldman
Report design: Xiao & Daniel
Cover Image: Project by Clarissa F. Albrecht and Dhaval Chheda. Photo credit: Ardavan Bidgoli.
Design Ecologies Lab Director: Daniel Cardoso Llach, Ph.D.
Researchers: Ardavan Bidgoli, Shokofeh Darbari, Xiao Han, Vernelle Noel
Alumni: Veronica Patrick, Seoug Oh, Dimitar Dimitrov, Anish Anand, Shunran Liao
SCDC Executive Committee: Daniel Cardoso Llach (chair), Felecia Davis, David Goldberg, Tim Johnson, Peter Lusch

Research Unit Connections: 
Stuckeman Center for Design Computing