Anno Accademico 2023/2024

  • Docente: Alessio Erioli
  • Crediti formativi: 6
  • SSD: ICAR/14
  • Lingua di insegnamento: Inglese
  • Moduli: Alessio Erioli (Modulo 1) Alberto Casarotto (Modulo 2)
  • Modalità didattica: Convenzionale - Lezioni in presenza (Modulo 1) Convenzionale - Lezioni in presenza (Modulo 2)
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Laurea Magistrale in Ingegneria edile-architettura (cod. 5697)

Conoscenze e abilità da conseguire

At the end of the course the student will have acquired the ability to articulate and organize the whole complexity of the contemporary architectural project in patterns of opportunities able to comply with contemporary and future functional maps. The student will be able to develop this skill through the use of computation-based tools, such as mediums, which permeate the entire project process, from the initial exploration to the realization.


The aim of the course is to provide a computational-based understanding of architectural design under the lens of the general concepts of data, information, and construction of systems (both as outcome and process), and the changes to the role of the designer in an ecology of increasingly data-driven autonomous systems, tools and processes.

The course is conceived to deliver an integrated knowledge base in architectural design, with a specific focus on the concept of project as a set of decisions that preempt and inform the object they comprehend; the organization of structured relations, using data as currency for the construction of protocols connecting different aspects: from material systems and performance-based aspects (structural, constructive, environmental) to architectural space and the functional as well as experiential implications and consequences.

Functional to the aforementioned structure, the course is articulated in three interconnected lineages: theory, training, and project. Such organization is aimed at a gradient transition of intensity among them.


The theoretical lineage lays the conceptual foundations of the course.

Starting from the foundational concepts of data and information and their encoding in architecture and related disciplines, the course will build a quick historical perspective touching significant milestones, from the early textual codification of building instructions to programming languages (Alberti, Serlio, Moretti, Sutherland, Alexander, Frazer). Consequently, a foundational overview of the concepts of computation, complexity and their relations with architecture in recent history is provided, in order to understand computational design as a methodology (and a paradigm shift in thinking that predates modern-day computers) rather than a toolset.


Training hours aim to build technical fluency, providing the foundations for the transition between theoretical contents and project application. Tools are regarded as a design medium: understanding design as encoding intentions into procedures and criteria enacted by external “machines” with increasing autonomy. At the core of this lineage are the concepts of structure and organization and their parallel implementation in the architectural system and its corresponding data layer.


This lineage is dedicated to the development of the theoretical topics into a project that seeks to challenge the acquired fluency with a problem that requires the iterative construction and refinement of two interconnected systems: an architectural system enabled by an underlying generator system, both evolving via an iterative process of comparative analysis.

Project specifics are explained at the beginning of the course; past topics revolved around the design of an architectural envelope system integrating environmental and functional aspects of the spaces the envelope interfaces with.


. Fundamentals

. Carpo, M 2011, The Alphabet and the Algorithm, 1st edition, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.

. Menges, A & Ahlquist, S 2011, AD Reader: Computational Design Thinking, John Wiley & Sons Inc, London - in particular: Alexander, C., Systems generating systems, pp. 58-67.

. Reiser, J & Umemoto, N 2006, Atlas of Novel Tectonics, 1st edition, Princeton Architectural Press, New York.

. Van Berkel, B & Bos, C 2016, Knowledge Matters, Frame Publishers BV.

. Suggested

. Bava, A 2020, Computational Tendencies, e-flux, https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/intelligence/310405/computational-tendencies/ .

. Deutsch, R 2019, Superusers: Design Technology Specialists and the Future of Practice, 1st edition, Routledge, London; New York.

. Frazer, J 1995, An Evolutionary Architecture, AA, London, viewed 19 July 2022, https://issuu.com/aaschool/docs/an-evolutionary-architecture-webocr .

. Guattari, F 2008, The Three Ecologies, Continuum, London.

. Johnson, S 2002, Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software, Reprint edition, Scribner, New York, NY.


Other specific and topic-related resources will be given during the course.

Metodi didattici

It is our belief that teaching (and especially teaching a design course) is about problems, not solutions; it is about learning how to tackle problems, not memorizing one or more specific solutions. Moreover, architectural problems are open-ended (or “wicked”) problems: they delve into complex conditions, have fuzzy contours, resist easy solutions, and challenge our knowledge with unknowns.

Teaching will focus on the understanding of the “project” as the organization of structured and systemic relations founded on data, triggered by the stimulations provided by the architectural problem and its progressive analysis and unfolding. The three interconnected lineages (theory, training, and project) are organized accordingly as follows.


This lineage develops the conceptual framework of the course through topic- or problem-focused lectures and discussions.


Training relies on hands-on tutorials and assignments for the implementation of data-based processes through the proper tools for design application.


The project is developed in groups (max 3 people/group) under the supervision of the teachers and dedicated tutors. A proactive attitude is required: teachers and tutors provide feedback on the students’ work (and support when necessary), not instructions on what to do. The outcome is represented by the redaction of an architectural project, documenting the process and the result alike.

Modalità di verifica e valutazione dell'apprendimento

Assessment will be performed in the form of assignments, periodic project reviews and a final panel including project presentation and subsequent discussion with a commission formed by course staff and (according to availability) relevant experts from contemporary architectural discourse.

The grade for this module is based on the following criteria:

40% - process design: data and algorithm management, with preference for clean, non-destructive data flow, design attitude and capacity to enact computational design strategies - how systematic the whole pipeline/process is

40% - project design and data management: data-awareness and control on the overall design result

15% - quality of the deliverables and general outcome (beyond the minimum quality required)

5% - attendance (beyond the mandatory)

Failure to reach an acceptable level in any of the above might constitute sufficient reason for failing the module.

In order to pass the integrated course, each module (this one and 93717 - BUILDING INFORMATION MODELING I) must be completed successfully; the final grade for the integrated course will result from the joint performance on both.

Strumenti a supporto della didattica

Lectures, technical seminars on the required software tools (Rhinoceros and Grasshopper mainly), practical drills on specific topics. Miro boards are used to track progress and organize the project ideas and evolution. Office hours are available for in-presence and remote support. A dedicated Team on Microsoft Teams is used for communication and remote support even outside office hours.

Orario di ricevimento

Consulta il sito web di Alessio Erioli

Consulta il sito web di Alberto Casarotto


Città e comunità sostenibili

L'insegnamento contribuisce al perseguimento degli Obiettivi di Sviluppo Sostenibile dell'Agenda 2030 dell'ONU.