Material Computation
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More About This Title Material Computation


The production of architecture, both intellectually and physically, is on the brink of a fundamental change. Computational design enables architects to integrate ever more multifaceted and complex design information, while the industrial logics of conventional building construction are eroding rapidly in a context of increasingly ubiquitous computer-controlled manufacturing and fabrication. A novel convergence of computation and materialisation is about to emerge, bringing the virtual process of design and the physical realisation of architecture much closer together, more so than ever before. Computation provides a powerful agency for both informing the design process through specific material behaviour and characteristics, and in turn informing the organisation of matter and material across multiple scales based on feedback from the environment. Computational design and integrated materialisation processes allow for uncovering the inherent morphogenetic potential of materials and thus are opening up a largely uncharted field of possibilities for the way the built environment in the 21st century is conceived and produced. In order to effectively introduce and outline the enabling power of computational design along with its inherent relationship to a biological paradigm, this publication looks at formation and materialisation in nature, integrative computational design, and engineering and manufacturing integration.
  • Architectural contributors include: Cristiano Cecatto, Neri Oxman, Skylar Tibbits and Michael Weinstock.
  • A scientific perspective by Philip Ball and J Scott Turner.
  • Features: Buro Happold's SMART group, DiniTech, Foster + Partners' Specialist Modelling Group, the Freeform Construction group and Stuttgart University's Institute for Computational Design.


Achim Menges is an architect, professor and the director of the Institute for Computational Design at Stuttgart University. He is also Visiting Professor in Architecture at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design and Visiting Professor for the Emergent Technologies and Design Graduate Program at the Architectural Association in London. Menges' research focuses on the development of integral design processes at the intersection of evolutionary computation, algorithmic design, biomimetic engineering and computer-aided manufacturing that enables a highly articulated, performative built environment. His projects have been published and exhibited worldwide and received international awards. Menges has lectured widely and published more than 60 papers and articles on his research over the last eight years.


Introduction Material Computation: Higher Integration in Morphogenetic Design

ch 1 Pattern Formation in Nature: Physical Constraints and Self?]Organising Characteristics

ch 2 Evolutionary Architecture? Some Perspectives From Biological Design

ch 3 Material Resourcefulness: Activating Material Information in Computational Design

ch 4 Material Behaviour: Embedding Physical Properties in Computational Design Processes

ch 5 Material Capacity: Embedded Responsiveness

ch 6 Physical Drivers: Synthesis of Evolutionary Developments and Force?]Driven Design

ch 7 Design to Self?]Assembly

ch 8 Aggregate Structures: Material and Machine Computation of Designed Granular Substances

ch 9 Living Systems: Designing Growth in Baubotanik

ch 10 Programming Matter

ch 11 Material Articulation: Computing and Constructing Continuous Differentiation

ch 12 Material, Form and Force

ch 13 Engineering Integration: Real?]Time Approaches to Performative Computational Design

ch 14 Manufacturing Reciprocities

ch 15 The Role of Additive Manufacturing and Physiomimetic Computational Design for Digital Construction

ch 16 Distinguishing Between the Drawn and the Made