Digital Design and Fabrication 2017

Course Description

Digital Design and Fabrication investigates the transformation of conceptual design to production documentation and manufacturing within contemporary digital media. Situated at the threshold between virtual and physical, design information and artifacts, it is comprised of both design computation methods as well as material fabrication techniques. The course introduces advanced concepts of design computation such as imperative and declarative techniques of design description and analysis for fabrication, computer aided design and manufacturing workflows and technologies of materialization such as conventional fabrication protocols as well as rapid prototyping and numerically controlled manufacturing.


20.211 Introduction to Design Computation

Weekly Schedule

Monday       Lecture            10:00 – 11:00
Monday       Workshop       11:00 – 14:00         Group 1 + 2
Monday       Workshop       15:00 – 18:00        Group 3 + 4

Course Schedule

Classes consist of one-hour lecture per week containing active learning components for all students together LT5 (2.505). In addition the course has a three-hour workshop session, where much of the technical, hands-on material is practiced. Workshop sessions are held twice a week each time for half of the students. These sessions take place at the TT22 (2.311). Students must bring their laptops in workshop sessions. The software used in the class is: Rhino3D, Grasshopper, RhinoCAM, Fusion 360 which is available by IT.

Learning Objectives

  • Apply concepts of imperative (scripting) and declarative (parametric) modelling (CAD/CAM) to create, represent and document architectural design information for production.
  • Apply methods of part and assembly composition (and decomposition) workflows to understand material and manufacturing complexity and select appropriate methods of production.
  • Apply conventional and computer controlled manufacturing methods (cutting, machining and printing) to create physical prototypes to communicate design intent.
  • Apply computer aided design and manufacturing methods to design, produce and present a small scale installation

Measurable Outcomes

  • Evaluate methods of prototyping and fabrication using various technologies (eg. laser and water-jet cutting, machining, 3d printing) in terms of quantitative metrics such as material use/waste, documentation and production time requirements, and qualitative factors such as finishing, affective and visual performance.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the variety of design description, documentation and production methods and technologies in terms of their capabilities and limitations.
  • Respond to the implications of the transformation of design information through various representations (3D/2D, sketches, design/shop drawings and machine files) within the context of provisioning for design-built precision and tolerance.
  • Demonstrate the potential for a creative convergence (or divergence) between original design intent and final outcome through the various phases of representation transformations from design to production mediated thought design computation.


Assignment 01         15%
Assignment 02         15%
Assignment 03         15%
Assignment 04         15% Exam
Assignment 05         15%
Assignment 06         25%

Course Materials

Week 01 Lecture Notes
Course Introduction
Assignment Brief
1,000,000 Lines
Recommended Videos
Timber Products
Workshop Tutorials
Grasshopper Setup
Collection Operations
Signals and Transforms
Sequences and Lists
Week 02 Chinese New Year



Week 03 Lecture Notes
Materials in Design
Computer Numeric Control
Assignment Brief
Generative Casting
Recommended Videos
Casting Processes
Workshop Tutorials
Shopbot Instructions
RhinoCAM to Shopbot
Grasshopper to Shopbot
Shopbot Software
Week 04 Lecture Notes
Fabrication Processes
Assignment Results
1,000,000 Lines
Recommended Videos
CNC Processes
Workshop Tutorials
Shopbot Script
Shopbot Tutorial
RhinoCAM Surfaces
RhinoCAM Engraving
RhinoCAM Profiling
Week 05 Lecture Notes
Classical Geometry
Assignment Brief
Spatial Joints
Fabrication Topics
Recommended Videos
Metal Products
Workshop Tutorials
Profile Cutting
Parallel Finishing
Haas Script
Machining Simulation
Week 06 Lecture Notes
Computational Geometry

Assignment Results
Generative Casting
Recommended Videos
Forming Processes
Workshop Tutorials
Waterjet Script
Geometry Practice
Week 07 Recess Week



Week 08 Lecture Notes
Mid-Term Exam

Assignment Brief
Final Project
Building Bridges
Recommended Videos
Welding Processes
Workshop Tutorials
Fabrication Tutorial
CV and Resume Writing
Week 09 Lecture Notes
Differential Geometry of Curves

Assignment Brief
Rapid Prototyping
Recommended Videos Workshop Tutorials
Rapid Prototyping
Concept Design Review
Week 10 Lecture Notes
Detail Design Building Envelopes

Assignment Results
Spatial Joints
Recommended Videos Workshop Tutorials
Prototype Evaluation
Cutting Stock Script
Week 11 Lecture Notes
Topology and Spatial Configuration

Assignment Results
Mid-Term Exam
Recommended Videos Workshop Tutorials
Production Planning Review
Week 12 Lecture Notes
Rationalization and Optimization

 Assignment Results
Rapid Prototyping
Recommended Videos Workshop Tutorials
Fabrication Works
Week 13 Lecture Notes
Towards Building Information Modeling

Recommended Videos Workshop Tutorials
Assembly Works
Week 14 Final Presentation



Stylianos Dritsas
Course Instructor
Assistant Professor, ASD
Sihan Wang
Teaching Assistant
PhD Student, ASD

Recommended Readings

  • Kolarevic, B. (ed) (2003) Architecture in the Digital Age: Design and Manufacturing, Taylor and Francis Group
  • Schodek, D., Bechthold, M., Griggs, J. K. and Kao, K. (2004) Digital Design and Manufacturing: CAD/CAM Applications in Architecture and Design, Wiley
  • Kolarevic, B and Klinger, K (eds) (2008) Manufacturing Material Effects, Rethinking Design and Making in Architecture, Routledge
  • Gramazio, F. and Kohler, M. (2008) Digital Materiality in Architecture, Lars Muller Publishers
  • Iwamoto, L. (ed) (2009) Digital Fabrications, Princeton Architectural Press
  • Dunn, N. (ed) (2012) Digital Fabrication in Architecture, Laurence King Publishing
  • Howes, P. and Laughlin, Z. (2012) Material Matters: New Materials in Design, Black Dog Publishing
  • Glynn, R. and Sheil, B. (eds) (2012) Fabricate: Making Digital Architecture, Riverside Architectural Press, Riverside Architectural Press
  • Peters, B. and De Kestelier, X. (eds) (2013) Computation Works: The Building Of Algorithmic Thought, Architectural Design, March/April
  • Lefteri, C. (2007) Making It: Manufacturing Techniques for Product Design, Laurence King Publishing
  • Wigginton, M. (1996) Glass in Architecture,Phaidon Press
    Reeser, A. and Schafer, A. (eds) (2004) New Technologies / New Architectures,Praxis Journal, Issue 6
  • Jenkins, D. (ed) (2007) Foster 40 Themes,Prestel
    Sakamoto, T. and Ferre, A. (eds) (2008) From Control to Design: Parametric/Algorithmic Architecture, Actar
  • Littlefield, D. (ed) (2008) Space Craft: Developments in Architectural Computing, RIBA Publishing
  • Fiell, C. and Fiell, P. (2009) Plastic Dreams: Synthetic Visions in Design, Fiell Publishing
  • Peters, B. and Peters, T. (eds) (2013) Inside Smart Geometry: Expanding the Architectural Possibilites of Computational Design, Wiley