Educating Designers on Computational Design and Robotics Can Make Architecture and Construction More Sustainable

Educating Designers on Computational Design and Robotics Can Make Architecture and Construction More Sustainable

The Advanced Master “Design by Data” program in Computation Design & Robotics for Architecture and Construction was launched in 2016 and is one of the latest programs in innovative professional education at Ecole des Ponts ParisTech. The program was designed to meet the increasing need for the professional sectors of architecture and engineering to combine architectural skills with creative engineering. Design by Data trains professionals to master advanced design tools (coding, algorithmic approach, artificial intelligence) as well as digital manufacturing and design processes (robotics, 3D printing, electronics and mechatronics) and apply them to architectural and construction projects.

About the Program 

Attendees develop their knowledge in digital culture, advanced mathematics and computational strategies, building on a skill set of digital tools and innovative structural design as well as modelling and managing complex geometries. In addition to the core curriculum, students are also trained in parametric design and participate in two week-long seminars (the first on imaging and AI, the second on an agent-based design approach) as well as a Research Studio once per month in which they need to define and develop their Research Project. Attendees benefit from year-long access to a rich ecosystem, including the research faculty of École des Ponts ParisTech, professionals in the field and internationally renowned experts from other countries.

Ecole des Ponts ParisTech Master’s classes have a strong international dimension with more than 15 nationalities represented. The majority of the students have architectural or engineering backgrounds, but the Academic Board pays particular attention to also selecting atypical candidates (artists, designers and real estate professionals), who contribute to the diverse interactions among students.

Applications for the 5th Edition Open

The program just opened applications for the 5th edition that will begin in Paris in September 2020. With more than 3 classed of designers now graduated from the program, the academic team is looking back to evaluate the program's achievements by analyzing where students landed for their careers after finishing the degree.

Hôtel de la Marine by Hugh Dutton Associés, Design by Data professional partner

Career opportunities after Design by Data degree are mostly in the following three fields: 

  • Architectural design studios and engineering consultancies
    Bonny Nichol, Design by Data alumni, graduated in 2018 and currently works at Hugh Dutton Associés, a firm which predominantly uses computational design tools in the architectural design process and engineering calculations. Within the firm, Bonny combines her background of being a licensed architect (United States) and BIM specialist, with computational design skills learned in the Design by Data Masters. Creating a vital link between computational design tools and software like Revit, Bonny helps her company utilize all types of models received by consultants along with internal models in an effort to create a holistic BIM model.

  • Construction companies and innovative startups
    Zaheed Lokhandwala, Design by Data alumni, graduated in 2018 and currently works at Concreative, Large scale 3D printing in Dubai, a firm operating on XtreeE technology. His role at Concreative is that of an architect who devises computational strategies and parametric design solutions for large scale 3D Concrete Printing. It involves not only designing from scratch for clients but also reverse-engineering designs received from Architects, Engineers, Interior Designers, Product Designers and Artists and optimizing them for 3D concrete printing. Zaheed says about his education, “The 'Design by Data - Mastère Spécialisé' at the prestigious École des Ponts ParisTech had a huge part in me developing the ability to manage this complex set of skills. Design by Data provided me with a cross-disciplinary culture of computational design and comprehensive knowledge in the fields of parametric architecture, robotics, digital manufacturing and 3D printing for the construction industry.”

  • Research
    Some of the students stay on after the degree in the fields of education and/or research. This is the case of Adrien Rigobello, who we interviewed below.

Case Study Student Adrien Rigobello

Early prototype component demonstrating the proposed stay-in-place mould/reinforcement construction approach. Image Courtesy of Phil Ayres / CITA / Fungal Architectures.

Adrien, how did you find out about the program and why did you decide to enroll?

I have always been drawn towards applied arts. In 2015 I started frequenting Volumes Hub in Paris, and the words of Design by Data were laid out in a conference organized there, which definitely piqued my interest. With the executive format of Design by Data, I managed to convince my company and enrolled into this horizon-widening program, along with twelve other incredible soon-to-be friends.

What did the Design by Data experience look like in terms of professional opportunities, educational framework and networking?

The academic team at Design by Data features some of the best computational practitioners out there. The whole learning experience is focused on the student research project, which is very beneficial as one gets to be able to tune his or her learning experience, and combine concepts and methodologies with his or her passions.

What was your Research Project about and which tutors helped you?

I focused on trying to implement a clay-mycelium material to lessen the desiccation rate of clay in optimized geometries (typically 3D printed clay). Aldo Sollazzo, co-director of the MRAC program in IAAC and founder of Noumena was my tutor. He was very helpful in offering opportunities to extend my network, and gave me the support and confidence to go all the way with this research!

How did your professional career change after the program?

After graduation, Ecole des Ponts ParisTech trusted me with the position that they opened to be both the academic coordinator of Design by Data, and the Makerspace manager in the school. A truly great opportunity I must say, that helped me realize that education is basically what drives me the most - along with being part of a highly motivating, young and advanced master’s program.

And now, what's next for you Adrien?

The research laboratory CITA (KADK, Copenhagen) is now starting the EU H2020 funded FUNGAR project to research on the integration of biocomputing within architectures thanks to mycelium. I am so honored to say that I am about to start a PhD on this topic along with the consortium around this research project, within CITA.

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About this author
Cite: Antonia Piñeiro. "Educating Designers on Computational Design and Robotics Can Make Architecture and Construction More Sustainable" 09 Dec 2019. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884
Mortar space truss wall with robotic extrusion (IASS 2019, Form and Forces) by Romain DUBALLET (Design by Data Research Studio Academic Director) with Mahan MOTAMEDI, Nicolas DUCOULOMBIER, Paul CARNEAU, Léo DEMONT, Romain MESNIL, Olivier BAVEREL, Jean-François CARON.


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