Postgraduate Supervision

Embedded PhDs


Xiaoran Huang – 2019

Title: A computational design approach for enhancing precinct walkability: Informing design processes via agent-based modelling [LINK]

PhD by Thesis

Abstract: The main contributions of this research can be summarised in four ways: 1) It examined existing ABM methods and toolboxes and investigate how ABM could integrate with walkability evaluation ; 2) It developed two accessible and flexible ABM prototypes for graduate architects and small design firms; 3) It discovered how to properly set up pedestrian simulation in walkability-prioritised and precinct scale projects; and 4) It investigated how to use ABM tools to inform design decisions in different conceptual proposals and how this could accommodate ever-changing design iterations. This thesis concludes that the proposed computer-aided design approach can demonstrably synergise both pedestrian ABM and walkability indexing into the schematic design process. The inherently flexible design approaches and accessible ABM tools can be adopted by different design practitioners and academics, as well as potentially other disciplines. The integration between advanced digital techniques and speculative design thinking can expand the realm of the design communities and offer them new possibilities to embrace a design agenda for healthier and more sustainable cities.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [LinkedIn]

Xiaoran is joining North China University of Technology soon as a Lecturer in Architectural Design. His interest lies in parametric design & digital simulation for both architectural and urban scales. His research currently focuses on how to inform design decision via agent-based modelling and how this CAD approach can be implemented for reshaping urban futures.


Philip Belesky – 2018

Title: Testing Terrain: Exploring the Computational Design of Natural Systems in Landscape Architecture [LINK]

PhD by Thesis (Supported by Project)

Abstract:  In technical terms, I identify that current computational design platforms tend to employ geometry as the locus of design resolution and data propagation. In doing so they marginalise many informal or aformal landscape conditions and thus limit the scope of modelling. I explore alternatives through a process of tool-making that tests how to create interoperable procedures that each represent different aspects of landscape systems. In many cases, the encapsulation of computational procedures — as both machinic instructions and interface affordances — can enact existing landscape architectural theories of representation, ecology, and emergence. This form of instrumentality offers a distinct, valuable, and under-developed form of disciplinary praxis. However, as I highlight, its execution requires successfully negotiating between two modes of abstraction: the representation of computational procedures as software and the representation of landscape architectural design intent as computational procedures. The strategies I develop to align these two forms of representation help create more accessible and flexible computational methods for modelling complex natural systems.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [Weblog] [LinkedIn]

Philip is now the Program Manager of the Master of Landscape Architecture in the Landscape Architecture Discipline at RMIT University in Melbourne.  He teaches into that program and into the Bachelor of Landscape Architectural Design. He taught at the University of Melbourne and Victoria University of Wellington and have also worked as a consulting computational designer in architectural practice, and as a developer at various web agencies and start-ups.


Rafael Moya – 2015

Title: Wind analysis in the early design stage: an empirical study of wind visualisation techniques for architects [LINK]

PhD by Project

Abstract: The aim of this research is to investigate, through empirical wind visualisation studies and architectural explorations of windbreaks, the CFD-PST and other techniques for rapid wind visualisation, in order to evaluate their efficacy for architects’ practice in the early design stage. The results of this research present an evaluation of these wind visualisation technologies as a clear hierarchy of efficacy for rapid feedback, regarding requirements of visualisation complexity and extension of generation process. In addition, the study suggests architectural protocols for rapid visualisation and feedback in design process workflows. Finally, this research examines design rules of aerodynamic features, through rapid wind visualisation, to improve architectural exploration of windbreak design, for outdoor microclimatic control.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [LinkedIn]

He is co-founder and CEO of Rental4me in Chile, a a PropTech Start up that explores technological innovation for the real state industry. In Rental4me they have developed a platform for lodging reservations management, based on blockchain, for real state websites, working to modernise the rental industry in Chile and Latin America.


Anthony Pelosi – 2015

Title: Distance: A framework for improving spatial cognition within digital architectural models [LINK]

PhD by Project

Abstract: In this exegesis, I investigate the need for improvements to navigation tools and locational awareness within digital architectural models so that users’ spatial cognition can be enhanced. Evidence shows that navigation and disorientation are common problems within digital architectural models, often impairing spatial cognition. When a designer or contractor explores a completed digital architectural model for the first time, it can be a progressively frustrating experience, often leading to the creation of an incorrect cognitive map of the building design. In this exegesis, I use a reflective practice research method across three project-based design investigations. I draw on aspects of architectural communication, human–computer interaction, and spatial cognition. The first investigation, Translation projects, explores the transformation of two-dimensional drawing conventions into three-dimensional interactive digital models, exposing the need for improved navigation and wayfinding. The second investigation, a series of artificial intelligence navigation projects, explores navigation methods to aid spatial cognition by providing tools that help to visualise the navigation process, paths to travel, and paths travelled. The third and final investigation, Distance projects, demonstrates the benefits of productive transition in the creation of cognitive maps. During the transition, assistance is given to aid the estimation of distance. The original contribution to knowledge that this research establishes is a framework for navigation tools and wayshowing strategies for improving spatial cognition within digital architectural models. The consideration of wayshowing methods, focusing on spatial transitions beyond predefined views of the digital model, provides a strong method for aiding users to construct comprehensive cognitive maps. This research addresses the undeveloped field of aiding distance estimation inside digital architectural models. I argue that there is a need to improve spatial cognition by understanding distance, detail, data, and design when reviewing digital architectural models.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [LinkedIn]

He is now director at Innovation Workshop (NZ), a private Architecture and Planning practice that develops innovative ideas as working solutions to re-define NZ’s Architecture, Engineering, and Construction industries.


Corneel Cannaerts – 2015

Title: Negotiating agency: computation and digital fabrication as design media [LINK]

PhD by Project

Abstract: My research investigates agency of computation and digital fabrication and its influence on the making and materiality in architecture and design.
Recent developments in the computation and digital fabrication have made these technologies increasingly accessible to architects and designers in practice and academia, taking it from a rare novelty to a ubiquitous part of design practice. This has opened up a field of design exploration and brought material-making and materiality to the centre of attention in computational design, affording designers control over production processes at unseen scales and resolutions.
The discourse in this field tends to stress the positivist impact of these technologies – better integrated workflows, higher precision, uninterrupted flow from design intent to material artefacts – describing them as transparent and neutral. The practice of working with computation and digital fabrication in design differs from these idealised processes: materials can misbehave, computer code inherits a world-view and assumptions based on engineering and geometry, machines have limits and depend on specific material supply chains. My research investigates the extent to which this difference reveals the agencies of materials, computation and fabrication, and tests the extent to which this can lead to new creative opportunities.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [LinkedIn]

He is currently researching and lecturing at the Faculty of Architecture of the KU Leuven in Belgium. He is also post doctoral fellow since October 2017 at KU Leuven.


Alex Peña de Leon – 2014

Title: Separation of Concerns: strategies for complex parametric design modelling [LINK]

PhD by Thesis (Supported by Project)

Abstract: This thesis considers the extent to which conventional parametric technologies de-augment the traditional process of design delivery. The design delivery process aided with parametrically enabled technologies can allow architectural practices to manage higher levels of complexity, stricter design guidelines and tighter design schedules compared to the design delivery process unaided by parametric technologies. But while the benefits of these technologies are higher than their drawbacks, this enhanced delivery process is not devoid of risks and imperfections. This thesis deals with strategies to manage these inflexibilities through the use of existing technology and knowledge available to design professionals today. The adoption of parametrically enabled technologies by design professionals is a necessary step into advancing design practice to more complex project work, but the adoption of these technologies must be taken with caution.

The introduction of parametrically enabled technologies into the design practice has the potential to introduce an unwanted creative “bottleneck” during crucial decision making moments of an advanced architectural project. For these reasons parametric design modelling alone will not be sufficient in supporting designers through the delivery process of geometrically complex buildings. Parametric design software and its associated design protocol impede architects in the flexible management of changes throughout the lifetime of a project. This thesis will explore and compare two strategies to overcome the inflexibility of parametric modelling systems. These strategies have been developed through the use of a mixed-methods research methodology which combines the action research method with the case-study method.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [LinkedIn]

He was a senior designer at Himmelzimmer, an architectural design practice in Melbourne and he was also associate designer at Foster and Partners in London, UK, for three years since 2014.


Elif Kendir Beraha – 2014

Title: Learning from the construction site: an epistemological investigation of stonemasons and architects in action [LINK]

PhD by Thesis 

Abstract: Making buildings is first and foremost a situated activity: it is on the site of construction that the abstract design concept comes into contact with the messy world of matter. In order to observe and analyse the interplay between material entities, physical environments and human actors in situ at the resolution stage of the design process, this thesis adopts a post-humanistic stance, where inanimate things as well as human actors are considered to possess agency. Using insights gathered from Actor-network theory (ANT) to direct the investigation, the thesis highlights the role of physical sites as active agents in the generation and accumulation of architectural knowledge.

In the data gathered for this thesis, the site is found to operate in the design process in three key ways: as repository – a provider of design knowledge coded within the existing built environment; as resource – a provider of materials and skills; and as the observation platform for the assessment of the built artefact unfolding in time, interacting with natural elements and patterns of use. Although most of the work in this thesis centres on the accounts of the practice of human actors, the findings contest the notion of humans being completely in charge, and reveal the vital impact of a non-human actor, the site, that literally and metaphorically grounds the design process by acting as a framework for the generation, assessment and handing down of architectural knowledge.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [Weblog] [LinkedIn]

She is the Faculty of Architecture in Istanbul Bilgi University where she has organised and contributed to “Vernal Workshops”, and organised a conversation series entitled “Tectonic Conversations” alongside her elective course called “Tectonic Translations” since 2013. Her artwork has been exhibited in Turkey, Canada, Australia, Holland and Belgium.


Daniel Davis – 2013

Title: Modelled on software engineering: flexible parametric models in the practice of architecture. [LINK]

PhD by Thesis (Supported by Project)

Abstract: It is difficult to create a parametric model that remains flexible throughout an architectural project. This hinders the application of parametric models, causes delays to projects and remains a problem despite the widespread adoption of parametric modelling in architectural practice. The aim of this research is to articulate the characteristic structure of flexible parametric models. It proposed three alternative model structures and, using a research through practice methodology, evaluates these in relation to incumbent methods. Case studies are nearing completion and the durable record is beginning production.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [Weblog] [LinkedIn]

He now lives in New York and works as a researcher for Hassell. Previously he was the Director of Research at WeWork, and before that, he was a senior researcher at CASE and spent seven years moonlighting as part of the design team completing Antoni Gaudí’s Sagrada Família.


Chin Koi Khoo – 2013

Title: Designing Soft Responsive Kinetic System for Architectural Morphing Skins [LINK]

PhD by Project

Abstract: This research discusses the issues of designing dynamic architectural skins that are able to adapt to changing conditions. To achieve this architectural vision many designers focus on developing ‘hard’ mechanical joints, components, and systems for actuation and kinetic transformation. However, the unexplored ‘soft’ approach using lightweight elastic form-changing materials provides an opportunity for designing responsive Architectural Morphins Skins (AMSs). This research aims to develop elastic modular systems that can be applied as ‘second skin’ and used to retrofit existing buildings. The use of the ‘second skin’ in existing buildings can facilitate better building performance in various climate conditions and provides a visually compelling surface. This approach is evaluated for its potential to serve two fundamental purposes: Communication and Comfort. This is investigated through four project-based modules. The significance of this research is that it offers a novel practical method for designing responsive AMSs to moderate air ventilation, manipulate sunlight and act as an active shading device. This research develops an early framework for AMSs with a mix of passive and active design strategies.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [LinkedIn]

He is now Lecturer in Architecture (Digital Design) at Deakin University. He is teaching at Deakin University in Melbourne since October 2014.


Malte Wagenfeld – 2013

Title: Aesthetics of Air [LINK]

PhD by Project

Abstract: This research project questions the now widespread practice of controlling and standardizing interior climates, the consequence of which has been the construction of interior spaces that are hermetically sealed from their atmospheric geography and related phenomena, and largely neutralized in terms of any complex physiological experiences. The origins of this practice and the prevailing notion of ‘comfort’ are interrogated and alternative approaches, and relationships to climate and interior atmosphere, contemporary and from across history and cultures, are discussed. The project then proposes how we can form an alternative relationship to interior atmospheres and the design challenges and opportunities such an approach presents.

A key hypothesis is that the qualities of air we experience in a ‘pleasurable’ outdoor environment hold important clues as to how we can shape interior atmospheres. Through a series of projects, atmospheric phenomena and our physiological and psychological relationship to atmosphere is explored. Revealed is a surprisingly complex and dynamic atmospheric system of phenomena, which is in constant flux. It is argued that it is precisely these transient and highly randomised phenomena carrying perceptual effect that are the key to designing interior atmospheres, which are sensuous, pleasurable and engender delight.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [LinkedIn]

Malte is senior Lecturer in the Architecture and Design program at RMIT. he is a design practitioner, academic, artist, curator and researcher.


Sascha Bohnenberger – 2013

Title: Material exploration and engagement: Strategies for investigating how multifunctional materials can be used as design drivers in architecture [LINK]

Industry Embedded PhD by Thesis (Supported by Project)

Abstract: Since the early 2000s, primarily research-based projects have focused on the use of new materials such as shape-memory alloys, light-emitting diodes (LED), film-encased photovoltaic cells and thermochromic paints. These materials offer a wide range of outstanding possibilities to the construction industry through their capacity to sense and respond to external environmental stimuli. However, the advent of smart materials – multifunctional materials that are designed by chemists, physicists and biologists – pose challenges for design practices exploring such innovations. Given the rich potential of these emerging materials and technologies for architecture, I was intrigued to know: what is necessary to introduce these materials in architecture?
In this thesis, I report on design strategies that involve extrinsic and intrinsic material properties. My research strategies included the use of digital design tools, physical computing and haptic-intuitive workflows in order to bypass a lengthy iterative design and analysis process through rapid intuitive feedback.

My research demonstrates the necessity of both a digital and physical interaction with previously little- or un-used engineered advanced materials, if the use of those materials is to drive change in the overall material system. This proposition is developed and tested by practice-based research and design explorations. Centred on the idea of material-driven design processes, my research addresses the work of architects, engineers and materials scientists and locates opportunities for working together within a trans-disciplinary environment. Having direct interaction with materials and their behaviours generates an awareness of the material possibilities that enables architects to engage with engineers and materials scientists. In considering both theoretical and practical implications, my research contributes to the discussion of multifunctional materials as they emerge and their applications within architecture.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [LinkedIn]

Sascha is currently lecturer at School of Design, Swinburne University of Technology (Melbourne). He is also Managing Director of BollingerGrohmann Engineers Pty Ltd Since 2014 and responsible for the project management and supervision of the project work in Australia.


Peta Carlin – 2012

Title: On Semperian Surfaces: Interweavings between the Mid-Twentieth Century Curtain Wall and Harris Tweed, a Study Mediated by Photography. [LINK]

PhD by Thesis (Supported by Project)

Abstract: In the images that compose urban Fabric lay dormant webs of Harris Tweed in the midst of facades of melbourne’s mid-twentieth century corporate architecture, recalling architecture’s purported textile origins. Through the photographic capturing of the buildings’ likenesses, and removal from their streetscapes and surrounds, their physiognomic features gain prominence and the patternational of their weave becomes distinguishable, summoning the Hebridean check to the light, each, the building type and the tweed renowned for their endless variation and its repetition. Photographic images, mobile surface renditions, interweave between city and country, between the Outer Hebrides and Melbourne, as we ourselves routinely weave through the city streets we inhabit collecting its traces like threads, its fabric both clothing us and enclosing us, latent images revealing amidst the everyday, the unplumbed richness of place through association and connection. Shifts between scales, movements between locales, translations between media, variation in application, weaving in between, all the while dressing.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [Weblog] [LinkedIn]

Peta Carlin is an artist, designer and essayist. She is currently Associate Professor in Architecture in Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou, China.


Jerome Frumar – 2012

Title: Computation and Material Practice in Architecture [LINK]

PhD by Project

Abstract: His research explores whether computation and CNC manufacturing can support more informed design methods and better integrated production processes in architecture. He identifies the critical factors involved in pursuing this goal and elaborate on an integral computational methodology capable of enhancing the bond between designing and making in architecture. His hypothesis proposes that digitally mediated design and manufacturing can strengthen the relationship between intention and execution by enabling closer engagement with fabrication during early design exploration, and by supporting more informed decision making via dynamic design representations with embedded material intelligence. This hypothesis is developed and tested through project-led research.

As a group the projects contribute towards a better understanding of how digital technologies might be employed by architects to enhance and expand design to production processes, and shed light on some of the technical, cultural and philosophical implications of a deeper engagement with materials and processes of making within the discipline of architecture. His research concludes that new kinds of interactive simulation and evaluation tools, as well as access to digital fabrication technologies, enables an accelerated generation, evaluation and calibration process during early design exploration. This mutually informed digital-material feedback loop makes it possible to rapidly develop acute material intuition, and consequently to conceive new kinds of architectural systems and materialisation strategies, which could lead to better use of available resources, more innovative design and a stronger bond between intent and outcome through more streamlined design to production processes. The digitally supported materially informed methodology that he outlines encourages a shift in design process and attitude, away from a visually driven mode of architectural composition towards material practice – an approach in which the self-organising logic of materials and the logistics of materialisation are used to actively inform design exploration, refinement and construction processes.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [LinkedIn]

Jerome is director of Mesne Design Studio, based in Melbourne, since 2005.


Tim Schork – 2012

Title:  Transformations: A Project-Based Investigation Into The Impact Of Creative Design Computation On Architectural Practice [LINK]

PhD by Project

Abstract: This PhD responds to a twofold problem with the status of existing predominant design software within architectural practice. The first part of the problem is philosophical. It is centered around the discrepancy between a new worldview, based on emergent relational phenomena, dynamics and behaviours, and the state of existing design software tailored for the profession, based on determinacy, statics and geometry. Proposing these inter-relations and their interdependencies as an important novel paradigm of design, this research argues that it is paramount for the design profession to adequately engage with and respond to a world defined by constant flux. This engagement requires the development and deployment of different set of techniques and design tools to those traditionally employed in the design field. The second part of the problem is cultural and concerns artistic creativity and design innovation. What can designers do when existing tools fail to grow with artistic ideas and designers reach the limits of readymade software? A possible solution to this problem is for designers to
actively engage in the design of bespoke design software.

Employing a research methodology of research through design this PhD first provides an introduction to the conceptual framework and then tests this claim by reviewing relevant literature and critically examining a series of case-studies that involved the development of bespoke computational design tools that enable dynamic modeling, collaborative and transdisciplinary processes as a means through which time-based complex systems can be ‘made present’, engaged with and designed through. The research concludes with a discussion on the transformative effects and its implications for future creative design practice.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [LinkedIn]

Dr. Tim Schork is currently Associate Head of School of Architecture, Faculty of Design Architecture and Building at University of Technology Sydney. He was previously a senior lecturer in Architectural Design in Monash University and he is co-founder and director of Mesne Design Studio.


James Bruce Gardiner – 2011

Title: Exploring the Emerging Design Territory of Construction 3D printing – Project Led Architectural Research [Link]

PhD by Project

Abstract: 3D printing techniques (also known as additive fabrication) are maturing and increasingly being used as an alternative means for niche product manufacturing. These fabrication techniques are now being scaled up and adapted for full-scale fabrication within the construction industry. While it has been suggested that construction 3D printing (fabrication of construction elements using scaled up 3D printing machines) could lead to significant advances within the construction industry, there are currently few examples of how such advances could be achieved at a building scale.

Although there has been significant effort invested in the development of construction 3D printing techniques, little detailed architectural design exploration has been published to establish methods for its application within the construction industry. My central proposition is that further detailed architectural exploration, focused on design for construction 3D printing combined with off-site fabrication methods and digital design tools, is necessary to tease out the potentials and limitations of construction 3D printing techniques.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [LinkedIn]

Upon completing his PhD, he became Principal inventor and project lead for the FreeFAB suite of projects, including FreeFAB Wax, with Laing O’Rourke over a 6 year period. He then founded Fahn Studio, based in Sydney, Australia, in Oct 2017. He is pioneer in the field of Construction 3D Printing with 13 patents and a successfully implemented large scale 3D print system in use in the UK.


Drew Williamson – 2011

Title: Communicating cost: challenging cost barriers to innovation in architecture. [LINK]

Industry Embedded PhD by Thesis (Supported by Project)

Abstract: The central proposition of the thesis is that design computing allows architects to gain a better understanding of how their virtual ideas are realised with innovative approaches challenging traditional delivery and construction methods. By improving the shared understanding of the design idea, digital processes can alleviate much of the uncertainty that causes the addition of cost premiums in the estimation of construction costs.

Digital processes cannot achieve this alone however. They need to be augmented by a reconsideration of the roles and responsibilities of the professions delivering design services for construction. In reformulating the rules of engagement for project delivery, the requirement for transparency and accountability in the delivery of public projects needs to be addressed. The key to improving the management of others’ perceptions of risk is fundamentally one of communication, consultation and involvement in decision-making. My research therefore explores how restructuring professional interaction and project delivery using digital processes enhances innovation in design. The thesis therefore proposes an active role for the architectural designer in harnessing cost constraints as a design parameter.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [LinkedIn]

Dr Drew Williamson is currently Industry Fellow for Architecture and Director of Campus Space, Swinburne Architectural Design. Before this, he was Senior Associate/Project Architect at Award-winning Australian architecture firm McBride Charles Ryan for over 15 years.


Andrew Maher – 2011

Title: Designing the design: establishing boundary conditions for designing parametrically. [LINK]

Industry Embedded PhD by Project

Abstract: The 40 year period since the computer was introduced to architectural praxis has produced a number of histories of its development and use, spanning the technical and social. A common and much discussed topic amongst these histories, has been the remarkable resistance computing has met to its adoption in architecture. During the past two decades, the use of the computer has become well entrenched within architectural practice. Many tasks such as office administration and project management have been accommodated through the use and adaptation of common business software. Architects and especially students of architecture have also made use of the software that revolutionised the printing and pre-print industries, for display and presentation of their work. However, the core practice of architecture, that of designing and describing buildings has only partly been aided through the introduction of computers and software which runs on them.

More recently another form of software in which form is indirectly controlled through the definition of parameters and application of constraints is being adopted in architectural design. It is known as parametric software and with its history in mechanical engineering and originally developed for the aerospace and manufacturing industries, in architecture it offers as many challenges as opportunities in its use. In fact one of the pioneers of computing in architecture, Charles Eastman has said ‘The expertise regarding rules for parametric boundary conditions is not widely available and will become a growing area of research’ (Sacks, Eastman & Lee 2004)
The aim of this research is to establish some of the boundary conditions for designing parametrically in architectural praxis.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [LinkedIn]

Dr Andrew Maher is Chief Digital Officer at Aurecon, based in Melbourne, Australia, since 2015. He is also Director of ELARA, an Artificial Intelligence platform since July 2019. Before that he was Arup University Leader for near 2 years and Arup Digital Innovation Leader for over 7 years.


Rory Hyde – 2010

Title: Punching above your weight: digital tools, design strategies and organisational structures for expanding design in small practice [LINK]

Industry Embedded PhD by Thesis (Supported by Project)

Abstract: The title of this work, ‘punching above your weight’, is a phrase native to boxing, where it is used to describe fighting at a level better than is expected of one’s division. It is used here in the context of architecture to describe a kind of practice that embodies these qualities, by delivering trim efficiency and power that would be expected of a larger organisation.  This thesis explores the characteristics that might make up such a practice, by focusing on the dual core aspects of an architectural practice’s working methods: design strategies and organisation structures.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [Weblog] [LinkedIn]

He is currently Curator of Contemporary Architecture and Urbanism at the Victoria and Albert Museum; Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne; and a Design Advocate for the Mayor of London.


Errol Tout – 2010

Title: Spatial Representation in Architecture: Spatial Communication Through the Use of Sound. [LINK]

PhD by Project

Abstract: This PhD concerns itself with sound and not music. There is a difference. I suggest that music is what we can make when we take sounds and direct them toward an objective. Sound can be organized in a certain way to create music; sound being the raw material that we manipulate to create the music. Music including commercial/classical/popular is normally considered to possess a structure, verses, choruses, harmony, melody, and so on, whereas sound does not. There is a slight blurring between music and sound in that digital technology is effecting how music may be constructed, notated and performed. The manner in which samplers can change a sound and direct it toward a musical end3 is one example of such blurring. The sound pieces made for this PhD are not captured in standard notation and they do not exhibit any of the standard western compositional forms of pop song, dance, symphony, or sonata. They are not to be approached as pieces of music they are aural representations of space. This PhD is in accord with Rasmussen’s (1962) thoughts as published in Grueneisen (2003) Can Architecture be heard?

Latest update on post-PhD career: [Weblog

Dr Errol Tout is a former senior lecturer at Curtin University, and former Design Studio Coordinator at The University of Western Australia. He is currently following his interest in music and living in Perth, Australia.


Sarah Benton – 2008

Title: The Architectural Designer and their Digital Media [LINK]

Industry Embedded PhD by Thesis (Supported by Project)

Abstract: This research investigates the relationship between the architectural designer and the use he/she makes of digital media as part of their design process. My principal research-question is what is the advantage of including digital media as part of the designers’ ‘toolset’ in the early stages of design? The context is a mid-sized Australian architectural practice. The study considers the nature of architectural designing as a creative activity and the extent to which advantages could be gained by including digital media as part of the designers’ ‘toolset’ in the early stages of design.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [LinkedIn

Dr Benton is currently an architect at 3XN/GXN. Her post-PhD professional experiences includes associate architect at Grimshaw for more than 4 years, lecturer at UNSW for almost two years, architect at Bates Smart for near three years and lecturer at University of Sydney for 2 years.


Dominik Holzer – 2009

Title: Sense-making across collaborating disciplines in the early stages of architectural design [LINK]

Industry Embedded PhD by Thesis (Supported by Project)

Abstract: In my PhD thesis I raise the claim that a main ingredient to successful design collaboration in architecture and engineering is to make sense out of the information that is provided by designers and consultants as early and comprehensively as possible.
The design of buildings has become a task with such a level of complexity that a social effort is required to coordinate and integrate the various worldviews of disciplines involved. In my research I first analyse obstacles to sense-making across collaborating disciplines by investigating the worldviews and priorities of the main parties involved in the design of buildings. I then propose novel ways for exchanging knowledge and generating common understanding between design professionals during early design and I introduce the process of optioneering as one possible method to assist architectural and engineering work practice. I present my work on the computational framework DesignLink that allows users from varying professional backgrounds to gather, evaluate and compare their data for design decision making in teams.
In order to address the above issues, I have embedded myself in the engineering firm Arup in their Sydney and Melbourne offices. There, I have examined methods for communicating and integrating aspects of building performance between designers and design consultants over a period of three years. As part of my research at Arup, I have gained an understanding about the everyday requirements of design professionals for sense-making in collaborative practice.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [Website] [LinkedIn]

Dr Dominik Holzer is Associate Professor in Digital Architectural Design at the University of Melbourne since 2013. He is a leading BIM expert, consulting with design and construction firms in Australia and the current member and former chair of the BIM and IPD Steering Group of the Australian Institute of Architecture and Consult Australia. He is also co-founder of AEC Connect, Design Technology, Digital Engineering, and BIM consultancy, in 2009. By now, it has become one of the leading Australian firms offering support for Digital Transformation in the Australian construction sector.


Marcus White – 2008

Title: Informing an Integrated and Sustainable Urbanism through Rapid, Defragmented Analysis and Design. [LINK]

Industry Embedded PhD by Thesis (Supported by Project)

Abstract:  Urban design has splintered into increasingly narrow specialist disciplines since the mid Twentieth Century. Traffic engineers, statutory planners, civil engineers, landscape architects and architects each make specific but isolated contributions to urban design frameworks. Predominantly, these documents consist of text and two-dimensional representations, occasionally with specious perspective images produced by a hand rendering specialist. This fragmented and sequential design approach no longer addresses contemporary social aims, practice constraints or the potential of digital design techniques, particularly in light of increasing fears of an imminent environmental crisis and peak oil, and concerns for health, amenity and accommodating an increasing population.

The aim of my thesis is to identify and address disparities between contemporary urban design practice and social aspirations for integrated and sustainable cities. The hypothesis tested by my thesis is that the gulf between social aims and practice can be reduced by developing a ‘defragmented’ design approach that uses rapid, parametric, four-dimensional, digital analysis and design techniques, which build upon software commonly available within the industry.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [Weblog] [LinkedIn]

Prof Marcus White has been appointed as the Professor of Urban Design at the Swinburne University of Technology since January 2018. He is also an award-winning architect and urban designer, co-director of Harrison and White architectural practice founded in 2006. He was previously Master of Urban Design Program Coordinator, Assistant Dean IT and Senior Lecturer at University of Melbourne.


Paul Nicholas – 2008

Title: Approaches to interdependency: early design exploration across architectural and engineering domains [LINK]

Industry Embedded PhD by Thesis (Supported by Project)

Abstract: While 3D digital design tools have extended the reach of architectural and engineering designers within their own domains, restrictions on the use of the tools and an approach to practice whereby the architect designs (synthesises) and the engineer solves (analyses) – in that order – have limited the opportunities for interdependent modes of interaction between the two disciplines during the early design phase. While it is suggested that 3D digital design tools can facilitate a more integrated approach to design exploration, this idea remains largely untested in practice.

The central proposition of my research is that that 3D digital tools can enable interdependencies between crucial aspects of architectural and engineering design exploration during the early design phase which, before the entry of the computer, were otherwise impossible to affect. I define interdependency as a productive form of practice enabled by mutual and lateral dependence. Interdependent parties use problem solving processes that meet not only their own respective goals, but also those of others, by constructively engaging difference across their boundaries to actively search for solutions that go beyond the limits of singular domains. Developed through practice-based project work undertaken during my 3 year postgraduate internship within the Melbourne Australia office of the engineering firm Arup, my research explores new and improved linkages between early design exploration, analysis and making. The principal contribution of my research is to explore this problem from within the context, conditions and pressures of live practice.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [LinkedIn]

Dr Paul Nicholas is founding practice partner of MESNE, architecture and urban design studio and joined the Center for Information Technology and Architecture (CITA), Copenhagen as adjunct Professor in 2011. He is currently Associate Professor at Kunstakademiets Arkitektskole, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture.


Thomas Fischer – 2008

Title: Designing (tools (for designing (tools (for …)))) [LINK]

PhD by Thesis 

Abstract: Outcomes of innovative designing are frequently described as enabling us in achieving more desirable futures. How can we design and innovate so as to enable future processes of design and innovation? To investigate this question, this thesis probes the conditions, possibilities and limitations of toolmaking for novelty and knowledge generation, or in other words, it examines designing for designing.

The focus of this thesis is on the development of digital design tools that support the reconciliation of conflicting criteria centred on architectural geometry. Of particular interest are the roles of methodological approaches and of biological analogies as guides in toolmaking for design, as well as the possibility of gener- alising design tools beyond the contexts from which they originate. The presented investigation consists of an applied toolmaking study and a subsequent reflective analysis using second-order cybernetics as a theoretical framework.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [LinkedIn]

Thomas Fischer is a Professor and Director of Research at the Department of Architecture Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou, China since July 2011. He is also Executive Board Member of American Society for Cybernetics (ASC) for over 12 years. He was also Visiting Associate Professor at Institute of Creative Industries Design, National Cheng Kung University, and Assistant Professor at School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University for almost 10 years.


Timothy J. Jachna – 2008

Title: Approaches to the Mediated City [LINK]

PhD by Thesis

Abstract: Digital mediation of urban spatial practice affects the way cities are planned, perceived and ‘performed’, as manifested in computer-supported urban planning and simulations, and also in the reconfiguration of patterns of urban behaviour and experience through day-to-day use of the Internet and cellular phone systems by urban citizens. I conceptually unify this broad range of digitally-mediated practices under the term “the mediated city”, and propose that the ways in which urban actors are appropriating these technologies has the potential to transform not just the practices that take place within the city but the very processes of the genesis of built urban space.

I articulate a theoretical framework that encapsulates the various modes of actually existing digitally-mediated urban spatial practice in the three realms of mediated urban life, mediated urban design and mediated urban planning and establish a genealogy of ideas and actions linking the theory and practice of this emerging milieu to interface theory and practice and urban theory and practice. I apply grounded theory methodology to gain an understanding of current mediated urban spatial practice, based upon which I construct and illustrate a conceptual model of the mediated city.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [LinkedIn]

Dr Timothy Jachna appointed as dean to lead University of Cincinnati’s renowned College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning in September 2018 (Cincinnati, Ohio, USA). Formerly, he was faculty member and associate dean at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University for more than 16 years. Prior to his PhD, he was Design Director at LANGHOF Architecture and Urban Planning, Berlin, Germany.


Matthias Hank Haeusler – 2007

Title: Spatial Dynamic Media System – Amalgam of form and image through use of a 3D light-point matrix to deliver a content-driven zone in real-time. [LINK]

PhD by Project

Abstract: The core project within my PhD research has been the development of a system as an extension of existing media facades that allows me to test the representation of information and ideas as ?form? within space that is constantly generated and regenerated as a result of fresh input. The hypothesis of my PhD is that this real time reconfiguration of space using light offers a variety of new perceptions ranging from information sharing to public art never experienced previously. During my research, I have established an extensive body of evidence that points to a growing scholarship around the details and impacts of media façade technological developments and the content displayed on them. In the thesis I define the boundaries of these technology shifts and enhanced content combinations limited to 2 dimensions. In my research I consider the technical and media implications of extending conventional 2D screens which are limited currently to architectural cladding into a 3D matrix or voxel facade thereby causing an alteration to spatial perception through the content animating the voxel matrix.

Latest update on post-PhD career: [LinkedIn] [Website]

Associate Professor M. Hank Haeusler is the Director of Computational Design in the Australian School of Architecture + Design at the University of NSW, Sydney. He has lectured intensively in Europe, Asia, North America and Australia at several universities including SciArc Los Angeles, ETH Zurich, TU Munich, Academy of Fine Arts Stuttgart, University of Hong Kong and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Copenhagen. He is a board member of the Media Architecture Institute Vienna / Sydney and curated several international summits and exhibitions with the Institute. Matthias is also head of Research, Foresight and Innovation at Giraffe Technology (a digital platform of city information, developed and founded in 2018).


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