DCG was created in part due to the growing number of research projects being developed at the Faculty of Architecture that are dedicated to design computation. For every project to grow, it is important that it creates connections, namely to other projects in the field, as well as its dissemination.

Here we present the research projects currently being developed, as well as previous researches – some of which are referenced in current projects.

Alberti Digital

Tradition and innovation in the architectural theory and practice in Portugal

The Alberti Digital is a research project funded by FCT, and it results from collaboration among several institutions. Based in Center for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, it also involves researchers from the University of Lisbon, namely the Faculty of Architecture, INESC-ID. The project is coordinated by Professor Mário Krüger and Professor José Pinto Duarte.

It aims at proving the influence of the Italian Renaissance architect Leon Battista Alberti in the Portuguese religious architecture. and to trace that influence by using, on the one hand, a computational environment to construct a generative shape grammar to formally decode the treatise originally published in 1485 without illustrations, but also to grasp its influence on Portuguese architecture using the apparatus given by the shape grammar. Furthermore, the shape grammar apparatus enables us to understand the transformations between the treatise and the buildings designed and built in Portugal and overseas.

Research topics: shape grammars, parametric modeling, digital fabrication

Researchers involved: José Pinto Duarte, Filipe Coutinho, Eduardo Castro e Costa, Luís Mateus, Victor Ferreira

City Induction

A generative urban design research project, supported by FCT

(2008 – 2011)

Urban planning and design have a considerable impact on the economic performance of cities and on the quality of life of the population. Efficiency at this level is hampered by the lack of integrated instruments for formulating, generating, and evaluating urban plans. This chapter describes the theoretical foundations of a research project, called City Induction, aimed at the creation of a model for the development of such an instrument, departing from existing theories, which are integrated through a discursive grammar. The proposed model is composed of three sub-models: (1) a model for formulating urban programs from the analysis and interpretation of the context, based on Alexander’s pattern language; (2) a model for generating urban plans that match the program, based on Stiny’s shape and description grammars; and (3) a model for evaluating urban plans, that can be used for analyzing, comparing and ranking alternative solutions, departing from Hillier’s space syntax. A common urban space ontology guarantees the syntactic and semantic interoperability among the three sub-models. This ontology will be used to structure and codify information into a Geographic Information System (GIS), which will be the kernel for the computer implementation of the larger model. A CAD system is used to construct 3D models from contextual information stored in the GIS. In short, following Stiny and March’s design machines concept, the goal is to create an urban design machine that is able to produce flexible urban plans at the site planning level.

Researchers involved: José Pinto Duarte, José Nuno Beirão, Nuno Montenegro, Jorge Gil.

Measuring Urbanity

Generative patterns of re­urbanization for sustainable extensive towns.

(2012 –       )

The proposed research tries to addresses the problem of developing sustainable urban solutions for scattered low density territories throughout Portuguese territory by looking at time­tested recurrent design patterns drawn from Portuguese vernacular historical settlements.
The research departs from the hypothesis that Portuguese vernacular settlements contain morphological characteristics that can be captured and reused in new designs. This may be particularly useful for rethinking extensive suburban territories’ densification conditions in order to enhance consistency and sustainability.

In fact, Portuguese contemporary urbanization displays a wide­spread urban sprawl ­ which encourages land­ consuming practices, causes high infrastructural costs and poses new issues to Portuguese urban and regional planning. Low­-density developments and discontinuous urban fabrics hastened the problem of territorial sustainability. The challenge is to rethink, reconfigure and restructure dispersed environments, seeking for new methods of consolidating, densifying and enhancing coherence of existing fabrics rather than expanding their urban footprints.

Research topics: shape grammars, parametric modelling, morphological analysis

Researchers involved: José Pinto Duarte, José Nuno Beirão, Cristina Cavaco, Francesco Orsi, Stefano Fiorito, Pedro Arrobas, Nuno Montenegro.


Digital Mockup: Touching the 3rd dimension

Current architectural visualization software based on virtual environments (VEs) supports mainly 3D animation and automatic navigation. Despite the growing popularity of VEs, they still need to go a long ways to replace or even augment desktop CAD systems in the modeling of 3D scenes. To address this problem requires developing new techniques for multimodal interaction based on hand gestures, more suitable for tasks of traditional 3D modeling devices and make more attractive mixed reality techniques. These techniques, combined with procedural modeling, address the lack of expressiveness or naturalness of conventional CAD operations. To this end we want to create a new design framework combining stereoscopic viewing with modeling, simulation and reactive content. To this end we will work on recognizing bi-manual gestures using 3D sensors acquiring information from follow up body posture using commodity sensors. Such interaction techniques combined with procedural based modeling primitives which extend shape grammars, will allow incremental changes to exploit the advantages of direct 3D manipulation in richer ways.

Research topics: virtual reality, multimodal interaction, procedural modelling, shape grammars

Researchers involved: José Pinto Duarte, Eduardo Castro e Costa, Daniel Mateus, Rui de Klerk