Research projects developed by DCG members within their PhD’s are listed here under Theses.

Managing Complexity in Mass Customization through Design Space Subdivision

A Case Study in Ceramic Tableware Design
Eduardo Castro e Costa orientado por José Pinto Duarte, Joaquim Jorge, Paulo Bártolo

Although design is traditionally the métier of designers, nowadays participation in the design process is increasingly shared with end-users. Such transfer of design responsibility happens in various creative fields such as architecture and product design, and in a number of contexts, one of which being mass customization. In the context of mass customization, designs are generated automatically by computer-implemented configurators according to the needs and preferences of the customers, in the quality of non-expert end-users. In modern configurators, those end-users directly explore the customization design space, which corresponds to the set of all possible design solutions.

For those users, the quality of a mass customization experience depends on a balanced design space that provides design variety while avoiding the burden of choice. Such balance is difficult to ensure with traditional configurators. Therefore, we suggest an innovative Design Participation Model towards a more flexible design space management, by modulating the interactions among participants of the design process, namely system designers, designers and end-users. With this model, complex design spaces can be simplified by designers and more easily manipulated by end-users.

In order to experiment with the proposed Design Participation Model, we develop a prototype of a mass customization system focused on ceramic tableware. Reasons for choosing ceramic tableware as a case study include its reduced production cost and the sector’s need for competitiveness against companies manufacturing low-cost products. Implementation of the prototypical system includes the development of generic shape grammars and parametric models, as well as their integration with user interfaces and digital fabrication technology. Gathered insights can be useful for implementing the Design Participation Model in the introduction of mass customization in other areas. For more information, please visit: https://castroecosta.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/ceramyca/

Keywords: shape grammars, parametric modelling, digital fabrication

PhD Dissertation: https://etda.libraries.psu.edu/catalog/14916erc15

Emergence and Composition

The multi-dimensional analysis and design of the public open space
João Ventura Lopes orientado por Alexandra C. Paio (adviser); José Nuno Beirão (co-adviser); Eliana Pinho (co-adviser)

Na sociedade contemporânea o acto projectual é ineludível e a complexidade do contexto urbano desafia os arquitectos a definirem abordagens transdisciplinares inovadoras. O saber e teoria das disciplinas da morfologia urbana e da análise espacial cognitiva-comportamental do espaço público, apesar de interceptarem o dos desenhos urbano, não se encontram integrados. O espaço público requer resiliência, adaptabilidade a comportamentos e padrões de uso cambiantes, e qualidades que possam ser aferidas antecipadamente. A praça e os espaços informais do vazio urbano não classificado, como elementos de excepção e articulação do tecido urbano, são o nosso objecto de estudo. A análise da emergência de singularidades em sistemas planeados e não-planeados, e a aferição de correlações entre parâmetros de qualidade urbana e da análise multidimensional de um corpus desses espaços, ilustrativo da sua variedade no território nacional, alimentará um Modelo de projecto capaz de sintetizar organicamente propostas de reconversão ou criação destas estruturas. Para isso recorreremos a métodos quantitativos e qualitativos de análise formal e espacial e a técnicas computacionais de data mining e de projecto urbano paramétrico e generativo.

Chair DNA

Contributions to the study of the form: development of a computational model applied to the chair
Sara Garcia orientado por Luís Romão

Product classes share the same basic abstract layout, despite its great diversity. This research expects to (de)code the variety of types embedded in the multipurpose chairs class. The contribution relies on the development of a generative design tool, to be used at the conceptual chair design stage.

It is proposed a framework of five stages: (1) sample definition, considering chairs with a large diversity of types; (2) analysis of the syntax and semantics of the class through ontology classification; (3) development of a generic shape grammar, applied to product design; (4) implementation of a digital tool, that provides an interface to manipulate the chair components visualized in a 3D digital model; and (5) user evaluation of the program, in order to take conclusions on the usability and usefulness of the tool and to gain outcomes for further developments.

For more information, please visit: chairdna.wordpress.com


Towards development of a methodology and computational tool to support urban design
Nuno Montenegro orientado por José Pinto Duarte, Paulo Urbano

This thesis describes the development of a model for the formulation of urban programs that includes the creation of a methodology and an associated computational tool, named CityPlan. The content of the research focuses on the development of a planning paradigm supported by computational ontologies, in the context of the “Web Ontology Language” (OWL) technology. Basically CityPlan consists of a “Geographic Information System” based on ontologies (GIS-O).

The main purpose for CityPlan is to help stakeholders in the processes of urban development, to enable the creation of urban intervention programs, benefiting from the advantages of the aforementioned model and technology. With CityPlan, it is possible to semantically annotate an intervention site with knowledge about the land use and the population, and then locate, automatically, a set of collective public facilities according to their specific location rules.

Having identified the main requirements of the plan, it is possible to establish a basic set of appropriate recommendations, to support the creation of spatial planning strategies and consistent urban design alternatives.

Keywords: Urban planning, ontologies, GIS-O, Ontology Web Language, OWL 2.0.

PhD Dissertation: http://hdl.handle.net/10400.5/9852

Github: github.com/jorgemcgomes/4cityplan

Walking in the City

Elif Ensari orientado por Prof. Mine Özkar (ITU), Prof. José Beirão (FAUL)

This research presents a workflow for the semi-automated micro-scale evaluation of streetscapes for walkability, fueled by the motivation to inform urban design decisions in neighbourhood-level improvement, regeneration or development scenarios. Local factors influencing walkability and phenomena modifiable in municipal level interventions are known to be highly effective and therefore are considered critical for walkability research.

The aim of the thesis is to identify and operationalize a reduced set of morphological urban built environment measures that can be used to assess walkability with results capable of guiding urban design decisions in the neighbourhood and street-level design interventions. The workflow developed through this research incorporates GIS maps, parametric 3d models and big data and is envisioned to become a part of a fully automated, holistic urban design tool through future research.


from description to design
Rui de Klerk orientado por Prof. José Nuno Beirão (FAUL), Prof. Paulo Urbano (FCUL)

The research proposed here focuses on the development and production of multipurpose Semantic Design Systems. The goal is to assist in the creation of generative design systems applicable to design processes in general, with a focus on architectural design. Shape grammar rules and ontologies in these systems will be focusing on abstract, generic rules and generic descriptions. When combined through contextually specified relations, these assume semantic expressions and should be able to produce meaningful results.

The research aims at defining a generative design system that, using simple basic shapes and generic rules, when combined with ontologies will be able to generate meaningful designs in the particular design domain defined by the ontology. Ontologies will add specific meanings and relations to shapes and shape rules, introducing semantic control in the shape grammar derivation process. By adding in-depth performance criteria, Ontogrammars may also be used to evaluate final designs, assuring their validity.

Keywords: Ontologies, Shape Grammars, Semantic Design Systems, Architectural Design

Understanding the genesis of form in Brazilian informal settlements

towards a grammar-based approach for planning favela extensions in steep terrains in Rio de Janeiro. The case of D. Marta Hill
Debora Verniz orientado por Prof. José Pinto Duarte, Prof. Luís Mateus, Prof. Mallika Bose, Prof. Loukas Kalisperis, Prof. Esther Obonyo

The World experiences a significant growth in population coupled with fast urbanization processes particularly in the Southern hemisphere, which puts an enormous pressure on cities, giving rise to numerous social, infrastructural, ecological, and urban problems. In this context, the formal sector is often unable to provide sufficient adequate housing for this growing population, planning and building codes are an obstacle to make the housing more affordable. Those that cannot afford a house in the formal sector, resort to self-help processes that lead to informal settlements, called favelas in Brazil. Traditionally, these settlements are perceived by public opinion and authorities as a problem and the solution is to eradicate them.

This research takes a different perspective by seeing them not as a problem but as an affordable solution that presents problems. The research uses a favela, Santa Marta, as a case study. This favela was chosen because it constitutes a paradigmatic case characterized by steep terrain, high density, and is located at the border of a well established urban area. The goal of this research is to propose an alternative approach to plan housing settlements based on the model of Brazilian favelas that are in high slope terrain, and with higher density than the traditional social housing. 

Fabricação Automática Multimaterial de Edificações

Flávio Craveiro orientado por Prof. José Pinto Duarte, Prof. Helena Bártolo, Prof. Paulo Bártolo

Este trabalho de investigação visa desenvolver uma nova estratégia de construção automática baseada em técnicas de fabricação aditiva, reduzindo tempos e custos, minimizando desperdícios e impacto ambiental. Após o desenvolvimento de uma gramática de forma, são traduzidas as regras para programas de computador, permitindo assim, gerar automaticamente modelos digitais tridimensionais. A partir destes modelos e recorrendo a tecnologias de materialização digital, é possível produzir automaticamente os correspondentes modelos físicos.

Com este projeto pretende-se também, desenvolver soluções que permitam a fabricação de elementos através de materiais com gradientes funcionais, os quais apresentam uma composição espacial variável ou diferentes microestruturas, replicando alguns processos naturais aperfeiçoados ao longo de milhares de anos.

Determining Relationships Between Urban Form and Urbanity

Samira Elias orientado por Prof. José Nuno Beirão, Prof. Carlos Dias Coelho

The thesis study aims at identifying the determinant factors that form the condition of urbanity in urban space. A set of urbanistic attributes, based on sampled parcels of the urban network, is used for a quanti-qualitative analysis. Calculations based on these attributes are used to identify the indicators that express the performative qualities of the place, thus allowing the evaluation of the correlation between the typological characteristics of form and the qualitative expression of the urban space.

This methodology points to the attributes of the urban form that are most strongly related to the concept of urbanity and that positively influence the quality of urban spaces in the Brazilian context. Finally, we compare our observation with those available in the European literature, already well established in these matters.

Earthbag Design

Informatic Tools for Modeling and Rapid Prototyping
Deborah Macêdo dos Santos orientado por Prof. José Beirão

The aim of this research is to answer the question: How the generative design can help in earthbag building projects. Also known as sandbag, superadobe or superblock technique, it consists in the construction technique where the walls are essentially built by staking bags filled with inorganic soil and consolidating them with barbed wire between layers. These constructions are durable, strong, climatically efficient, and capable of organic forms. They are more advantageous than other earth building techniques because they don’t require formwork, are more resistant in earthquake-prone zones, benefit from lower maintenance and construction time and are self-supporting up to double storey typologies.

Although earth construction is a low environmental impact recognized solution, existing software tools continue to be limiting factors in this specific type of project. The thesis objectives present informatic alternatives to conceive projects with earthbag construction technology. Specifically, in two preliminary phases: 3D modelling and 3D printing of scaled models. It is an experimental research, validated by surveys and computational simulation [ www.cicero.earth ].

Key-words: Generative design; BIM; Superadobe; earth construction; 3D model.

Mass Customisation in the Furniture Design Industry

The case of Thonet chairs
Mário Barros orientado por José Pinto Duarte, B.M. Chaparro

The thesis proposes a model for mass customisation in the furniture design industry to support the design of products that can be customised by an individual consumer according to his/her own idiosyncratic intentions.

The model comprises the use of a generative design system and a production system supported by computer-aided design. It enables the characterisation, exploration, evaluation and production of custom solutions within a predefined design language. The generative design system encompasses two subsystems: shape generation and shape evaluation. The shape grammar is implemented as a set of parametric design models to permit the interactive generation of customised variants. These customised variants become the input information to the shape evaluation subsystem, which comprises simulation and optimisation, to guarantee the structural feasibility of the customised chairs under operating conditions.

The conceptualised production system, proposes a reconfigurable tooling system for automated wood bending which directly reflects the requirements of the design process, the specificities of the product, and the constraints of the material. [ customchair.wordpress.com ]

Keywords: Mass customisation, Digital Design, Shape grammars, Parametric design, Furniture design

PhD Dissertation: http://hdl.handle.net/10400.5/10732