December 29, 2020


by yannis zavoleas

Anthropocene Epoch, unofficial interval of geologic time, making up the third worldwide division of the Quaternary Period (2.6 million years ago to the present), characterized as the time in which the collective activities of human beings (Homo sapiens) began to substantially alter Earth’s surface, atmosphere, oceans, and systems of nutrient cycling. A growing group of scientists argue that the Anthropocene Epoch should follow the Holocene Epoch (11,700 years ago to the present) and begin in the year 1950. The name Anthropocene is derived from Greek and means the “recent age of (hu)man.”

A new era has risen, where the geo/biosphere undergoes irreversible transformations, so that it is valid to discuss about a crisis with permanent consequences. Human activity consists of the major cause of most of the current environmental changes (Apostolopoulos 2019). The irreversibility of the situation confronts humans to realise that (a) the focus to preserve may no longer be on the restoration of the past ecosystems, since this is in many cases impossible; (b) it does not suffice to manage natural and human systems separately from each other (Martin et al. 2014). In other words, time does not turn backwards, whereas to grant a future for humanity on earth requires that we as humans reconsider our actions and overall presence as equals with all other ones sharing the same planet.

Technological progress, despite the fact that it has often been accused as “Technological Hubris” (Casagrande et al. 2017) linked with the destiny of human to prevail upon nature, in this present case it is proposed as an ally, first for an in-depth understanding of the geophysical cycles, then for the development of methods and plans for action so that drastic changes even ruptures of these cycles are prevented. It is noted that such incidents are so-called as natural disasters, an indication that fails to describe that these are nothing else than natural system’s shifting towards a new balance point. It is proposed to raise nature’s cycles and functions for any system and size range at the top of the hierarchy of significances, a position that human has seized and occupied until now. Technology as any other human activity assumes a moral dimension as responsibility of which Anthropocene it is to be (Ellis & Trachtenberg 2014).

Post-Anthropocene, or a new vision for architecture

Alternative paradigms and directions are considered for architecture, aside from its conventional role to fulfil daily human living, as informed responses to the observed eco-socio-political challenges about our future. These may emerge from the pair nature/technology, an alliance that may support protocols and strategies of equal cohabitation and co-living for all earth members humans and non-humans alike, and beyond the human-centered model that currently represents the western model of thought.


Yannis Zavoleas, lecture at Trigger Wednesdays series, 2 December 2020, University of Ioannina (in Greek):

Post-Anthropocene_2.0: A Responsible Future for Architecture in Meeting with the Global Challenges of an Increasingly Complex World


Yannis Zavoleas, lecture with Marie Davidova at CAADRIA 2020 conference RE: Anthropocene: Design in the Age of Humans, 6 August 2020, Bangkok, Tailand:

Post-Anthropocene: The Design after the Human Centered Design Age

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November 28, 2019


by yannis zavoleas

Our new book has just been released! A collection of chapters and design research works, aiming to outline new frontiers about architecture. A response to the changes that have occurred over the past decades and a critical stance on the digital versus analogue debates. The time has come to set architecture’s future role and impact in view of radical changes of the profession and the unprecedented challenges it is facing.

A collaborative work, edited by N.Gardner, M.H. Haeusler and Y.Zavoleas, academic colleagues at UNSW CoDe. Foreword by Mark Burry.

Publisher’s link:

October 22, 2018


by yannis zavoleas


The discipline of architecture reflects its era and cultural context. While in the passage from Renaissance to Modernism and the current period architecture’s role has been to serve humanistic-related priorities, the techniques being employed to produce it and consequently the ways such priorities have been met are manifestations of the technological innovations that characterise each time. Further to this observation, new paradigms may be drawn to outline a viable future for the discipline, and new visions may emerge from technologies related to computation to inform new strategies about planning, alternative socio-urban modes of co-habitation and environmental challenges often of no prior historical reference.

November 20, 2017

SURFACE | 2017

by yannis zavoleas

netcans closeup

Undergraduate Design Studio, 2nd year, The University of Newcastle, Australia 

Course Coordinator: Yannis Zavoleas

Academic advisors: Mark Taylor, Peter Stevens

Tutors: Rebecca Boyle, Andrew Donaldson, Annemarie Dosen, Josephine Vaughan, Kerry Clare, Lindsay Clare, Tom Dufficy, Tania Papasotiriou, Kalyna Sparks, Peter Stevens, Mark Taylor and Yannis Zavoleas

Online training resources: IDDA

This course focuses on the notion of surface in architecture. References drawn from a large pool of precedents of natural origin combined with advanced computational tools have offered new meaning and ways of appropriation of surface in architecture. First, the course draws upon manifestations of surface in nature in order to revisit common conceptions assuming architectural surface to be a flat element of same consistency and constant thickness and a consequence of standardising geometric norms, as these were founded in the modern aesthetics and construction techniques. With the new possibilities that have emerged due to digital technologies primarily related to CNC fabrication, it is generally conceded that geometricism, i.e. the analysing of complex forms to simple Euclidean shapes, soon may no longer be a prerequisite to construction. Such a prospect invites towards a complete turn in defining architectural surface from a fixed element to a malleable topological entity produced through its dynamic interactions with agents and data inputs defining a project.

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Prototype structures fabricated at full size

November 19, 2017


by yannis zavoleas

vaneych_sellotape comp

Left: Aldo Van Eyck, Municipal Orphanage, Amsterdam, 1955-1960.

Right: Brandon Decosterd, Seamus Cahill, Claudia Smith, From Force to Form, UON, 2017.


Architecture is more than grid versus topology, analogue versus digital, pencil versus computer, rulers, T-squares and lines, concrete, steel, wood or plastic, machines, networks, cybernetics, technology, ratios and aesthetics, and the infinite number of -isms created to categorise its works; as each of these could be viewed as being separate from its broader context.

Architecture is about social engagement, spatial quality, inclusion, respect to nature and the sum of values that have outlined its humanistic scope.

Whatever means, tools, concepts, theories, materials, techniques, ideologies, ideas or references architects may appoint to express and to meet their goals, these cannot speak on behalf of the field’s higher purpose.

Sure, we as educators need to teach such things as means to achieve higher efficiency in setting and meeting design goals, but always in an open manner and while never confusing their role (and our students) by proposing their de facto pertinence in reaching such goals. A so-called good theory, means, or technique may produce bad architectural results (and there may still be value in discussing them), but the opposite may be true too, as a proposal may reveal a new potential of a forgotten or up-to-then dismissed input. Means should not set criteria in assessing architecture, but they may facilitate and provide better control of the design process and therefore they have an impact in the outcome, which is not to say they are ultimately responsible for it.

As educators, an important part of our role is to equip our students with a wide armament of means in dealing with design questions, also with a critical, exploratory attitude that should remain open to external influences and with increasing proneness to introduce novelty in the design process, in so doing, never causing any prejudice, or bias; the other important part of our role, one of major importance too, is to update architectural discourse, as the two parts meet each other in an aim for an architecture that redefines its purpose by reflecting its time.

The above fallacy has arguably caused the field to shrink in the broad consciousness of the academic and social mindset over many years, and it has been responsible for a great amount of waste of energy during harmful and unnecessary internal conflict. It is up to us as architects and primarily to the educators to put an end to it and to not transfer it to the next generations.

June 23, 2017


by yannis zavoleas

19_figure 1

Nanoscopic re-crystallisation patterns, nanoparticles in structural biology

KINE[SIS]TEM’17 From Nature to Architectural Matter

19-20 JUNE 2017, ISCTE-IUL, Lisbon Portugal

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Master’s Design Studio, The University of Newcastle, Australia

Course Coordinator: Yannis Zavoleas

Advisor: Mark Taylor

Semester 2, 2016


Design is viewed as a dynamic process whereby “amorphous” situations of the urban context are processed towards some kind of “re-morphing.” Metaphors from geology and biology are borrowed as an asset of references, concepts, ideas, modes of organisation, tools and techniques, aiding to develop strategies and propositions that are meaningful in architecture and the urban environment.

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January 4, 2017


by yannis zavoleas


19-Cent. anatomy drawing compared with Viollet-le-Duc’s organic structure

Full title: Rethinking architectural vocabulary. Comprehensive design resolution via integrated BIM platforms

Author: Yannis Zavoleas

Keywords: Dynamic simulation; agent-based; BIM; form-finding

Abstract: This paper revisits established practices in architecture related to the instruments of production and addresses their profound influences upon the design outcome. Cartesian geometry has been used as a common reference to represent architectural elements, a view that has been applied into mainstream design software. The enduring ideologies assume the architectural product to be the result of aesthetic-driven operations supporting geometric regularity in defining elements’ shape and relative positioning. These approaches are compared to alternative ones described as form-finding, making extensive use of the computer’s power, often deviating from Cartesian basis, setting the ground for contemporary design research. In these cases, architectural elements are topological compounds undergoing generative operations. Architectural form is seen as an organic output emerging from interactions, shared functions, performed relationships and feedback loops, rather than ones typically offering full aesthetic control. It is noted that processes related to data inputs, agent management, simulation and recursive testing generally applied to facilitate tectonic resolution via integrated BIM platforms may equally describe those of early design decisions. Such a prospect may set the framing to update existing BIM software, so that the phases of analysis, ideation and conceptualisation are linked with those related to further development, engineering, manufacturing and completion.

Full paper download

Venue: Architectural Science Association 2016 official website

December 14, 2016


by yannis zavoleas

Partners: University of New South Wales CoDe Society, University of New South Wales Biomedical Engineering, The University of Newcastle School of Architecture, Reef Design Lab, World Harbour Project, Macquarie University Biological Sciences

Concept: Yannis Zavoleas, Hank Haeusler, Andre Pereira, Beth Strain, Rebekah Araulo

Design: Yannis Zavoleas

Other contributors: Eliot Rosenberg, David Lennon, Alex Goad, Melanie Bishop, Vivian Cumbo, Maria Vozzo, James Gardiner


Is it possible to design shelters where clams and other seashell organisms may feel more “at home,” as they will be protected, breed and thrive?

Sydney harbour has remarkable biodiversity, being one of the world’s healthiest ecosystems. Many of the species that live underwater are filter feeders, whose primary contribution in sustaining environmental balance is to clean the water by removing excess nutrients and pollutants. Due to increasing human population, pollution and climate change, the ocean is becoming a stressful environment for seashell organisms who live on rocky reef habitats. If those systems are continuously subjected to numerous stresses especially those related to human action, the strain is too much to endure and so they will perish.

The purpose of this workshop is first to study the conditions allowing reefs as marine ecosystems to survive; then, to design alternative shelters for the related species that will provide enough protection for them in order to breed and to thrive. Various digital and analogue tools used for dynamic simulation are employed to test reef structures as multi-agent systems with dynamic characteristics. Those systems are extremely versatile, agile and vital in maintaining environmental balance, meanwhile being very fragile, sensitive and threatened under the existing conditions. Key parameters influencing the viability of clam colonies are examined, leading to design propositions and prototypes about shelter units making compound reef structures. This study aims to reinforce the idea that applying dynamic simulation techniques is suitable for a wide range of design scenarios including our human settlements and the broader environment we live in.


October 9, 2016


by yannis zavoleas

Undergraduate course, 1st year 2nd semester, The University of Newcastle, Australia

Course Coordinator: Yannis Zavoleas

Tutorial Supervisors: Yannis Zavoleas, Peter Stevens

Tutors: Shalini Gandhi, Anni Dosen, Darin Phare, Tim Burke, Katie Cadman, Tafara Mbara, Mark Spence, Josephine Vaughan, Louise Fischer

This project introduces graphical and textual ways for analysing architectural drawings, reduced to a set of conventions. Pixel-based digital techniques are employed to describe, isolate, extract and process data. Analysis assumes strong interpretive skills. It may call upon formal/scientific means such as diagrams, abstractions and other graphics to explain how different elements are being related and to create variations.

September 20, 2016


by yannis zavoleas

Undergraduate Course, 1st year 1st semester, The University of Newcastle, Australia

Credits (photo, left to right): Middle Row: Shane Man, Claudia Smith, Mat Percival, Yannis Zavoleas (tutor), Sammy Bailey, Liam Dwyer, Denise Hughes, Grazela Maria. Back Row: Desslene Whong. Front Row: Lachlan Dear, Seamus Cahill (absent: Justin Friemann).

Tutor: Yannis Zavoleas. Course Coordinator: John Roberts

This two-week project involves experimentation with folding techniques, as the results are mounted at an installation made of bamboo sticks and a rope. The students were asked to work in a group with their tutor and suggest a structure connecting the forest and the water at Glenrock Lagoon, south of Newcastle, Australia. It was decided that the installation would suspend from the ground and that the folded pieces would be attached to a 3D-wire structure, so that the whole would suggest a version of the sky with artificial clouds, or an organic-like gigantic spiderweb with bugs trapped onto it, as both ideas represent the surrounding nature. Through this approach, the students would become familiar with space-generating folding techniques, also with the behavior and performance of minimum-weight structures, by resolving the difficult problem to efficiently connect together and to sustain from trees the structure including the pieces mounted onto it.