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

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

Course Coordinator: Yannis Zavoleas

Advisor: Mark Taylor


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.

Download brief

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.

December 11, 2015


by yannis zavoleas

zavoleas simulation of densities 2015

Simulation model testing progressive accumulation of densities

Full title: The model and its operative significance in architecture. Objects driving evolution in design research

Author: Yannis Zavoleas

Keywords: Model; objectile; cybernetics; bio-structuralism

Abstract: This paper draws upon the distinction between aesthetic and operative characteristics of models set for exploration in scientific and architectural research. Specifically, it weaves a link between Cache’s concept of Objectile and architectural models appointed for studying design’s inner logic also in reference to models describing biological functions. The outcome of this synergy is models that respond dynamically to variable data inputs and designated tasks. However, even when models are primarily applied as highly intellectual devices rather than ones being merely visual, still they cannot be detached from the formal idioms data is presented, compared and implemented with, set in reference to the graphic languages and the communication means by which content of any kind enters the architectural scene. As a response to this apparent incongruity, this paper delves into the operational role of models in the architectural making seen not as aesthetic objects, but rather as testimonial instances of a dynamic system in a continuum of recursive exploration and testing, further prompting to understand design as an experimental process undergoing phases of evolution, and so evincing architecture’s profound affinities with science.

Full paper download

Venue: Architectural Science Association 2015 official website

March 24, 2015


by yannis zavoleas


Drawing a clear line between the more prescriptive undergraduate model, the new fourth year Master of Architecture program is challenging academic staff and their students by providing greater scope to direct their experience. Course co-ordinator, Yannis Zavoleas, with support from Architecture’s Head of School Mark Taylor and two casual tutors, is driving a research-based approach to the course, where students are required to establish their own research aims and develop their own study briefs.


December 4, 2014


by yannis zavoleas

Master’s Course, The University of Newcastle, Australia

Course Coordinator: Yannis Zavoleas


This studio aims to expand the body’s performative behaviours as these are manifested in its structure and logic, also in its relations among the parts and the metabolic functions directing its form. A found body is scrutinized through processes of analysis and then it is given new meanings through a series of transformations aiming to tie it to a new context. Analysis involves tracing literal and metaphorical meanings about the body, as these are later used as semantic tools to define architectural space and form. The list of references includes – but not limited to – behaviours associated with the body such as structure, symbiosis, prosthetics, trauma, deformation, anatomy, skin, covering/revealing, flows and actions.

Found Body Vs. Mutant Body

A found body is viewed as a weak topology whose inherent properties are rediscovered and reenacted, in so doing showing multiple potentials for rejoining with a new context. The body is an organic entity that constantly adapts to its environment for its survival. Adaptation involves dynamic exchanges between the body and its environment, expressed in the form of energy transformation and negotiation of different systems sharing the same resources. Due to adaptation, the body is constantly subject to mutation causing the emergence of new species.

The mutant body talks about systems whose overall characteristics and behaviour are addressed in relation to internal processes as well as to the environment. Systems, geometric shapes, patterns and other typological references may be viewed as dynamic entities. Mutation aids to understand the properties of architectural space as changing values that reflect upon different scenarios, described by relational rules. Properties become variants holding the body’s propensity to initiate coalitions, hybridizations and unprecedented mixtures. As with the organisms, the principles of form may be codified into a DNA-like code. Architecture’s code is set in response to multitude factors, causing structural transformations, mixed-use programs, typological variations and associations at different scales. Implementation, adaptation, local alterations due to changing conditions, all of these may be viewed as outcomes of negotiation between architectural species and their environment. An understanding of architecture as a mutant body helps to break from unnecessary preconceptions, in an attempt to reconcile between its generative causes and the final form.

October 26, 2014


by yannis zavoleas

Yannis Zavoleas, The University of Newcastle, Australia

Pro Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research Creative Works | The University of Newcastle Australia | 2014 | Ongoing project

Research Background

An interest in biology has been present in architectural discourse since early modernism. An updating of the analogies between the two fields goes along with the introduction of computation in design research. In respect, the following cases approach different biological themes with the aid of advanced simulation and computation tools, aiming to show new paths for architectural research.

Research Contribution

Bio-structuralism is a term that addresses the benefits of biological structures as highly efficient modes of self organization and dynamic formation based on performative models, further explored under the digital scope. The proposed studies pertain to an area of interdisciplinary research developed under the biodigital theme, which has been on the main focus internationally for over one decade.

July 23, 2014


by yannis zavoleas


(Abstract from the introduction)

The European Association for Architectural Education (EAAE-AEEA) Subnetwork on Architectural Theory, bringing together a wide group of architectural pedagogists working collaboratively on the role and nature of architecture theory in schools of architecture, gathered in Chania in the summer of 2010, in order to focus on the collateral relations between digital/material and depth/surface. In that seminal meeting, the group, invited by Ctrl_Space [1] Lab founders Yannis Zavoleas and Nikolas Patsavos, the Center for Mediterranean Architecture (KAM-CMA) and the Department of Architecture of the Technical University of Crete, were practically asked to capitalise the findings of its previous work sessions in Hasselt, Trondheim, Lisbon and Fribourg [2] by applying methods and concepts developed at those occasions as an interpretative critical tool within the context regarding the emergent digital architecture nature and its effects on education. The whole attempt was seen as an opportunity to revisit a field which, so far, had been often seen as something extraneous and contradictory, if not even hostile to the origins and the traditions of architecture; an attitude the group willed to also problematise and situate it within its relative context.
There has been an important break in the polarity between depth and surface caused in contemporary architecture by the emergence of a new digital materiality and tactility. On a technical level, this is due to techniques of fabrication linking the design and representation process directly with fabrication, whereas in the level of perception and representation, it follows the aftermath of folding in architecture and its claim for a new continuity based on the abolishment of the traditional spatial dipoles (interior/exterior, up/down et.al.). In a broader sense, this shift towards the surface of things as “the deepest side of the world” has to do with a wider socio-cultural change which has been triggered by postmodern irony and by the wish to “revalorize all values”. The dualities operating as the founding myths of architecture have been widely reassessed by being subjected to arguments on their relative value and on the need to work in-between such poles as form and content, façade-space, man-building, building-nature, matter-intelligence, representation-reality, skin-structure, natural-artificial, object-subject etc.. In fact, new hybrid constructions and concepts have taken their place: cyborg, enhanced reality, virtual processor, information whereas the focus has been turned towards not the opposition among the two traditional poles but the possible relations and exchanges of properties between them.
The above issues were addressed by architects and scholars from Finland, Ireland, Spain, Belgium, the USA, Italy, the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Turkey and Greece who contributed to the workshop by means of both individual presentations organised in two five sessions, and two keynote lectures by Kostas Terzidis (Harvard GSD) and Vana Tentokali (AUTh), and two round table workshops-discussions. Following the meeting, all participants were asked to prepare their revised and updated written contributions in order to produce the final outcome of the project in the form of the present edited volume. The five sessions are organised thematically in a way covering historical, epistemological, technical, conceptual-perceptual and natural properties of the issue respectively. The two keynote lectures are crossing this multifaceted subject in two different axis by emphasising at either the anthropological-perceptual and the technical-ethical challenges underlying the overall re-organisation of architectural knowledge and practice discussed. In that sense, they provide with a first opportunity to unify the various perspectives proposed throughout the book.