Hybrid Thinking Tools


Research-based studying at the intersection of material experience and digital abstraction

The 3-year project (2020-23) is funded by the Curriculum 4.0 program (digitization of university teaching) of the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Stifterverband.

In the context of design, technological systems are developed in synergy with materials and actions that mediate between the haptic and digital world. The potential and effects of digitization on the creative, planning approach of architectural topics are taught actively and reflexively. Case studies on ceramics, living colors and body techniques are carried out and innovative, digital processes are initiated in pictorial, drafting and material contexts. The dynamic knowledge that arises at the interface between material experience and digital abstraction will be particularly reflected.

The teaching and learning arrangements of the individual module aim at open-ended and process-oriented learning outcomes and guide the students to develop their own questions and positions.


Additive structures in ceramics (3D clay printing)

Bild folgt Copyright: © F. Hüning

In dealing with ceramics as one of the oldest, natural building materials in the history of mankind, it is necessary to initiate new processes in the confrontation between manual and digital methods. On the one hand, the digital environment enables a precise shaping process that is dematerialized, on the other hand, in additive manufacturing (AM) algorithmic path definitions are possible that could not be produced with manual tools and processes.
Particularly in the case of the technically demanding and dynamically time-variable material ceramic, synergies are expected from established and innovative processes through a specific understanding of materials. Together with the students as Science Assistants, the technical properties and possibilities of extruded, plastic ceramic mass are explored in the AM area with regard to their applicability for new applications in architecture. Design experiments and optimizations (Rhino + Grasshopper), as well as the actual production (Delta WASP) are carried out in recursive loops. The students develop a prototype device considering efficient and innovative strategies in the field of AM from design to final manufacturing.

The aim is to further exploit the potential of parametric programming in its creative scope. Current hardware and new software applications in the field of generative design are ready for this goal.



Living Colour

Test tubes with colored contents Copyright: © Sina Hensel

The potential of algae as a coloring agent is examined in this module. Starting with the process of traditional dyeing, a sustainable production of material and its application is discussed. The aim is to reflect on new sources for the production of color and the implications involved. Since the material is active, the question of its durability arises, since its practical application requires an acceptance of transformation and a loss of control. Hence, fundamental questions of design are addressed.

In order to introduce the students to a scientific way of working, they keep research journals in order to document the transformation of the coloring agents. This results in accelerated scenarios designed with the help of algorithms in order to learn to understand temporal processes and to make these dynamics visible and comprehensible, in both, a digital and analogue way. At the same time, long-term data on material aging will be collected by simulating the lightfastness of the coloring agent in so-called climatic chambers (sunlight simulation), which thus contribute to the research of the chair on overlooked coloring sources to date. Algae that are used: Chlorella vulgaris, Haematococcus pluvalis, Porphyridium purpureum und Isochrysis galbana.


Gestures and facial expressions

materialized gesture Copyright: © Hannah Groninger

In this module, body techniques for socio-technical systems are explored. While recording gestures, looks and facial expressions, emotionality and physical means of expression are investigated specifically for drawing and shaping processes. Technologies such as facial recognition (see deep-face technology), which are normally used to simulate avatars in VR world and game industry, are repurposed to increasingly visualize aspects of communication, empathy and perception. The data generated by the recordings serve as a basis for analogue, automated and additive two- and three-dimensional prints, which in turn are subjected to a scientific as well as aesthetic analysis. Through the active use of essential means of communication gestures and facial expressions, self-confidence and personal development of each individual as an acting being (complete agent) are strengthened.