Research . . .

PhD Research Synopsis

My research investigates computational representations for design exploration. It is based on the premises that (1) Exploration is fundamental to design, especially in the early phases (2) Most designs have "structures", which are, in this context, relationships between parts that make the whole coherent.

St Mark's Tower in Oklahoma.
An example of a rotational structure

Lloyd Lewis and David Wright house.
Examples of two grid structures.

The objective of my research is to capture architecturally significant design structures in a computational environment and use these to interactively explore architectural design configurations in a cyclic manner

In an empirical study that I have conducted in 2000, I observed that designers expressed structures, such as grid lines or axes of symmetry, in the form of regulating lines, and use these as active compositional tools, especially in early conceptualization phases. For more information, please refer to the following paper: Akin, Ö. And H. Moustapha (2003) "Strategic Use of Representation in Architectural Massing" Design Studies, Vol. 25, no 1, Elsevier Ltd, London.

For my dissertation, I developed the ICE system, which stands for Interactive Configuration Exploration, and consist of both a notation and an implementation. The ICE notation is a formal notation for representing shapes and configurations by means of their structures. The ICE implementation is a 3D modeling system that supports the exploration of such shapes and configurations through the transformation of their structures.


Explorations involving the transformation of structures produce intellectually stimulating results, but are very labor intensive; these require individual modification of numerous related elements. Such repetitive interaction considerably slows down the exploration, and often discourages it completely, particularly when configurations are complex and inter-relations are numerous. My goal is to provide the intellectual stimulation without the labor.


My approach consists of separating design structures from configuration elements, and augmenting structures with control over elements. I developed the concepts of a "regulator", which is an abstraction that captures a single unit of structure i.e. a single relationship within a configuration. For instance a grid structure is captured by alignment lines; a symmetry structure is captured by a reflection axis or center of rotation. Regulators maintain control over other elements of the configuration; therefore, a user can transform the configuration, either completely or partially, by applying simple changes to the regulator.

Below are some examples of using regulators to transform building during massing

For more examples please check the document "Regulators for Exploration"