Computing with Matter

    Friday, 22 November

    09:00 - 12:45

    Room S424

    The use of open-source microcontroller platforms in building design facilitates new responsive building systems and intelligent facades. Adaptive designs and intelligent spaces are at the forefront of the current architectural and artistic discourse. They engage users in interactive dialogue, allow for public domain authoring, and are critical factors in sustainable designs where buildings monitor their own performance and respond to environmental factors.

    This course explores the intersection of microcontroller-based physical computing with emergent material technologies. The presenters take a step further beyond current electronic paradigm and discuss the impact of smart materials on the electronically dominated world of computing. Smart materials not only complement or replace the need for electrically operated sensors or actuators, but can also eliminate microcontrollers altogether. Since in this arrangement the material itself takes on computational functions, sensing and actuation are processed locally and on an as-needed basis. Material-based computation can be achieved on very small scales (nanoscale) and can be truly embedded and ubiquitous within our built environment. The material response is direct and exhibits an extremely high-resolution.

    At the same time, the software-hardware integration inherent in smart-material computing sets limitations for dynamic readjustment of behavioral properties and functional configurations. In most instances, smart materials are specifically designed to perform a particular function within well-defined trigger conditions. However, these trigger properties are not easily re-configurable once integrated into building assemblies.

    This course will look at various ways in which performative materials can respond in an environment that is controlled by, and interfaced with the digital realm. Participants will be introduced to a range of nanotech-enabled emergent and smart materials that can respond to changes in their environment. They will also learn principles of feedback-based interactions that are essential for the realization of adaptive spaces.



    Intended Audience

    This course will benefit creative designers, artists, and architects working with smart objects and interactive spaces as well as to engineers interested in developing adaptive design. The focus of the course will be on illustrating how various emerging technologies can be effectively integrated to promote human-centered and sustainable design.


    There are no prerequisites. The course will cover topics from introductory to intermediate. Presenters will adapt to the level and expectations of the audience. Understanding of basic electronic circuitry, computer programming and engineering concepts would be helpful.


    Andrzej Zarzycki, New Jersey Institute of Technology
    Martina Decker, New Jersey Institute of Technology

    Andrzej Zarzycki is an associate professor in the College of Architecture and Design at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). Andrzej is an architect and educator who uses digital tools to create experiential architectural spaces and on validation methodologies of generative design through building performance analysis and simulation tools. He is a co-winner of SHIFTboston Ideas Competition 2010 and a co-founder of TUTS (Tremont Underground Theatre Space), a design initiative focusing on innovative adaptations of infrastructure into contemporary public spaces and on the integration of digital technologies into urban life.

    Martina Decker is originally from Germany, where she received her professional architecture degree from the University of Applied Sciences. She has worked on a wide range of award-winning projects that represent a penchant for interdisciplinary work, including: art installations, consumer products, and buildings. She and her firm Decker Yeadon LLC are known for their pursuit of innovation through emergent materials, and work directly with various types of smart materials and nanomaterials. They investigate their properties, discover their capabilities, devise applications for them, and fabricate prototypes that demonstrate their potential.