Stamers, the agent, left us sitting in the car, partly shielded by the rhododendrons. He ran across to the entrance and switched the place on (all the houses in Vermilion Sands, it goes without saying, were psychotropic). There was a dim whirring, and the spheres tipped and began to rotate, brushing against the undergrowth.
Vermilion Sands – The Thousand Dreams of Stellavista, GJ Ballard 1962


In an environment where everything is fluid, spaces cannot remain passive rather than be adjusted to their context. Architects, engineers and designers have to face new and increasingly complex challenges related to new social behaviors, digital landscapes and climate changes. Being inspired from biological organisms’ structural alterations in response to environmental stimuli we are keen on introducing similar behaviors in built structures. Advanced computation technologies and physical computing offer a completely new way to think and approach design, architecture and urban planning, which is more coherent with our rapidly evolving habitat. We aim to investigate the human-space interaction as a new design paradigm for physical spaces.

In this workshop, we will use generative design to explore structural behaviors and by introducing smart materials and internet of things’ logics we will experiment with user-structure interaction.

This research will be translated into material system investigations, working with adaptive geometries that will form a full 1:1 dynamic installation, which will be able to sense or socially interact with its users responding to various data inputs, such as environmental conditions and human interaction.


The system manipulation as the process of physical interaction will be coded in digital tools, based on Rhino/ Grasshopper with plugins such as Anemone that will help simulating iterative logics and structural behaviors. During this process codes will be translated into physical prototypes digitally fabricated, optimizing design criteria with fabrication strategies and structural consideration.

The process of translating data into spatial transformations will be achieved using the Arduino prototyping platform and different kind of electronic devices as sensors and actuators. With this tool, based on open source hardware and software, the data collected from different kind of sensors and on-line sources (like social networks, databases and open data repositories) will be transformed into physical outputs (movement, light and sound), according to the rules written in the code, giving to the structure a “behavior” and making it react in real time to the actions of the users or to other external variables.


Monday 3rd of October until Friday 7th of October 2016

Phase 1
The first two days of the workshop we will explore the concept of interactive design.

Day 1 | Sense and respond 1
Concept of interactive design, Introduction to Grasshopper and Physical Computing
Digital and physical (teams of 3): Experimentation with single components and single data input
Day 2 | Sense and respond 2
Design and material system explorations
Digital and physical (teams of 3): Experimentation with an array of components and multiple data inputs

Phase 2
The last 3 days of the workshop we will proceed to the final 1:1 design: One or a combination of concepts developed in phase 1 will become the 1:1 interactive Space. Students will be divided in sub-teams working on:
– Experimenting with sensors and actuators / Arduino
– Developing material system to 1:1 prototype
– Structural behaviour analysis

Day 3 | Final design
Finalize the 1:1 design and its interactivity, Pass from small scale prototypes to 1:1 scale installation

Day 4 | Digital Fabrication and Control of the System
Digital Fabrication of components, Control the inputs and outputs of our system in big scale

Day 5 | Assemblage and installation
Assemblage of components, Final installation


Basic modelling skills in Rhino are required. No specific Grasshopper skills are required (although an introductory knowledge of grasshopper is welcome). No previous knowledge of programming and electronic prototyping is required. Participants should bring their own laptop with a pre-installed software. The software package needed has no additional cost for the participant. Rhino can be downloaded as evaluation version, Grasshopper, plugins and the Arduino software are free. These softwares are subject to frequent updates, so a download link to the version used in the workshop will be sent to the participants few days before the workshop.


TRANSLATE  |  Re-active structures




Sapienza University of Rome
Fondazione Exclusiva
Rome – Italy


Sapienza University of Rome
Fondazione Exclusiva



Efilena is an Architect Engineer, studied in the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), with a Master degree in Advanced Architecture from the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC). Having developed several interactive projects, her current interest lies in exploring material properties in order to create real time responsive architectural structures. Her last project, “Translated Geometries” has received several distinctions. Efilena is partner of NOUMENA since 2014 and currently coordinator of IAAC Visiting Programs.


Angel Muñoz is a Programmer from La Rioja in Spain. Passionate for art, science, music and retro-futurism, he started programming (self taught) at the early age of 9. He worked in the interactivity and multimedia departments and in 2006 he began developing an interest in open hardware and studied Electronic Product Design obtaining a Higher Vocational Training Qualification. Since then he has also been collaborating in various projects, with IAAC and the Fab Lab Barcelona Pro team, including The machine to be another, Omnipresenz. First Vision, Smart Citizen. Angel is part of the IAAC Academic team as Physical Computing Expert.


Sapienza University, founded in 1303 by Pope Boniface VIII in Rome, is one of the oldest universities in the world and a top performer in international university rankings.

Fondazione Exclusiva is a nonprofit organization founded in 2015 by Exclusiva Design. Its aim is to put forward international and interdisciplinary cultural programmes of high scientific and cultural value, for the young who look to the future, trusting in their own talent.




This tuition fee includes all educational contents provided during the course. The early bird ticket is valid until 8/9/2016. 20% discount is offered to students with valid student ID. For inquiry, e-mail at



This tuition fee includes all educational contents provided during the course. The Standard ticket is valid from 9/9/2016. 20% discount is offered to students with valid student ID. For inquiry, e-mail at

* 30% discount is offered to students enrolled in  La Sapienza University of Rome