IoA Institute of Architecture

University of Applied Arts Vienna


Agent Based Parametric Semiology

Architecture and urbanism order social processes via their semantic associations as much as via physical separation and connection. The built environment functions through its visual appearance, via its legibility and its related capacity to frame and prime communication. The built environment is not just channelling bodies. It is orienting sentient, socialized beings who must actively comprehend and navigate ever more complex urban scenes. As a communicative frame, a designed space is itself a communication as premise for all communications that take place within its territory.

In a conventional design process, every designer adapts to and intervenes intuitively within the spontaneous and historically evolving semiological system of the built environment. The aim of agent based parametric semiology is it to move from an intuitive participation within an evolving semiosis to an explicit design agenda that understands the design of a large scale architectural complex as an opportunity to design a new, coherent system of signification, a new artificial architectural language, without relying on the familiar codes found in the existing built environments.

To operationalize the semantic layer of the designed environment within the design process the research proposes to develop agent based life process simulations. The semiological code is defined in terms of the agents’ behavioural rules or scripts being triggered by designed environmental features. This is the most original innovation within the proposed research project.

The aim of the research project is to develop new computational simulation capacities and thus a new approach to architectural design that better engages with the opportunities and challenges of today's networked society and which might lead to a new compelling type of architectural service that can meet the aspirations of contemporary clients. Collaborating with leading experts in the field of crowd simulation, as well as in structural and environmental optimization, the research involves the development of a new approach, setting a new task, developing new tools. The research culminates in exemplary creative design works that demonstrate the capacity and potential impact of the new approach on contemporary architectural and urban design. This research project is thus at the same time an artistic project, a form of research by design.

The research project will be headed by Patrik Schumacher, a leading figure in the fields of parametric design and architectural design research. Schumacher will be leading a team of distinguished researchers, who each can look back on a proven track record of academic research and experimental digital design practice, focusing on advanced scripting techniques, digital formal experimentation and the understanding of our built environment as an interface for interaction with its users.

Patrik Schumacher, Hon.Prof. Dr. phil. Dipl.-Ing..
Robert R. Neumayr, MArch
Josip Bajcer, Mag.arch
Daniel Bolojan, Mag.arch

Active Public Spaces / Creative Europe
in Cooperation with IAAC Barcelon & CCEA Prague

Active Public Spaces is a European co-funded project, focussing on fostering the exchange of knowledge and best practices in the application of smart urban technologies for the transformation of public spaces into active ones, by increasing architecture’s integrating and innovative role in implementing sustainable urban development. Public spaces have the potential of being transformed into Active Public Space, fostering people´s interaction with flows of energy, materials, services, and finances to catalyze sustainable economic development, resilience, and high quality of life. Aim is to contributing to bridging the existing skills gaps on smart urban technologies among architects and urban-planners, as much as raising public awareness about the role of architecture and urban planning in sustainable urban development.Within the Institute of Architecture the project is developed in partnership by the departments Energy Design and Urban Strategies. The project partners are composed of the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia in Barcelona (lead), the University of Applied Arts Vienna, and the Centre for Central European Architecture in Prague and the, combining knowledge on smart materials and technologies with citizen participation, urban strategies and energy design. 

Andrea Börner, Univ.-Lekt. Dipl.Ing.
Anna Gulinska, Ass.MArch, Dipl.Ing.
Galo Moncayo
Bernhard Sommer, Univ.-Ass. Arch Dipl.Ing.

EDEN - Developement of a structured data and preparation documentation with a minimized error-proneness for energy performance cerificates.

The present reseach proposal suggests a potential solution to the problem of general non-reproducability of the results of building energy certificates. Since 2007 Austria has implemented the EU-guideline for energy certification of buildings, which demands issued energy certificates for buildings yet to be erected, buildings that undergo major retrofit and buildings and building units such as residential units that enter the real estate market. Due to a lack of legal consequences, the energy certification requirement was not taken seriously in the general public, leaving buildings without an energy certificate. Today it can be observed that the intended comparability of buildings via the energy certificate is not guaranteed as the regulations of how an energy certificate should be compiled lack comprehensive instructions. This leads to a wide range of interpretations what can be considered as correct and incorrect.

Contents and goals

This issue needs to be taken seriously, as the required thermal quality of buildings in the process of gaining a planning permission needs to be proven via the energy certificate. Moreover, even the grant of subsidies for new buildings and thermal retrofits is dependent on the results of energy certificates.

The intention of this research is to develop a standardized and accurate documentation of used input data for energy certificates. As the IT-tools for energy certification are validated, the source of result divergences clearly can be located in the deviation of input data. Standardized documentation of such input data would guarantee reproducibility of results and therefore legal certainty, while minimizing error-proneness and manipulation possibilities.


The development of a generic and standardized input data documentation is to be reached via the following stepwise process:

Collection of national and international guidelines, standards, laws and recommendations, as well as best and worst practice examples Definition of a representative sample of buildings (covering a wide scope of different situations) Compilation of energy certificates for the representative building sample under consideration of uncertainties in the input data. Use of established (statistical) scientific methods such as error-estimation and sensitivity analysis of the results.

Expected Results

Deduction of an input data documentation that generically can be applied for any user-defined building. To allow a quality management for the compilation of energy certificates through  rated input data. Transparency through a better reproducibility of the calculation results.

Klaus Bollinger, o.Univ.-Prof.Dipl.Ing.Dr.techn.
Bernhard Sommer, Univ.-Ass. Arch Dipl.Ing.
Malgorzata Sommer-Nawara, Univ. Ass. Dipl.Ing.
Gabriela Adam, Dipl. Ing. MSc.
Damian Minovski, Mag. arch.
Philipp Reinsberg, Mag. arch.

Evaluation of Visioary Architektural Concepts

Proof-of-concept and feasibility study of innovative facade and buiöding concepts, including the monitoring and evaluation of a mock-up.


Architectural Design and energy efficiency should be developed symbiotically. In a feasibility study interactive facade elements that have been already realized in scaled modells will be investigated towards their energetic performance. These modells are fully functionning interactive fragments of possible skin designs. The most interesting one will be erected full scale and subsequently further studied, monitored and evaluated.

Starting point / motivation

The city and the building of the 21st century face various complex and serious challenges including rapid changes in operation/usage and occupants (and their behavior), as well as environment and climate conditions, requirement for durability while maintaining flexibility, sustainability alongside comfort, vitality and movement combined with privacy and peace. In this context, conventional solutions, which follow a linear trail of thought, are reaching their limits more than ever. At the same time, the changes brought by the information age affect not only all areas of life but also all technologies and techniques.

Contents and goals

The above-mentioned ongoing evolution can however be viewed as an opportunity to address the forthcoming challenges with unconventional and original solutions. In this context, the proposed project, EVA, endeavors to develop an interactive framework of innovative approaches, through an investigation of previously developed concepts, which have been realized in form of fully functional scale models equipped with sensors and actuators, to be “reactive” / “responsive” on environmental and human input. These designs that have been developed at the department of Energy Design of the University of Applied Arts already anticipate the meaning of the information age for architecture. Also regarding the energy question, they thus shift the focus from relatively static, slow and building-related adaption towards fast and peronalized adaption, towards real-time and customization, so  to say.

Following an extensive SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of a set of such concept models, the most promising ideas in terms of realistic scalability and systematic and commercial feasibility are selected. Based on this selection or feasibility assessment (supported by simulation, virtual and physical interactive models, computations, empirical assessments), a mock-up in real dimensions is designed. Using innovative materials, modern state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques, sensors and actuators the 1:1 prototype is constructed and subjected to state of the art monitoring procedures as proof of concept.

Expected results
The aim of the proposed project is to demonstrate that such unconventional, seemingly „far from built reality“ and – at first glimpse - unfeasible approaches can contribute to solving the ever-growing global issues. Concepts such as Smart City and Smart Home necessitate the development of such out-of-the-box solutions. An important contribution of this project is the systematic, multi-faceted, and interdisciplinary investigation of the scalability and feasibility, as well as the impact and effect of already developed technological concepts. Its ultimate goal is to establish a framework for the development of innovative solutions, which conform to the sustainability discourse in the construction domain while transcending conventional ideas and concepts such as the simple “highly insulated building envelope”.

Klaus Bollinger, o.Univ.-Prof.Dipl.Ing.Dr.techn.
Bernhard Sommer, Univ.-Ass. Arch Dipl.Ing.
Malgorzata Sommer-Nawara, Univ. Ass. Dipl.Ing.
Galo Moncayo, MFA
Gabriela Adam, Dipl. Ing. MSc.
Damian Minovski, Mag. arch.


An Atlas of Experiments in Materialized Information

nformations is an arts-based research cluster of architects, artists, designers and engineers, funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), located at the University of Applied Arts (Vienna). Within the field of generative workflow of contemporary design, a collection of strategies, methods, tools and prototypic models is being developed. The research project focuses on the dissection, reinterpretation and documentation of contemporary digital production practice by means of serial experimentation. An interactive atlas of correlated aesthetics, entities and formulations shall contribute to the growing community of open source design practitioners and makers in the digital chain.

Today, designing characterizes itself rather by manipulating digital systems than determined articulation, and the question of the ‘how’ has become as big as ‘what’ we design. Parametric modeling and open systems allow a simple formulation of intricate generative processes, though a model’s ability to adapt to changes is limited by its own complexity. There is a desire to be designing with systems of simple rules, which are able to temporarily stabilize but stay open to changes of any kind, to be capable of reflecting any unforeseen state.

Modern parametric modeling bears great potential in the research of novel interfaces, representations, their flexibility, and the theoretically unlimited pool of formal languages waiting to be described. We want to fundamentally question the ways in which parametric design platforms are used and rethink modes of operation - smart representations will foster flexibility and persistence of a model. A series of experiments serve as means for synthesized innovation to establish a knowledge base of components, forms, formulations and dependencies. The main aim is to go after the ‘fabric’ of design(ing) that is orchestrated by systems and based on computational processes that are ‘self-organizing’ and can flexibly react on change.  Emerging abilities in dealing with articulated complexities lead to new possibilities in the perception and production of space.

Within the context of digital production goal of the research project is to interface more immediately between intuitive associative concepts and numeric control. Currently the underlying structures of semi-automated and automated processes in geometrical compilation resemble characteristics of a closed system that fully operates on chains of measurable numerical values. But architecture, art and design in the sense of an aesthetical organizational system, require an openness, imperfection and blur because in the process of making not all ideas and decisions develop equal nor linear. Aspects of a digital design workflow should be investigated that help to translate and evaluate early conceptual aspects that cope with the discrepancy of seizing slowly solidifying design ideas.

Through simulation processes that implement in a parametric design model, the making of design decisions accelerates. That kind of information can be valuated spatially by perception but also measured numerically and so allow for an additional level of design evaluation. The exploration of design assisting processes leads to new insights in behaviors of form, structure or shape, and results in exploitation of those internal logics. By evaluating specific effects or performances, geometric organizations will gain a level of additional intelligence, which helps to develop smarter configurations or geometries. Within the research project, interfaces that allow intuitive input and feed-back of design relevant data should be developed and applied as case studies. This may lead to starting points for new performative and morphological design vocabularies. Based on personal notions and an interdisciplinary context these conceptions can fuel artist’s, architect’s or personal innovations. Open source plug-in tools are about to establish a new collaborative design society, where the seed of new methods and profound reflection of the existing is greatly needed.

As a cluster of media artists, architects and computer scientists, we aim to fuse varying academic resources to an open productive process of creative and innovative research in the field of ‘art based (in)formation design’. With the support of our international partners the interdisciplinary team aims to dissect and intertwine contemporary concerns and concepts of all contributing disciplines, with the goal to create an articulated understanding regarding a rapidly transforming culture in the making of digital and physical space.

Klaus Bollinger, o.Univ.-Prof.Dipl.Ing.Dr.techn.
Moritz Heimrath, Mag.arch.
Daniela Kröhnert, Mag.arch.
Clemens Preisinger, Dr.Ing.
Robert Vierlinger, MSc.
Christoph Zimmel, BSc.