Presentation and discussion at INSEAD

Sam Joyce contributed to panel discussions at INSEAD on "Smart City & Mobility" Specifically looking at the application of AI on Smart Cities.


Talk at HKS

Sam Joyce and Nazim Ibrahim is happy to be part of the HKS global Green Week 2019. He will be presenting on the topic of: "'Creative' Computation : The New Industry Disruptor" Showing current work which looks at generative design and design exploration towards a collaborative approach to using computation with designers in practice.


Researcher Search for Aviation Experts

We are looking for new people to join the lab in the field of aviation; focusing on building design, analytics and master planning. They will be working with us and collaborators to explore the future needs of aviation, working towards finding new insight and solutions to airport terminals. If you are interested please look at the below links and apply.

Senior Role

Researcher Role


Start of new Aviation Initiative

Meta Design Lab is proud to be engaged to undertake research as part of a Singapore University of Technology and Design wide Aviation Center of Excellence. Its role will be to lead one of the key thrusts, looking at the future of airport terminal design taking the ambitious target of considering aviation design in 2050.

More details will follow.


Sam Joyce Featured on Channel News Asia

Channel News Asia did a segment on the impact of climate change in Singapore and its physical implications on our infrastructure planning and design. The segment featured an interview with Meta Lab's Assistant Prof Sam Conrad Joyce and can be found at this link, it starts at the 20.50min mark.


SUTD IDC Talk – Generating Novelty : Exploring beyond parametric generative design.

Sam Joyce will be holding a talk at the IDC Seminar Series on research looking at approaches to computationally generating diverse parametric designs.

Current state of the art in Architecture often centers around the use of parametric associative design tools. These allow for wider automation of geometric operations, and exploration including optimisation of design space than possible with more analogue approaches. However with greater familiarity of these tools has begun to show inflexibly and difficulty in terms of reconfiguring the parametric models to generate new solutions. This research looks at the use of Cartesian Genetic Programming to automatically build Directed Acyclic Graphs, these can replace models as built by human users. This ‘Meta-Parametric’ method allows for a near infinite number of possibilities, potentially much wider exploration of design space; however equally this creates new challenges in how to filter out ‘deign-noise', direct, and derive meaning from an approach which now has too much design diversity. User lead interactive evolutionary optimisation is shown as potential way that also opens up new ways for human and computers to co-create.

A web based demo of the system can be found in this link .


Welcome Bianchi

We are pleased to welcome Bianchi Dy to Meta Design Lab!

Bianchi’s background is originally in Environmental Engineering. She obtained her bachelor’s degree at Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) under the Singapore Cooperation Programme and first began to explore the intersection between computer science, architecture and urban planning as a Research Assistant at the Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore (NUS). Her previous work involved the front-end development of a Rhinoceros API and a Grasshopper plug-in for the Sortal Grammar Interpreter, a computational engine for architectural and urban planning shape grammars. As Research Assistant at Meta Design Lab; her interests lie in the development of decision support and design exploration tools for architects, urban planners, and engineers.


Meta Design Lab presents work at the Venice Biennale

The lab was proud to be able to show the results of a number of workshops with Kyoto Institute of Technology over this year held in Singapore, Kyoto and Venice on the topic of data landscapes. This work was presented as part of the Singapore National Pavilion, supported by Design Singapore and Urban Development Agency and curated by SUTD's Professor Erwin Viray. The work responded to the wide theme of 'Free Space' and the Singapore pavilion's theme of 'No more free space' by looking at using social media to understand crowding, emotion response, and national populations in the three target cities. Focusing on the interaction between tourists and locals to study how space is used at a social level and how this can inform of how this translates at a physical level.

The pavilion will be open until 25th November, link to the pavilion site link

Example Output


Welcome Grace

We are pleased to welcome Grace Goh to Meta Design Lab!

Grace has a background in front-end development and UI/UX design. She graduated in 2018 from Carnegie Mellon University with a B.S in Cognitive Science and Human-Computer Interaction. Her main area of interest is in human-centered design, particularly in how everyday technologies can be leveraged to encourage learning and exploration of new concepts and ideas. She is currently developing a Vue library for creating composite data-visualisations by adapting the grammar of graphics. She hopes that such tools combined with a focus on technical literacy can turn digital spaces into educational and informative platforms. Grace’s past work can be accessed at


Workshop at Kyoto Institute of Technology and Design

Sam Joyce was pleased to lead a workshop entitled "Decoding Data Landscapes" as the D-Lab in KIT. It was held in the new D-Space and had over 30 participants from all over the world. The workshop investigated the use of big-data and social media as a indirect vector of agency for the general public in informing and directing social spaces.


Smart Geometry Cluster

Meta Lab's Sam Joyce and Verina Cristie are pleased to be involved in Smart Geometry 7-12th May 2018 in Toronto.

The cluster is entitled 'behavioural enviro[NN]ments' and undertaken in collaboration with Kate Jeffery a Professor of Behavioural Neuroscience and Wellcome Trust Investigator at UCL and Jonathan Irawan a Computational Designer at Hassell Studio.

A synopsis of the cluster aims are below:
Autonomous, hyper adaptive and responsive buildings and environments have been a topic of obsession for many designers and architects since the 1960s. Nicholas Negroponte envisioned a system that enables an architect to create an intelligence to design the building themselves. Within the Architecture Machine Group at MIT, they created The ‘Seek’, a computer-controlled landscape environment full of small blocks which were inhabited by gerbils. It was the task of the machine to analyse the variation between reality and virtual models with the responsibility of keeping the original plan intact if possible, which was then used to predict the future behaviour of the gerbils. Unfortunately however, the system was not successful, due to an unclear criteria and high number of permutations in variables of disruptions and behaviour. The cluster will revisit the project, incorporating modern advancements in Machine learning algorithms and techniques to transform our own version of the dynamic environment itself into a neural network. The environment, in an attempt to predict the occupancy behaviour and usage pattern preferences of gerbils, will utilise reinforcement functions based on movement(navigational) patterns and spatial usage. The final aim is to create a landscape that would best suit the daily behaviour or activities of the small animal subjects.

A video with the development of the workshop can be found here workshop video

A link to the cluster details can be found here behavioural enviro[NN]ments


犬島 – Inujima Mapping Study Trip with Kazuyo Sejima Architects

Sam Joyce was involved in a mapping and study trip with Kazuyo Sejima and her firm. The trip took SUTD students to the small island of Inujima. Inujima is a small ageing population as well as developing Art island linked to the Benesse Foundation. Students worked to investigate the link between local residents, artists, and visitors. Looking to new ways to drive better integration between the different parties though sharing experiences in person and online.


Social Spatial Office Analytics

New work developed by the lab looking at how matrix methods can be applied to identifying properties and clusters within office networks. This approach takes both social data (emails, directed messages) and spatial data (office floor plans) and develop a rationale for placing users into space to support their social networks and potentially change their behavior beneficially.

A mini-site for this work can be found here: link


Search for new researcher

Due to the award of a new SUTD-MIT joint research grant, we are now looking for a key post-doc or experienced researcher to help us. The project aims to research, develop and test data-visualisation for design, but taking a 'decision-first' approach looking at how data can be used to support good design decisions rather than simply make good visualisations.

A job spec and contact information can be found here: link


Meta Parametric Design : Interactive Website
Exploring the evolution convergence of parametric models

Work presented at ACADIA 2017 in MIT, Massachusetts. The research investigates the effect of applying genetic programming applied to parametric models. We look into measuring the geometric and parametric complexity of models which are derived through evolutionary optimisation. Parametric models are defined as genomes using Cartesian Genetic Programming a method of developing logical structures which are consistent with parametric definitions. These enable machine learning processes to manipulate and define autonomously parametric models.
This work has a complimentary website, where you are invited to explore the process. Using basic parametric components and automatically generated designs, which are optimised both based on hard objectives and also user interaction.

The website can be explored here: link

The paper can be found here: link


Gh Shot

New work implemented by Verina and presented at IASS 2017 in Hamburg. Concept based on experimenting with using servers as project repositories for design visioning. Taking inspiration from Git type code systems but allowing them to work for design modelling. Current work is integrated with the Grasshopper parametric associative software.

More information can be found here: here


Exploring Tweeting and Kyoto

The lab has been investigating the application of big-data to understand how people experience cities. Visually exploring a dataset of 12 million Tweets geo-tagged in Kyoto and sent between 2011 to 2015. Using this data to obtain insights into areas of activity.

This work is ongoing but Some initial work can be seen here


Parametric Design Space Exploration Site On-Line

We have some initial work by Nazim on exploring on the web how we can see the development of models which have been evolved. Here we look at 'Meta-parametric' models a higher level computational representation of parametric model which could open the doors to A.I. based creativity in architectural design. The aim is to understand the effects of application of Cartesian Genetic Programming (CGP) [Miller, Julian F. 2011] as a mechanism to construct and control parametric models generatively using an evolvable digital genome. Initial results are exciting as the point to effects on the performance and complexity of the parametric model and resultant output geometry.

This tool allows one to see the effects of a chosen number of iterations of evolution on a chosen population size, using a selectable 'palette' of components under different mating and selection criteria.

The research is ongoing and being developed for publication.

The site can be explored here


Verina presents at the 15th International Conference on Computers in Urban Planning and Urban Management, Adelaide

Verina will be presenting a big-data paper "Connecting the dots: using Twitter for design insights into social behaviour around metro transport nodes in Singapore and beyond" at University of Southern Australia, Adelaide.

This is research in collaboration with social geographer Ate Poorthuis looking at how Twitter can be used to understand what activities happen around metro stations and comparing 5 Asian cities; Singapore - Hongkong - Kuala Lumpur - Bangkok - Osaka.

More info here


Jurong East Emoji Mini Site launched 😀

We present here some early work looking at how we can use Twitter to measure happiness by using specialised twitter data.

This work uses Emoji (picture characters originally developed in 1999 for mobile phones) as a language unspecific way of capturing the feelings of locals and visitors in relation to specific places. The data is shown using d3 visualisation allowing users to explore the data and find paces of activity, sentiment and emotion in the current Jurong East.

The site can be explored here


Sam To present at the International Conference on Design Creativity.

Sam will be presenting a paper entitled "Ecological and Economic Concepts for a Mixed Initiative Networked Design Infrastructure" at Georgia Tech, Atlanta.

This work focuses on the required collaboration infrastructure required to enable a parity between human and machine participants in the processes of creative design, design analysis and optimisation and the and design review. This paper looks at how financial markets as well as ecological and evolutionary environments can provide effective feedback on individual actors to enable a balanced design system.

The paper can be found here


Sam To present at the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures, Tokyo.

Sam will be presenting a paper entitled "Cloud Based Design Option Control Systems a Discussion and Implementation". It considers the definition of needs for networked systems to support creative engineering and architectural design. It focuses on the plurality of the design process, how design teams use multiple alternate and hierarchical model representations of a design at any one time. The paper compares this process with technology current used by software developers to version code, looking at how these concepts can be applied using cloud computing to AEC design contexts.

The paper can be found here


Verina Begins a PhD

Verina has been successfully awarded the prestigious Singapore University of Technology and Design President’s Graduate Fellowship to pursue a PhD in SUTD under Professor Sam Joyce. Her work-in-progress aim is to explore applications of computation to enable wider public interaction and engagement with the architectural design process. Specifically focusing on methods which enable grass-roots design initiatives in fast developing cities to leap-fog existing planning and public consultation processes.


Welcome Verina!

Verina has joined us from FCL. She comes from a computer science background, especially the application of computer graphics and game engines to enable wider designer and audience understanding of complex issues. She will be working on the application of web-services in early stage conceptual design, under the 'Automated Design Space Exploration' IDC project.


Welcome Nazim!

Nazim Has joined us from NUS. His previous work looked and generative design and Houdini for working on energy models and building optimisation. He will now be working on the 'Automated Design Space Exploration' project. Focusing on approaches to enable more flexibility in Parametric modelling tools by investigating their use on both the server and client side web. As well as investigating machine learning approaches to generating parametric models, using techniques such as Genetic Cartesian Programming.


Sam talks at FCL

Sam Joyce will give a presentation at the Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) on the NUS Create campus as part of their Lunch Talks series. The talk is titled "Interactive Design Computers and Users" and will cover how machine learning, the web and data visualisation is combining to develop new design environments towards enabling multiple stakeholders and designers to collaborate in new and exciting ways.


New group member Andre Chaszar

Andre has joined us from an urban studies and big data project at SUTD, after extensive experience in design, research, teaching and consulting in Europe and the Americas. At META Design Lab he is focused on developing new thinking around existing computational methods, looking at their limits and how new approaches can extend or exceed these to improve design as a result. His main areas of inquiry here include: generative design, machine learning and "mixed-initiative" systems, encompassing topics such as parametric-associative modelling, genetic programming, multi-criterion optimisation, design space exploration, problem-solution co-evolution and preference learning.


New website!

Our group has developed this site as a window into our current activities. We hope you like it and welcome any feedback or communication.


IDC project start

Today marked the official start of our pilot project "Automated Design Space Exploration" within the Sustainable Built Environment grand challenge at SUTD-MIT/IDC .



GHShot: 3D Design Versioning for Learning and Collaboration in the Web

During the process of design, copies of files are often stored to track changes and design development or to ensure that previous work will not be lost. In software design field, such process is supported using versioning system, where source code is saved intermittently when features are added or modified for individual or group use. We argue that similar versioning system will also benefit the design community when applied to 3D design files, to see how their designs progress and collaborate. In this paper we outline a implemented web based open ecosystem allows designers to similarly collaborate but with a lower bar for adoption than comparable software versioning system. Our system is to be applied to a classroom setting, where architecture students learn to make structural designs; they are then able to see, modify, and give feedback to each other's work.

Full article here


Exploring the Evolution of Meta Parametric Models

Parametric associative logic can describe complex design scenarios but are typically non-trivial and time consuming to develop. Optimization is being widely applied in many fields to find high-performing solutions to objective design needs, and this is being extended further to include user input to satisfy subjective preferences. However, whilst conventional optimization approaches can set good parameters for a model, they cannot currently improve the underlying logic defined by the associative topology of the model, leaving it limited to predefined domain of designs. This work looks at the application of Cartesian Genetic Programming (CGP) as a method for allowing the automatic generation, combination and modification of valid parametric models, including topology. This has value as it allows for a much greater range of solutions, and potentially computational "creativity," as it can develop unique and surprising solutions. However, the application of a genome-based definition and evolutionary optimization, respectively, to describe parametric models and develop better models for a problem, introduce many unknowns into the model generation process. This paper explains CGP as applied to parametric design and investigates the difference between using mating, mutating and both strategies together as a way of combining aspects of parent models, under selection by a genetic algorithm under random, objective and user (Interactive GA) preferences. We look into how this effects the resultant over iterated interaction in relation to both the geometry and the parametric model.

Full article here


Connecting the dots: using Twitter for design insights into social behaviour around metro transport nodes in Singapore and beyond

There is increasing interest in understanding the use of urban space around heavily trafficked areas like transport interchanges; both in terms of their cultural social commercial use (Cha, 2001) but also in the context of ‘last mile’ journeys. However, this type of use is often not captured in traditional census, survey or transportation data. This research focuses on the use of social media data to develop insight into how spaces around public transportation stations are used in a comparative study of metro stations in several Asian cities. It focuses on finding similarities and differences between such spaces, including how different master planning and key urban amenities affect use. Specifically, this research aids in devising strategies to promote wider use and interconnectedness of area around stations and to understand the impact of large dense agglomerated building typologies, which are becoming a feature especially in Asian cities (Frampton et al., 2012).

Full article here


Cloud Based Design Option Control Systems a Discussion and Implementation

The paper discusses a newly developed cloud based design-model version control system for supporting manual and semi-automated generative design via a web-based platform which enables exploration and retrieval of designs and the solicitation of users' evaluations of them to enable interactive genetic algorithms to produce preference optimised design options. The current needs of a commercial building engineering-design context is considered and relevant state-of-the-art computational design software is appraised, the review also covers software development based version-control-systems, identifying unmet needs in the former which could be solved by the latter which is the motivation for this work. A description of the new system's rational and current developmental architecture and technical components derived in response to these needs follows. Principal features include an online repository of design options, a parity between of users (human and machine) creating and acting upon the design options which align with existing tasks and processes undertaken by a design team. An example structural frame design problem is explored, discussing how the system functions to support performance based creative design via exploration, including visualisation and data dashboard of a design session. We discuss further work that could be undertaken to improve and widen the impact of this repository and collaborative human machine approach. We conclude that such systems addresses pressing software infrastructure requirements for the AEC industry especially for expanding the range of design options considered and managed particularly for early-stage design activities.

Full article here


Ecological and Economic Concepts for a Mixed Initiative Networked Design Infrastructure

This paper describes the conceptual underpinnings of a infrastructure currently in development which aims to provide a computational environment for productive and creative human and computer co-creation of architectural design artefacts in an open, networked collaborative system. It identifies some key collaborative activities in design and looks to combine these within a system geared towards the productive utilisation of various agents involved towards developing a range of good design options. It takes as a conceptual foundation the application and hybridisation of evolutionary, ecological and economic principles. This approach is outlined with special emphasis on aligning with, and maximising the benefit of, an internet/network based infrastructure, connecting the design agents, supporting human/machine parity. The contribution for this paper is to assess the creative design context of the AEC industry, especially at early conceptual and ideation stages, and compare this against existing tools and paradigms used during creative design, to propose a new technological intervention to support these activities.

The paper can be found here


IJAC article - Generating freedom: questions of flexibility in digital design and architectural computation out now...

In response to the call for papers of the special edition of the International Journal of Architectural Computing entitled Design with Freedom we have written an article considering the flexibilities and limitations afforded by 'manual' design and prevalent computational design paradigms.

Generative processes and generative design approaches are topics of continuing interest and debate within the realms of architectural design and related fields. While they are often held up as giving designers the opportunity (the freedom) to explore far greater numbers of options/alternatives than would otherwise be possible, questions also arise regarding the limitations of such approaches on the design spaces explored, in comparison with more conventional, human-centric design processes. This article addresses the controversy with a specific focus on parametric-associative modelling and genetic programming methods of generative design. These represent two established contenders within the pool of procedural design approaches gaining increasingly wide acceptance in architectural computational research, education and practice. The two methods are compared and contrasted to highlight important differences in freedoms and limitations they afford, with respect to each other and to ‘manual’ design. We conclude that these methods may be combined with an appropriate balance of automation and human intervention to obtain ‘optimal’ design freedom, and we suggest steps towards finding that balance.


Web Based Data Visualisation Applied to Creative Decision Making in Parametric Structural Design

Research surveying the history of data visualisation from a design and engineering point of view. Followed by investigation of the application of modern web based approaches as used in design decision making for a number of commercial case study projects.

Full article here


Thinking Topologically at Early Stage Parametric Design

Research into the use of parametric modelling in the creative and optimisation process. Limits are identified with respect to topological differentiation on the parametric models and thus the variation of the resultant models. Novel methods of increasing the topological variability are discussed in the cortex of early stage design along with it's implication.

Full article here


Progress towards Multi-Criteria Design Optimisation using DesignScript with SMART Form, Robot Structural analysis and Ecotect building performance analysis

Paper co authored with Robert Aish of Autodesk Research, Andrew Marsh of Ecotect and Al Fisher of Buro Happold. Paper documents the thinking and implementation of design evaluation and optimisation with a parametric associative programming language based design interface 'Design Script', which is now integrated into Autodesk Revit as the engine behind Dynamo.

Full article here


Multi-objective design optimisation: Getting more for less

Paper for the Institution of Civil Engineers special edition journal investigating the use of optimisation to assist design and engineering decision making. Evolutionary algorithms used to find performance trade-offs by automating parametric models and linked structural and environmental analysis.

Full article here

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