BRREC161-2A, London Zoo, London, 1963 by Cedric Price in collabo


AA Rome Visiting School – IM/Material
Rome, Italy
Thursday 16 – Saturday 25 January 2014


Michelangelo Buonarroti said ’I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free’. Through the use of material he could represent at least three immaterial substances: his subconscious, the negative mass surrounding the sculpture and a parallel world where material is forbidden. Has Architects’ engagement with virtual space meant a vanishing sensitivity towards material and other immaterial realms?

Mafoombey 1 (1)

Mafoombey Acoustic Space – Martti Kalliala & Esa Ruskeepää_drawings

The AA Rome Visiting School-10 day workshop encourages the observation of material elements and their use in the design of architecture featuring subconscious experiences, spatial voids and virtual communities. Students will investigate modern materials and their digital fabrication by direct experience. They will work with algorithms and sensors able to recognise and respond to human feelings and attitudes. Students will feed novel expressions of void spaces into the Roman tradition featuring examples like the ancient catacombs and the Nolli map. Through augmented reality design the projects will open a window into an digital virtual world. By the end of the workshop students will unveil their interpretation of the material/immaterial form hidden in the real matter.


Mafoombey Acoustic Space – Martti Kalliala & Esa Ruskeepää

STAGE #1_Digital Tools

Initially the workshop will introduce parametric modelling (Rhino and Grasshopper among others). The software induction will build the necessary skills for addressing the technical challenges of the workshop.



STAGE #2_Materialization of the Void (immaterial)

Students will be split into groups in order to develop projects assigned by the tutors. This stage will be dedicated to digital and physical model making. Several software (Rhino, Grasshopper, Photoshop) and various fabrication techniques, including laser cutting and 3D printing, will be used. Students will focus on the idea of “immaterial substance” and their research will be supported by a series of lecture on architectural precedents and cutting-edge researches.

biblioteque copia

 OMA – Tres Grande Bibliotheque

STAGE #3_Materialization of the Mass (material)

This stage is dedicated to the fabrication of a 1:1-scale structure relying on digital techniques.


KL+NB architects – Artificial Landscape


Programme Directors/Tutors

Lorenzo Vianello graduated in architecture in Italy in 2005. From 2005 to 2013 he collaborated with several firms, including Foster + partners, OMA, Studio Fuksas and UNStudio. From 2009 to 2011 he deepened his research, attending the Design Research Laboratory programme at the Architectural Association. Here he was guided by tutor Patrik Schumacher, partner at Zaha Hadid Architects, during the development of his final thesis. The theme of the thesis was a proto-tower, system of algorithms that generate projects of high-rises with optimized properties for different environments and functional programmes. Lorenzo is currently a teacher at Oxford Brookes University and programme co-director of the AA Rome Visiting School.

Arturo Tedeschi, architect, since 2004 complemented professional practice in Italy with a personal research on parametric design and form-finding techniques, focusing on relationships between architecture and new design tools. In 2010 he published “Parametric Architecture with Grasshopper”, a bestseller book on parametric modeling, now in its second edition and translated in English. In the same year he cooperated with Zaha Hadid Architects in London. Since 2011 he has been directing and teaching workshops on parametric design in Italy, including the AA Rome Visiting School.


Lawrence Friesen studied at Dalhousie University and worked at a number of architectural practices in Canada before setting up the design geometry studio at Buro Happold. In the past nine years he has taken part in a number of complex projects whose innovative realisation entailed digital fabrication. Currently he works as consultant at Generative Geometry and technical studies and Rome Visiting School tutor at the Architectural Association.

Ferdinand Fritz studied architecture at the University of Innsbruck. At the moment he teaches at the University of Innsbruck. The connection between theory and the built environment is to be read as a challenge and to be regarded as continuous development. By formulating its approach to describe architecture, he took part in events (Biennale 2012 extension express, Konkrete Utopie), exhibitions (Industry Gallery Washington) and interventions (HFA house for algorithms, Freies Theater Innsbruck). Built environment is in its articulation in a constant exchange and discourse between music, art and architecture. 

Tutors’ Assistant

Maurizio Arturo Degni computational designer, is a specialist in the field of energy and environmental analysis related to complex systems with a particular focus on parametric and optimization strategies. He worked for several offices in Italy such as Studio Kami and J.M. Schivo where he collaborated on many international competitions, projects and research activities. He is currently involved in a series of parametric design workshops in Italy, directed by Arturo Tedeschi, including the AA Rome Visiting School.

Guest Lecturer

Toru Hasegawa has focused on teaching, research and architecture in New York City and Tokyo since 2006. Toru is currently a Co-director of Columbia GSAPP’s Cloud Lab and a Co-creator of  The Morpholio Project, researching the ways in which the proliferation of device culture, the development of the cloud and the ubiquity of social networking are collectively shaping the creative process. Toru is also an adjunct assistant faculty member at the Columbia University GSAPP where he teaches advanced design studios, seminars on building construction technology and spatial computing. In addition, along with Mark Collins, Toru is a Co-founder of Proxy which explores potentials within the computational paradigm for a range of clients and institutions, providing expertise in both design and realization. Morpholio seeks to create a new platform for presentation, dialogue and collaboration relevant to all designers, artists and members of any image driven culture advancing the ways that we discuss, debate, and critique our work with a global community.



Galleria di architettura “Come Se”

via dei Bruzi 4
00185 ROME

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Rome, Italy


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DA Workshops



1) You can make an application by completing the online application found under ‘Links and Downloads’ on the AA Visiting School page. If you are not able to make an online application, email visitingschool@aaschool.ac.uk for instructions to pay by bank transfer.

2) Once you complete the online application and make a full payment, you are registered to the programme. A CV or a portfolio is not required.

All participants travelling from abroad are responsible for securing any visa required, and are advised to contact their home embassy early. After payment of fees, the AA School can provide a letter confirming participation in the workshop.


The AA Visiting School requires a fee of £695 per participant, which includes a £60 Visiting membership fee.

Fees do not include flights or accommodation, but accommodation options can be advised. Students need to bring their own laptops, digital equipment and model making tools. Please ensure this equipment is covered by your own insurance as the AA takes no responsibility for items lost or stolen at the workshop.


The workshop is open to current architecture and design students, phd candidates and young professionals. Software Requirements: basic knowledge of Rhinoceros or other 3D modeling software.


For any request please contact:


Lorenzo Vianello and Arturo Tedeschi

Programme directors of the AA Rome Visiting School

E-mail: rome@aaschool.ac.uk




Q: What kind of technical/software skills are required?

A: The AA Rome Visiting School is an intensive workshop on computational design. No previous experience or software proficiency is required, though a basic knowledge of three-dimensional modeling is preferred.

Q: Which software will be taught and used within the workshop?

A: You will be taught either Rhinoceros/Grasshopper. The first 2 days of the AA Rome Visiting School will be based on a series of tutorials aiming to provide proficiency in the mentioned software. You are anyway encouraged to use also other software, which you may already be familiar with.


Q: I’m an Italian student and I’m not a fluent English speaker, may I have any difficulties?

A: Tutorials and lectures will be held in English. Italian tutors will provide support in Italian. The workshop environment is collaborative and doesn’t require you to speak only in English.


Q: Do I receive a refund if I decide not to participate at the AA Rome Visiting School after the fees payment.

A: Fees cannot be refunded under any circumstances. The only exception is if for any reason the AA School have to cancel the the AA Rome Visiting School, In this case, you will receive a £635 refund. The £60 Visiting Membership cannot get refunded, but you will earn benefits and services for visiting members within the Architectural Association for one year.


Q: Does the AA School provide accommodation in Rome?

A: The AA does not provide accommodation, but can advise on appropriate options.


Q: Do the students receive any certificate of participation?

A: Yes, the students that attend the lessons and discuss the final project will receive a Certificate of Participation from the Architectural Association.

Frequently Asked Questions


Can we overcome the assumption that urban environments are static, passive systems? In questioning and rethinking our expectations, we learn that architecture can transform itself in response to the constant change of our surroundings.

The 10-day architectural workshop AA Visiting School ‘Form as (Dynamic) Unknown’ is an experimental laboratory in which kinetic interactive structures are researched and designed. International students develop novel solutions, building upon the experiments of great Italian innovators. Drawing on the work of Leonardo Da Vinci, participants design robotic systems inspired by nature. Projects will transform by adapting to environmental conditions and social behaviours happening at real and virtual levels. The internet, similar to the SuperSurface prophesied by SuperStudio, is considered as the virtual layer of data-exchange cutting across Rome and the rest of the world.

By the end of the workshop students will have developed their own interpretation of the future of architecture. Advancing design strategies that embrace the complex and unpredictable nature of the city will lead to forms as “dynamic unknown”.


Konstantinos Kotsyfis, Mariel Cremlis, Martina Rosati, Sofia Weller
Insect Invasion
Graziantonio Ceglie, Aidan Carruthers, Jinting Yang, Lu Meng Yue
Weave XY
Valentina Angelucci, Angelo Figliola, Tian Miao, Alexander Walzer
Adaptive Interpolated Geometry
Benjamin Stevenson, Elnaz Ghazi, Fabio Gastaldello, Mattia Santi
Elastic Morphogenesis
Federico Cosimo Biancullo, Federico Borello, Massimiliano Manno
Chris Borg Costanzi, Mostafa Rabea, Zhanna Nazarenko, Wei An Wang
Rotational Strategies
Elaine Bonavia, Paolo Franco, Lorenzo Massimiano, Costanza Santovetti

Teaching staff

The programme is directed by Lorenzo Vianello, architect at Foster + Partners, and Arturo Tedeschi, architect and independent researcher. The workshop will be held by the two directors with Lawrence Friesen, tutor at the AA, and Josef Musil, architect at Foster + Partners.








Technology is the Answer, but what was the Question?



17 > 26 October 2012

Form as Unknown (X)



The workshop allowed students to develop research on computational parametric design, making links to pioneering Italian experiments from the past. In particular the debate focused on the idea of “form as unknown” conceived by Roman engineer Sergio Musmeci. According to his design strategy, the form should not be superimposed, but deduced through the optimization of its conditions. The course researched and developed computational strategies which adapt morphology according to local site conditions and, more importantly, to social needs. The computational approach enabled us to overcome the imposition of a prefixed form in order to embrace performance-driven designs. Lectures on current mainstream and academic research, as well as digital fabrication prototyping, have been integrated into the workshop, divided into three parts:

1) Tooling

The workshop initially introduced parametric modelling and design to the students. The software induction (to programmes Rhino and Grasshopper amongst others) built the necessary skills for addressing the technical challenges of using analytical data – environmental and human behavioural patterns – to inform design strategies in form generation.

2) Material systems

The class developed computational investigation through experiments of material behaviours. The aim was to understand chosen structural strategies in nature and outline their rules. The research of an abstract machine formed the basis of the design concept. Physical experiments are taken and analysed to analytically describe the process of form definition, useful to the coding of the project strategies.

3) Generative strategies and morphological actualization

The earlier analysed behavioural systems have been explored to form the design strategies responsive to architectural, urban and environmental contexts. Further, the material system behaviours have been digitally translated into parametric models. After the context parameters are defined, the interactions with the local conditions are followed up by formal solutions, which balance optimum performances and elegance. AA Rome Visiting School aimed to research and develop bottom-up design strategies, where given the variables the final form is “unknown”.











Reading list

1) T. Campbell. Beyond Smart Cities: How Cities Network, Learn and Innovate

2) M. Fox. Interactive architecture

3) S. Hardingham. Cedric Price: Opera

4) M. De Landa. A thousand years of nonlinear history

5) K. Terzidis. Algorithmic Architecture

6) A. Tedeschi. Parametric Architecture with Grasshopper

7) M. Banzi. Getting Started with Arduino

8) R. Woodbury. Elements of Parametric Design

9) P. Lang. Superstudio: Life Without Objects

10) J. Moloney. Designing Kinetics for Architectural Facades: State Change

11) P. Howes, Z. Laughlin. Material Matters: New Materials in Design

12) Hensel, Mengesm,Weinstock. Emergent Technologies and Design. Towards a biological paradigm for architecture

13) B.Peters, X. de Kestelier. Computation Works. The Building of Algorithmic Thought

14) C. Beorkrem. Material Strategies in Digital Fabrication

15) VV.AA. AD. Inside Smartgeometry