module specification

AR7047 - Digital Design Techniques (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Digital Design Techniques
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 200
164 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 30% 50 2D Representation - Diagramming/Technical (Students must obtain an aggregate of 50% on the first two assignments)
Coursework 30% 50 3D Representation - Diagramming (Students must obtain an aggregate of 50% on the first two assignments)
Coursework 40% 50 3D Representation - Rendered/Animation
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester City Wednesday Evening

Module summary

The module investigates contemporary uses and tools of digital media in relation to architecture.
Semester: Autumn
Prerequisite: None
Assessment: 30% 2D Representation, 30% 3D Representation - Diagraming, 40% 3D Representation Rendered/Animation

Prior learning requirements


Module aims

The module is structured around lectures, presentations, demonstrations and computer workshops. 

The main aims are:
1. •  To investigate the contemporary use and tools of digital media within design systems, modelling, and representation.
2. •  To consider the historical, theoretical and practical relationship between architecture/interior design and representation.
3. •  To consider a philosophical, ethical, and spatial understanding of digital tools within contemporary design.
4. •  To discuss the technology used in the practice of architecture and interior design, particularly in reference to representation but also including aspects of communication, collaborations and documentation.
5. •  To gain an ability to discriminate and to utilise the investigated tools of digital design, modelling, and representation in a sophisticated manner.


The module is taught in 12 sessions.  The sessions will contain small theoretical lectures, group discussions and computer workshops with primary emphasis on the computer skills workshops.  The workshops will focus on contemporary software modelling and representation applications and will focus on generative/design tools and their relationship to representation (instead of focusing on representational-only software).

The following is a list of lecture topics that might be covered.

• Architectural representation (historical and theoretical).Digital design systems and mass customisation
Introduction to the process of CAD/CAM
Single Building Models (SBM’s) and production information

• Vector vs. raster graphics.
Complex systems and datascapes
Information driven design
Similarity and difference, repetitions and morphologies

• Architectural information dissemination (historical, practical and theoretical)
The collaborative process of architecture and modes of communication
Digital systems, communication and technology
Document creation, management, and databasing

The following is a list of workshop topics that might be covered.
• Basic entities, objects, and elements
Line weights, fonts, colours and compositional entities
Complex elements, macros, settings and customisations
Document design, production and output

• Advanced entities and basic 3d elements
Advanced 3d and object modifications
Object manipulation and element associations
Descriptive geometry . . . complexity simplified

• Basic rendering techniques
Basic animation
Advanced object modelling
Advanced object manipulations.

Learning and teaching

Twelve three-hour teaching sessions combine lectures, demonstrations and workshops. Teaching sessions will normally include an introductory lecture/demonstration followed by computer workshops (with a workshop emphasis):

1. workshops which demonstrate the use of computers and the documents they create, which are required for effective communication and spatial thinking within the design process
2. workshops in which students collaborate in small groups to create documents, models, and representations created within architectural practice at various stages within the design process.

Learning outcomes

1. •demonstrate advanced knowledge, conceptual ability and  sensitivity within appropriate digital – design systems, modelling, and representation tools.
2. express an awareness of some basic concepts in the theory of architectural representation in relation to digital media.
3. demonstrate an awareness of the philosophical, ethical, and spatial consequences of digital design and representation and position oneself according to one’s understanding.
4. develop a general knowledge of professional implications involved in the technology of representation and its practical manifestation.
5. demonstrate the ability to utilise advanced software features efficiently; with minimal effort and   maximum results, by producing different stages of modelling and representation with some group work required.

Assessment strategy

Assessment Instruments
In order to pass this module students will have to:
achieve a pass mark in the last and 1 of the 2 first submissions.

Each student will be required to produce three representations of a small design project/precedent. Each representation will need to demonstrate a different phase within the projects development or conception and will be presented using consistent techniques and efficient and skilled manoeuvres (Capability C5). The student's contribution to group work and (digital) collaborative documents will also be assessed (Capability C4). The third stage of representation will be assessed in continuation with the two former stages and will be weighted with the validation of evidence in consistency and strategy within graphic design, representation and information dissemination (Capability C6)

Assessment: Coursework 100%


Because of rapid evolutions within the digital environment bibliographies are revised annually and disseminated with other module materials at the beginning of the semester. Sample readings include:

1. Ron K.C. Cheng, Inside Rhinoceros 4, OnWord Press (Acquired Titles); 3 edition (September 6, 2007)
2. Benjamin Aranda, Christopher Lasch, Cecil Balmond, and Sanford Kwinter, Tooling (Pamphlet Architecture), Princeton Architectural Press; 1 edition (December 31, 2006)
3. Reiser + Umemoto, Atlas of Novel Tectonics, Princeton Architectural Press; 1 edition (December 31, 1899)
4. Kostas Terzidis, Expressive Form, Spon Press (Nov 13, 2003)
5. Kostas Terzidis, Algorithmic Architecture, Architectural Press (June 21, 2006)
6. Leach, Neil  (2002)  Designing for a Digital World
7. Callicott, Nick (2001) Computer-Aided Manufacture in Architecture
8. Rahim, Ali  (2002) AD - Contemporary Techniques in Architecture
9. Rahim, Ali  (2000) AD – Contemporary Processes in Architecture
10. Lars Spuybroek, Off the Road - 5 Speed, Contemporary Processes in  Architecture, Architectural Design [ed. Ali Rahim], London, 2000, pp.56-61.