Master Design Studio

Cyberphysical Towers: Speculations on Digital / Physical Facade Patterns

EM2 Master Design Course; keywords: machine learning, design agency, innovative skyscrapers


“Cyberphysical Towers: Speculations on Digital / Physical Facade Patterns”​, this semester’s EM2 design studio at the, explores how new and advanced tools, techniques and automation technologies reshape the discipline’s contemporary design processes and its culture of representation. Through the exploration of emergent technologies, we will investigate novel ways of designing innovative skyscraper concepts and speculate about the role of intelligent facade structures within their contemporary socio-cultural context.

Ultimately, students will develop their own thesis and accompanying techniques to achieve the latter.

The design studio builds on the famous 1922 architectural competition for the Chicago Tribune Tower newspaper headquarters. Widely considered seminal for its global influence on the future of the field, this competition delineated a crucial point in architectural history, when traditional and progressive groups of architects and designers competed to define the hegemonial future of the architectural profession. The broad range of international submissions inspired multiple future hypotheses on the style of the new “modern age”. While Austrian architect Adolf Loos’ half-serious half-playful skyscraper proposal, for instance, inspired future generations of Postmodernists with their mundane objects, at the other end of the spectrum, Cowell and Hood’s winning proposal, in which they mixed commercial office tower design strategies with French Gothic ornamentation, went on to influence North American skyscrapers until the 1990s.

One hundred years later, as styles and technologies have advanced, highrise designs and concepts have come a long way, most recently culminating in the typology of the pencil tower, super slim highrise structures populating the contemporary city fabric and synonymous for the last decade’s socio-economic conditions.

But which emerging digital techniques and design strategies will shape the skyscraper in the post-digital age? If High-Tech was the architectural style of globalization and parametric architecture the style of the then-emerging digital era, can we call today’s style an intelligent architecture, then? Can artificial intelligence and machine learning tools become critical for redefining the building skin within its urban and social context? How can office environments reflect the novel and unprecedented occupation patterns in the age of knowledge economy?

We will explore these questions and develop a range of provocative and innovative intelligent Tribune skyscrapers.


If you want to get an insight into the studio, you can check out our Midterm Miro board and Finals Miro board.