The Department of Architecture at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University hosted the prestigious 22nd international Conference of the Association for Computer-Aided Architectural Design in Asia: CAADRIA2017.

Researchers from all over Asia as well as the wider global digital architectural research community spent three days at XJTLU presenting and discussing cutting-edge research.

Projects discussed included those related to digital fabrication, robotics in architecture, building information modelling, interactive architecture and architectural-scale 3D printing, among others.

The four public keynote speeches reflected the current state-of-the-art in the field as well as visions for the future, ranging from a discussion of digital tools in collaborations between architects and engineers by Professor Manfred Grohmann (pictured below, right) from Bollinger + Grohmann engineers, Germany, to a critical reflection on the relationship between digitally designed and fabricated architecture and the local Chinese context by Professor Philip Yuan (Tongji University, China).

Architect Zhenfei Wang (HHD_FUN, China) presented projects from his architectural practice, illustrating how advanced digital design practice can engage with local village craftsmanship.

Professor Weiguo Xu (pictured above), Chair of the Department of Architecture at Tsinghua University, gave insights into the way architects across China now engage in digital architectural design practice in a keynote speech entitled ‘Towards a New Digital Architecture’.

Professory Xu’s speech also accompanied an exhibition of related works presented in the new exhibition space of the Design Building on the University’s South Campus.

The public keynote speeches and exhibition allowed students and staff of XJTLU, as well as other local universities, to gain immediate insights into a field that has made much progress in China in recent years, and has been selected as an area of focus for special governmental support in the coming years.

A series of six workshops preceded the main conference. Led by international experts, the workshops were offered to conference participants as well as XJTLU students and staff.

Workshop themes covered a broad spectrum of topics, including: parametric design for enhanced building performance, digital architectural heritage, wind tunnel and CFD analysis of built form, algorithmic design optimisation, creation of wall panels for sound design, and the creation of a large-scale interactive installation.

The conference organising team (conference chair Christiane M. Herr, Aleksandra Raonic, Glen Wash, Claudia Westermann, Cheng Zhang and Thomas Fischer) was supported by an enthusiastic team of volunteering students.

Working for the conference, student volunteers not only broadened their horizons on digital architectural design, but also learned from and made various contacts to international leading scholars in the field.

Several Year Three BEng Architecture students used the opportunity to invite keynote speaker and expert engineer Manfred Grohmann to review their structural design coursework, a conceptual design for a pedestrian bridge.

Chitraj Bissoonauth, a Master of Architectural Design student, quickly engaged with workshop leaders from The Singapore University of Technology and Design, and intends to keep collaborating through the testing of prototype optimisation software in his design studio work at XJTLU.

XJTLU students not only volunteered and assisted the CAADRIA2017 conference organisers, they were also among the paper co-authors and research collaborators.

Supported by XJTLU’s focus on research-led teaching as well as the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships, several papers presented at CAADRIA2017 were based on the work of undergraduate students in collaboration with their supervisors.

In addition, XJTLU PhD students working in related fields also presented papers, such as ‘Optimization of window-wall-ratio using bim-based energy simulation’, authored by Lijing Ong and Cheng Zhang of the Department of Civil Engineering.

Given the strong competition and very selective double-blind peer review process of CAADRIA, the XJTLU research community demonstrated great achievements at the same time as hosting the prestigious event.

Photos by Milan Ognjanovic

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