Towards Communication in CAAD: Spectral Characterisation and Modelling with Conjugate Symbolic Domains

Nikola Marinčić


Thesis supervisors:

Prof. Ludger Hovestadt, ETH Zurich

Prof. Vera Bühlmann, TU Vienna

Prof. Elias Zafiris, University Athens

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Towards Communication in CAAD: Spectral Characterisation and Modelling with Conjugate Symbolic Domains

Computer-aided architectural design today, deeply involved with the structuralist paradigm, converges around two principal directions: top-down/parametric, and bottom-up/grammatical. This research tries to sketch an alternative by learning from theories and technologies that have enabled Internet to overcome the structuralist limitations and become the infrastructure for communication. To do so, it engages with a broad body of knowledge, ranging from abstract algebra to glossematics and machine learning. Hypothesis of this work is that the prerequisite for establishing such communicational model in architecture is the ability to establish coexistence between symbolic domains that are different in nature. As an experiment, an architectural problem of similarities/differences between spaces is transformed into an equivalent problem in a conjugate symbolic domain. There, problems of similarity and difference are investigated from the linguistic perspective, and the results projected back into the architectural domain.


Nikola Marinčić is a researcher at the Chair of Computer-aided architectural design (CAAD) at ETH Zurich, where he is currently writing his PhD thesis. He was a guest researcher at the Future Cities Laboratory, interdisciplinary research programme of the Singapore ETH Centre for Global Environmental Sustainability (SEC). He has designed and taught a number of elective courses for bachelor and master students at the Department of Architecture of ETH Zürich (D-ARCH), as well as a number of modules for postgraduate students. His work is driven by his interest in the elusive relationship between logics, mathematics, language and digital code. His overarching ambition is establishing the notion of computational literacy in architecture, which would serve as a generic ground for developing a new kind of architectural mastership.