materials as probes

Our work begins with the following observation: Designers miss the potential to use thermodynamic behaviour - heat absorption and heat diffusion - to shape geometry. When designers use real-time sensor feedback to couple physical material prototypes with computational models they will discover the means to control unseen thermal phenomena, thereby opening up a new design space.

The goal of this cluster is to develop a design practice that uses calibrated, predictive thermodynamic models as a driver for material behaviour and form generation.

Cluster participants will work with wax-based phase change materials (PCMs) encapsulated in vacuum-formed plastic skins. These materials melt and solidify under varying environmental conditions (temperature and sunlight) and exhibit visual effects based on their state-change. A network of sensors embedded in the wax prototypes will allow the participants to study melting behaviour and correlate their findings with a digital model of the system. The digital model comprises a set of custom Grasshopper components that incorporate physics-based simulation and ML regression analysis to describe the transient behaviour of the physical prototypes. Participants will use this model to shape geometries and manipulate visual effects by predicting transient melting behaviour. Over four days the cluster will commit itself to an integrated feedback loop of design / fabricate / measure / predict / design...

cluster champions


In her professional and academic research, Billie Faircloth conspires to pursue an answer to the question, “Why do we build the way that we do?” Billie leads KieranTimberlake’s research group, a transdisciplinary group of professionals leveraging research, design, and problem-solving processes from fields as diverse as environmental management, chemical physics, materials science, and architecture. She fosters collaboration between disciplines, trades, academies, and industries in order to define a relevant problem-solving boundary for the built environment. Billie lectures and leads workshops nationally and internationally to professional and academic audiences, and holds appointments at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and previously at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen.


Ryan Welch's work provides critical feedback early in project development, enabling design iteration and addressing issues of shading, heat transfer, ventilation, operational energy, and environmental impact. As a Researcher at KieranTimberlake, Ryan focuses on analysis, simulation, and performance modelling, primarily through the development of new software tools. A building physics and data visualisation specialist, he develops new workflows and ways of envisioning data to solve architectural problems. Ryan lectures nationally and internationally, and leads academic-based workshops on thermodynamic phenomena.


Christopher Connock’s work leverages a deep understanding of building design and computation toward effective, agile, and imaginative design practices. As a Researcher at KieranTimberlake, Christopher transects several project teams and helps identify and respond to needs for inquiry that may encompass topics such as generative and parametric design, custom digital workflows, application development, data visualisation, immersive environments, and digital fabrication. Christopher lectures to professional and academic audiences on the interface between data and design.


Patrick Welß is part of the Research Team at the Centre for Information Technology and Architecture (CITA), at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen  after working for the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE), at the University of Stuttgart and Behnisch Architects at Stuttgart, where he was engaged in design of steel-structures and façades with rigid sun protection. His focus is in the development of building structures as an essential and form giving aspect of Architecture.  At CITA he worked at the parametric design and the digital fabrication of the thermodynamic façade project with wax-based phase changing materials (PCMs). He was engaged in the development of the encapsulation of PCM in  vacuum-formed plastic skins, the integration of sensors herein and the related long-term monitoring efforts.