Stuckeman Center for Design Computing to present Andrew Li and Gabriela Celani

March 22, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Stuckeman Center for Design Computing at Penn State will present "Shape Grammars: Application and Implementation," a series of lectures and workshops, from noon to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27, in the Stuckeman Family Building at University Park. 

The schedule is as follows:

Noon: Lecture 1, Andrew Li

1 p.m.: Lunch break (free pizza)

1:30 p.m.: Workshop Part I

3:30 p.m.: Break

3:45 p.m.: Workshop Part II

5:30 p.m.: Break 

6 p.m.: Lecture 2, Gabriela Celani

The lectures will take place in the Stuckeman Jury Space, while the workshops will be held on the fourth floor. 

Lecture 1: The Yingzao fashi, computation, and Chinese architecture

The Yingzao fashi [building standards] is a Chinese building manual published in 1103 (Song dynasty). It is important not only because it is one of only two surviving Chinese texts about building, but also because it uses a sophisticated approach to describe the designs of buildings. In the words of the pioneering historian, Liang Sicheng (1901–72), it was a ‘grammar book of Chinese architecture.’ Liang’s use of the word grammar was intuitive, but his choice was astute. Since then, our understanding of grammar has become more computational, and we use this newer understanding to deepen his insight. It helps clarify a range of issues, from ambiguity, omissions, and assumptions on the one hand, to the nature of evaluation on the other. Indeed, it suggests an approach to the stylistic evolution of Chinese architecture as a whole.

Lecture 2: Neocolonial residential architecture in Brazil: different grammar approaches

Neocolonial buildings appeared in the 1930s in Brazil as a result, on one hand, of American influence, brought through magazines that published photos of fancy Hollywood houses, and on the other hand of the search for local sources of inspiration by architects who looked at the Portuguese colonial buildings from the 18th century. In order to check if it's possible to call it a style, we developed shape grammars that analyze the plans, facades, volumes and details of neocolonial houses in the city of Campinas.

Workshop on computer implementation of shape grammars

The workshop will introduce participants to the computer implementation of shape grammars through a hands-on approach using a shape grammar interpreter developed as a plugin to Rhino. Participants will learn how to implement shape rules and use them in the automatic generation of designs.

To register, contact Jose Duarte at

The Stuckeman Center for Design Computing is devoted to advanced design research and learning in computational design. The center is a multidisciplinary community of researchers exploring computation as a subject of creative and scholarly inquiry in design across scales and modes of engagement: from the territorial to the micro, from the theoretical to the material, and from the applied to the speculative and critical. Projects variously engage architectural robotics, simulation and visualization, game development, geographic information systems, sustainable development, and digital fabrication, as well as historical and theoretical aspects of computation in design.

  • Poster for "Shape Grammars: Application & Implementation"

    Poster for "Shape Grammars: Application & Implementation"

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated March 23, 2018