2016 Conference


October 27 - 29, 2016 | University of Michigan Taubman College | Ann Arbor, Michigan

Paper Submission is now closed

POSTHUMAN FRONTIERS: DATA, DESIGNERS AND COGNITIVE MACHINES will foster design work and research from the worlds of practice and academia that lie at the intersection between procedural design, designed environments and autonomous machines. More specifically, this conference will seek to explore recent work within the current trend in computational design to develop and apply quasi-cognitive machines; the integration of software, information, fabrication and sensing to generate mechanisms for interfacing with the physical realm. The conference invites the submission of papers and projects that explore and interrogate these questions through interdisciplinary endeavors involving fields such as material science, biology, art, computer graphics, civil engineering, and human-computer interaction.

Proceduralized practices and externalized knowledge are beginning to take on identity, instrumentality, and momentum of their own. Design now operates through complex entanglements and feedbacks with computational as well as physical matter. The processes and products of design are now intertwined with an emergent tool-stream that not only imbues us and our built environments with novel interfaces, senses and sensibilities, but that also produces spontaneous material and informational hordes as byproducts of its autocatalytic processes. For example, it is no longer just a question of how to work with big data, but the quality of data, the politics of data, and how data-driven processes impact design judgment, decision-making and aesthetics. The panoramic influence of the (human) designer—the sole genius—is abandoned. In response, contemporary design ecologies operate through autonomous and semiautonomous states, in collaboration with nonhuman agents such as tools, machines, materials and sometimes animals. Artifice and information are increasingly imbued with agency, observance and emergence; the objects of design have gained their own autonomies. Points of observation as well as creative capacities can also be occupied by objects, by communities of objects, and thus also by tools, and respective tool streams. Reflective judgment, knowledge, and intent are being less and less understood as the authority of design decisions and new discourses of subjectivity, aesthetics and ontology are now part of the field.

POSTHUMAN FRONTIERS: DATA, DESIGNERS AND COGNITIVE MACHINES will focus on computational design at the architectural, urban and material scales that operates and defines itself through these paradigms, procedures and capacities. The conference theme is additionally intended to foster discourse around the term posthuman, which has not yet been adequately defined and theorized in a satisfactory fashion within the architectural community. Keynotes and session discussions during the conference will present a genuine opportunity to explore this theme as a novel discourse for computational design in architecture.


Informational Hordes - Big Data
Assessment, judgment, and discovery of design data

Ownership / authorship in ideas, process, and means of production

  • Simulation and Design Optimization
  • Gaming in Design
  • Design Decision-making
  • Generative and Evolutionary/Genetic Design
  • Building Information Modeling
  • Interdisciplinary/Collaborative Design
  • Responsive Urban And Landscape Systems

Cognitive Streams - Sensate Systems
Emergence of unintended consequences and entanglements

Tools, tool streams, and tool-building

  • Multi-agent Systems
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Internet of Things
  • Digital Fabrication
  • Craft in Design Computation
  • Generative/Parametric Design
  • Computer Vision
  • Human-Computer Interaction and Design
  • Robot-Human Collaboration

Semiautonomous Behavior - Embedded Responsiveness
Actor and agent-based networks as mechanisms for design

Reflexivity in human-computer engagement

  • Biomimetics and Biological Design
  • Programmable Materials
  • Material Agency
  • Form-finding
  • Intelligent Environments
  • Performance in Design
  • Composite Forming Processes

Submissions are invited in the following forms:

a) Peer-reviewed Research Papers:

  • Long Papers: 4,000 words max (Presentations ± 15 mins)
  • Short Papers (Work-in-progress): 2000 words max (Presentations ± 7 mins)

b) Jury Selected Projects:

  • Experimental Research and Design Projects

* please see the submit page for downloadable templates

Student travel scholarships available

Student participation is strongly encouraged for all submission categories. Awards for student submissions, a scholarship and travel subsidy program, and a free billeting program for students attending the conference will be announced in the coming months.


  • Peer-reviewed Research Paper submissions due: Extended to midnight EDT on Friday May 6, 2016
  • Jury Selected Project submissions due: Extended to 11:59 EDT Tuesday May 17, 2016
  • Peer Review Responses to Authors: early June, 2016