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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Hello, we are the Interactive Architecture Lab

We are interested in the Behaviour and Interaction of Things, Environments and their Inhabitants. The Interactive Architecture Lab at UCL is engaged in a range of academic research activities and industry collaborations. At the heart of the Lab is our 15 month Masters programme MArch Design for Performance & Interaction which gives students an opportunity to exploit the potential of new sensing, computation, networked and responsive technologies to imagine, build and test new spaces of performance & interaction.

Our home at UCL Here East, Hackney Wick, London

Industry Collaborations

The Interactive Architecture Lab shares its expertise with London’s leading design agencies to develop interactive experiences, robotic installations, advertising campaigns, products, services and events. Clients and collaborators have included Nike, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Arup, Buro Happold, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, onedotzero, Marshmallow Laser Feast, Prettybird, Studio Roso, Alma-nac, Haptic Architects & Twitter.

Research Collaborations

The Interactive Architecture Lab works closely and regularly collaborates with London’s world leading engineering firms, cultural foundations and research institutions. A selection of them includes Create London, the Royal Academy, the Tate Modern, Kings College Centre of Robotics Research, Textile Futures Research Centre, Central School of Speech & Drama, Medical Research Council, Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council, and the BBC.

Masters & PhD Programmes

For more information on our educational programmes check out our portfolio of research, selection of graduates work published in press, a full list of staff & students, and find out more about applying to study at UCL.

Student Studios for Masters and PhD

Research Pathways

The Interactive Architecture Lab is based around 4 “Research Pathways” that develop work autonomously but regularly collaborate and share expertise and feedback with each other. Each Pathways is led by two members of staff from academic and/or industry backgrounds. They are additionally supported by a wide array of technical and theory staff.

ZERO: The Theatre of Machines
Dr Ruairi Glynn & Parker Heyl

In the era of digitisation and virtualisation, robotics as a media for artistic expression contrast the immaterially of computational media. Tangible spatial and situated interaction are its essential qualities. Motion has primacy. The importance of embodiment informs both theoretical concerns of cognition (human and machine) and the practical design of kinetic behaviour. Performance emerges between material and social interactions of human and machine agency. Pathway Zero explores the performative possibilities of human and machine interactions. We invent and critically examine artificial life-forms, choreographing aesthetically potent experiences for audiences.  To do this we fabricate and situate machines, ranging in complexity from mechanical automata to interactive robotics.

ONE: Operations on the Subface
Jessica In & Matt Deslauriers

The work of Frieder Nake, Vera Molnar, Manfred Mohr and their contemporaries pioneered the use of computation in the visual arts. Their work in the 1960s was particularly focused on the creation of computer programs that would drive pen plotter machines to create line drawings. It is interesting to note that at this time, the programmer had no direct visual feedback of their drawing until it had been drawn by the plotter, therefore the element of the unknown, the creative risk of the endeavour, is high. Nake describes these operations as existing on the subface – as opposed to the surface – the subface is the space of the non-obvious, the non- immediate. In our age of ubiquitous digitization, the surface (the obvious, the known) continually shifts as media overloads access to the known and the routinely familiar. The space of risk, where the stakes of creative possibility are higher, is in the subface. It is here where Pathway ONE will conduct our Operations.

TWO: Radical Realities
Dr Fiona Zisch & Alexander Whitley

Architecture and dance revolving around explorations and design for the human condition centre on movement – of mind, body, space – as a way of examining, understanding, and shaping experience. Historically interwoven in their underlying phenomenological and philosophical guidance, both practices often explicitly interact with one another. Architect Steven Holl and choreographer Jessica Lange, in relation to Tesseracts of Time, suggest that “architecture and dance share a passion for space and light in time”. Developments in science and digital technology are extending the potential of this interrelated enquiry, facilitating the interaction between traditionally distinct domains and allowing interdisciplinary endeavours to become transdisciplinary. Pathway Two: Radical Realities is interested in 5EA cognition and atmospheres, expanding classic 4EA models to further integrate entanglement. A focus on embodiment and movement is central and we interweave traditional models of experience to critically explore and design for the “space of experience [as] really, literally, physically a topological hyperspace of transformation”. From one model, form, comes geometry, locating and measuring. From another, quality, comes phenomenology to understand internal and external states. Models defined by contemporary neuroscience support both and evince that movement binds body and space, each impressing and expressing into the other.

THREE: Sensory Spectra
Paul Bavister & Felix Faire

The human body is a vessel for experience. Technological advances have seemingly expanded the range of possible human experiences yet ubiquitous computing and the increasing dominance of our virtual lives has also numbed us to the physical world around us. Pathway 3 is concerned with the expansion and augmentation of the ‘real’ through light, sound, movement and expression. It could be said that performance emerges through the expressive manipulation and interaction of sensory spectra. These might include pitch, dynamics, articulation and timbre in the case of traditional musical performance, though there exists an infinite variety of new spectra yet to be experienced or discovered. We explore crossmodal interactions and applications of site and context to explore these spectra and seek new forms of engagement with the human experience. We aim to interrogate these complex boundaries between the real and perceived through the critical design of immersive installations, systems, objects and moments.