27 March: Thresholds – Design and Science

Hold the date for an intriguing day of conversations and presentations. The conference will be held on March 27 at the Radcliff Gym at Harvard – the event is free and open to the public. Breakfast and lunch will be served. Description: 

Science and design are often thought to represent opposite mindsets of analysis versus conjecture, of explanatory versus disruptive modes of thinking. Audacious, provocative, and unconventional work emerges when we cross the traditional disciplinary divide between science and design. The March 2020 conference assembles thought leaders from both areas—researchers and practitioners who interrogate the spaces in between through their work. The sessions, which are thematically aligned with the human senses, present a multitude of approaches, methods, and techniques that transcend the disciplinary focus. Conceived as an open forum for exploration and discussion, the conference is co-hosted by faculty from the Graduate School of Design and the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science at Harvard University. The projects and explorations featured range from fashion to material science, from therapeutic devices to building science, and from cooking to cognitive science.

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2020 Ceramics Installation @ Cevisama

We will be presenting this year’s ceramic installation, our tallest ever, at the Cevisama trade fair in Valencia from 3 – 7 February! Hope to see you there! We thank the Cevisama Trade Fair Organization and ASCER Tile of Spain for their support.

Design – Science Conference @ Harvard: 27 March.

Mark your calendar for our first Design – Science Conference at Harvard, showcasing intriguing and compelling work at the intersection of design and science at Harvard and beyond. Curated by Allen Sayegh, Joanna Aizenberg and Martin Bechthold, the event is held at the Radcliff Institute for Advanced Studies, free and open to the public.    more

Jose Luis García del Castillo y López and Zach Seibold join the faculty ranks!

Congratulations to Zach Seibold and Jose Luis García del Castillo y López for both joining the faculty this year! Zach will be teaching in the MDE program, as well as offering ‘Digital Media: Manipulations‘ (co-taught with Hyojin Kwon, a research associate with the Laboratory for Design Technologies). Jose Luis is teaching the MDE tech required ‘Introduction to Computational Design‘ as well as ‘Structural Design I‘ with Martin Bechthold.

MaP+S / ALivE work featured in Wyss Institute press release

Our cold-SNAP project, an innovative evaporative cooling system developed jointly with Prof. Aizenberg’s Adaptive Materials Platform (involving Jack Alvarenga), the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities (involving Jonathan Grinham and Saurabh Mhatre), and MaP+S, was featured in a story issued by the Wyss institute. Cold-SNAP was recently patented.

MaP+S at Aerial Futures Conference

We are happy to participate, along with our colleagues Andrew Witt and Allen Sayegh, in the Aerial Futures Conference at Harvard and MIT. Short distance autonomous flight is technically possible but significant questions remain on where and how it can add value to society. We are thrilled to be part of the conversation!

Lecture at Georgia Tech

Prof. Bechthold is lecturing on ‘Multi-Scalar Design: Material Matters’ at Georgia Tech on January 15 at noon in the Flex Space, Caddell Building, 280 Ferst Drive, Atlanta, GA 30332-0680. The talk focuses on the challenges and opportunities provided by the expanded range of scales that design and science interact in.

Laboratory for Design Technologies – soft launch

MaP+S is founding partner of the Laboratory for Design Technologies (LDT), a new research organization at the GSD. LDT is the umbrella organization for all technology related GSD design labs such as REAL (Allen Sayegh), the Geometry Lab (Andrew Witt) and the City Form Lab (Andres Sevtsuk). LDT also integrates work by our colleagues currently not associated with a particular design lab – for example Prof. Sawako Kaijima. LDT is currently supported by several industry advisors that include Perkins & Will, Hickok Cole Architects, and Advanced Multitech Corp. We expect to be announcing other industry partners shortly…

Deployable Surfaces Course @ Harvard GSD

Chuck Hoberman’s course review is testing small models and large prototypes of pneumatically actuated origami systems that could potentially assemble into building-scale kinetic structures. Hoberman’s work is expanding the known approaches to kinetic building systems, with potential applications in other fields such as consumer products.

Review at the GSD
Small scale prototypes




Solar Decathlon China

Prof. Bechthold is heading to China to serve as jury member for the Solar Decathlon China.  There are 16 entries, built and ready to be evaluated, in Dezhou, Shandong Province. It is hot and humid there – challenging conditions for the participants!

DOMUS issue on Innovation

Work by the Adaptive Living Environments (ALivE) group is featured in the March supplements of DOMUS. The article – co-authored by Martin Bechthold and Joanna Aizenberg – highlights ongoing research at Harvard that integrates science and design. Special thanks to James Weaver and Jack Alvarenga for their help with images such as the close-up of the butterfly wing!

Nano features on butterfly wing. Credit: James Weaver.

Material Systems Class Review @ Harvard GSD

The end of semester review of SCI 6317 Material Systems will take place on 14 December at the GSD. Our jurors are Prof. Eric Howeler, Prof. Sawako Kaijima (both GSD), Kevin Rothero (Yale University), Jonathan Grinham (DDes ’17), Rachel Vroman (GSD), Nathan King (Virginia Tech and Autodesk, DDes ’13). Several MaP+S researchers will join us as well. 37 students will present their design research projects. Swing by if you are in the neighborhood – we will be in the Portico rooms at Gund!


Ceramic Pavillion opens in Graz, Austria

Our long term collaboration with the colleagues from the ITE at the TU Graz recently culminated in the opening of the structural ceramic pavilion on the grounds of the castle of St. Martin just outside Graz. Over the last year the ITE team advanced the research that was begun at Harvard’s MaP+S group from a lab project into a site-ready construction system. The project completes a multi-year project that started with an installation at the 2014 Cevisama in Valencia. More soon in a separate posting!

MaP+S @ ACADIA 2017

We hope to see many of you at ACADIA 2017 – in our neighborhood at MIT. Nice to not have to travel halfway around the world for a change… On Thursday afternoon we are presenting our work on auxetic systems!