RCAT - Research Center for Architecture and Tectonics

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Theory ... is the body of principles that explains and interrelates all the facts of the subject. Research is the tool by which theory is advanced. Without it teaching can have no direction and thought no cutting edge.

Leslie Martin (1959) RIBA Oxford Conference on Architectural Education. From: Peter Carolin and Trevor Dannat Eds. (1996) Architecture, Education and Research - The Work of Leslie Martin: Papers and Selected Articles. London: Academy Editions. 119.


The Research Centre for Architecture and Tectonics was founded and inaugurated in 2011. The centre pursues experimental and practice-oriented research, combining elements of traditional knowledge production with an inter- and transdisciplinary research by design approach. RCAT conducts funded research projects in a broad range of subject areas focused on questions of performance-oriented design, new environments and embedded architectures, locally specific architecture, information-based design, as well as long-term inquiry into how research is changing the profession.

RCAT offers diverse PhD and post-doctoral researcher tracks and has collaborated on the implementation of Industrial PhDs at AHO. Dr. Julia Schlegel - now research director at Snøhetta - completed the first Industrial PhD in the humanities in Norway in 2015 in the context of RCAT. The research centre also attracts externally funded PhD candidates from organizations such as SINTEF, the largest independent research organization in Scandinavia. In addition RCAT facilitates joint PhDs with other universities.


In 2009 RCAT members initiated research into the use of wood in architecture at AHO. In 2011-12 RCAT held strategic meetings with the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food that also governs forestry, the Research Council of Norway, the Norwegian Institute of Wood Technology [Treteknisk] and Trefokus. The meetings laid the groundwork for successful grant applications at the Institute of Architecture at AHO into innovative use of wood in architecture.


In 2011 RCAT initiated experimental design and construction efforts. These included starting up the Scarcity and Creativity Studio for which RCAT provided the clients for the first two runs in the Open City in Ritoque, Chile, and Nusfjord in Lofoten, Norway, as well as the funding for the projects in the Open City Ritoque. RCAT also provided strategic funds for related PhD-level work and extensive full-scale prototype development.

Since 2011 RCAT collaborates with a wide network of partners on questions of research in architectural practice. This involves a research project entitled The Changing Shape of Practice that includes a book- and international symposia series, as well as round-table discussions and industry hearings in Norway in collaboration with the Norwegian Centre for Architecture and Design. As one of the related outcomes RCAT | ACDL currently develops a practice-oriented collaborative platform for integrated research and teaching in collaboration with Snøhetta in Oslo, and Kieran Timberlake in Philadelphia.



The Advanced Computational Design Laboratory [ACDL] is the innovation laboratory of the research centre. ACDL integrates research and teaching on master-, PhD- and post-doctoral levels based on the research subjects in RCAT with specific focus on informed non-standard architecture and information-based computational design. Special focus is placed on the role of data in design, multi-modal data-collection and processing, and advanced computational visualization methods, including augmented and virtual reality. ACDL also delivers advisory support in questions related to the implementation of computational strategies and methods in the overall educational curriculum in architecture and across AHO. 


The RCAT | ACDL Group consists of all current RCAT | ACDL faculty members and researchers, which conincides with the New Environments + Embedded Architectures group in the Institute of Architecture.


The extended RCAT | ACDL Network consists of all current and former teachers and researchers, PhD and post-doctoral researchers, diploma candidates, and external collaborators.


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Prof. Dr. Michael U. Hensel [Dipl. Ing. Grad Dipl Des AA PhD Reading] is a practicing architect, researcher, educator and writer. In practice, research and education for two and a half decades his work currently focuses on three main themes: [i] Performance-oriented Architectures (Architecture and Environment Interactions, New Environments and Embedded Architectures), [ii] Integrative Information-based Design, and [iii] interdisciplinary and practice-oriented integrated research and teaching in architecture. His architectural works are experimental and innovation-focused. Works undertaken in the context of OCEAN are included in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress in the United States and the FRAC Centre (Fonds Regional d'Art Contemporain) in Orléans, France, and have been exhibited in the Venice Architectural Biennales in 2002 and 2004. Hensel has co-pioneered the field of research-by-design in architecture and has an extensive track-record in research, research strategy development, implementation and assessment. Most recently he is part of the AHO Research Review “Quality for Impact” work group. In his various directorial appointments he has conducted wide industry and practice hearings in setting out acclaimed practice-oriented research and teaching programmes and facilities. He is founding and acting director of the Research Centre for Architecture and Tectonics at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design where he is tenured Professor. He is also founding and acting chairman of the OCEAN Design Research Association. He has authored and edited numerous books and journals and authored a large number of book chapters, peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers, as well as popular journal articles. His writings and works are published in Chinese, Czech, English, Estonian, Farsi, Finnish, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Spanish, and Turkish language. In 2017 Michael U. Hensel was listed on place 39 among the 100 most published researchers across all disciplines in Norway over a five-year period from 2012 to 2016.  Info



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Asst. Prof. Søren S. Sørensen is an architect, educator and researcher. He is a graduate from NTH (NTNU) in Trondheim, where he received his diploma in 1982. He is currently pursuing his PhD thesis within the field of Architectural Representation and Augmented Reality. Søren worked as a practicing architect and project leader at some of the leading architectural offices in Norway from graduation until 1996. During this period he received an Italian State Scholarship for Urban studies in Rome, had an assignment for UNHCR in Hong Kong, established a gallery for contemporary art in Oslo, Norway, and did part time teaching of computational skills. Since 1997 he was been a full time employee at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, AHO, as Assistant Professor responsible for the implementation of digital technology in the educational curriculum and as teacher at master level. Søren has been doing research on Virtual and Augmented Reality in relation to architecture since 2003, and is responsible for the field at AHO. The interdisciplinary research has been done in cooperation with Institute for Energy Technology in Halden, Norway, and the Kyoto University, Japan, and led to the establishing of AR-Lab Norway. He has published papers internationally, both on Augmented Reality for visualization of architecture and within the field of Nuclear Safety.



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Asst. Prof. Joakim Wiig Hoen is a Norwegian architect educated at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) and the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) where he received his masters degree in Architecture. Previously he worked at the architectural office Helen & Hard in Oslo. Since 2013 he is in private practice and teaches at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design where he has been appointed Asst. Professor in 2015. These positions enable him to follow his interest in computational design and fabrication through both practice and academia.

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Sofia Martins da Cunha received her education as an Architect in Portugal and in Norway. She graduated at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto (FAUP) in November 2014. In 2012 and 2013 Sofia attended the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) as part of the ERASMUS exchange program. While studying at AHO Sofia had the opportunity to use her interest in geometry and computation to be a key participant in the design and construction of the tensegrity structure “Floating Compression canopy” in Nusfjord, Norway. In 2014 Sofia started working an architect for Snøhetta and has since then been working on projects for the Middle-East and Asia. Sofia has been teaching at Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) since 2015. Later in 2016 she joined the RCAT | ACDL which enable her to follow her interest in computational design and in the performative aspects of architecture. Also in 2016 Sofia joined the OCEAN Design Research Association. As part of her interest in architecture and solving complex geometries Sofia collaborated on the paper “Tensegrity Systems - Transferring Tectonics from the Extraordinary to the Everyday” which she presented at ICSA 2016.


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Sareh Saeidi is an architect and researcher educated at IAUM in Iran (B.A., 2008) and KTH –the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm (M.S.A. 2014). She has seven years of experience working both as an independent architect and in collaboration with well-established consulting engineers offices in Iran. During her master-level studies, she worked at Rosskopf und Partner in Germany where she was engaged with rationalizing designs for fabrication. Her keen interest in questions of local specificity and role of building envelopes in affecting the architectural experience and building’s climatic performance became the key motive in pursuing her PhD-level research at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) since September 2014.




  • Prof. Mark Burry, Smart Cities Research Institute, Swinburne University, Melbourne
  • Prof. Dr. Jonathan Hale, University of Nottingham, UK
  • Dr. Pavel Hladik - Arup Sports, UK
  • Prof. Dr. Ing. Christoph Gengnagel, UdK, Berlin, Germany
  • Prof. Dr. Branko Kolarevic - EVDS - University of Calgary, Canada
  • Prof. Dr. David Leatherbarrow - University of Pennsylvania
  • Prof. Dr. Birger Sevaldson, AHO, Oslo, Norway
  • Jeffrey P. Turko, U Brighton, UK


Asst. Prof. Dr. Henriette Bier has worked with Morphosis (1999-2001) on internationally relevant projects in the US and Europe. She has taught digitally-driven design (2002-2003) at universities in Italy, Austria, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Since 2004 she teaches and researches at the Technical University Delft (TUD) with focus on digitally-driven architecture. In 2005-06 she initiated and coordinated the workshop and lecture series on Digital Design and Fabrication with invited guests from MIT and ETHZ and finalized (2008) her PhD on System-embedded Intelligence in Architecture. Since 2006 she co-developed the education and research frameworks for Non-standard and Interactive Architecture at Hyper-body and Border Conditions at Public Building, TU Delft. She tutored more than 100 graduation projects from which several have received Archiprix nominations, mentions, and prizes with the most prestigious being the 1st International Archiprix prize in 2015. Her graduates practice successfully architecture in internationally known offices (such as Foster, Zaha Hadid Architects, UN Studio, OMA, etc.) and implement research at relevant institutions (such as TUD, ETHZ, etc.) From 2007 to 2010 Henriette Bier coordinated EU-funded projects focusing on F2F and online postgraduate education and 2010 she started developing the academic education and research framework for Robotic Building. 2011 she joined Delft Robotics Institute (DRI) and 2013 she received NL-funding, which allowed setting up the first robotic lab at the faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft. She is initiator and leader of the Robotic Building group at Hyperbody at TUD, associate professor of Digitally-driven Architecture and founding member of the Delft Robotics Institute. She regularly lectures and leads workshops internationally and results of her research have been published and presented in more than 120 journals, books, and exhibits.


Billie Faircloth is a partner at Kieran Timberlake. She leads 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 oversees the deep investigations that initiate and inform each project at KieranTimberlake. During design, she guides teams in questioning and answering through empirical experiments, prototypes, and custom analysis tools created by the research group. She participates in the development of technology to inform high-performance design, including Wireless Sensor Networks, Predictive Temperature Modeling tools, and Tally™, an application for Revit that provides accurate life-cycle data and reporting tools to designers. She is leading the development of Ideal Choice Homes, an affordable, quick-to-build housing solution for India. Billie lectures at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Design and Harvard Graduate School of Design, and is a Visiting Professor at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. Prior to joining KieranTimberlake, she was an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture, where she instructed research studios exploring applications for conventional and emerging material technologies and conducted seminars on emerging construction and fabrication technologies. Her articles have been published by the Journal of Architectural Education, Princeton Architectural Press, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, and ACADIA. Her book Plastics Now: On Architecture's Relationship to a Continuously Emerging Material was published by Routledge in Spring 2015. She lectures internationally to academic and industry audiences, including the Australian Institute of Architects, University of Nottingham, University of Washington, Harvard University, and the University of Texas at Austin.


Prof. Dr. Jonathan Hale is an architect, Associate Professor & Reader in Architectural Theory. He is Head of the Architecture, Culture and Tectonics research group (ACT) and Convenor for Architectural Humanities II, and Design, Culture & Context modules. Research interests include: architectural theory and criticism; phenomenology and the philosophy of technology; the relationship between architecture and the body; museums and architectural exhibitions. He has published books, chapters, refereed articles and conference papers in these areas and has obtained grants from the EPSRC, the Leverhulme Trust, British Academy, and the Arts Council. He is founder and current steering group member of the international subject network: Architectural Humanities Research Association (AHRA); a member of the interdisciplinary Science, Technology and Culture research group, hosted by the Dept of French, and the Sense of Space group, a collaboration with the Depts of Philosophy and Sociology; and a Management Board member for the University's Research Priority Area in Creative and Cultural Industries.


Dr. John Haymaker, AIA, LEED AP, serves as Perkins+Will’s Director of Research, overseeing the firm’s formal investigations into material performance, design process, building technology, resilience, regeneration, and human health and wellness in the built environment. John works closely with a team of researchers, designers, and academics to expand the firm’s knowledge base in pursuit of state-of-the-art design solutions. He also oversees Perkins+Will’s Research Labs, Innovation Incubator program, and nonprofit research arm, AREA Research, which conducts studies on the built environment and publishes its findings for free public use. Previously a professor of civil engineering at Stanford University, and a professor of architecture and building construction at Georgia Institute of Technology, John has contributed more than 80 professional and academic articles on topics such as design process communication, optimization, and decision-making. A frequent speaker at industry and academic events, his research has earned top honors from the American Institute of Architects, the American Society of Civil Engineers, FIATECH, and the National Academy of Engineering.


Prof. Dr. David Jolly Monge is an architect. He graduated at the Escuela de Arquitectura de la Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Chile, where he is Director of the magister program and a tenured professor. He is a co-founder and builder of Ciudad Abierta de Amereida where he lives since 1978. David obtained his PhD at ETSAB - Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña. Research works in building techniques on flexible formworks with the architect Mark West, and on theory and projects done in relation to poetry and architecture through Travesias on the South American continent.


Dr. Siv Helene Stangeland is a Norwegian architect and researcher based in Stavanger, Norway. Together with Reinhard Kropf, she founded the architectural office Helen & Hard in 1996. Siv Helene Stangeland studied at the University of Barcelona and at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design AHO, under Christian Norberg-Schulz. She has taught at AHO, NTNU (Trondheim), Chalmers University (Gothenburg) and KTH (Stockholm). Helen & Hard has received several awards for their work, including the Norwegian National Award for Building and Environmental Design for the Pulpit Rock Mountain Lodge. They have exhibited internationally, including at the Venice Biennale, the Lisbon Biennale and Manifesta 7. In 2008, the firm was selected with 8 others to represent European architectural offices in the traveling exhibition ”New Trends of Architecture”. They have won several competitions including the Norway Pavilion at Expo Shanghai 2010 and have an extensive body of built work. H&H have written, published and lectured extensively in Europe, North America and Asia about their research on sustainable practices and methods.


Eli Synnevåg designed an orphanage in Nepal during her architectural studies, which was realized in 1994. This project received attention both in Norway and abroad, and received both the Erskine Award and the AR Emerging Architecture Award. Since 2000 she has been working in Snøhetta on a wide range of national and international projects. She has been part of the team working on the Bergen Academy of Art and Design, and was responsible for urban planning and façade work. From 2007 to 2010, she has had a team leader role in the KAAC project in Saudi Arabia, with design and interdisciplinary coordination for central parts of the cultural complex. She has also been project manager on large scale project and competitions like, Quarter 8, Max Lab IV and Lund University, School of Economics. In addition to her architectural practice she has been a part time teacher and invited critic at AHO, external examiner for the Masters at NTNU Faculty of Architecture and Fine Art and co-supervisor for Julia Schlegel, the first Industrial PhD in the humanities in Norway.


Associate Prof. Dr. Franca Trubiano is Associate Chair (Architecture) at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a Registered Architect with l'Ordre des Architectes du Quebec and an International Associate of the AIA. She conducts funded research in the areas of Advanced Energy Retrofits and Building Information Modeling. She teaches in construction technology, materials, theories of building, integrated design, architectural ecologies, and high performance buildings. Franca is President of the Building Technology Educators Society (BTES) - http://www.btesonline.org, where she was Treasurer/Secretary since 2011. She is also a founding member of the Editorial Board of the Journal - TAD (Technology, Architecture and Design) and since 2014 has been a Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Architectural Education.


Hon. Prof. Dr. Julian Vincent is a biologist though he has involved himself  in a variety of disciplines.  Realising that many questions in biology are related to mechanical and engineering problems, and also that such problems frequently yielded a graph before the end of the working day, he began to learn materials science.  Insect cuticle gave way to plant materials, animal fibres, shells and bone.  To this range he soon added food materials, fruit and smart structures.  Finding that this form of study had as its corollary in the emerging discipline of Biomimetics, he embraced it from a design and philosophical perspective, developing techniques for bridging the gaps between biology and technology.  His current thinking includes formulations for the greening of technology and the development of new design concepts.