Architectural Research Labs

Through a focus on advanced digital technologies and material systems, design research, and urban agency, California College of the Arts strives to develop the next generation of designers who will shape our future built environments.

Digital Craft Lab

Experimental making through emerging technologies

Creative Architecture Machines, Studio work from CCA Professors Jason Kelly Johnson and Michael Shiloh, CCA Digital Craft Lab, 2014

Creative Architecture Machines, CCA Digital Craft Lab

Reconsider how architecture is produced

Through four primary areas of research expertise, the CCA Digital Craft Lab (DCL) supports and promotes advanced research in architectural design, digital fabrication, material science, data visualization, and robotics.

  • Digital fabrication
  • Architectural robotics and physical computing
  • Generative design
  • Interactive and virtual architecture

These research areas are investigated through a number of platforms that consist of advanced studios, seminars, and workshops, with the results being communicated through a variety of media, such as publications, exhibitions, and symposia. DCL also leads the post-professional Master of Advanced Architectural Design (MAAD) program.

Urban Works Agency

Territory scaled analysis and reimagination

Emma Luo 2018 "Stop Calling Me Resilient" Advanced Urban Studio.

Emma Luo, Stop Calling Me Resilient, 2018. Advanced Urban Studio.

Responding to the contemporary city

The Urban Works Agency (UWA) leverages architectural design to effect social justice, ecological vitality, and economic resilience at the urban scale. We believe that the complex and often invisible forces shaping cities today require that designers test new formal and organizational strategies for engaging laws, markets, and publics.

UWA works with interdisciplinary partners to produce original research and design projects disseminated through books, exhibitions, and interactive media. We also run symposia, design studios, seminars, and a post-professional degree program, our Master of Advanced Architectural Design, which engages students as active agents in dialogue with the entrepreneurial and counter cultural legacies of the Bay Area.

History Theory Experiments

Critical research and spatial activism

A group of people smelling clear liquids in glass vessels.

HTX investigates immaterial aspects of historical architecture, such as sound and smell.

Explore alternative modes of historical practice

History Theory Experiments (HTX) at CCA is a platform for advanced interdisciplinary research and critical engagement in architecture. HTX is dedicated to expanding and intensifying the ways we think about buildings and landscapes. We’re especially interested in alternative and experimental modes of historical practice, including spatial activism, counter-histories, reconstructions, exhibitions, and new materialities of discourse.

Launched by professors Irene Cheng and James Graham, HTX is an initiative of the Master of Advanced Architectural Design degree program.

Architectural Ecologies Lab

Collaborative art and science research

Architecture students perform buoyant ecologies research to improve sustainable designs

Develop strategies for ecological resilience

The Architectural Ecologies Lab serves as a platform for collaborative research between designers, scientists, and manufacturers. The lab’s work leverages interdisciplinary expertise and meaningful collaborations with science and industry to develop compelling architectural strategies to address ecological challenges like sea level rise, habitat restoration, and climate change.

The lab explores how ecological performance can inform innovative approaches to architectural form, material assemblies, and manufacturing processes. Central to the lab’s work is a commitment to experimental fabrication processes, full-scale prototyping, and proof-of-concept tests that extend design ideas beyond the academic studio and into the real world.

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