Pillar / Cluster

Architecture and Sustainable Design

Research Interests:

Computational Urbanism, Interactive Architecture, Smart Cities, Parametric Design, Artificial Morphogenesis, Design Thinking


Professor Huang holds Masters and Doctoral Degrees from Harvard University, where he was awarded the Gerald McCue medal for academic excellence. He started his academic career as a researcher at MIT’s Sloan School of Management (Center for Coordination Sciences). In 1998 he returned to Harvard as an Assistant Professor of Architecture and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2001. In 2006 he was named Full Professor at EPFL in Switzerland where he holds joint professorships at the School of Architecture and the School of Computer and Communication Sciences, and where he became the founding director of the Media x Design Lab. He was also a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University, a Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s d.school, and a Berkman Fellow at Harvard University. In collaboration with Muriel Waldvogel, he heads Convergeo, an award-winning, international design firm.

His work examines the convergence of physical and digital architecture. His current design studios address the rapid urbanization in Asia, and examine the application of computational urbanism and parametric typologies in Chinese cities, including foothill typologies in Beijing, hilltop typologies in Sichuan and floodplain typologies in Guangzhou. Past research projects include “Superstudio,” an experiment with future design studios where humans and machines co-design; “Organicity,” an exploration of code-driven design methods for generating ecological architectures and cities; “Artificial Morphogenesis,” a NSF sponsored research project into morphogenetic design processes, “Cityrank,” an experiment with bottom-up/crowd sourced rankings, “Food Urbanism,” an exploration of food and urbanity; and “SINLAB,” an investigation of the variability of performance space under the condition of new technologies. He has published and lectured widely on the convergence of physical and digital architecture. His work has appeared in a variety of media including CNN, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Harvard Business Review, Le Temps, and Architectural Record.

Education Background

  • Doctor of Design, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, 1997
  • Master of Design Studies, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, 1994
  • Diploma in Architecture, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, 1991

Research Projects

  • SINLAB: interdisciplinary research involving roboticists, scenographers, theater directors, actors, acousticians, light specialists and architects on design of computational theater, funded by Swiss National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • Superstudio: Innovating the Digital Design Studio, funded by the Swiss Cooperation in Architecture Program (SCAP)
  • Phototropism in Architecture: Architectural Design as Artificial Morphogenetic Process, funded by Swiss National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • Common Sense: Minimizing uncertainty of rain-fed marginal farmers in semi-arid India. In collaboration with the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, funded by the Département fédéral des affaires étrangères, SDC.
  • Mobile Meeting Assistant Application (Life Organizer): Design of novel interfaces for mobile devices to navigate spatial and temporal dimensions, funded by Nokia Corporation
  • CityRank: Methods and tools for exploring and generating novel indices of cities, in collaboration with Avenir Suisse, funded by the Fondation pour Geneve
  • Mapping the Digital World, Visualizing the Fundamental Structure of the Digital World in Mobile Devices, funded by Nokia Design
  • Bank of the Future, Physical/Virtual Concept Bank, funded by Banque Cantonale Vaudoise
  • Newscocoons, Project for Making News Tangible, funded by Pro Helvetia
  • Digital Agora, Prototype distance learning environment, Roomware for remote collaborative research, funded by the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies
  • Team Learning Module, Software platform for collaborative design and team learning, funded by Harvard Provost Innovation Grant
  • Swiss House, Prototype networked consulate, funded by Lombard Odier, Swiss Government
  • Educology, Research on e-education: Future of Learning, funded by Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch
  • Future Office, Research on interactive workspace and physical/virtual office, funded by Microsoft Research

Research Opportunities

  • Parametric Typologies; Study and invention of new housing typologies, adaptive to specific climatic and landscape conditions
  • Computational Urbanism: Algorithmic design of entire new villages and urban areas to address the challenge of rapid urbanization
  • Smart Cities: Integration of digital systems in emerging city infrastructures
  • Interactive Architecture: Convergence of physical and virtual technologies in architecture and experience design (e.g. for concept stores, bank of the future, interactive museums, smart offices)
  • Artificial Morphogenesis

Awards & Achievements

  • Berkman Fellow at Harvard University
  • Visiting Professorship at Tsinghua University
  • Visiting Fellowship at Stanford’s d.school
  • Honorary Visiting Professorship at University of Sheffield
  • Gerald McCue Medal at Harvard University (Academic Excellence)
  • Member of Harvard Academic Computing Committee
  • President, ETH Alumini/ae Association, Boston Chapter
  • Jury, Imagine Cup Final Competition
  • Archizoom Board Member
  • Best Paper Award, Mobile HCI
  • Best Presentation Award, CAAD Futures
  • Build Massachusetts Award
  • Keynote Speaker at several conferences

Selected Publications

  • Huang, J., and Waldvogel, M., Architecture as Interface, MIT Press (forthcoming, 2014)
  • Meagher, M., van der Maas, D., Abegg, C., Huang, J., (2013) Dynamic Ornament, in International Journal of Architectural Computing, issue 3, volume 11, pp. 301-318
  • Zuelzke, N., Patt, T., and J. Huang, (2012) “Computation as an Ideological Practice,” in Digital Aptitudes, Proceedings of ACSA, Boston, Massachusetts, 2012
  • S. Flaxman, J. Huang, J. Stephenson, and X. Comtesse. (2010), “CityRank: a dynamic tool for exploring and generating new indices of cities.” Information Design Journal. 17:3, January 2010
  • Huang, J., Cherubini, M., Nova, N., and Dillenbourg, P., (2009) “Why Would Furniture Be Relevant for Collaborative Learning?” CSCL Book Series, Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg
  • Huang, J., and Waldvogel, M., (2007), “Open City,” in Chatelet V. (editor), Interactive Cities, Editions HYX, Paris
  • Huang, J., (2006) “Inhabitable Interfaces,” book chapter in Digital Media: Transformations in Human Communication, New York, Peter Lang
  • Huang, J., and Waldvogel, M., (2005), “Interactive Wallpaper,” Electronic Arts and Animation Catalog (EAAC), SIGGRAPH 2005, Los Angeles
  • Spicer, D.E., and Huang, J., (2001), “Of Gurus and Godfathers: Learning Design in the Networked Age.” In: Education, Communication & Information, Routledge: Vol.1, No.3, 2001
  • Huang, J., (2001) “Future Space: A Blueprint for a New Business Architecture,” Harvard Business Review, April 2001