Dr Tim Ireland
BA(Hons), B(Arch), MSc, PgDip/ARB, PhD, PGCHE.
School of Architecture
Lecturer in Digital Architecture
Full contact details
School of Architecture
I started my career as architectural technician, before becoming an ARB registered architect. After working for several years in small-scale private and large-scale international practices in the UK and overseas I turned to focus on my interests in natural systems and computation. Awarded an EPSRC research grant in 2008 I completed my PhD (2013) in Architecture and Computational Design at the Bartlett, UCL.
Before joining the Sheffield School of Architecture I was Senior Lecturer at the Kent School of Architecture & Planning, where I was Director of Digital Architecture, responsible for developing digital skills and enriching the schools digital culture. I designed and instigated the MSc Bio Digital Architecture programme, acting as Programme Director. And instigated and led DARC; the Digital Architecture Research Centre. I also led MArch Unit 5, which promoted a computational design logic through analogue methods.
Previously, I was Senior Lecturer at the Leicester School of Architecture where I taught design and theory at undergraduate and postgraduate level. I was Programme Leader of the MA Architecture course, through which I instigated the Motive Ecologies programme (a computational design initiative amalgamating architecture and computing with biological and semiotic theory) promoting computation and code as a means to stimulate a biological approach to architectural design thinking.
PGCHE Teaching in Higher Education
PhD Architecture & Computational Design
PgDip. Architectural Practice
MSc Architecture: Computing and Design
BA (Hons) Architecture
- Research interests
My research stems from an interest in how shape, form and structure arise in nature, to how organisms interact with their environment, and construct niches to enhance their existence. The mechanics of decision making in natural systems is a particular interest to establish a mode of architectural computational design modelling, without political agenda and labelling, concerned with the potential of emergent outcomes that works from the bottom-up. This has led me to explore the role of signification and communication in and between living systems to understand how perception and action arise through informational processes.
The task of configuring buildings spatially is complex, yet traditional approaches tend to flatten and quantify such problems to make them manageable. My research looks at how the complexity of such problems may be used as an engine to drive the process of configuration, using the computer as a tool to emulate natural phenomena to capitalise on their productive pattern-making properties.
My research is a synthesis of algorithmic and biological design thinking. Taking an interdisciplinary approach my research is a combination of (1) synthesising several different strands of theoretical work on conceptualising, representing and analysing space and spatiality, and (2) developing computer codes that simulate bio-inspired spatial self-organisation. The purpose of these two endeavours is to (a) probe and improve the concept of space for architectural practice, and (b) make a case for the use of such computational tools as creative stimuli for early-stage design processes. Understanding space to arise from the interplay of dynamic habitual agencies, I think architects can benefit from embracing a decentralised approach to configuration in order to mediate and articulate inhabitation.
Threads of enquiry include:
- Computational/generative design: morphology/form finding and spatial configuration.
- Algorithmic and biological design: understanding morphology and structure in natural constructions (for example termite mounds), and how understanding of such structures (the construction process, morphology, and physiological performance), can be applied in architectural design
- Swarms and Collective Behaviour
- Collective intelligence and distributed cognition # Communication and signification in natural systems (i.e., sign systems/biosemiotics)
- Experimental architecture, with note to history and theory of (which is typically analogue or pre-modern algorithmic methods) and how such past work might be (re)applied and transformed through algorithmic generative design methods.
- The design theory and work of Frederick Kiesler.
- Visioning Technologies. Routledge.
- Introduction. Biosemiotics, 15, 187-192.
- Beauty : synthesis of intellect and senses commentary on The Biosemiotic Fundamentals of Aesthetics. Biosemiotics, 15(1).
- The fundamental problem of the science of information. Biosemiotics, 12(2), 213-244.
- Architecture, space and information in constructions built by humans and social insects: A conceptual review. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 373(1753).
- Human distributed cognition from an organism-in-its-environment perspective. Biosemiotics, 10(2), 265-278.
- A teleonomic distributed cognition approach to architectural design. Technoetic Arts, 15(1), 15-34.
- The Spatiality of Being. Biosemiotics, 8(3), 381-401.
- Hacking design: Novelty and diachronic emergence. Architectural Theory Review, 17(1), 140-157.
- Leveraging nature to envision (functional) space: An architecture of machinic abduction, Visioning Technologies: The Architectures of Sight (pp. 207-222).
Conference proceedings papers
- Bateson information revisited: a new paradigm. Proceedings: IS4SI 2019 Summit, Vol. 47(1). Berkeley, CA, USA, 2 June 2019 - 6 June 2019. View this article in WRRO
- Teaching architecture students to code Thrills and spills. Proceedings of the International Conference on Education and Research in Computer Aided Architectural Design in Europe, Vol. 1 (pp 363-372)
- A cell-Inspired model of configuration. ACADIA 2015 - Computational Ecologies: Design in the Anthropocene: Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture, Vol. 2015-October
- An Artificial Life Approach to Configuring Architectural Space. Proceedings of the International Conference on Education and Research in Computer Aided Architectural Design in Europe, Vol. 2 (pp 581-590)
- Stigmergic Planning. Proceedings of the 30th Annual Conference of the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA), 21 October 2010 - 24 October 2010.
- Emergent space diagrams: The application of swarm intelligence to the problem of automatic plan generation. Joining Languages, Cultures and Visions - CAADFutures 2009, Proceedings of the 13th International CAAD Futures Conference (pp 245-258)
- Sniffing space II: The use of artificial ant colonies to generate circulation patterns in buildings. Joining Languages, Cultures and Visions - CAADFutures 2009, Proceedings of the 13th International CAAD Futures Conference (pp 214-227)
- Space Diagrams The Problem of Spatial Arrangement and the Automatic Generation of Architectural Plans. Proceedings of the International Conference on Education and Research in Computer Aided Architectural Design in Europe (pp 91-98)
- Form follows function: Activity defines function, gesticulates space. Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on Education and Research in Computer Aided Architectural Design in Europe (eCAADe), 6 September 2009 - 9 September 2009.
- An analysis of the poly-dimensionality of living an experiment in the application of 3-dimensional self-organising maps to evolve form.. Proceedings of the International Conference on Education and Research in Computer Aided Architectural Design in Europe (pp 449-455)
- Teaching interests
Design Studio, Design Theory, Computational Design.