Joseph Claghorn

Dr Joseph Claghorn


Telephone: 0114 222 0009
Room 12.4, The Arts Tower

Research Cluster: Creative Spatial Practices




A reconciliation of avante- and arrière-garde tendencies — a desire to progress the quality of natural and built environments through innovative design intention, while conserving things of value which have emerged through evolutionary, generally bottom-up processes — is an ethos that I seek to instil in my creative practice.

Dr Joseph Claghorn


My creative interests focus on the role of digital technologies in landscape architectural practice, resisting the use of computation as a time-saving substitute for analogue methods, embracing instead the use of emergent technologies in innovative ways that complement and expand traditional techniques rather than replacing them. This often entails exploiting the computer’s algorithmic logic to explore complex formal systems, to simulate dynamic systems, to extract value from geospatial data, and to fabricate landscapes in new ways.

Through digital practice, I seek to understand and work with the emergent and evolutionary qualities of landscapes, cities, and societies, exploiting the logic of how form and space are generated by natural and cultural processes, usually without the conscious intervention of a single agent or designer, in order to inform design agency in digital space. In this way I believe the designer can critically engage the innovations transforming societies along with the built environment.

Teaching responsibilities

LSC 6113 Landscape Planning
LSC 6114 Landscape Urbanism and Design

Research Interests

The focus of my personal research has been on the use of computational methods to model emergent processes in the landscape and to explore how these methods can be used in contemporary landscape architectural practice. This has been the topic of my doctoral thesis Algorithmic Landscapes: Computational Methods for the mediation of Form, Information, and Performance in Landscape Architecture.

More broadly, I am interested in studying the emergent and evolutionary qualities of landscapes and in developing strategies for intervention in particularly difficult or complex contexts. In the past years, I have collaborated on research exploring the potential of landscape architectural interventions to address issues of disaster and risk while improving community living standards in low-income, largely informal settlements, including sponsored research in Colombia and in Brazil.

In addition, I have curated the blog Generative Landscapes since August of 2014, which provides straightforward examples of algorithms developed using Rhino and Grasshopper. As of January 2019 the blog has just shy of 800,000 views from 170,000 unique visitors.

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Funded Research Projects (present and past)

Rehabitar la montaña: Strategies and processes for sustainable dwelling in the slopes of Medellin
Funded by City of Medellin. 2012 – 2013. Collaboration between Urbam-EAFIT University and Leibniz University Hannover. Christian Werthmann and Alejandro Echeverri, project leads.

Dronescapes: Exploring the Potential of UAVs in Landscape Documentation
AULET Research Incentive in Architecture, Urbanism, Landscape Architecture, Environmental Planning, and Technical Education. 2016. Joseph Claghorn, Marcus Hanke, Ben Jamin Grau.

Academic Qualifications

2018 Dr. Eng., Leibniz Universität Hannover
2009 MLA, Harvard University
2003 MArch., Georgia Institute of Technology
2000 BA, History, Brigham Young University

Selected publications

This person does not have any publications available.