Architects are increasingly employing computational tools as a means of visualizing and managing design responses to complex gradients of natural forces. The expanding role of digital design tools in the last decade has led to a definitive focus on the ability to customize architecture to (local) environmental forces (i.e wind, sun, site conditions). The architectural community refers to this as ‘performative’ architecture (performance-driven). However, this emphasis on responding to environmental forces without the follow-through to understand the effect on the human condition shows an inherent gap in the way architecture is still severely under-serving the human condition (architecture’s true client) especially given present-day advances in 3d (parametric) modeling and (human health) data accessibility.

The way the sun strikes a building is not important for the building nor the sun’s sake but rather for the way it ultimately affects humans (illumination, heating, etc). The more that architectural practices abandon national design ‘standards’ and utilize local human health data sets, the more our design decisions are capable of corresponding with human-specific needs that often vary by locale. Considering on average Americans spend 80% of their lives “indoors” its due time that the main body of architecture consider far more critically the relation of human health to our everyday spaces over the typical health conference focus of hospital design. Is an investment in human health-driven architectural design the next instrumental preventative care measure?

Individuals are exponentially ‘self-tracking’ personal health data; design professions must now recognize how to connect with this rich (potentially open) data-source. Proceeding down this pathway demands increasing modes of collaboration between individuals, designers and medical practitioners. Even more specifically it illuminates the worth of shifts in the architectural field at present to ‘architect’ data management processes over design of explicit form (longstanding traditional role of an Architect).

LaN research shows how such technologies (tracking apps + visualization software) open health tracking to new incredible levels of accessibility for all (economically and otherwise). Presentation shows how complex data sets are fed into parametric modeling software to become more profoundly readable 3d informatics. This ‘visual programming’ is demonstrated specifically in this context showing a collection of a runner’s GPS data (as a base layer of information) begins to display patterning effects of body performance varying over time in relation to other chosen variables (i.e. hormonal tracking, weather, other runners, etc). This example will provoke how a designer would prove instrumental alongside a medical professional to guide how individuals (patients) go about the collection of their own data and engage throughout the process (customizing apps / managing data).

An airport layout example quickly illustrates how misprioritized human health parameters in design processes are often falsely mistaken for other critical factors (TSA regulations). A nationally-recognized design competition the ‘Solar Decathalon’ is referenced and criticized as another drastically misprioritized human health design process. This example poses the ironic reality that the more our buildings operate like living bodies… the more likely designers can achieve environmental accordance.

Outcomes from a two week LaN directed design workshop on-site at Istanbul’s Psychiatric hospital shows specifically how architectural form was generated based on patient data.

In Boulder, Colorado a town with above average affluence, instances of start-ups (60+ hour work weeks) in windowless basements still pervade commonplace culture. This seems distinctly problematic given the depth of research tying even the single parameter (vitamin d) to a human’s foundational health. Using human Vitamin D level data as a baseline example of approaching the health-design connections, studies illustrates how a single variable can re-prioritize architectural spatial organization. Since Vitamin D levels tend to pattern with latitude this study is an example of how design changes by geographic reference as well.

Lastly, a few glimpses of exciting developments with 3d printing & prototyping technologies are used to convey the increasing worth of a multi-disciplinary worth to development of health technologies. Specifically, LaN presents product research (3d printed bio materials) to pose the ability of present-day design technologies to create body products that potentially enrich/feed human health, rather than just minimize harm (bpa-free products).


(text from Abstract prepared & accepted by Stanford University School of Medicine – MEDICINE X Conference – do to schedule conflicts LaN was unable to attend & present) 


Learning Goals + Objectives:

1) highlighting the role of designers to craft the collection of personal health data (via increasingly

accessible sensor and personal technologies) as a viable data set to drive architectural form

2) utilizing 3d parametric modeling platforms to render complex data sets visible–showing how elaborate personal health visualizations offer new affordable open-source modes of health tracking & diagnosis

3) provoking the value in stronger collaborations between patients, designers and medical professionals beyond typical medical product design or hospital architecture

4) familiarizing participants with emerging 3d printing + prototyping technologies as applicable to medical realms

Intended Audience:

This workshop hopes to draw a varied audience and is set up in a fashion to include various levels of (hands-on) participation with (hardware) data collection and (software) manipulation of form. ‘Patients’ and those with a technical and/or design background of any sort are valued. Researchers and those specializing in ‘big picture’ thinking may also find appeal.


Academic discipline and sub-disciplines 3d Data Visualization; Computational Design; 3d printing; Data-Fed Architecture