Computation is a critical element in design processes.  Our research covers several areas including underlying foundations of generative design, computer tools for visualisation, modelling of design processes, generative design methods for 3D synthesis, digital fabrication through rapid prototyping and the kinematic synthesis of mechanisms.

A particular focus of this research concerns the computations applied to visual representations and physical objects as they are transformed, evaluated and tested during design process. Methods range from formal generative design eg shape grammars, to visualisation and prototyping through CAD, simulation of design processes and associated computational tools for assisting design decision making including systems modelling, evaluation and test.


Prof Chris Earl
Prof Steve Garner
Dr Claudia Eckert


Design synthesis and shape generation, EPSRC/AHRC 2007-2009 (OU, Leeds, Strathclyde)

Designing with vision, Leverhulme Trust, 2009-2011 9 (OU, Leeds)

Paterson G, Earl C (2011) ‘Line, Plane and Solid’, in Gero J S (ed) Design Computing and Cognition ‘10, Springer, 251-268

Jowers I, Prats M, Pedreira N, McKay A, Garner S, (2011) ‘Shape generation and manipulation with eye-tracking’, Proc CAADRIA 2011 27-30 April 2011, Newcastle, AU

Jowers I, Earl C, (2011), forthcoming ‘The implementation of curved shape grammars’  Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design

McKay A, Chase S, Garner S, Jowers I, Prats M, Hogg D, Chau H, de Pennington A, Earl C, Lim S (2010), 'Design Synthesis and Shape Generation', in Designing for the 21st Century: Interdisciplinary Methods and Findings Inns T (ed), Gower

Prats M, Lim S, Jowers I, Garner S, Chase ., (2009). ‘Transforming shape in design: Observations from studies of sketching', Design Studies, 30, 503-520

Jowers I, Earl C F (2009) ‘The construction of curved shapes’ Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 37, 42-58

Lim S., Prats M., Jowers I., Chase S., Garner S., McKay A., (2008). 'Shape exploration in design: formalising and supporting a transformational process', International Journal of Architectural Computing, 6, 415-433

Earl C 2008 ‘Shape Boundaries’ in  Shape Grammars – a SIGGRAPH 2008 conference issue ed L March, Pion, London, pp 107-125

Prats M, Earl C, Garner S, Jowers I, 2006 ‘Exploring style through generative shape description’. AIEDAM, 20, 201-215.

Recent OU PhD projects:

Iestyn  Jowers (2006) Computation with curved shapes

Miguel Prats (2007) Shape exploration in product design

Gareth Paterson (2009) Form generation in design

Brian Cook (2010) Prefabrication and Housing Quality
Current PhD projects:

Laura Harrison Prototyping in generative design: geometry, rules and fabrication

Lynne McLachlan  Shape grammars for three dimensional generative design: effective tools for digital fabrication of jewellery

Khadija Tahera  Virtual and physical testing in engineering design

Arno Verhoeven  Objects, narratives and design conversations