Experience and Theory in Architectural Design: Digital Chain Case


  • Mariela Cvetić




Digital Chain, design process, realization process, experience, experiment, emerging architecture, theory


The aim of this paper is to research the impact to emerging theory based on the relation between the architect and his work in a digital approach to the process of design and realization by the principle of Digital Chain. Digital Chain is an uninterruptible digital process consisting of design (idea, coding, geometrics), through construction (structure, junction, prototyping) to production (fabrication) with every step as a programmed entity connected by CAAD/CAM technology universal interfaces. The term Digital Chain is defined and researched (theoretically, experimentally and practically) by the CAAD Chair at ETHZ within the research projects of this institute. Digital Chain is not continuous without the role and position of the architect as the fluid energy and expert that investigates how digital technology is changing, i.e. the entire process of the chain, simultaneously adapting to it.
In that sense architecture appears as an open work (Umberto Eco) without final definitions and in a constant process of information motion as the main component of the architectural product caused by the demands of context, function, form and user input. Testing design code through changes of parameters in iterations, as well as checks in prototype on the next level, makes the theoretical playground between experiment and experience, through education and expertise. It is examplary that interest in the process (performance) was larger than the representation (appearance), what Deleuze and Guattari call supremacy of the Gothic spirit over the spirit of Romanesque or classical spirit, where Gothic deals with the generation of Gothic architecture by understanding the forces, trends and behavior of the material from the bottom to the top, contrary to the classic generation that deals with the imposition of visual aspects such as the proportion of top-down. This paper considers experience or posteriori knowledge as the main driver of the emerging theory of the Digital Chain.

Author Biography

Mariela Cvetić

Faculty of Architecture, University in Belgrade

Mariela Cvetić (1965), PhD, is an artist and art theorist. She is an associate professor at University in Belgrade, Faculty of Architecture and guest professor at University of Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies of Arts and Media. Her artistic practice and theoretical work explore the relationship between subject and space. She is an author of many solo and group exhibitions and member of author’s team whose floor installation wonhlich was selected to represent Republic of Serbia on 11th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, 2008. She is the author of the book Das Unheimliche: Psychoanalitical and Cultural Theories of Space [Das Unheimliche: psihoanalitičke i kulturalne teorije prostora, 2011] and The Artist’s Book [Umetnikova knjiga, 2013].


Delez, Žil. Pokretne slike. Sremski Karlovci, Novi Sad: Izdavačka knjižarnica Zorana Stojanovića, 1988.

Đokić, Vladan, and Petar Bojanić, ed. Interviews Issues. Concerning the Project of Peter Eisenman. On Architectural Education. Belgrade: University of Belgrade, Faculty of Architecture, 2015.

Frichot, Hélène. “On the Death of Architectural Theory and Other Spectres.” Accessed January 5, 2017. https://www.academia.edu/3593335/On_the_death_of_architectural_theory_and_other_spectres

Gramatio, Fabio, Mathias Kohler, and Silke Langenberg, eds., Fabricate. Negotiating Design and Making. ETH Zürich, 2014.

Heidegger, Martin. Vortraege und Aufsaetze – Was heist denken. Tübingen: Neske, 1954.

Hovestadt, Ludger. “Strategies for raster’ overcoming.” Archithese 4 (2006): 76–85.

Lawson, Bryan. How Designer Think. New York: Routledge, 2005. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780080454979

Lawson, Bryan. What Designers Know. Oxford: Architectural Press, 2004.

Lawson, Bryan, and Kees Dorst. Design Expertise. New York: Routledge, 2009.

Leach, Neil. “Od anestezije arhitekture do fašizma.” Tvrđa. Časopis za teoriju, kulturu i vizuelne umjetnosti 1–2 (2007): 377–82.

MAS ETH ARCH/CAAD – 2005/06. Accessed May 6, 2006. http://wiki.arch.ethz.ch/twiki/bin/view/MAS0506.html.

Marković, Slađana. The Guide through the Process of “Digital Chain” in Architecture. Belgrade: Endowment Andrejević, 2013.

Marković, Slađana. “Positioning of architect in the process of design and realization of architecture based on a principle of a ‘digital chain’”, PhD diss., University in Belgrade, 2016.

Marković, Slađana. “Proces ‘digitalnog lanca’ u projektovanju i realizaciji arhitekture.”, MSc diss., University in Belgrade, 2009.

Miller, Vincent. Understanding Digital Culture. London: Sage Publications, 2011.

Peters, Bradym, and Terry Peters. Inside Smart Geometry – Expanding the Architectural Possibilities of Computational Design. Chichester: Wiley, 2013. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118653074

Schodek, Daniel, Martin Betchthold, Kimo Griggs, Kenneth M. Kao., and Marco Steinber. Digital Design and Manufacturing. Hoboken: Wiley, 2005.

Schumacher, Patrik. The Autopoiesis of Architecture. Chichester: Wiley, 2011.

Simon, Herbert. The Science of Artifitial. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996.

Speaks, Michael. “Which Way Avant-Garde?.” Assemblage 41 (Apr. 2000): 78. doi:10.2307/3171338. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/3171338

Solis, Brian. “Digital Darwinism: How Disruptive Technology Is Changing Business for Good.” Accessed April 1, 2016. http://www.wired.com/2014/04/digital-darwinism-disruptive-technology-changing-business-good/




How to Cite

Cvetić, M. (2017). Experience and Theory in Architectural Design: Digital Chain Case. AM Journal of Art and Media Studies, (12), 121–134. https://doi.org/10.25038/am.v0i12.172