Oct 28 - Research Presentation: Prof. Robert Woodbury

Fall 2020 SIAT Graduate Research Colloquium

Convened by: Dr. Kate Hennessy
hennessy_kate [at] sfu.ca

The Graduate Research Colloquium aims to be a forum for the building of community, for exposure to diversity of research work and methods, and for fostering understanding of disciplinary commonalities and differences. SIAT (School of Interactive Arts and Technology) is a strongly interdisciplinary program and the Research Colloquium aims to reflect this by exposing students to a broad range of approaches to research in the areas of Interactive Arts, Design and Technologies.

Through this colloquium series, presentations by SIAT faculty, SFU non-SIAT faculty, and outside visitors will be scheduled alongside presentations by students. Where possible, presentations by international visiting researchers will be integrated into the program. The emphasis is on a community of research which includes students. This colloquium is designed to engage students in discussion and debate on the utility, results and methods of research; on work-life balance; on health and wellbeing; to be introduced to one another and to the members of the broader research and industry community.

This week students are introduced to Prof. Robert Woodbury's research where he will discuss "Dialogues of Exploration: Tools for Design Alternatives."


Accounts of designing argue for rapid, plentiful and available design representations as core to design media supporting creativity. We label such accounts as dialog with the design situation. Design space exploration models design as movement tracing explicit paths through an implicit space of possibilities. Past approaches to design space exploration largely focus on these paths, that is, they concern themselves with design space structure, posing overhead at odds with the dialog of creative design. Fusing dialog and exploration yields a new perspective on interacting with designs in which immediate designerdirected interaction structures exploration rather than the formal structure of design space. We argue that applying this perspective requires focus on a particular design medium as each such medium creates its own task environment that may necessarily limit generalization of the results obtained. In this work we choose the representation of parametric modeling and present an architecture for and features of directly interactive design gallery systems that enable designer-directed rapid making, editing, saving and selecting designs, as well as expanding the resulting design spaces. We demonstrate the system architecture and features through examples taken from a series of design space explorers developed and evaluated in our lab, including the new D ∗ (D.Star) design alternatives system.


Dr Robert Woodbury holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Carleton University (Lieutenant Governor’s Silver Medal) and Master of Science and Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University. He was a faculty member in Architecture and the Engineering Design Research Center at CMU from 1982-1993, at Adelaide University (Australia) from 1993-2001, at the Technical University of British Columbia from 2001-2002 and is now at Simon Fraser University, where he holds the title of University Professor. He was founding Chair of the Graduate Program in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at SFU. From 2005-2008 he was Scientific Director of the Canadian Design Research Network and from 2009-2015 the Director, Art and Design Practice of the Games, Animation and New Media Network in Canada. His research is in computational design, particularly parametric and generative design and visual analytics. He has over 200 publications, including his book Elements of Parametric Design. In 2009 he chaired Team North, a Canadian entry to the 2009 Solar Decathlon and co-led a project to build West House, a solar demonstration house at the 2010 Olympics. In 2008 he was awarded the Innovative Research Award from the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture and the Tee Sasada Award from the Association for Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia. In 2000 he was awarded the Stephen Cole the Elder Prize for teaching excellence at The University of Adelaide.  He is a former Olympian in sailing and a current National Race Officer in the sport.

Link: http://www.sfu.ca/~robw/DStarIntroduction20201005.mp4