Kostas Grigoriadis

PhD Work

Mixed Matters: The Epistemology of Designing with Functionally Graded Materials

In contrast to composites, which are effectively laminates, functionally graded materials (FGM) are singular multi-materials that vary their consistency gradually over their volume. As their use is expected to become increasingly prevalent in fabrication and construction, the research explores a future where ‘true’ continuity will eventually be enabled in architecture through the merging of different materials that will be fused together three-dimensionally. The specific focus in this context is to propose a revised design methodology that corresponds to these changes in building technique, repositioning material behaviour as an integral and defining part of the design process. The anticipated outcome of the thesis is a new design manual that defines a procedure that can be followed in order to design continuously graded material constructs. Within this domain there are two main parameters that are conceptualised, specified, analysed and utilised to design with.

Firstly, due to the nature of continuously graded structures (consisting of no mechanically joined parts), there are/will be two main methods for in-situ construction: through three-dimensional printing, or through material poured and treated into its liquid form in order to generate larger materially blended constructs. In either of these cases, material behaviour needs to be taken into account and prioritised in the design decision hierarchy. The incorporation of this through the use of digital simulations becomes essential to the design process. In simulating material fusion, the main focus is to formulate a corresponding epistemology in which criteria for the material selection, appropriate forces and computational agency and methods for evaluating the results are established. In terms of material selection, the objective is to verify fusion compatibility of two or more substances through existing research paradigms in material science. Regarding the affecting agency, the separation of invasive versus non-intrusive processing techniques informs the assignment of simulation parameters pertaining to the latter, while structural and aesthetic criteria are in place to evaluate and potentially rethink the initial simulation set out.

Secondly, digitally simulating materials in their liquid state implies the use of a containing geometry within which fusion will occur. An additional focus it to effectively define the formal characteristics of the containing vessels. These are informed by instances of naturally occurring functionally graded materials and principles for dissimilar material attachments such as ‘interdigitation’ (on a macro-scale), as well as shallow angle and multiple attachment sites of one material into another (on a miniature/visible-scale). In addition, the form and orientation of the mould and the material compartments are aligned/coordinated with the structural properties of the substances to be fused.

Effectively, the research question is formulated in how can research on functionally graded materials (as found in nature and through studying FGM manufacturing techniques) inform new methods of designing the materially continuous (avoiding tectonic thinking through the direct blending of digitally simulated matter). A further sub question is how can tectonic elements, such as curtain wall glazing parts be (re)designed using multi-materials.


  • PhD


    School of Architecture


    Architecture, 2011–

  • Degrees

  • MArch Architecture and Urbanism, Architectural Association, 2011; DipArch Architecture (Part II), Bartlett, University College London, 2005; BA (Hons) Architecture (Part I), London Metropolitan University, 2002
  • Experience

  • Diploma Unit Master, Architectural Association, London, 2011- Present; Design and make course tutor, Architectural Association, London, 2010 – present; Tutor, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, London, 2015– present; Architectural assistant, Populous, London, 2009–11; Visiting lecturer, Royal College of Art, London, 2012–15; Architectural assistant, Foster and Partners, London, 2005–7
  • Exhibitions

  • Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2016; d3 Natural Systems> Origins, Gallery MC, New York, 2012 ; Digital Hinterlands Exhibition, Arup Phase 2 Gallery, London, 2010; Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2009
  • Awards

  • Special Mention, Arup Prize for Emerging Talent in Architecture, Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, 2016; A. G. Leventis Foundation Educational Grant, 2015; Ivan Petrovic Prize, eCAADe (Association for Education and Research in Computer Aided Architectural Design in Europe), 2014; A. G. Leventis Foundation Educational Grant, 2014; Sir Richard Stapley Educational Trust Award, 2012
  • Conferences

  • Translating Digital to Physical Gradients, CAADRIA 2016- Living Systems and Micro-Utopias: Towards Continuous Designing, Melbourne School of Design, The University of Melbourne, April 2016 ; Simulating Fusion: An Epistemological Analysis of a New Design Tool for an Imminent Multi-Material Future, Design Modelling Symposium: Modelling Behaviour, CITA, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, October 2015; Mixed Matters: The Problems of Designing with Functionally Graded Materials, What’s the Matter? Materiality and Materialism at the Age of Computation, Escola Tecnica Superior d’Arquitectura de Barcelona, September 2014; Material Blends: Particle Systems as a Tool for Designing a Continuously Graded Windbreak Element, 2nd International Conference of Biodigital Architecture & Genetics, ESARQ (UIC), 2014
  • Publications

  • Mixed Matters: A Multi-Material Design Compendium, 2016; From Opacity to Transparency. It is a (Mixed) Matter of Time/De l’Opacité à la Transparence, Matière à Réflexion et Question de Temps, Archicréé, 373, 2015, 74-83 & 192-193; Material Fusion: A Research into the Simulated Blending of Materials Using Particle Systems, International Journal of Architectural Computing, 13(3), 2015, 335-352; Hair-Optimised Detour Networks, Adaptive Ecologies: Correlated Systems of Living, 2011, 230-239; Ecograft, Future Arquitecturas Magazine, 35/36, 2011, 100-101; Morphotectonic Aesthetics: Parametric Skyscraper, eVolo Skyscrapers, 934-937; Urban Reef, Future Arquitecturas Magazine, 26/27, 2011, 30-31; Urban Reef, Digital Architecture: Passages Through Hinterlands, 2009, 82-85; Climatic Threat Assembly: Interactive Response to the Effects of Climate in a Subtropical Environment, Devices: A Manual of Architectural+ Spatial Machines, 2006, 36-47