About this seminar

Physical computing is about creating a conversation between the physical world and the virtual world of the computer, is about prototyping with electronics, turning sensors, actuators and microcontrollers into materials for designers and artists. Much of the challenge of physical computing is converting various forms of energy, such as light, heat, or pressure, into the electronic energy that a computer can understand.

Nowadays the physical computation, the electronics and the new technologies every time have more presence in the architecture. Some items, like the systems of optimization of energy, the light installations that increase architectural elements with the use extended of the LED, or devices that extract information of the environment and apply it in a creative form to the buildings, and sensitive spaces that react to the persons, they are some examples of applications of the technology in this field.

The electronics opensource such as Arduino and the communities online have helped very much to the generalization and democratization of the knowledge in the last decade. this technology has endowed architects, designers and artists of cheap, powerful tools and of an incredibly easy use to help and to develop his ideas of a rapid and efficient form without the need to contract the services of external companies or to invest big quantities of money in environments of development expensive and inflexible.

This workshop aims to introduce a practical way to the use of sensors, actuators and microcontrollers in the field of architecture. The course consists of an introduction to “Physical Computing techniques using Arduino and simple practical examples. The seminar will finish developing a project among all students. During the different classes will be created groups that work on the design and development of an implementation or physical module using common elements to finally create an interactive application together and build a modular and scalable system.

Elements are used can be sensors for light, temperature or vibration to capture information and actuators to generate movement or similar outputs. The main idea is to create something big and modular with a complex behavior from creating simple small items. Each group develop separately and then jointly implement. The elements may or may not be interconnected. This is something that will be decided at the time in terms of the ideas and proposals that emerge. Students have to propose different applications and selected the most interesting, practical and efficient to carry out from a collaborative work.

We will use Arduino as the main technology for the course, since it is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software for the creation of interactive objects or environments.


• Basic electronics
• Basic electronic construction techniques
• Basic programming
– Traditional, sequential, text-based
– Ideal for standalone, embedded applications
– Using the Arduino and a simplified C programming language
• Use of sensors and transducers electronics ⇔ physical world

Course format

• Practique topics and examples
We’ll discuss in class. Course notes are linked so you can read them before class.
• Laboratory
That illustrate the practice topics. The first two weeks we work and discuss some examples in class, after, we’ll analise the new lab assignment and you have to prepare it the for next class.
Production assignments
Larger assignments we have to scheduled.
FINAL project. During the last 4 weeks we’ll work in the final projects. All groups have to choose between.
6 different types of sensors and 3 actuators to design a modular system for facades. You’ll be expected to show them in a public.
Recomended readings to read during the course.
Blog assignments
Writing the week when it’s assigned. You are expected to keep an online journal of your progress. You have to document at least your midterms and finals.