Instituto Superior Tecnico, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal, Portugal
A 3d model of the Petronas Tower and a 2d geometric illustration of their plan

The field of architectural design heavily relies on visual and spatial reasoning, which poses challenges when trying to translate these concepts into algorithmic descriptions and functioning programs. This creates difficulties for architects who wish to incorporate computational approaches like Algorithmic Design (AD). One significant challenge is comprehending the program itself. To address this issue, an automatic illustration system for AD programs may generate annotated diagrams illustrating the program's meaning.

The illustration system concentrates on a fundamental set of geometric elements commonly used in calculations to position geometry in space, such as points, distances, angles, vectors, etc. It also focuses on how these elements are manipulated to create more intricate geometric entities. By extracting information from the AD program, the proposed system automatically produces illustrations that can be seamlessly integrated into the program itself, enhancing comprehension alongside the corresponding instructions.

This project uses an AD tool to generate the illustrations and a computational notebook to intertwine the program and the illustrations. It discusses the choices made on the system’s implementation, the expected workflow for such a system, and potential future developments


This project tackles the challenging task of illustrating AD programs, aiming to significantly simplify it by automating the process to a large extent. However, it is important to note that this research is still ongoing, and there are several logical next steps to consider based on the proposed solution. These include expanding the illustration library to encompass more intricate concepts like geometric constraints, adopting a holistic approach to annotation placement that takes into account the space occupied by existing labels, exploring alternative visualizers for image generation, and extending the system to support 3D illustrations.


Technical factsheet

  • Funded EU Member state
  • NEB Value inclusivity
  • Location Instituto Superior Tecnico, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal, Portugal
  • Application category Other | digital pedagogies
  • Related Technical Working Group Design and architecture

Renata Castelo Branco
Project funding: UIDB/50021/2020, PTDC/ARTDAQ/31061/2017, and DFA/BD/4682/2020.