ETH-EPFL InternatioNAL Summer School
Human-Centric Performance Simulations in Architecture



26-30th August, 2019

Application Deadline Extended to MAY 13!


Human-Centric Performance Simulations in Architecture

Rapid urbanization, urban densification and an exponential rise in computing power are transforming the way we design, construct and use buildings and cities. Simulation tools are increasingly integrated in the architectural design process and have become a prevalent method for predicting and evaluating different kinds of building performances. While most simulation methods focus on testing structural, energy-related, and acoustics performances, human-centric simulation tools that simulate human visual perception and cognition are relatively new and thus provide a fertile ground for research and discussion.

humARCH, a summer school jointly organised by ETH-EPFL, poses the notion of computational simulations as an appropriate and integrated method to explore human-space interactions prior to the building construction and in order to support an evidence-based architectural design process that moves beyond intuition.

During an intense 5-day program students will gain theoretical input and engage in independent learning, group work and exposure to state-of-the-art industry and research based simulation tools. The format of the summer school includes keynotes, dialogues, dedicated workshops and hands-on design sketches where various simulation tools would be used and critically discussed and evaluated for its contribution to evidence-based architectural design.


The summer school will be held at EMPA-NEST and ETH Zurich, Switzerland




The summer school will be held at EMPA-NEST and ETH Zurich, Switzerland. EMPA-NEST, our partner location for the 5-day program is a one-of-a-kind “plug-and-play” research building located in Dübendorf in which various innovative research units from the construction and energy sector are nested and tested.


Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology. Überlandstrasse 129
8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland. Directions



The summer school would include keynotes, dialogues, dedicated workshops and hands-on design sketches where various simulation tools will be introduced and critically discussed for an evidence-based architecture design process from a human-centric perspective on the topics of daylighting and wayfinding.

Keynotes & dialogues

Each day of the summer school would launch with a keynote lecture by a prominent speaker with a specific expertise in the area of human-centric performance simulation - from human visual comfort to human wayfinding.  Keynote lectures would provide both theoretical and practical overview of how they can inform architectural design decisions along the various stages of the design process.  At the end of each keynote a critical dialogue would take place.

Human-centric simulation workshops

Beyond the theatrical discussion on human-centric simulations, the summer program aims to provide a hands-on experimentation with simulation tools. To that end, two dedicated workshops on Wayfinding and Daylighting simulations would be carried out. Workshops would be taught by the summer school organisers and other experts in each field where state-of-the-art-simulation tools would be showcased and the models that underly them would be thoroughly explained. Each workshop would be conducted in the form of a ‘crash-course’ where participants would learn the principles of each simulation tools presented, thus being able to experiment with the tools during follow-up design sketch sessions. 

hands-on design sketches

Upon gaining theoretical and practical understanding of human-centric simulation tools and concepts, participants would apply what they learned to inform their design decisions during a design sketch exercise. Participants would work both individually and in teams as they experiment with a performance-based design approach supported by various simulation tools at their disposal. Finally, a critical discussion on the benefits and limitations of each simulation tool will follow. The summer school forum would provide a unique ‘think-tank’ to explore the role of human-centric simulation in architectural design. 



Michal Gath-Morad
PhD Student, Chair of Cognitive Science, ETHZ

Geraldine Quek
PhD Student, Laboratory of Integrated Performance in Design, EPFL

Victoria Eugenia Soto Magán
PhD Student, Laboratory of Integrated Performance in Design (LIPID), EPFL


Prof. Dr. Christoph Hölscher
Professor, Chair of Cognitive Science, ETHZ

Prof. Dr. Marilyne Andersen
Professor, Laboratory of Integrated Performance in Design (LIPID), EPFL




Dr. Alstan Jakubiec

Assistant Professor, Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, University of Toronto

Alstan is an assistant professor at the University of Toronto where he focuses his efforts on the design of buildings and cities with emphases on human comfort, performance simulation, and low-energy design strategies. He believes that through data-driven processes, designers can create comfortable built environments that will support social interaction, require less energy, and last longer before being razed. Alstan co-creates the popular DIVA tool for calculating the daylighting and energy performance of buildings and cities and actively develops new software tools as part of his research.

Dr. Michael Ulrich Hensel
Professor, Institute of Architectural Sciences, TU Wein

Michael U. Hensel is a registered architect and Professor at Vienna Technical University where he heads the Digital Architecture and Planning Department. He co-founded the interdisciplinary design network OCEAN in 1994. From 2008 to 2018 he was founding and acting chairman of the OCEAN Design Research Association. In this context he pioneered research by design and experimental design in architecture. Works undertaken in the context of OCEAN are included in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress in the United States and the FRAC Centre (Fonds Regional d'Art Contemporain) in Orléans, France and were exhibited in various Venice Architectural Biennials and other high-profile venues.He co-directs the practice OCEAN Architecture | Environment together with his partner Defne Sunguroğlu Hensel.

Dr. Azam Khan
Director, Complex Systems Group,

Autodesk Research,

Office of the CTO &
Adjunct Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto

Azam Khan is Director, Complex Systems Research at Autodesk. He is the Founder of the Parametric Human Project Consortium, SimAUD: the Symposium on Simulation for Architecture and Urban Design, and the CHI Sustainability Community. He is also a Founding Member of the International Society for Human Simulation and has been the Velux Guest Professor at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, at the Center for IT and Architecture (CITA) in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Dr. Jan Wienold

Senior Research Scientist, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne


Who should apply?

The summer school aims to facilitate a cross-disciplinary discussion and bring together masters and doctoral students from various fields that are related to human-centric simulation studies in architecture. We invite masters and doctoral students to apply from various fields; architecture, cognitive science, geography, urban design to computer science – as long as their interests and research are related to simulating human interactions with and within built environments.

All applicants are expected to submit their Curriculum Vitae (CV), a motivation letter (1 page) and to do a short survey about required skills. Some previous knowledge of modelling software (e.g. Rhino 3D) will be required, while additional experience on simulation tools will be considered as a bonus. The motivation letter should contain applicants background, motivations to participate and two key questions they would like to discuss during the summer school dialogue regarding human-centric simulations in architecture workflows.

All participants will be awarded a certificate of completion and 2 ECTS credits (European Credit Transfer System) upon successful participation and completion of the summer school. Participants are responsible for claiming the academic credits from their respective academic programs, final decision to acknowledge the credits will be made by the participants’ institution.

The program is open to Masters and PhD students from all over the world. All students (including those from ETH Zurich and EPF Lausanne) must apply through an open application call here.

Applications close on May 13th, 2019. Letters of application outcomes will be sent by email to all applicants during June 2019.

Participation Fees

The summer school is generously funded and supported by ETH Zurich and EPFL Lausanne. Upon successful application, participants must pay a participation fee in accordance to their level of study at time of summer school. Accommodation and meals during the 5-day program is included. Participants are required to cover their travel expenses to and from and the summer school venue.

  • Fee for Masters students: CHF100.-

  • Fee for PhD students: CHF250.-

Important Dates

  • Applications open - March 5th, 2019

  • Application deadline - May 13th, 2019

  • Notification of results - June 1st, 2019

  • Summer school - August 26-30th, 2019


humARCH 2019
ETH-EPFL International Summer School

Applications close May 13th (extended deadline)