Digital FUTURES World

Workshop 27/06 – 03/07/2020

Workshop Leaders


Dr. Kristof Crolla (LEAD/HKU)

Garvin Goepel (CUHK)

Keung Shing Fung, Adwin (CUHK)

Chan Tsz Sun, Ovan (CUHK)


Julien Klisz (LEAD)


Workshop Participants


Akshata Ghuge

Duong Nguyen

Xu Jiaqi

Xu Ke

Li Yuan

Yao Jiaxian

Hong Yuhan

Luisa Gutierrez

Zhuang Xinwei


Augmented Reality (AR) integration into craftsmanship promises a radical overhaul of architecture and design production as it brings computational power directly to people’s fingertips. Yet, with the hand becoming a key component in these computer-numerically-controlled workflows, innate and unpredictable human imprecision, inaccuracy, and error become an inevitable part of the equation.  

“Secret Whispers & Transmogrifications” is a workshop organised as part of Tongji University’s Digital FUTURES World global initiative. This initiative organised a series of free online workshop and talks across three different time zones in June 2020, each of which explored an aspect of the potential impact of the Digital on our lives. 


Workshop “Secret Whispers & Transmogrifications” challenged the Digital’s obsession with control and precision by seeking beauty in incremental slippage from technologically augmented human craftsmanship. Participants were exposed to both theoretical concepts and practical applications of augmented reality technology integration in design and production workflows by participating in a hands-on “secret whispers” experiment. In this experiment, a set of fourteen digital sculptures was altered through several morphing cycles that oscillate between the analogue and the digital world. This process started with each participant physically modelling a given digital sculpture file from pottery clay, guided by holographic instructions from augmented reality applications on their smartphone. The outcome was 3D-scanned using the smartphone’s high-definition camera and photogrammetry software. Scanned files were then be passed on to the next person for the following cycle. As models were passed on, error and slippage cumulated, resulting in a transmogrification of the original sculpture into a new object with unique properties and qualities effected by its multiple authors. Three cycles were completed, producing a total of 56 sculptures, which were digitally rendered for exhibited here and in the below virtual exhibition space presenting a 360-degree overview of the work.  


The final constellation of sculptures aims to provoke and stimulate a debate about the future impact of technology integration on craftsmanship, collaboration, authorship and design intent, proposing that only through incorporation of error and slippage as productive qualities of the design process one can maintain and maximise design agency. 

Chinese Whispers (by Jean Julien) (black

Workshop concept , based on "Chinese Whispers" (image by Jean Julien)

Secret Whispers and Transmogrifications_

Left: Original sculpture. Middle left: Iteration 1 by Student X. Middle right: Iteration 2 by Student Y.  Right: Iteration 3 by Student Z.


360° Exhibition





1. AR-guided Clay Modelling

AR-guided Clay Modelling
Video abspielen

Using the software Fologram®, a custom AR application was developed that linked handheld smartphone devices or tablets to a digital working environment in 3D modelling software Rhinoceros®. This application produced holographic guides for the participants that were directly overlaid onto the analogue sculpture during the sculpting process. Sequences of silhouettes and contours were extracted in real-time from the linked digital sculpture and placed atop the analogue clay model. By continuously altering between guides at different positions in X,Y, and Z directions, material could be added or removed layer by layer in a quasi-controlled manner until an analogue interpretation of the digital file was completed.

2. Photogrammetry

Video abspielen

For each clay model, photogrammetry software packages Meshroom® and ReCap® were used to convert a photo series, taking with the participants’ mobile devices, into a digital approximation of the analogue model. This digital version was then passed on to the next participation who, oblivious to the original starting point, further interprets the sculpture in a subsequent clay modelling round. This process was repeated three times per sculpture.



Dr. Kristof CROLLA combines his architectural practice Laboratory for Explorative Architecture & Design Ltd. (LEAD) with a tenured Associate Professorship at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) 's Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering. His work focusses on the strategic integration of computation into architecture production and the impact this has on conceptual architectural design. He is best known for the World Architecture Festival award-winning project ZCB Bamboo Pavilion.  


Garvin GOEPEL is a designer and researcher specialized in Augmented Reality (AR) implementation in fabrication and design processes. He received his Master of Architecture degree from die Angewandte with thesis “AUGSTRUCTION – Construction under the aid of Augmented Reality”. His work has been published in leading conferences including ACADIA and he taught workshops at multiple international institutions. He recently joined the ETH’s Block Research Group and will start his PhD studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) in September 2020.  


KEUNG Shing Fung, Adwin is a Master of Architecture student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)’s School of Architecture. His work focusses on the integration of computational design methods on architecture and for this he has received the CUHK 2017 CAADRIA Student Commendation Awards. He currently participates in ongoing research projects with Dr. Kristof Crolla as Student Research Assistant. 


CHAN Tsz Sun, Ovan is a Student Research Assistant working with Dr. Kristof Crolla. He is studying a Master’s degree at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)’s School of Architecture, concentrating on computational design and fabrication in architecture. Following his undergraduate studies, he practiced for one year at DLN Architects where his work focussed on design and bidding projects in Hong Kong. His study interest is the correlation between visual scripting and physical model fabrication. 

Julien KLISZ  is a licenced Senior Architect at the Laboratory for Explorative Architecture & Design Ltd. (LEAD) holding Architecture Master’s degrees from France and Sweden. With a specialisation in procedural modelling, design, and visualisation, he has been leading award-winning design projects at LEAD’s Hong Kong office since 2013.