Tel. (514) 398-6709
theodora.vardouli [at] mcgill.ca (Email)
Theodora Vardouli is Assistant Professor at the Peter Guo-hua Fu School of Architecture, McGill University. Her research broadly examines algorithmic techniques of describing, generating, and simulating architectural form and performance -- their histories, cultural meanings, and operational implications for creative design.
Cross-pollinating methods from science and technology studies and architectural history, her recent scholarship has revolved around processes of mathematization that preceded, and paralleled, the introduction of computers to architectural design, along with knowledge cultures of the settings in which these unfolded. Current research projects include investigation of activity in design methodology and its intersections with computer aided design research in postwar North America, genealogies of formalism in the interface of architecture and mathematics, and histories of dynamic modelling in postwar British architectural theory.
Alongside these critical historical projects, Vardouli investigates, through teaching and critical design work, collisions between perceptual shape, material things, and structural abstraction while designing and making with digital tools. At McGill, Vardouli coordinates a second year undergraduate studio on formal systems, in which students devise and use rules for transforming shapes (in two and three dimensions) and explore their spatial, material, and programmatic potential; teaches a core undergraduate lecture in which students critically reflect on histories and contemporary practices of building information modelling and develop tactics for subverting software-imposed constraints; and leads a graduate seminar investigating the entanglements of computational concepts with postwar architectural theory through interdisciplinary scholarship from software studies, science and technology studies, design theory, and architectural history. She is co-founder of the Design, Engineering, and Society reading group, an interdisciplinary weekly reading seminar on social aspects of design and technology. Vardouli is also in the process of establishing CoDEx (Computational Design Exploratory) a research laboratory that adapts emerging design research methods such as critical design and critical making, to develop and deploy idiosyncratic digital tools — tools that expose and creatively subvert computational abstractions and protocols that undergird contemporary software applications.
Before McGill, Vardouli was Visiting Assistant Professor at the Pratt Institute School of Architecture and Lecturer at the Boston Architectural College. Vardouli holds a PhD and a SMArchS in Design and Computation from MIT, where she was Presidential Fellow for doctoral studies, and a Master of Science in Design-Space-Culture from the National Technical University of Athens, where she also completed her first architectural training leading to her MArch. Vardouli's research has been supported from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council in Canada, the Onassis Foundation, the A.G. Leventis Foundation, and the Fulbright Foundation.
Vardouli's articles have been published in Leonardo, Design Studies, Perspective, Nexus, and several edited collections (selected publications). She is co-curator of the SSHRC-funded exhibition Vers un imaginaire numérique (UQAM, 2020) and co-editor of Computer Architectures: Constructing the Common Ground (Routledge), a collection of essays by architectural historians, science and technology studies scholars, and media theorists that rethinks the history and historiography of architecture and the computer. Her in-progress book project tentatively titled Graph Vision: Digital Architecture’s Skeletons historically situates the rift between the perceptual and operational realm of architectural geometry —what one sees on the screen and how one manipulates it— in transactions of twentieth century architectural and mathematical cultures.
Computer Architectures: Constructing the Common Ground (co-edited with Olga Touloumi); 2020
* I am recruiting PhD students and research assistants whose interests align with areas such as computational abstractions in architecture and design, postwar histories of design methods and architectural computing, models and rationality in architecture and planning, technological speculation, critical design and making, ethics and politics of software. Email me with a short bio to initiate conversations.
[2018-2020] Architecture as Computation: Academic Research Networks and Mobilities of Technical Practices (SSHRC Insight Development Grant) | Status: Active
 Canada's CAD (Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering (SURE), McGill University) | Status: Completed
 Flow in Buildings: Dynamic Modelling at the University of Cambridge (SURE, McGill University, with collaborator Salmaan Craig) | Status: Completed
 Design and the Computer: Design Methods and Computer Aided Design at the University of Waterloo (SURE, McGill University) | Status: Completed