Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Towards empathy in computational design: Co-design and semantic metrics

Lavaf Pour, Yahya; Barakat, Merate; Calvo, Mirian; Chatzimichali, Anna

Towards empathy in computational design: Co-design and semantic metrics Thumbnail


Merate Barakat
Senior Lecturer in Computational Architecture

Mirian Calvo


Today , computation design has provoked new theoretical frameworks on the systemic design processes (Derix & Izaki 2014). It is acknowledged that individuals possess varying "emotional intelligent quotients" at various levels. Indeed, Baron-Cohen and Wheelwright (Baron-Cohen and Wheelwright, 2004) refer to empathy as the measurable Emotional Quotient (EQ) factor that can be changed or improved through training and experience if individuals are willing to engage with empathic values. The study employed participatory design sessions (Co-design) and a series of soundwalks with experts in the design field to establish a taxonomy of empathy between designers and users. The participants mapped the empathic aspect of their design processes against the double diamond design process diagram. The co-design sessions and a separate focus group discussion were analyzed using an affinity diagram method, which identifies themes (patterns of meaning) in qualitative data and is well-established in many social science disciplines. Affinity diagramming resonates with context-based data analysis and is extensively used in design disciplines, management and anthropology (Simonsen & Friberg, 2014). It is equally valuable for idea generation, decision-making, and usability tests (Martin & Hanington, 2012).
The study aims to identify semantic metrics, codify empathy design aspects, and integrate them into the computational design ecosystem, namely Grasshopper3D, the most widely used computational platform. The Co-Design and focus group sessions and the varying EQ capacity of designers imply that the tool required should act as a design empathy coach that keeps track of the 1) design team brainstorming, 2) individual thought process, and 3) evolution of the Grasshopper definition. Figure 1 represents the WIP design development user interface using the developed tool. Currently, the tool is in its development stage employing Natural Language Processing NLP) to enable analyses of verbal design data (Becattini et al., 2020) and Context-Free Grammar (CFG) algorithms (Rao and Gudivada, 2018), shown in Figure 2. In addition, the tool will be integrated into the ecosystem of a computational design firm to test the user interface (verbal and graphic) and its effect on the design process. Further needed qualitative data includes design empathy terminology to build a database to inform the design storyboard resulting from the CFG, which further aids design. The focus of this project is the intersection of qualitative data analysis and computational methods; therefore, the further development of the tool will require alternating between disparate methodologies, pushing the boundaries of both fields.


Lavaf Pour, Y., Barakat, M., Calvo, M., & Chatzimichali, A. (2022, July). Towards empathy in computational design: Co-design and semantic metrics. Poster presented at Tenth International Conference on Design Computing and Cognition, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland UK

Presentation Conference Type Poster
Conference Name Tenth International Conference on Design Computing and Cognition
Conference Location University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland UK
Start Date Jul 4, 2022
End Date Jul 6, 2022
Deposit Date Apr 14, 2023
Publicly Available Date Apr 18, 2023
Keywords Empathy, computational design, co-design, semantic metrics
Public URL
Related Public URLs


You might also like

Downloadable Citations