Agile X 2

In Agile X1 we developed immaterial pavilions for Adelaide, Delft and Tianjin. In the second Agile X workshop, participants worked closely with the Office for Design and Architecture South Australia (ODASA) to develop the Adelaide pavilion design for the entrance to their offices. It was great to have Tessa Sare and Adam Jack supporting the workshop as UniSA Vacation Research Scholars.  A great program for anyone who would like to get real research experience. We also had fabrication support from Matt Murphy and previous Agile X participant Brett Abroe returned as tutor as well as support from Alex Hall and Todd Hislop (also a previous partcipant) at Woods Bagot.

2016-02-01 16.27.25
Site visit in the first week of the workshop

The aim to apply agile design methodologies form computer science into architecture projects was explored in the first workshop. For this one we wanted to be more specific about what an agile design was in this context. To support this we adapted the 12 principles of Agile software development to be appropriate to Architectural design and then tried to apply these in this workshop. They were:

  1. Satisfy clients by early and continuous delivery of valuable designs.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even in late development
  3. Deliver working designs frequently.
  4. Facilitate close, daily cooperation between stakeholders and designers.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals, and trust them.
  6. Encourage face-to-face conversation as the best form of communication (co-location).
  7. Measure progress on working design systems.
  8. Maintain a constant sustainable pace (avoid burn out).
  9. Focus on technical excellence and good design.
  10. Maximise the amount of work not done.
  11. Support teams to self-organise.
  12. Reflect continuously on how to become more effective and adjust behaviour accordingly.

The workshop ran over 2 weeks. Different systems decoupled into components. 12 participants divided into 6 teams of which: 2 teams focused on the material systems of the pavilion; 2 focused on the design system; and 2 focused on the fabrication system. The teams had between 1 and 3 people in them. For those with 3, they could nominate a Scrum master. However this designation proved tricky as the Scrum masters were typically participants who had less technical skills. This meant that it was difficult for them to understand the tasks that the rest of the team internalized. It was therefore difficult for the Scrum masters to enforce the scrum. Therefore, in reality it became more of an extreme programming pair programming approach supported by a third participant who was involved in documentation of the solution, development of alternatives and reflection. This suggests as should be expected that there may be different roles to be fulfilled in Agile design.

The final Grasshopper definition decoupled into the design and material systems

Prototyping and testing was a really important part of the workshop and helped us to assess and develop our ideas.


The teams self-organised (AP11) into three teams to support the material, design, tessellation and fabrication (numbering) systems. AX2 showed that whilst the extreme programming (a subset of agile development) concept ‘pair programming’ worked well, that ‘scrum managers’ were less well received by the architecture students. They produced working systems (AP7) although they struggled to link these systems together. This should be a focus in future workshops. The team performed well on adaptation to changing requirements and where able to significantly adapt the final design ‘on the fly’ in the final presentation to changes in requirements of the client (AP2). The teams self-organized (AP11) around motivated individuals (AP5) were co-located (AP6) collaborated closely (AP4), maintained a constant, sustainable and fast pace (AP8) to deliver design frequently (AP3) that were valuable to the client (AP1). Interestingly in this workshop some of the technical excellence was provided to the participants by the tutors, however we feel this is important as it means that the tutors are part of the team (AP9).

One group chose to continue to work on the system following the workshop and produced the prototype shown below.



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