MDes Affiliated Faculty and Lecturers

Luisa Caldas

Professor, Architecture

Luisa Caldas is Professor in the Department of Architecture and director of the Virtual and Augmented Reality Laboratory. After initially training as an architect, she received a MSc from the Bartlett Graduate School, UCL and a PhD in Architecture and Building Technology from MIT.

Caldas founded and directs the XR Lab – Virtual and Augmented Reality Laboratory in the Department of Architecture, and she offers  graduate courses in VR/AR. Her research focuses on user experience, narrative and storytelling, and the use of immersive environments for  building design and simulation. The XR Lab is developing an Augmented Reality project for BAMPFA, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, focusing on the construction of the new museum building by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. She is a member of the Center for Augmented Cognition at UC Berkeley, and of the HTC Center for Enhanced Reality.

Luisa Caldas has also been active for more than twenty years in the field of sustainable design and green building, both in academia and as an energy consultant for large commercial buildings. Her work focuses on the use of advanced computational tools to supportthe inclusion of sustainability in early design decision making.

One of her main areas of research is the integration of complex geometry architectural solutions with sustainability, by developing the conceptual processes, workflows, and computational tools that allow multiple scale integration, from master planning to building design to envelope components.

Caldas research is also directed to the field of generative design systems. She is the author of GENE_ARCH, the first generative design system for search and generation of energy efficient buildings, and integrated Energy Plus as a simulation engine. GENE_ARCH currently includes other simulation engines, such as Radiance and Daysim.

Recent software developments include: Painting with Light, a user-guided interactive evolutionary system for daylighting design, that allows architects to ‘color’ desired light levels in space and then searches for building geometry and materials to achieve those goals; and Sun_Carve, a software that informs architects where to carve openings in buildings to receive direct sun at specific days and times.