Aurélien Catros

Université de Montréal


Université de Montréal, Faculté de l'Aménagement, 2940 Chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine, local 2069, Montréal, QC, Canada, H3T 1B9

Canada Research Chair in Architecture, Competitions and Mediations of Excellence

Laboratoire d'Étude de l'Architecture Potentielle


Aurélien is an architect graduated from the Lyon School of Architecture.
He first worked alongside heritage architects in France before undertaking a doctoral thesis at the University of Montreal under the supervision of Jean-Pierre Chupin and Bechara Helal.

Thesis project title:
“Reciprocal transfers between physical and digital models in the architectural project”.

Like their analog counterparts, digital models influence architects’ appreciation of projects throughout the design process. These singular theoretical objects generate a great deal of critical analysis but are rarely theorized in conjunction with analog models, although these models are regularly used in concert. Ontologically, these productions are dissimilar: in terms of medium (what is the model made of?), objectives (what is the purpose of the model?) and temporalities (is it a static or dynamic model?). As the reciprocal transfers between the different medium diversify, the productions on either side of these operations potentially admit new uses and therefore new evaluation criteria. From a theoretical point of view, it seems essential today to question the factors put in crisis during the transfers between these different supports since these criteria will reciprocally participate in defining architectural quality. How do digital models contribute to redefining the evaluation criteria of the architectural project with or against analog models?

This research deals jointly with analog and digital models as instruments of representation and simulation of the architectural project. We propose to : 1) Update existing categorizations of modeling in architecture in order to situate these productions within the general theory of models, 2) Compare the different digital models to their supposed analog “equivalents” according to the proposed categorization in order to understand the modalities of transfers between them within contemporary practice, 3) Identify the biases and potentials of the joint and disjoint uses of these models through their interactions in order to improve and optimize their respective uses by designers.

Our theoretical framework is based on general categorizations of models that have already been the subject of attempts to adapt them to analog and digital models in architecture. This categorization will constitute the analysis grid that will allow us to study the successive iterations of the modeling of different projects. Considering that these iterations beget the evaluation of the project by the architect and thus its evolution, our methodological approach is in line with the qualitative and theoretical comparatism proposed by the Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA). We will identify the similarities and differences between successive study models in order to identify how the characteristics of these models (supports, objectives, temporalities) influence the modification of the project and the creation of the next model.  In particular, we will seek to isolate different factors for evaluating the quality of architectural models that would prove – if applicable – specific to the design of the project in the digital age.