Santa Monica - A choose your own adventure architectural game

Advanced topic studio - Option Studio UCLA AUD M.Arch - Fall 2023

Let’s play a choose your own adventure game of Architecture.

What happens to a neighborhood when we design a building? Architectural design is an intricate process that involves many factors, and we tend to investigate each of them separately. In this studio we study micro urban narratives through understanding design as a participatory process.

We start from an existing urban block and design the future of it through new construction, gentrification, and market driven development. Depending on the decisions taken for each lot, the whole bloc gets redesigned. Learning from choose your own adventure games, we use branching narrative logic as a tool for world building and invite the audience to play an interactive game and design the future of a Santa Monica block. 

Santa Monica uses game engines to craft an interactive narrative for a mixed-use block in Santa Monica, each decision leads to a new design of the block. We design collectively these variations by simultaneously playing an interactive game where we can see the multiple scenarios play out by piecing together a plan, a physical scaled block model, and an 8bit style game.

Photo Credits: Alyssa Tohyama

You can play the game here: Give it 3 min to load


Santa Monica was a Fall 2023 graduate-level design studio led by Yara Feghali at UCLA's Department of Architecture and Urban Design (UCLA AUD), part of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture (UCLA Arts). The Santa Monica studio participants are third-year Master of Architecture candidates at UCLA AUD: Peilin Cao, Haydon Chan, Zongli Casper Li, Yufei Ma, Kinamee Rhodes, Jane Wu, Qinyi Wu, Qing Yin, and Chaoying Mavis Zhao.
Game narrative structure consulting by Rachel Joy Victor.
Unity Game Development by Folly Feast Lab.

Virtual Herbaria - MidJourney, Augmented Reality and Game Engine

Workshop 07 - Bpro - UCL Bartlett - 20223 - London

Virtual Herbaria questions the way we visualize and utilize large data sets, archives, and libraries. With today’s technologies we have access to an infinite amount of online data, and years of archives and knowledge at our fingertips. Algorithms that can sort, search through, and identify hierarchy in that data are becoming extremely valuable because they are able to tell apart correct information from construct. In the last few years, we have seen the backlash of manipulated content, and the potency of fictitious representation. We are calling representation, reality, and artifice into question. With the catastrophic repercussions of the Crypto-Market on our environment, we will address climate change in the Anthropocene through the lens of Andrea Wulf in her book ‘The invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt’s New World’ and the work of Heide Hatry in her series “Not a Rose.” We are putting our preconceived understanding of nature and technology under scrutiny.

We will be studying the Online Herbarium of the Southern Californian Desert, more specifically in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. Virtual Herbaria aims at reviving the California Desert Herbarium archive into an immersive experience through spatializing that data. After the Instagram statement that they are a video-based app, and no longer an image-based app, the interactions between user and product have become ever more important. We will use Unity Game Engine to design Virtual Herbaria as an interactive spatial archive where actual and created content will flourish.

We will dive into the exciting world of augmented reality, and games with Unity. We will start by discovering text to AI GANs with MidJourney. We will then learn basic polygon modeling in Blender, and augmented reality workflow with Unity 3D. We will then discover how to model terrain in Unity and get introduced to first person interactive game design by building a first-person game together.


Students work by Bpro - UCL Bartlett - 2023 - London Work by: Yi Qiu, Xiaojing (Ruby) Lin, Kuan (Khiri) He, Xinyang Wan, Kaiyuan Ding, Ji Wu, Sulei (Sue) Huang, Arvind Pulavarty, Yina Zou, I Hsiu Shen, Bingjie Zhang, Silu Yu, Junyan (Dyan) Han, Xinyi Chen, Zhengshen Wang.

XR Diorama - An enigma in three acts

Summer Studio - M.Arch.II at UCLA A.UD IDEAS in 2023

Today, we design simultaneously across multiple layers of reality, from our physical spaces to our augmented and virtual worlds. This studio is interested in the way we can connect these three layers of reality: the physical, the augmented (AR), and the virtual (VR) through storytelling. We jump into the world of extended reality using AR and VR technologies to tell a story. These technologies are used in the AR Gaming phenomenon Pokémon Go where you walk around the city looking for Pokémons to catch, raids, and arenas to play in. We connect the physical ordinary world, with the augmented, and the virtual because we are excited about what happens within the gaps between these worlds and how we can design these thresholds.

XR Diorama is an immersive storytelling device that exists across three mediums. We design enigmas that can only be solved by engaging simultaneously with three different levels of immersion in three acts. Each group of 2 to 3 designers crafts a story using our studio’s deck of cards, and that story exists in three acts, and it reveals itself only at the end of the last act.

Act I is a two-dimensional paper-based format where the first enigma is revealed as a short sentence, it is the starting plot that hooks our audience. Act II is an augmented reality format where we use the IDEAS Campus building to bring to life our stories through augmented digital content on top of the existing campus building; that second act reveals another clue for the enigma. Act III is a virtual reality format where the last clue of the story is revealed. The studio crafts these XR Dioramas through discussions on storytelling, aesthetics, scenography, and composition.

An enigma in three acts:

Act I - The Hook: Set the stage
Act II - Augmented Reality: Reveal a clue
Act III - Virtual Reality: Unveil the enigma

Students work by MSAUD - UCLA A.UD IDEAS - 2023 - Los Angeles 

2D Play ~ The unfolded section

Platformer, Ludology, and Graphic Identity

UCLA - Architecture and Urban Design - MArch & MSAUD - Spring 2023

To be an architectural designer today is to design with software. This technology seminar aims at critically addressing our relationship with and towards software. We will work together with our software to design a 2D platform game. Horizontal endless scrolling game where the player jumps and runs across the screen. By designing games, we relate to software through play. We exchange agency with the software and design with shared authorship. We want to be in a playful relationship with the software we use as it is the only way to ‘world travel’ as Maria Lugones puts it.

Check out the Monaverse space here:

You can download our apps here:



Students work by UCLA - Architecture and Urban Design - MArch & MSAUD - Spring 2023 2D Play ~ The unfolded section is a Spring 2023 graduate-level design technology seminar led by Yara Feghali at UCLA's Department of Architecture and Urban Design (UCLA AUD), part of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture (UCLA Arts). This seminar participants are third-year Master of Architecture candidates at UCLA AUD and MSAUD: Kathy Bi, Alessandro Bressan, Neelam Deshpande, Zhiyang Raymond Guo, Dylan Hart, Xueqi Jerry He, Gabriiela Jarboe, Jenny Lee, Lufeng Long, Zhongqian Ishmael Luo, Clytie Mak, Charles Pearson, Tien Pham, Sunny Shah, Bo Su, Ankita Thukral, Yuzhou Wang, Yuting Wang, Zirui Enoch Wang, Li Wanying, Yudong Yan, Frank Yang, Xuanhe Xander Zhang, Yunlong Cloud Zhao, Xiaoyu Zhao. Unity Game Development by Folly Feast Lab.

House to Housing 401

UCLA - Architecture and Urban Design - M.Arch 1st year - Spring 2022

Los Angeles has served as a storied context for the single-family home as both a site of architectural invention and cultural desire and as an instrument of wealth creation. These dual narratives persist today despite economic realities that make both stories far less suitable to their intended audiences. This studio will unpack these dual narratives in order to survey their histories and understand their widespread effects. The impact of these LA histories mirrors those of the US housing market more broadly. In turn, these social, political, economic and environmental effects have severely limited housing supply, affordability and sustainability, and have shifted the site of the architectural problem from house to housing. It is this shift that the studio will engage as a set of spatial, organizational and social potentials for design to interrogate.

The value of homeownership has underpinned not only the American economy, but the very image of American life for much of the past century. Homeownership provided a foothold on the economic ladder, stability in community life, and the fantasy of manifest destiny at the heart of the “American dream”. However, with the collapse of the housing market and the transformation of the economy over the past decade, the housing dream—which masked the many exclusions it had been built upon—has been revealed as such. The barrier to entry into the housing market has become impossible for most and is especially steep in Los Angeles where home prices have skyrocketed and fueled waves of gentrification and displacement, further eroding the economic prospects of Angelenos and social and cultural fabric of the city.

While the promise of homeownership is inextricably linked to the image of life in Southern California, more than 75% of Angelenos rent housing, at a cost far exceeding the recommended 30% of household income. Because 80% of Los Angeles’s residential land is restricted to single family occupancy, the city, and the state, recognize zoning restrictions as a significant obstacle to housing supply and affordability. State and local officials are adopting new policies to address affordability and to reduce further exurban spawl and its associated deleterious impacts on transportation, air quality and carbon emissions. The recent adoption of two state laws allows by right development of up to four units on parcels currently zoned for single family use. Despite these aggressive steps to encourage private development of housing supply, the economics of housing production and deep-seated notions of individualism, private property and lifestyle all conspire to keep housing production at low levels. The average cost of a single-family home in California now exceeds $800,000. Low-income housing units are hardly more affordable, averaging over $500,000 per unit. Given that these costs include the high costs of land especially around urban centers, shifting from house to housing engages density as one vector toward greater affordability.

Students work by UCLA - Architecture and Urban Design - M.Arch 1st year - Spring 2023
Yara Feghali / 2024