Watch it again: Digital Fabrication in Architecture & Design

Digital fabrication is a manufacturing process that uses a machine controlled by computers. This method has sparked the interest of architects and product designers, as it opens the door to new possibilities in terms of solving complex processes and new approaches for construction. On 9 July 2020, swissnex Brazil organised a webinar on digital fabrication, moderated by Barbara Iseli, with Fabio Gramazio and Jorge Lopes.

Digital fabrication can be used in a wide range of areas, ranging from medical devices, prosthetics, furniture elements to architectural structures. It also allows applications in areas like archaeology, where it is used to recreate objects like the interior of mummies or reconstructing a skull from its ashes. 

As Fabio Gramazio explained, digital fabrication allows architects to experiment with different types of materials in order to build new structures. Combining this technology with craftsmen can result in the construction of innovative buildings. In the future, this could allow architects and the construction sector in general to be more efficient and sustainable.

Jorge Lopes on the other hand, has been using digital fabrication to recreate a skull lost in the 2018 fire of the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro. He also created 3D models of fetuses so that parents with visual impairment can feel the appearance of their babies during pregnancy. The technology has a promising future in biotechnology as well, for example when it comes to printing organs for transplants. However, in Brazil, the materials needed are still very expensive and sometimes hard to find, hindering the fast adoption of digital fabrication.

If you missed the webinar, or would like to watch it again, check out the full version below!


About the speakers:

Fabio Gramazio is an architect with multi-disciplinary interests ranging from computational design and robotic fabrication to material innovation. In 2000, he founded the architecture practice Gramazio & Kohler in conjunction with his partner Matthias Kohler, where numerous award-wining designs have been realized. Current projects include the design of the Empa NEST research platform, a future living and working laboratory for sustainable building construction. Opening also the world’s first architectural robotic laboratory at ETH Zurich, Gramazio & Kohler’s research has been formative in the field of digital architecture, setting precedence and de facto creating a new research field merging advanced architectural design.

Jorge Lopes is a designer and the coordinator of the Nucleo de Experimentação Tridimensional (NEXT) of the Department of Arts and Design at the University PUC in Rio de Janeiro, where he develops interdisciplinary research involving 3D technologies in areas such as medicine, archaeology, paleontology, among others. Post Doc by Deakin University, Australia, PhD by the Royal College of Art in the United Kingdom, Master by COPPE UFRJ and Bachelor in Design by the School of Fine Arts of UFRJ. He is a researcher at the National Institute of Technology and the National Museum (MCTIC) and his trajectory reinforces the importance of dialogue between the various areas of knowledge.

Barbara Iseli is a multilingual Swiss architect. She graduated at ETH Zurich and has a broad professional experience in Switzerland and Brazil. She is a founding partner of Insight Architecture, a platform that aims to convey knowledge and foster appreciation for contemporary and modern architecture through tours, events, teaching, publishing and design with focus on Latin America. In Zurich, she worked as designer and project manager in different renowned architecture offices such as Spillmann Echsle, Boltshauser Architekten, Galli Rudolf and Neff Neumann on large-scale housing projects and won several architecture competitions. In Rio de Janeiro, she was in charge of the conversion of the Swiss Consulate and the design of swissnex Rio de Janeiro.


Image from Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich.