Materialising Design

Materialising Design

Current methods for materialisation within the building industry are based on mass production. They rely on the standardisation of material and fabrication to afford control and optimise material use. With digitisation these methods become outdated and new models for material optimisation emerge. Where subtractive digital fabrication techniques have matured and been applied to realise complex buildings, recent research efforts utilise bespoke machines or industrial robots as general fabrication tools for additive fabrication to innovate mass customised materials with designed performances.

The topic is tackled in the innochain Work package 5 , which will focus on trialling fabrication and planning methods for new designed materials that embed material optimisation within their composition.

The workpackage is lead by the The Bartlett School of Architecture / University College London

research projects


Author: Helena Westerlind

Generally, applied digital fabrication technologies are subtractive causing material waste at fabrication level. New research explores additive processes in building realization creating more sustainable and materially smart solutions. read more

Keywords: · concrete · deposition · material behaviour · morphology · rheology · thixotropy · viscous fluid


Author: Saman Saffarian

Current practices emphasise the stiffness of material to ensure structural performance. Building systems such as louvers or other adjustable shading systems and employ mechanical means to activate change. read more

Keywords: · Climate Adaptive Building Envelopes · Kinetic Elastic Facade · Material Gradient FRP


Author: Arthur Prior

Similar to ESR 11 this project investigates concrete printing as a new opportunity for building fabrication. The design possibilities and the attainable performance ranges radically change when we no longer are limited to pouring or extruding bulk materials, but have the ability to design precise and customised deposition patterns for robots to execute at high speed and high accuracy. read more

Keywords: · Additive and Subtractive Manufacturing · Controlled Material Deposition · Wax


Author: Kasper Ax

Industrial Partners: designtoproduction, Bluhmer Lehmann. One of the central achievements of digital chain is the ability to mass customise building elements creating individualised solutions and enabling new kinds of building geometries. While methods for the design and production of customised elements have matured, the planning of assembly procedures remains undeveloped in the building sector – in contrast to for example to product design . read more

Keywords: · Design for manufacture and assembly · Mass Customisation · timber


Author: Stephanie Chaltiel

Digital fabrication presumes prefabrication and off-site production. This has vast implications on the environment and building practice as a whole, as transportation increases energy consumption and carbon footprint and logistics necessitate a building logic based on elements effecting problems of tolerances and loosing structural and thermal advantages of monolithic structures while increasing costs and limiting the size of elements. read more

Keywords: · 3dprint · earth architecture · parametric vernacular · robots · robots in architecture

Mud, Wind, Rough Skins & Piercings

Author: Stephanie Chaltiel

Mud Shells Fabrication Technique – Building up on knowledge gained from Phriends* for Shells Iaac seminar 2016 on robotic fabrication for mud shells. Earthen Shells perforations & Natural ventilation performance We will be exploring the Morphology of the openings and defining regions on the shells to analyse and fabricate those micro morphologies with... read more

Keywords: · digital fabrication · drones · earth architecture


Making it

Author: Arthur Prior

ESR NUMBER: ESR13 INDUSTRIAL PARTNERS: Foster+ + Buro Happold INSTITUTE: BSA A lot of my energy this year has gone into developing the equipment I will use to test my research questions out. read more


What is ‘styling clay’ and why are designers still using it?

Author: Arthur Prior

ESR NUMBER: ESR13 INDUSTRIAL PARTNERS: Foster+ + Buro Happold INSTITUTE: BSA Styling clay is a class of prototyping material that is widely used in the industrial design sector, especially automotive design. Counterintuitively, these materials don’t contain any clay minerals – they are composed of waxes, oils and synthetic fillers. Clay has been popular since the... read more


Background behind Phriends4Shells

Author: Stephanie Chaltiel

The idea of using digital fabrication and more specifically small robots to include in earth construction principles comes from my initial link to CRATerre back in 1999. I was also running a project in French Guyana in an Ameridian village where local crafts were used in contemporary houses proposals. The idea of finition by the... read more

Keywords: · ameridian · architectural association · autoconstruction · crafts · digital fabrication

Phriends*4 Shells Videos

Author: Stephanie Chaltiel

  read more

Keywords: · earth architecture · shells

Phriends* for Shells

Author: Stephanie Chaltiel

Phriends* for Shells           Seminar 01 at IAAC Barcelona Teaching team Stephanie Chaltiel Innochain IAAC UPC PhD candidate Iaac Robotic expert: Djordje Stanojevic Iaac Teaching Assistant Yessica Mendez External Experts: Wilfredo Carazas (A+Terre), Alicia Nahmad (Cardiff University PhD candidate on robotic for concrete) Special Thanks to Terram Group Barcelona, experts in... read more

Keywords: · earth architecture · iaac · robots in architecture · shells · stephaniechaltiel

ESR14 – (Dis)assembler for multi directional positioning

Author: Kasper Ax

AUTHOR: Kasper Ax ESR NUMBER: ESR14 INDUSTRIAL PARTNERS: Blumer-Lehmann + Designtoproduction INSTITUTE: cita   These animations show an initial attempt to set up a definition which is used to simulate and evaluate assembly sequences in a given structure. It calculates the appropriate insertion direction for each element based on sequence, and proposes a possible joint... read more