NCCR Digital Fabrication
NCCR stands for National Centres of Competence in Research and are programmes funded by the Swiss Confederation to researches in key areas for the Swiss economy. Usually this huge grants were given to sectors including nanotechnology, biomedical engineering, finance and so on. Last year for a group of researcher coming from various disciplines at ETH and EPFL, won the fundings for Digital Fabrication. In other words, for an old-fashioned area such as Architecture. This huge amount of fundings are allowing ETH hönggerberg campus to buy robots, CNC cutters, 3D printers, quadcotters and building a brand new facility where PhD students and researchers can cluster together bringing the best of their expertise and sharing it with the others with one common coal in mind: bringing Digital Fabrication to a new standard and transferring their newly acquired knowledge to the whole sector.
The principal investigators are world famous including Rafaello D’andrea, Philippe Block, Yves Weinand, Gramazio and Kohler and are coordinated by Russel Loveridge. To have an idea of what is the field of reasearch of Block’s group, you may want to take a look at the book edited by them.
This 12-years reasearch will be carried by professors, researchers and PhD students, but also by students of the forthcoming master of advanced studies in Architecture and Digital Fabrication, to be held at ETH from the next academic year.
Take a look at their website here:
ITKE/ICD Pavilion 2013-2014
ITKE Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design and ICD Institute for Computational Design, both headquartered in the University of Stuttgart, are two of the most progressive research architecture department in the world, along with IAAC, AA and a few others. These departments are headed by Ian Knippers and Achim Menges respectively. This pavilion was built almost one year ago, but it’s worth spending a few words on it and on the abovementioned departments.
The research pavilion was completed in March 2014, it’s scope being to investigate how nature optimize and shape efficient structures, subject nowadays investigated by Menges’ group. This is not the first pavilion produced, but each year a new one is built trying to answer new questions, as for instance the 2010 edition investigated timber bending properties.
Ian Knippers is also co-founder of Knippers Helbig Advanced Engineering, a growing practice especially known for its contribution in the field of free forms and advanced building engineering .
Force diagram in Encyclopedia Britannica 1911
One of the basic rules used in optimizing structural elements, is to eliminate bending moment. Bending moment produces an uneven distribution of stresses in cross sections which broadly speaking, must be designed according to the maximum design stress. This results in a lot of material ending up underutilized.
A very comprehensive book on form finding and optimization in architecture, it collects several works by emerging researchers in the field along with others. Sigrid Adriaenssens, Philippe Block and Chris Williams investigate well-known architectures such as the roofing for the inner courtyard of the Maritime Dutch Museum or the Queen Elizabeth II courtyard in the British Museum.