MAS 2019/20

Mesh Mould Earth Construction

Mesh Mould technology is an ongoing digital concrete research of stay in place form-work developed by the chair of architecture and digital fabrication in ETH Zurich. Mesh Mould sets the foundation for this research to fabricate reinforced earthen structures of complex geometries using open lattices to help its curing. The corresponding investigations are a middle ground between traditional applications of natural reinforcement shaping and digital fabrication methods. The digital output of a complex geometric model is translated into a low-tech fabrication workflow in order to adapt to the socio-economic reality of the used natural materials. Conjointly, a computational model is developed, which integrates material characteristics and shaping methods.The earthen material mix and filling process is conducted by our research collaborators Oxara.

Students: Jomana Baddad, Indra Santosa

Tutors : Mattis Koh, Nik Eftekhar Olivo, Marvin Rüppel, Coralie Ming, Ammar Mirjan. Thibault Demoulin (Prof. Flatt), Gnanli Landrou (Prof. Habert). 

Sponsors : Abuma GmbH Moebelle

Adaptive Clay Formations - Robotic In Situ Clay Construction

Rapid Clay Formations (RCF) is an ongoing research project looking at the robotic aggregation of soft clay elements. This thesis presents our research into RCF construction on an architectural scale.

It outlines our development of a fabrication process suitable to build tall and slender structures from clay. This fabrication process is evaluated through a series of prototypes and preparations for a three week building workshop.

In our development we have evaluated and tested material behaviour and optimisation, geometric sensing, robot trajectory planning and mobile robotic localization. These explorations are combined with design studies for large monolithic clay structures aiming at a rapid deployment on site.

Students: Anton T Johansson, Edurne Morales Zúñiga

Tutors : Mattis Koh, Nik Eftekhar Olivo, Marvin Rüppel, Coralie Ming, Ammar Mirjan. In collaboration with Oxara: Thibault Demoulin, Gnanli Landrou

Sponsors : Abuma GmbH Moebelle

Exploring Material Self-Formation: Crafting Surfaces through Feedback Based Robotic Plaster Spraying

This research presents a novel method for feedback-based plaster spraying using a spray gun controlled by a 6DoF robotic arm. Through this proposed process, multiple layers of a cementitious material are sprayed at different velocities and distances onto a surface creating volumetric formations without the use of any formwork or support. In order to control the build-up of such a malleable material, a depth camera is integrated into the fabrication process, feeding a control system, which adjusts the end-effector distance to the target surface after each spraying iteration. The goal of this research is to explore how this robotic craft can be used to design and create bespoke surface finishes as a new form of ornamental craft.

Student: Tsai Ping-Hsun, Eliott Sounigo ,

Tutors: Selen Ercan, Dr. Ena Lloret-Fritschi, Anna Szabo

Porous Assemblies: Robotic 3D printing of mineral foam for novel lightweight architectures


Discrete construction elements, used in low cost architecture, can be designed and produced using high-tech digital fabrication and materials research to be flexible and adaptable to many necessities. The design and fabrication of lightweight architectural assemblies investigates C3DP with mineral foams from recycled waste, which could be fabricated in mass, customized and optimized for material-reduction in the building environment. Starting from an early development of the tailored print material, designs for interlocking foam modules are explored. As a final demonstrator, we fabricated a lightweight composite facade panel generating thermal comfort, natural light and ventilation playing with the porosity of the elements which can be able to adapt and customize to any necessity. 


Dinorah Martínez Schulte

Tutor: Patrick Bedarf

Collaborator: Ayça Senol (ETH Zurich), Dr. Michele Zanini (FenX AG), Dr. Etienne Jeoffroy (FenX AG)

Filigree Concrete: The Architecture of Fibres

Ultra-High performance fibre reinforced concrete has allowed for the creation of more filigree and free forms of concrete architecture. The optimal contribution of the fibres in terms of structural strength is when they are oriented along the direction of tensile stresses and can bridge cracks in the overall structure. Research on influencing fibre orientation in basic concrete architectural components has shown various factors affecting their alignment, with the flow of concrete casting itself playing a major role. However, no research or analysis has been done on the influence of complex formwork geometry on fibre orientation and distribution during the casting process.

Students: Maria Pia Assaf, Ioulios Georgiou

Tutor: Andrei Jipa, Angela Yoo, Georgia Chousou

Industry Partner : Bekaert AG

3D printing of carbon fiber-reinforcement with formworks for freeform thin concrete components

The tensional reinforcement strategy remains unexplored in recent innovation of 3D printing (3DP), for such a freeform concrete building component, particularly for the thin concrete structure.

This research investigates composite 3DP technology allowing to create unprecedented exoskeletal carbon fiber-reinforcement. Carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) has a high strength-to-weight ratio, and resistance to aggressive environments with good fatigue and installation properties, as well as high formability enabling freeform adaptation. Moreover, this research develops a computational strategy based on structural optimization strategy allowing material reduction of relatively expensive carbon fiber materials to be applied only where needed. 


Student: Fatemeh Salehi Amiri

Tutor: Hyunchul Kwon

Adaptive Resolution for Volumetric Modelling


This research investigates ways of mastering multiple levels of resolution. Since architecture combines various scales and construction methods, is an adaptive resolution a way to address the complex nature of such formations?

Using volumetric modeling (VM), a computational workflow (using Python on Rhino/Grasshopper) is proposed to master and control the resolution of a 3D model. Whether this happens in the constructive solid geometry tree (CSG) or during the discretization of the signed distance function (SDF) object, the goal is to define local levels of detail while using dynamic instruments.

Student: Rémy Clémente 

Tutor: Prof. Benjamin Dillenburger, Mathias Bernhard

Pushing the boundaries of integral joints in robotically assembled timber structures


Timber has a rich history in building construction. For centuries, carpenters have assembled timber structures by hand and while technology has improved production efficiency, the timber construction industry has been slow to embrace the potential of a fully automated robotic assembly process for factory-built structures.

Victor Leung of Gramazio Kohler Research has been developing a robotic process with a clamping tool to place linear timber into an integral lap joint configuration on a vertically positioned post. While researchers have been capable to do so in a 90-degree configuration, this thesis seeks to demonstrate the potential for an angular clamping system.


Students: Frédéric Brisson

Tutor: Victor Leung, Davide Tanadini (Prof. Schwartz)

PerSkin Add-On 3D-Printing on Fabric

Fabric is a soft material commonly used in construction for its ability to be tensiled. Textile is often used to form tents, stadiums, or pavilions. Additive Manufacturing (AM) has already demonstrated its potential in architecture. Especially polymer extrusion has been used not only for creating formwork for concrete, but also facades components. However, for architecture this AM process is struggling with long built-up rates. The use of substrate material like fabric has not been fully explored yet. This research aims to combine a rigid material - the 3D printing material - with a soft material - the fabric - to create spatial elements of architectural size. It provides experimental data on the behaviour of the new composite material, as well as a different design approach to create spatial architectural elements.

Students: Emanuelle Sallin

Tutor: Matthias Leschok

Material-informed formwork geometry

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) of formwork for concrete has the potential to realize construction components with structurally optimized geometry, which also can reduce the amount of concrete used and improve construction sustainability. New challenges (compared to a traditional concrete construction process) have to be addressed: breaks frequently

happened to the formworks during the casting because of lateral concrete pressure. This thesis will investigate different formwork geometries and patterns to expand knowledge on the breakage behavior of formworks when subjected to lateral concrete pressure. The aim is to improve formwork stability and explore formwork surface aesthetic by applying parametric geometries and patterns. The empirical data from findings will be applied to Eggshell project to determine concrete filling rate without creating breakage.


Students: Yu-Hung Chiu, Chanon Techathuvanun

Tutor: Joris Burger, Ena Lloret-Fritschi, Tim Wangler (Prof. Flatt)

Non-Planar Seams for Branching Structures

Non-planar layered printing enables us to control the layer configurations so that we can print shapes that we cannot print with traditional flat layered printing such as branching structures, or overhanging shapes without any support structure. A significant obstacle to the use of non-planar print paths is the complexity of their design, which calls for new techniques and methodologies that facilitate this task. And in many cases, such as printing a large structure, we need to segment the object into smaller pieces to fit them within printing area.In this research, we propose the segmentation strategy using non-planar boundaries which can create several different kind of layer configurations in one object by distance calculation along the object surface. Through many prototypes using FDM robotic printing, we explored functional and aesthetic aspects of layers, as well as how the orientation of printing paths can be used to an advantage for the task of segmentation.


Students: Mahiro Goto

Tutor : Ioanna Mitropoulo

Illuminating Links: A design research for steel-gel casting

Computation offers new possibilities of design for building components, however existing methods of steel additive manufacturing have major limitations. The motivation is to overcome those by examining a new fabrication method of steel-gel casting in FDM formwork.

The thesis develops a design language for the investigated process and demonstrates its potential in a design study of a prototypical steel component, embedding the functions of structural connection, integrated lightning and ornament. The entire manufacturing chain was set up and discovered, the shape definition followed by the digital mold making; the formwork 3d printing and steel gel-casting. The result of the thesis is a prototypical steel component, which is a combination of a functional element and a sculptural object, inspired and informed by the manufacturing method.


Students: László Mangliár

Tutor : Marirena Kladeftira