The NCCR Digital Fabrication at ACADIA ’17

Pictured: Full-scale construction prototype of the NEST HiLo shell roof. The ultra-thin concrete roof was built with a cable-net and fabric formwork system and is on average 5 cm thick. Image credits: Block Research Group, Michael Lyrenmann

The NCCR (Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research) Digital Fabrication will be leading a workshop at ACADIA 2017, this year hosted at MIT School of Architectural Planning.

The NCCR Digital Fabrication is Switzerland’s initiative to lead the development and integration of digital technologies within the field of architecture. It was initiated in 2014 at ETH Zurich. Further partner institutions are the EPFL, Empa and the Berne University of Applied Sciences.

The workshop, taking place at Autodesk, is called Computational Research in Architecture and Structures. The Block Research Group (BRG) from ETH Zurich, part of the NCCR Digital Fabrication, will run it. Participants will learn how to address advanced research questions in architecture, structures, and digital fabrication through computation, particularly through the use of compas, an open source, Python-based framework for “computational research in architecture and structures.”

The ACADIA conference provides a platform to investigate the shifting landscape of architecture today, and to help navigate the future. This year it’s on the theme of Disciplines & Disruption, initiating a dialog about the state of architecture (as a discipline) and the impact of technology in shaping or disrupting design, methods, and cultural fronts.


Initiated in 2014, the NCCR Digital Fabrication aims to revolutionize architecture through the seamless combination of digital technologies and physical building processes. More than 60 researchers from the disciplines of architecture, structural design, materials science, computer science, control systems engineering, and robotics collaborate to develop ground-breaking technologies for tomorrow’s construction. Their research allows Switzerland to take a leading position within the global field of digital fabrication. Initiated at ETH Zurich, the NCCR Digital Fabrication is partnered with EPF Lausanne, Empa and the Berne University of Applied Sciences.

NCCRs are cross-disciplinary research networks funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). They support research in areas of strategic importance for the future of Swiss science, economy and society.

NCCR investigators:

  • Prof. Philippe Block, Block Research Group, ETH Zurich (Director)
  • Prof. Robert Flatt, Physical Chemistry of Building Materials Group, ETH Zurich (Deputy Director)
  • Prof. Benjamin Dillenburger, Digital Building Technologies Group, ETH Zurich
  • Prof. Fabio Gramazio, Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich
  • Prof. Matthias Kohler, Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich
  • Prof. Guillaume Habert, Chair of Sustainable Construction, ETH Zurich
  • Prof. Marco Hutter, Robotic Systems Lab, ETH Zurich
  • Prof. Mark Paly, Computer Graphics and Geometry Laboratory (LGG), EPF Lausanne
  • Prof. Roland Siegwart, Autonomous Systems Lab (ASL), ETH Zurich
  • Prof. Roy Smith, Automatic Control Laboratory (iFA), ETH Zurich
  • Prof. Olga Sorkine-Hornung, Interactive Geometry Lab (igl), ETH Zurich
  • Prof. Yves Weinand, Laboratory for Timber Constructions (IBOIS), EPF Lausanne
  • Prof. Christophe Girot, Chair of Landscape Architecture, ETH Zurich
  • Prof. Walter Kaufmann, Chair of Structural Engineering, ETH Zurich
  • Prof. Joseph Schwartz, Chair of Structural Design, ETH Zurich
  • Prof. Jan Vermant, Laboratory of Soft Materials, ETH Zurich
  • Prof. Melanie Zeilinger, Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control, ETH Zurich

Major current research projects:

Future conferences hosted by the NCCR Digital Fabrication, and other opportunities:


ACADIA was formed for the purpose of facilitating communication and critical thinking regarding the use of computers in architecture, planning and building science. The organization is committed to the research and development of computational methods that enhance design creativity, rather than simply production, and that aim at contributing to the construction of humane physical environments. A particular focus is education and the software, hardware and pedagogy involved in education.

In 2017, the ACADIA conference ( is hosted by the MIT School of Architecture and Planning. The Conference Chairs are Takehiko Nagakura, Director of the Design Computation Group at MIT, and Skylar Tibbits, Co-Director and Founder of the MIT Self-Assembly Lab. Under the theme “Disciplines & Disruption” the organisers aim at initiating a dialog about the state of the discipline of architecture and the impact of technology in shaping or disrupting design, methods and cultural fronts.