DigitalFUTURES Project Award 2021

This award is given to a recently completed project that has a significant contribution to architectural discipline through applications of digital technology. The scale of the project could be ranging from fashion design to urban development.

Deep Himmelb(l)au

DeepHimmelb(l)au is the result of the cumulative research effort undertaken by Coop Himmelb(l)au which operates at the intersection between architecture, practice and Ai/deep learning.

DeepHimmeb(l)au is an experimental research project led by Design Principal Wolf D. Prix, Design Partner Karolin Schmidbaur and Chbl’s Computational Design Specialist Daniel Bolojan, which explores the potential of teaching machines to interpret, perceive, to be creative, propose new designs of buildings, augment design workflows and augment architect’s / designer’s creativity. DeepHimmelb(l)au is currently the most advanced research dealing with the design potential of AI/deep learning undertaken by any architectural office.

Team: DeepHimmeb(l)au is an experimental research project led by Design Principal Wolf D. Prix, Design Partner Karolin Schmidbaur and Chbl’s Computational Design Specialist Daniel Bolojan and Chbl’s Computational Designer Efilena Baseta.

Fabricating Networks: Transmissions and Receptions from Pittsburgh’s Hill District, Flower Antenna

Designed by Felecia Davis. Pittsburgh’s Hill District was a predominantly Black neighborhood that in the 1930s, 1940s was really vibrant. But towards the end of the ’50s, Pittsburgh decided this was really valuable land and that it should be torn down to make space for a civic center. People had been hopeful of having the government build back into the community. When that didn’t happen, you had protests in 1969. After the protest, people are saying: “Okay, we’re gonna make some architecture here and it’s going to be a benefit to the community.”

Walking into the gallery, you’ll see a gigantic suspended black textile flower, made up of 34 different knitted cones. And some of the cones have embedded into them a copper yarn, which makes the textile active. So as a visitor walks around the piece, they hear sounds of different electromagnetic waves captured in MoMA’s galleries. And then we’ve amplified it in a speaker so that you can hear things that are invisible.

So really the work is about bringing people together in conversation. I believe that one of the important aspects of being a black architect is to construct the social around artifacts and around places and around people. That is just as much a part of making architecture as making a building with bricks and mortar.

Teeter-totter wall by RAEL SAN FRATELLO

The trade and labor relationships between the U.S. and Mexico are in delicate balance. Mexicans throng to the U.S. to find work, but often long to live comfortably in their own country. U.S. industry and agriculture is dependent upon immigrant labor pools, yet the Department of Homeland Security, Border Patrol, and Immigration and Naturalization Services have made it increasingly difficult to attract foreign labor. The Teeter Totter Wall demonstrates the delicate balances between the two nations.

DigitalFUTURES Project Award 2020


A flexibly formed, thin concrete shell at MUAC, Mexico City

Built at the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) in Mexico City as part of the first exhibition of Zaha Hadid Architects in Latin America (20.10.2018 – 03.03.2019), KnitCandela is an homage to the famous Spanish-Mexican shell builder Félix Candela (1910 – 1997). It reimagines his spectacular concrete shells through the introduction of novel computational design methods and the KnitCrete formwork technology.

The architectural design is the latest expression of the evolving search of the Computational Design Group of Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHCODE) for designs that utilise structural and constructional features to enhance the spatial experience of the user. For the realisation of this expression, the Block Research Group (BRG) of ETH Zurich introduced the KnitCrete formwork technology and developed the structural design and construction system. Architecture Extrapolated (R-Ex) managed the execution of the project on site in Mexico City as part of its continued engagement in the digitisation of building trades in Mexico.

The shell’s dynamic geometry is inspired by the fluid forms of the traditional and colourful dress of Jalisco, Mexico. The builders’ nickname for the project was ‘Sarape’, which is a scarf or poncho with a stripe pattern. The shape also pays homage to Candela’s famous restaurant at Xochimilco, a trope he repeated in several subsequent projects.

While Candela relied on combining hyperbolic paraboloid surfaces (or “hypars”) to produce reusable formworks and thus reduce construction waste, KnitCrete allows for the realisation of a much wider range of anticlastic geometries. With this cable-net and fabric formwork system, expressive, freeform concrete surfaces can now be constructed efficiently, without the need for complex moulds. KnitCandela’s thin, doubly-curved concrete shell with a surface area of almost 50 m2 and weighing more than 5 tonnes, was constructed with a 55 kg formwork, brought to Mexico from Switzerland in a suitcase.

image credit : Angelica Ibarra


Tallinn Architecture Biennial 2019 Installation Program Competition Winner

Steampunk is a pavilion constructed from steam-bent hardwood using primitive hand tools augmented with the precision of intelligent holographic guides. Designed by Gwyllim Jahn, Cameron Newnham (Fologram), Soomeen Hahm Design and Igor Pantic with Format Engineers, the installation was built for the 5th edition of Tallinn Architecture Biennale (TAB 2019) in Estonia, and will remain in place until the Biennale’s next edition. The structure is a prototype for an adaptive design and fabrication system, which is resilient to wide tolerances in material behaviour and fabrication accuracy. The pavilion was built out of steam-bent timber and steel elements, assembled into intricate curved geometries following holographic guides projected through an AR headset. This was to assure precision in what is otherwise a pure craft based process, making it the largest structure to date built on the principles of Augmented Reality assisted fabrication.


A unique tower made from self-shaping wood,

Remstal Gartenschau 2019, Urbach, Germany

The Urbach Tower is a unique wood structure built by the Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD) and Institute for Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) from University of Stuttgart. The design of the tower emerges from a new self-shaping process of the curved wood components. This pioneering development constitutes a paradigm shift in timber manufacturing from elaborate and energy-intensive mechanical forming processes that require heavy machinery to a process where the material shapes entirely by itself. This shape change is only driven by the wood’s characteristic shrinking during a decrease of moisture content. Components for the 14 m tall tower are designed and manufactured in a flat state and transform autonomously into the final predicted curved shapes during the industry-standard technical drying. This opens up new and unexpected architectural possibilities for wood structures, using a sustainable, renewable, and locally sourced building material.

The Urbach Tower is the first wood structure made from self-shaped components. It serves as a landmark building for the City of Urbach’s contribution to the Remstal Gartenschau 2019.

image credit :  ICD / ITKE – University of Stuttgart