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Videos of DigitalCrafting Symposium 2 online

The presentations of the 2nd Digital Crafting Symposium are now online. Please follow the links to the presentations:


Workshop reports on:

An overview of the video can be found on Vimeo

Interview with Julian Lienhard, Digital Crafting 5 Seminar

–In your lecture, you discuss “form active structures”, this idea of behavior and integration of performance. Can you elaborate on this?

Form-active structures are the newest category of structural systems where textile or foil materials develop significant structural capacities. Based on the combination of pre-stress and double curvature the membrane material is enabled to not only work as cladding on an existing structure, but to become a leading component of the structural system. This allows a high level of integration and at the same time extremely long spanning and lightweight structures.

Since the shape of such a membrane structure is developed in a physical or digital form-finding process the designer only has limited influence on the resulting surface geometry. It seems like some contemporary architects want to have a more direct influence on the shape, motivated by design ideas or supplementary functions they want to assign to the surface. Sadly this often leads back to the membrane acting merely as a cladding on a significant steel structure… Introducing elastically bent rods in the surface element opens completely new possibilities in the interaction with the form-finding process and at the same time is a new step in integrating the primary structure into the membrane surface. We call such structures that base their geometry on the elastic deformation of initially straight or planar elements ‘Bending-Active’.

Image: Julian Leinhard, Prototype of funnel Membrane with bending-active support system

Image: Julian Leinhard, Form-finding of funnel Membrane with bending-active support system

–We discussed ways of simulating material performance and in your talk, you discussed elastic deformation as a way of giving form in architecture. How does this relate to the ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion and your role doing finite element simulation of the deformations?

In the research Pavilion ICD/ITKE we elaborated the potentials of such bending active structures in a digital design process. We were able to show the great potentials of bending active-structures in creating complex geometry based on planar building components and were also able to prove a stiffening effect based on the bending pre-stress.

Image: Julian Leinhard, Research Pavilion ICD/ITKE 2010, Interior view

Image: Julian Leinhard, Research Pavilion ICD/ITKE 2010, Finite Element form-finding

In other projects we have shown how this approach may also be integrated in form-active structures and even kinematic structures. In all of these projects the aspect of reliable material data (eg. young’s-modulus) and precise finite-element simulation of the bending deformations were the key for a successful realization. The material testing and simulation procedure however is still very time consuming. We are currently working on refining our routines and finding ways of directly integrating the finite element simulation in the design process.

–How do you see material performance simulation giving the designer more feedback for the design process?

In Bending-Active structures the material performance is inseparable from the resulting geometry. Material behavior therefore gives the designer important feed back in this particular approach. As much as this may be stimulating for the design process it also requires a certain commitment to the necessity for extensive simulation. We therefore work a lot with scaled physical models made of the real foreseen material (eg GFRP) for extensive material study and design investigation.

Image: Julian Leinhard, Simulation of elastic kinetic shading system Flectofin®

In Kolding the discussion took a very nice turn at the end where we contemplated the potentials of integrative design approaches; which is one of the greatest potentials of Digital Crafting. It also showed though that the Architects and Engineers’ role in these procedures have to be redefined. On the one hand, we have to broaden the set of skills to foster the close collaboration and communication with each other, on the other hand, we are asked to input a high degree of specialized knowledge. Even though a lot has been said about these new design procedures I still have questions about my role as an engineer within such a community. It was very good to have Jan Soendergaard join our discussion, we need such experienced Architects to give us feedback, a kind of reality check…

Report from Digital Crafting 5 Seminar

Digital Crafting Report from Seminar 5: Textiles and Fibre-based Materials in Architectural Construction

The fifth Digital Crafting Seminar “Textiles and Fibre-based Materials in Architectural Construction” was held at the Design School in Kolding on August 24, 2011.  Four guest speakers: Joy Boutrup from Design School Kolding, Johan Bettum from Städelschule Architecture Class, Julian Lienhard from the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE), University of Stuttgart, Germany and Sean Ahlquist from the Institute for Computational Design at the University of Stuttgart.

Textile engineer Joy Boutrup presented “Scales of Performance, Fibres, Yarns and Textiles” which addressed fundamental research questions relating to material potentials, scale and chemical composition.  Drawing on her background and experience as a textile chemist she is able to precisely research the properties of textile materials. In her lecture she was able to explain in a clear and interesting way, the defining characteristics and potentials of textile material design including variables, stress distributions, .   She illustrated her discussion with intricate models of fibre compositions and types of weave and materials.

Architect and researcher Johan Bettum presented “The Material Geometry of Fibre- Reinforced Polymer Matrix Composites”, a lecture which showed examples of projects by his office ArchiGlobe.  His work explores the architectural potentials of fibre reinforced material systems.

Architect and researcher Sean Ahlquist presented “The Computational Perspective” which gave a theoretical background to computational design relating to ideas of system principles, system behaviour and system simulation.  Also from Stuttgart, structural engineer and researcher Julian Lienhard from the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) presented his research of “Bending Active Membrane Structures” using examples from built projects such as the Madinah Piazza Shading Project.

Three shorter presentation were made by Guenther H Filz, Delia Dumitrescu and Karen Marie Hassling about their current work and its relation to themes in Digital Crafting.

Digital Crafting Workshop 5

The fifth and final Digital Crafting workshop “Complex Membranes and the Variegated Material” was held at Kolding Design School August 22-24 2011.  Sean Ahlquist, the founder of Proces2 and Research Associate and PhD Candidate at the Institute for Computational Design at the University of Stuttgart led the two-day workshop.  The workshop explored ideas of material design and ways of using digital tools to tune material performance.  The workshop involved a multi-disciplinary group with different specialities including Joy Boutrup, a textile engineer, Vibeke Riisberg, a textile designer and Helene Jensen, a textile fabricator.   The participants used digital tools to create computational models, and then concepts of precision, scale and performance were demonstrated through the creation of physical prototypes of membrane materials.  Using the CNC knitting machines, these architecturally designed materials were tested at full scale.  The material prototypes were then assembled, tested and discussed.

The aim of the workshop was to investigate the potentials of integrating textile making traditions with computational design tools to understand the potentials for new materials which have designed performance.   Through the development of bespoke complex structured and materially variegated textiles, a new way of thinking about performance, assembly and material connections can be developed.  In the discussions during the workshop, participants developed ideas about the relationship between simulation and material specificity and as well design and fabrication.  The materials that were designed and simulated were then knit using the CNC knitting machine allowing quick feedback in the design process. Ideas could be tested at 1:1 and then refined, creating a creative feedback loop.

Discussions and lectures during the workshop related to the question of how designers can use material design to explore new ideas and architecturally designed engineered materials.  The participants developed ideas about the impact of these new ways of working on design practice.

Interview with Sean Ahlquist, Workshop 5 Guest

The fifth and final Digital Crafting Workshop was held August 22-24 2011 at the Kolding Design School. This workshop investigated the intersections between textile design and architecture.

–As the workshop guest leader, what were your main intentions with “Complex Membranes and the Variegated Material”?

The intention with the workshop was to examine the relationship of a structured surface to its material composition. Often, with structures at an architectural scale defined purely by tensile forces flowing through textile (membrane) elements, material composition is considered homogenous. This is almost a necessity from a design point of view, in which the complexity of the structural system itself imposes, where the simultaneity of resolving structure and geometry challenges the effectiveness of any explorative design-oriented process. The workshop intended to survey variation at the material level and its relation and ramifications to structure as it defines a specific geometry.

–What is your understanding of “variegated material”?

In the context of the workshop, “variegated” was understood as the differentiation of a material’s internal structural logic. The ramification of such variation manifested itself, secondarily, as a “variegated” structural system. This introduced an interesting contrast for the understanding of the term “structure”. As a textile, structure is the term for the fiber composition. This is of course intimately connected to making, but primarily about the precursor – the logic to which fibers are interwoven. Comparatively, in architecture we refer to structure as the resultant artifact. While it refers integrally to the assembly of all elements, structure is the repercussion of materiality, assembly and imposition of internal and external forces. By examining variegated materials and the “bracing” of such the workshop investigated the relation of these two ends of the spectrum of “structure”.

–What were the main areas of experimentation in the workshop? What were the most successful outcomes of the workshop?

While the information-based process of computational modeling to CNC fabrication to assembly has been quite thoroughly tried, tested, and arguably perfected, what this workshop introduced were moments at which the consideration of material behavior jostled that routine. Behavior consisted at multiple levels of the system, from the micro level in the material characteristics of the fibers (elasticity), to the knitting patterns within the textile, and ultimately to the macro level of tension forces acting across the continuous textile surface. What was particularly jarring was the fact that in the process of fabricating the structure of the textile (the fiber composition generated by a CNC knitting machine) behavior was activated via the friction of the bi-directional knitted fibers and done so non-uniformly because of the variegated patterns being utilized. Thus, from the fabrication step a material element was generated that did NOT match the shape that was entered in to the CNC fabrication process. While the focus was primarily on orchestrating behavior in form, it was found that behavior needed to be investigated even at the level of fabrication.

–In the group discussions, we talked about how these ideas begin to suggest a new ideas and workflows relating to simulation and modeling of material performance in architectural practice?

A contribution from this and other Digital Crafting workshops can be seen most fundamentally in the realm of practice: a shift from design in representation to design through simulation. This is also a different breed of simulation as compared to an engineered approach. The engineer, to state it in general terms, utilizes simulation as a proof. In the workshops, simulation is engaged in an explorative process, taking advantage of verifiable principles to interrogate higher levels of performance in function which can be realized through relations between materiality (composition) and materialization (fabrication). The practice of architecture then includes the implementation of specific principles, rather than what is more often the case, generalization of abstract notions and assumptions of a functioning whole. As what was quickly proven in this workshop, assumptions when engaging material specificity through design exploration are almost always wrong.

–Designing with material specificity is not currently common in architecture, why do you think it is important, and how does it relate to your own research?

Image: Sean Ahlquist, ICD-University of Stuttgart

Once considering material as an aspect of performance, the design of its specificity is absolute. This is ever-present in the design of lightweight structures where there is an integral relation between the definition of a geometry and its performance – primarily as a structural system. Where this becomes interesting is in the attempt to define multiple capacities via the specification of material. It not only involves defining (or selecting) the characteristics of the material itself, but also generating its position, and determining its contribution to the global form. This then introduces differentiation as a necessary variable in design rather than an aesthetic choice. Where negotiation between scales of the system (the material make-up or the global form) or the performance of the geometry (as an structural and spatial system) variation provides the only avenue to resolve multiple functionalities.

Image: Sean Ahlquist, ICD-University of Stuttgart

Such an approach is exemplified in the on-going research at the ICD with “Deep Surfaces” – morphologically articulated tension structures. To advance the spatial opportunities with tension structures (in thermal, acoustic, and luminance modulation), the possibilities in geometric variation and relation to material performance have to be explored. The determination of such potentials defines a new set of principles which can then be generatively explored to realize multi-functionality at the global scale of the system.

–your lecture on the Seminar Day, “Computational Design of Differentiated Form” discussed computational design in relation to material behaviours.  How does this relate to your Deep Surfaces research?

An interesting discovery was made from the experiments done in this workshop. My research has focused on the integration and articulation of varied materials within morphologically complex tension structures. Primarily, the materials can be classified as linear “cable” elements and surface “membrane” elements. Both have extremely unique characteristics in relation to their materiality obviously, but also in how they perform structurally. The workshop intended to concentrate primarily on the performance of surface elements – deriving how the movement of force through a material is disrupted (or undisturbed) but the variation of the material structure. In the example shown here, it was actually found that a single continuous surface under-tension with two different structural patterns could act simultaneously like a “cable” mesh with primarily linear forces and a surface with force distributed bi-axially. Such a unique behavior is now being investigated within the research of “Deep Surfaces”, looking at how the manufacturing process is particularly influential in characterizing this behavior and how that logic can be exacted computationally.

Image: Sean Ahlquist, ICD-University of Stuttgart

Image: Sean Ahlquist, ICD-University of Stuttgart

DigitalCrafting Symposium 2: Venue changed to larger Auditorium

The second DigitalCrafting symposium was moved to the larger Auditorium 2 of the School. This is as we received allready a higher amount of reservations requests than expected and we want to keep the symposium free and open to all interested! So please come and inform your communities about the event.

New Venue: Auditorium 2- Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation
Main Entrance Danneskiold Samsøs Alle, Holmen

DigitalCrafting Symposium 2: Consequences

The DigitalCrafting research network invites everybody to take part at the second DigitalCrafting Symposium on the 25.November 2011 at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture in Copenhagen:

Date: Friday 25.11.2011 – 10.30h-17.30h

Venue: Royal Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, Design and Conservation

Auditorium 2- Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation
Main Entrance Danneskiold Samsøs Alle, Holmen


Today digital technologies inform all levels of building practice. As a link between representation, design, analysis and production, digital technologies are both practical tools by which to optimise existing practice as well as speculative media by which to explore its future. By facilitating exchange and feedback between the different knowledge fields of design, engineering and crafts, digital technology holds the potential to effect new answers to the complex challenges of contemporary building practice.

The second Digital Crafting symposium will discuss the future perspectives for a new integrated digital practice. Inviting practitioners from the fields of architecture, engineering and theory to share their experiences and present recent work, the symposium aims to unfold new visions for thinking the links between design, analysis and fabrication. With a focus on interdisciplinary collaboration, bottom up thinking and complex modelling we ask how the shared digital platform can create new material strategies for design.

Digital Crafting is hosted by CITA Centre for IT and Architecture, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, Design and Conservation.

The DigitalCrafting symposium addresses practitioners, researchers and students from the fields of architecture, engineering and construction. The symposium is free and open to the public. Due to demand and to support organisation we ask you email your participation:


10:15                     Registration and coffee

10:45                     Welcome and introduction Martin Tamke

11.00h Session 1:  Consequences for making

chair: Phil Ayres (CITA)

Antoine Picon – Harvard Graduate School of Design / Cambridge

Fabio Gramazio – ETH / Gramazio Kohler architects / Zuerich

14.00h  Session 2:  Consequences for material practice

chair: Christoph Schindler (schindlersalmeron)

Jan Knippers – Uni Stuttgart / Knippers Helbig Engineers / Stuttgart – New York

Marta Malé-Alemany – IAAC Barcelona / AA London

16.00h Session 3:  Consequences for design practice

chair: Mette Ramsgard Thomsen (CITA)

Paul Ehret – Gehry Technologies / Paris

Reinhard Kropf – Helen Hard Architects / Stavanger / Norway

17.30 End of Symposium


Vis Digital Crafting Symposium 2 – Auditorium on a bigger map


DigitalCrafting Symposium 2 – Poster 340x900mm (pdf 4mb)

DigitalCrafting Symposium 2 – Text and Media Package (zip file 8mb)

Seminar 5: Videos of presentations online

The presentations of the 5th Digital Crafting Seminar are now online. Please follow the link to the presentations:


Ongoing Work Presentations:

An overview can be found on Vimeo

Workshop 5: Complex membranes and the variegated material

Workshop: How to Brace
Autumn Semester 2011: August 22 – 24. 2011
The workshop investigates the intersections between textiles design and architecture. Textiles design is a form of material design. Forming the textile structure and composing different yarns enables the fabrication of highly specialised materials designed in respect to the performance and use. Developing our own bespoke complex structured and materially variegated textiles the workshop asks how the tradition of working with textile membranes can be considered in respect to architecturally designed engineered materials.
The workshop guest is Sean Ahlquist.

Research question
Digital tools allow us a new scale of material address in order to detail and specify materials at a new degree of precision and scale. Architecture is currently engaged in a radical rethinking of its material practice. The evolution of digital media has prompted new techniques of fabrication but also new understandings in the organisation of material through its properties and potential for assemblage. Advancements in material science and more complex models of material simulation as well as the interfaces between design and fabrication are fundamentally changing the way we conceive and design architecture. This new technological platform allows for unprecedented creative control over materials design and production. Creating direct links between the space of design and the space of fabrication, the idea of the hyper specified material developed in direct response to defined design criteria calls upon a new material practice in which designers of artefacts are also designers of materials. In this practice materials are seen as bespoke composites, differentiated and graded, and whose particular detailing is a central part of a projects overall solution.

From the very small to the very large, the imagination of performative materials that are engineered in response to highly defined design criteria are challenging the traditional boundaries of design and representation. Performative materials can be structurally differentiated in response to variegated load or materially graded responding to change in programme or property. Whether hyper specified and designed, what they have in common is that they are developed in response to particular criteria by which the strength, structure, elasticity and/or density of a material can be devised. Not only is this a condition of design purpose – to what performance is embedded within the material make-up and form – but also of design process – how can such integrated behaviour be computed where variables across hierarchies in material, assembly, and performance are interrelated and inextricable. This poses a profound shift in design process, one which is truly computational in nature rather than computerized, where simulation, not representation, and specification, not abstraction, are generative tools. Process forms the intimate relation between specificity in simulation, principle behaviours in material, and the potentials in performance of operation. The research undertaken in this workshop addresses the development of prototypical tools and material performances which may lay the groundwork for future generative and explorative processes.

Workshop: How to Brace
Dates: 22-23 August
Venue: Kolding designschool, Ågade 10, Kolding 3rd floor
In this workshop we will examine the guiding research questions for understanding a new generation of digitally designed materials. We will explore computational design tools as a means of designing structural membranes and their optimisation developing bespoke patterns. In a second step these patterns will then inform the design of variegated materials. We will work with CNC knitting as a means of developing our own membrane materials allowing a new feedback loop between the global (the scale of the membrane) and local (the scale of the material) behaviour of the surface. The feedback loop will critically inform the step of translation between the relative form and force description described computationally to the  variegated knitting patterns, assembly of multiple knitted elements, and ultimately the application of force across the whole continuous system.

Schedule and detailed program: to be posted
Rhino template files for the workshop: to be posted
Indesign template for participants portfolios:
Venue: The workshop takes place at Designskolen Kolding, Ågade 10, Kolding Google maps link here

Kolding Design school is a short walk from Kolding Main Train Station (Kolding Station). Kolding is a 2.5 hour train ride from Copenhagen. You can use : to find the right directions from your departure place.

Seminar 5: Textiles and Fibre Based Materials in Architectural Constructio

Dates: August 2010     11.00 – 16.30
Venue: Designskolen Kolding, Ågade 10, Kolding, 1. Sal i auditorie 1.4


Ongoing Work Presentations:

The seminar examines the use of fibre based materials in architecture. During the last decade textiles and fibre-based materials have undergone dramatic development resulting in their use and implementation in host of new contexts. From the extreme scales of geo-textiles to the minute details of bio-textiles, textiles are entering new fields of fabrication hybridising existing technologies and inventing new.  At the same time, developments in polymers and reinforcing materials are leading to new opportunities for computational design and processing methods for fibre reinforced composites, which in turn provide designers with new means of engagement and control.

This seminar holds a dual focus. Bringing together researchers from architecture, engineering and textile design our aim is to discuss the traditions by which textiles and fibre based materials has been understood as an architectural material as well as present a perspective for their future implementation in the built environment. By deliberately expanding the discussion to include soft/compressive textiles as well as fibre reinforced composites our aim is to foster discussion of the parallels and differences in these two material design led fields.

The seminar asks:
–         The Stuttgart tradition of designing and calculating membrane structures led to a reinvention of the use of textiles in architecture in the mid 20th century. What is the new perspectives in these traditions and how can they embrace questions of complex geometry and material variegation?
–         The recent focus on fibre reinforced composites presents architecture and the built environment with a new engineered material that can be devised and develop in respect to its performance. How can we work efficiently with composites and what are their future implementations?
–         As we enter a new era in which material design becomes part of the architects remit and where materials are engineered directly for their implementation and use, we also enter a new practice of work with complex composites. What are the environmental consequences of these new materials and how can we work in a sustainable fashion?

Workshop 4 report

The fourth Digital Crafting Workshop ”Generative logics: How to grow” was held at the Aarhus School of Architecture January 17-18 2011.  Roland Snooks who is partner in Kokkugia and teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University and at the University of Southern California (USC) led the two-day workshop. During these days the participants worked with agent-based scripting using the open source software ”Processing”. Discussions and lectures during the workshop related to the question of how designers can use agents-based scripts as a means to explore spatial and formal configuration and how these configurations can relate to material performance and structural logic.

The first day kicked of with a crash course in ”Processing” introducing the basic structure and functionality of the software. From this starting point a basic script was gradually developed to incorporate more complex capabilities exploring agent-based behaviour. These explorations were based on swarm theory as formulated by Craig Reynolds. Reynolds’ work with ‘boids’ describes how individual agents can form swarm behaviour as seen in bird flocks or fish swarms by having each individual agent adjust its position to other agents by considering separation, cohesion and alignment.

The first day was concluded by a reception at the opening of a student exhibition of space installations related to the ‘Morphogenic Studio’ run by Niels Martin Larsen, Sebastian Gmelin and Claus Peder Pedersen at the Aarhus School of Architecture.

The second day was spent on further developing the agent-based scripts. They were expanded to incorporate interfaces that allowed for a more direct and intuitive manipulation of the various parameters controlling the agents hinting at a more general discussion on how to work with scripting as a design tool. The development also included discussions on how to interpret the animated agents and the resulting complex data structures into spatial configurations. This part of the workshop focused especially on using isosurfaces as a way of creating formally coherent structures from clouds of points.

The workshop contained a presentation by Martin Tamke that discussed how agent-based scripting could be used to design a tectonic structure. The presentation was based on an exploration of zollinger construction-principle, where short interlocking members create statically stable construction. Moving from a top-down to a bottom-up organisation Martin discussed how a successful design strategy was developed by encoding individual elements of the structure with instructions on how to attach to other elements, rather than by subdividing a large surface.

The last part of the workshop explored how agent-based behaviours could be used in cellular automata scripts. Finally movies were exported from the scripts to wrap up the workshop. They document some of the different behaviours and variations created through the two days.