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Kizuki-au, Collaborative Constructions, Aichi Triennale, Tokoname, Japan, 2019-2022
Our globalised societies have entered into a new phase. The pandemic has revealed how our communities are intricately linked beyond national borders, in a world that has become more fragile. At the same time, the widespread popularization of online communication demonstrates how technology allows for reconnection in times of forced isolation; we can talk to anyone, anywhere, almost anytime. In this emerging order, we ask how architecture can reimagine its own tradition and role in society.

Collaborative Constructions investigates a new practice of architecture based on the creative, innovative and personal use of technology. The two projects by our chair at ETH Zurich and the University of Tokyo engage in a global collaboration looking at architectural strategies to relate nature and humanity through technology; they are results of human-robots collaborations and exemplify how we can engage with the past while looking ahead.

Our contribution consists in a three-storey tall timber-frame structure, which revives the long history of expert timber construction in Japan through Swiss design and technology. It revisits carpentry for the age of robotics, making metal parts, nails, screws or fasteners obsolete. The five constituting timber frame modules consist of more than a thousand bespoke timber elements and were prefabricated in the world-renowned Robotic Fabrication Laboratory at ETH Zurich. Designed to withstand earthquakes and storms, the towering structure activates its surrounding neighbourhood and landscape, while the wooden terrace or Japanese engawa serves as a meeting point for the community. Age-old knowledge has been revived through digital technologies, allowing for a highly material efficient and performative approach to building with timber. A new strategy for building multi-storey timber buildings is thus suggested as a sustainable alternative to conventional concrete and steel constructions.


Vitality Swiss


Publication
Matthias Helmreich, Hannes Mayer, Matteo Pacher, Tadahiro Nakajima, Mitsuhiro Kuroki, Shinya Tsubata, Fabio Gramazio, Matthias Kohler . "Robotic Assembly of Modular Multi-Storey Timber-Only Frame Structures Using Traditional Wood Joinery." In Proceedings of the 27th International Conference of the Association for Computer Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia (CAADRIA), 111-120. 2022. (Link)

Credits:
Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich
Hannes Mayer (project lead), Matthias Helmreich (fabrication and computational design lead), Matteo Pacher.

In collaboration with: Shimizu Corporation

Client: Eidgenössisches Departement für auswärtige Angelenheiten EDA, Schweizerische Botschaft in Japan, Präsenz Schweiz.

Selected experts: Tadahiro Nakajima, Mitsuhiro Kuroki, Shinya Tsubata (Shimizu Corporation); Franz Tschümperlin, Lukas Ehrle (SJB Kempter Fitze); Thomas Wehrle, Steffen Hermann (ERNE AG); Philippe Fleischmann, Michael Lyrenmann (Robotic Fabrication Lab, ETH Zurich)

Selected contractors: Erne AG, Kalt AG

Partnern: IWC Schaffhausen, BMW Japan, Panasonic Holdings Corporation, LIXIL Corporation, Cypress Sunadaya, Vitra, Jun Sato Laboratory, Department of Socio-Cultural Environmental Studies - Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Knapp AG, Raimund BECK KG, MONTAGE Inc., Tokoname City.
Copyright 2022, Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Gramazio Kohler Research
Chair of Architecture and Digital Fabrication
ETH Zürich HIB E 43
Stefano-Franscini Platz 1 / CH-8093 Zurich

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