Digital Design and Full Scale Fabrication

Andrei Gheorghe
Architecture, Structural Design
2017W, Seminar (SE), 3.0 semester hours, course number S01525



Dynamic active bending structures

Efilena Baseta / Philipp Hornung / Andrei Gheorghe

11th-15th December 2017 (tbc)

Introductory Session will take place on

WED 18th October @1pm in SR13

this class is limited enrollment, attendance at introductory session is required for class participation

/// Brief

“The form is a system which organizes itself in the presences of both internal and external forces and these organizations can shape patterns traced through mathematical rules.”

D’ Arcy Thompson

In this framework, this 5-days workshop will focus on the creation of controllable dynamic active bending timber structures, using forces as the actuators. The participants will experiment with linear wooden elements (laths), where the connections between them will define the overall deformation of the system. The course will combine digital simulations of form finding (Kangaroo) and structural analysis (Karamba) with physical prototypes made by robotic milling. The final outcome will be an 1:1 structure which can shape-shift according to different load-case scenarios, fluctuating between predefined forms.

/// Introduction

Wood is a renewable material that has been used widely in construction since antiquity, however its properties have not been fully exploited yet. As a natural fibrous composite, wood is an anisotropic material, whose fibers orientation define its flexibility. Most architectural applications of wood look for stiff elements but examples from vernacular architecture as well as recent researches on active bending structures, indicate the great potential of perceiving wood as a highly flexible material, which can be used for light weight, free form structures. Nonetheless, there is no example in architecture where wood is dynamically active, functioning as a reactive compliant mechanism.

/// Design guidelines

The process of translating data into spatial transformations will be coded in digital tools, based on Rhino/ Grasshopper with plugins such as Kangaroo and Karamba that will help simulating deformations and structural behaviors. During this process codes will be translated into physical prototypes digitally fabricated, optimizing design criteria with fabrication strategies and structural consideration.

/// Requirements

Basic modelling skills in Rhino are required. No specific Grasshopper skills are required (although an introductory knowledge of grasshopper is welcome). Participants should bring their own laptop with a pre-installed software. The software package needed has no additional cost for the participant. Rhino can be downloaded as evaluation version, Grasshopper and plugins are free. These softwares are subject to frequent updates, so a download link to the version used in the workshop will be sent to the participants few days before the workshop.

/// Location

The workshop is going to take place in the Institute of Architecture (IoA) of the University

of Applied Arts in Vienna (Angewandte), in the department of Structural Design and the RWC Lab.

/// Schedule


Day 1

Introduction to adaptive architecture and active bending wooden structures.

Introduction to the task and the research behind it.

Introduction to form finding algorithms (Kangaroo Tutorial) and design exercise.

Introduction to robotic fabrication.

Day 2

Introduction to wood anisotropy and physics of beam bending.

Introduction to structural analysis (Karamba tutorial) and structural exercise.

Group division to specific tasks (The group will be divided into teams focusing on different

aspects of the project such as holistic design, joint details, milling files and fabrication).


Day 3

Robotic fabrication of elements, preparation for the installation.

Day 4

Robotic fabrication of elements, preparation for the installation.

Day 5

Robotic fabrication of elements, assemblage and final installation

/// Efilena Baseta

Efilena is an architect engineer, studied in the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), with a Master degree in Advanced Architecture from the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC). Her interest lies in exploring material behaviors, physically and digitally, in order to create real time responsive structures. Since 2014 Efilena is a partner of Noumena, an experimental architectural practice based in Barcelona. She has led several workshops internationally and has been part of the design and coordination of exhibitions related with technology. During 2015-2016 she collaborated with IAAC as the coordinator of the Visiting Programs and tutor of the Global Summer School 2016. She is currently an InnoChain PhD candidate in the Institute of Architecture at the University of Applied Arts Vienna on the topic of Simulating Anisotropic Material”.

/// Andrei Gheorghe

Andrei is currently teaching as an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Architecture / University of Applied Arts in Vienna. Previously he was Assistant Professor at Portland State University USA, where he developed pedagogy and research in digital media and fabrication. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and after being awarded the Fulbright Scholarship at Harvard University, where he graduated with distinction and received the Harvard GSD Digital Design Prize. Andrei has taught at various institutions such as Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, SCI-ARC Los Angeles and Harvard Graduate School of Design (Career Discovery Program). Previously, he worked as an architect for international offices such as Jakob + MacFarlane, dEcoi Paris and Foreign Office Architects (FOA) London. Since 2011 he is a regular writer for the bilingual architecture journal “Architektur Aktuell” in Austria.


/// Philipp Hornung

Philipp Hornung studied architecture at the Georg-Simon-Ohm University in Nuremberg and the University of Applied Arts in Vienna at the master class of Zaha Hadid, Greg Lynn and Wolf Prix, where he received his degree with distinction. He gained experience at numerous international renowned architectural design offices such as Graft Architects and Coop Himmelb(l)au. Since 2014 he has been a research assistant at the research project ‘Robotic Woodcraft’ at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. His expertise is in the fields of parametric design and robotic fabrication.

Examination Modalities

class participation and delivery of digital presentation

Key Words

digital design, digital fabrication, digital design thinking


18 October 2017, 13:00–14:00 Seminar Room 13 , "this class is limited enrollment, attendance at introductory session is required for class participation" (preliminary discussion)
11 December 2017, 10:00–15 December 2017, 16:00, "Design & Full Scale Fabrication Block"

Course Enrolment

Until 17 October 2017, 16:00
via email:

co-registration: possible (3.0 ECTS)

Architecture (Master): Structural Design (3.0 ECTS)

Individual courses: possible (3.0 ECTS)