Designing a free-form building from competition to completion is like navigating in uncharted territory: decisions have to be taken early on, but foreseeing their implications down the road to production can be hard without prior experience. Asking key questions at the right time, challenging assumptions and identifying important crossroads can save a lot of effort and tedious backtracking – but how to come up with good questions?
At Design-to-Production (D2P) we have seen our share of free-form projects and – frankly – experienced quite some dead ends and wrong turns. These explorations resulted in a D2P-process-map to safely navigate the solution space of free-form projects. Familiarize yourself with it in this workshop and embark on an exciting journey guided by a team of experts and illustrated by example of executed projects.
Free-form from scratch, planning curvy structures for architects & engineers
May 10-12, 2021
Architects, Engineers, Timber Contractors and Students
Design-to-Production is a Zurich based firm that focusses on three key services: digital planning, consultancy and software development. As pioneers of building information modelling, they close the process chain that links a construction idea to its digital fabrication.
For more than a decade they have enabled projects of high complexity to take flight and have supported clients, architects, engineers, planners and fabricators in reaching new heights of efficiency, safety and quality.
Fabian Scheurer, Managing Partner
Fabian Scheurer is co-founder of Design-to-Production and leads the company’s office in Zurich.
He graduated from the Technical University of Munich with a diploma in computer science and architecture and gathered professional experience as CAD-trainer, software developer and new media consultant. In 2002 he joined Ludger Hovestadt’s CAAD group at the ETH Zurich, where he co-founded Design-to-Production as a research group to explore the connections between digital design and fabrication.
At the end of 2006 Design-to-Production teamed up with architect Arnold Walz and became a commercial consulting practice, supporting architects, engineers, and fabricators in the digital production of complex design.
Sylvain Usai, Planning & Software
Sylvain Usai is a trained Architect developing digital fabrication solutions for complex timber structures at Design-to-Production since 2014.
He works in close collaboration with Architects, Engineer and Contractors to precisely describe free-form buildings using custom-made software programs and allow for their realization.
Sylvain gathered experience on both programming and design for manufacture and assembly on free-form projects such as La Seine Musicale in Paris (2015-2017) and the Swatch Headquarter in Biel (2017-2019) or standard projects such as Krokodil Lokstadt Winterthur (2019).
Evy Slabbinck, Project Development & International Sales
Evy L. M. Slabbinck is a structural engineer and architect working for more than two years at Design-to-Production Zurich, and is responsible for International Sales, Project Development and Timber Consultancy. She is currently also teaching Structural Design at the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences. Previously she was a Research Associate and tutor at the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design at the University of Stuttgart, where she currently finishes her PhD under Prof. Dr.-Ing Jan Knippers. She obtained the degree “Master of Science in Architectural Engineering” at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Universite Libre de Bruxelles, and also holds a Master of Science from the University of Stuttgart. She gained her professional experience in various international practices, where she worked as a membrane engineer and computational specialist in several international projects.
DESIGN TO PRODUCTION has been cooperating with renowned architects and architectural offices since 2005 – i.e. Foster + Partners, Marks Barfield architects, Zaha Hadid, X-Tu architects and Shigeru Ban— designer of the Swatch Headquarter in Biel (CH) shown in the images above and below.
Part 1 — Topics, dependencies, stages & models (1.5 hours)
Free-form projects consist of custom-made bespoke parts, relying on off-site digital fabrication and digital modelling for their production. This added complexity calls for a planning process, where all aspects from the material sourcing to the on-site installation need to be considered from the start. Shape, fabrication, material and assembly are intertwined and inseparable.
Even though a holistic approach to designing is required, the process can be broken down into different stages and approval rounds. But each phase calls for specific content, also in a digital process!
Which information to gather when in the project, what to store in digital models and how to create it parametrically is clarified in the first part of the workshop.
Part 2 — Drafting the map (3 hours)
During this interactive discussion, we build a roadmap for the conceptual stage of a free-form project: questions to challenge or support decisions, trying to anticipate and avoid late surprises. Each aspect of the project will be illustrated with the help of built examples to guide the conversation.
Part 3 — Zooming out, Q&A (0.5 hour)
We can now take a step back and look at the entire process with a holistic view. Time to ask any remaining questions and bid you farewell on your journey into the free-form solution space!