After a year of intense study, the first students of the Master of Advanced Studies MAS ETH in Architecture and Digital Fabrication successfully presented their final projects. Initiated as the major education platform of the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication, the MAS programme teaches digital design and fabrication and their expressed implementation in architecture and construction.

Diversified Teaching Programme
The MAS ETH in Architecture and Digital Fabrication is a one year full-time programme targeted at university graduates with a Master’s degree in architecture or engineering. The programme aims to teach students how new technologies, materials, and processes can contribute to an advanced and sustainable construction culture. Being associated with the NCCR Digital Fabrication, the programme benefits from a wide variety of expertise and a strong cross-disciplinary approach. The programme featured teaching contributions from various groups within the NCCR Digital Fabrication including the Block Research Group (BRG), the Chair of Sustainable Construction, and the Digital Building Technologies Group. The MAS programme was established by Prof. Fabio Gramazio and Prof. Matthias Kohler from Gramazio Kohler Research and is offered within the Department of Architecture at the ETH Zurich.

Variety of Investigated Topics in Final Thesis Projects
In addition to the teaching modules, the students all had to work on an independent master thesis. The following list shows the variety of topics which the students of the first edition of the MAS program investigated within their final thesis projects:

  • Shiu Lun Cheung: “The Vitruvian Robot”
  • Jorge Christie Remy-Maillet: “Self-Forming 4D Printed Textile Hybrid Structures”
  • Larisa Gabor, Anastasia Zaytseva: “Responsive Building Envelopes”
  • Kathrin Hochschuh, José De Carvalho Paixão: “Autonomous 3D Printing of Spatially Extruded Structures Through Machine Learning”
  • Wei-Yu Hsiao: “Robotic Spatial Bending of Glass Rods”
  • Ioannis Mirtsopoulos: “Robotic Fabrication of Catalan Vaults”
  • Fabio Scotto: “Robotic Elastic Bending of Glue Laminated Wood Veneer”
  • James Chenault, Alessandro Dell’Endice, Matthias Helmreich, Nicholas Hoban, Jesús Medina Ibáñez, Pietro Odaglia, Federico Salvalaio, Stavroula Tsafou: “Pavilion Project”

The “Pavilion Project”, developed by eight students, used digital methods and technologies to realise a unique two-storey timber structure. Throughout the project, multiple prototypes were designed, fabricated, tested and refined, leading to a final project proposal. In order to fabricate the final proposal, a new robotic setup was developed and installed. In an automated process, the robot precisely pre-cut and assembled over 4,000 different elements into large component pieces which together created the walls, floors and enclosure. The final prefabricated elements are composed of three-dimensional spatial trusses autonomously clad with wooden shingles. The pavilion was then installed by assembling the individual prefabricated elements on-site.

Ready for Professional Practice
The MAS program aims to augment the skills and knowledge of participants with the goal of enabling the graduates to bring innovation and knowledge to industry and professional practice. The first group of graduating participants are equipped to pursue careers in cutting-edge design offices, research, and in advanced construction fields.

The MAS ETH in Architecture and Digital Fabrication is an annual programme that begins each September. Application are invited for submission from January to April. More information about the Master of Advanced Studies MAS ETH in Architecture and Digital Fabrication can be found on the website of ETH Zurich.

Figure 1: Robotic assembly of individual timber slats.

Figure 2: Internal view of the final timber pavilion.