The fifth Advances in Architectural Geometry (AAG) 2016 Symposium was organised by the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication at ETH Zurich from September 9 to 13 2016. This symposium brought together academics and practitioners from the fields of architecture, engineering, mathematics and computer science to discuss innovation in geometric and computational applications in architecture.

The AAG symposia are clearly a milestone reference for advanced practitioners in architecture, as proven by the fact that over 350 global participants travelled to Zurich and registration was booked out three weeks in advance. The symposium was split into two intense days of practical workshops followed by three days of conference activities, with an accompanying exhibition. Highlights of the symposium were the keynote lectures by the internationally renowned experts Urs B. Roth, Erik Demaine, Werner Sobek, Francis Aish, and Lord Norman Foster.

Practical Experience with Latest Technologies
Eleven challenging workshops were offered to participants as a medium for skills building and sharing. The workshops focused on the integration of technologies with design, and taught new skills and concepts to the emerging experts in the field. As workshops chair David Pigram stated in his opening speech, “The NCCR Digital Fabrication together with ETH Zurich offers workshop participants the opportunity to get insight into some of the world’s most advanced facilities and to work with the latest technologies, and the best people in fields related to architectural geometry.”

Stimulating Lectures by International Leading Experts
In addition to 22 paper presentations highlighting the advances and innovations in the field, the conference was punctuated by four cutting-­edge keynote lectures. To open the conference, Swiss geometric engineer Urs B. Roth underlined the “beauty of geometry” and its importance for creating “truly comprehensible architecture”. Erik Demaine, artist and computer scientist at MIT, provided insight into his inspiring form-­finding, folding and origami works with paper, plastic and glass. Structural engineer Werner Sobek highlighted the potential of computational tools to solve some of today’s most pressing issues in construction and design;; such as how to build for more people with less material. Lord Norman Foster together with Francis Aish, Head of Applied Research and Development at Foster + Partners, presented insight into their practice’s work and an overview of the upcoming Mexico City International Airport project. Lord Foster made clear his belief that the computer must be understood as a tool and a means to an end, but this statement was qualified by his partner Aish who stated: “What is interesting, are the current developments towards the integration of computation and materialization
through digital fabrication, as is clearly visible in the research and innovations emerging here at ETH Zurich.”

Building a Community
As the topics of technology and architecture continue to merge, interest in the issues represented at AAG becomes even more intense. By bringing together leading experts from a wide range of interests and disciplines, new discourses and approaches emerge. By hosting the AAG2016, the NCCR Digital Fabrication supports this varied community, and fosters cross-­disciplinary discussion, collaboration and research. After a thought-­provoking five-­day symposium, both the participants and the organisers are already looking forward to the next Advances in Architectural Geometry in 2018.

AAG2016 Symposium online:

Website –
Twitter –
Flickr –
Video Keynote Lecture Lord Norman Foster & Francis Aish – ETH Video Channel