If Robots Build the House of Today, How is a House Built Tomorrow?

Join us for a critical assessment of research in architecture and digital fabrication, from the labs of ETH Zurich to the reality of San Francisco.

Photo courtesy Roman Keller / ETH Zurich

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
Pier 17, Suite 800, San Francisco, California 94111 United States


June 27, 2019 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)



This evening is about the strong claims and the critical assessment confronting architecture and digital fabrication research from the labs of ETH Zurich, applied to the reality of San Francisco and the building culture of the Bay Area.

This discussion will bridge architecture, policy, and technology as it dives into the issues raised by the “How to Build a House: Architectural Research in the Digital Age” exhibition at swissnex San Francisco.

The exhibition presents the DFAB HOUSE in Switzerland, one of the first houses to be built almost entirely by digital methods, robots and 3D printers. If this vision has suddenly become a concrete reality, how will architecture and construction change? What does it mean for a thriving city such as San Francisco? Could it provide solutions for the housing crisis or for climate change? What about integrative, collaborative design and fabrication processes? Will these new methods of how to build a house be sustainable, social, and functional — but also lead to as-of-yet unknown, yet beautiful results?


6:30pm — Doors Open
7pm — Program Begins
8:30pm — Q&A
9:30 — Doors Close


Peter Testa

Peter Testa is Founding Partner of Testa & Weiser and Senior Design Faculty at SCI-Arc. At Testa & Weiser, he leads a wide range of projects for some of the world’s most innovative companies and cultural institutions. His work is exhibited worldwide including Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, and Beijing, and is part of the permanent collection of the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA). His work is regularly published in art, architecture, design, engineering, and scientific journals as well as newspapers including the New York Times, Washington Post, and The Times of London. Before establishing Testa & Weiser, he was Principal-in-Charge with Pritzker Prize winner Álvaro Siza. He was Associate Professor of Architecture at Columbia University GSAPP (1991-97) and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1997-02) where he directed the EDG research group, a collaboration across Architecture, AI Lab, and Media Lab.

Hannes Mayer

Hannes MayerHannes Mayer is an architect, Senior Researcher and member of the board at Gramazio Kohler Research and directs the Master program in Architecture and Digital Fabrication. Prior to joining GKR, he was Professor for Architectural Design and Research at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and taught at the Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL) as well as University of Westminster, London. In Parallel, he was the director and editor-in-chief of the review for architecture archithese before launching his own architecture magazine, manege für architektur.

Sarah Holder

Sarah Holder is a staff writer for The Atlantic’s CityLabwhere she writes about affordable and innovative housing projects, labor issues, and how technology is changing the way people live in cities—in California, and beyond. She’s also a graduate of Yale University, where she conducted archival research on the construction of public housing in New Haven, Connecticut.