Opening Night: How to Build a House

Join us to explore the intersection of architecture, robotics, and 3D printing with Gramazio Kohler Research and Digital Building Technologies of ETH Zurich.

Photo copyright Roman Keller, courtesy of ETHZ

Event Details


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


March 13, 2019 from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)



This event is sold out and tickets will not be available at the door, but you may join us Wednesday morning for an in-depth conversation with Matthias Kohler and Benjamin Dillenburger

Join us for the opening reception for the exhibition, How to Build a House: Architectural Research in the Digital Age. The exhibition focuses on the DFAB House and the work of Gramazio Kohler Research with Digital Building Technologies at Swiss university ETH Zurich.

The exhibition examines the digital transformation of architecture and construction. It reveals the conception and making of the DFAB HOUSE: A three-story experimental building demonstrating pioneering research in computational design and digital fabrication conducted by architects in collaboration with leading experts in fields ranging from robotics to material science.

Through the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research Digital Fabrication (NCCR-DFAB), they jointly created the first fully inhabitable building constructed by robots from the labs of ETH Zurich; a building that moves the boundaries of what robotics and 3D printing in architecture can do today. The exhibit is an entry point into understanding the digital as a novel domain for architects to draw from at each step of the design, fabrication, and assembly of a building.

The exhibition, curated by Hannes Mayer and Sarah Schneider, presents a comprehensive insight into the architectural research of the DFAB HOUSE through prototypes, photography, videos, and a VR installation. Come and explore. Matthias Kohler, Benjamin Dillenburger, Hannes Mayer, and Mania Aghaei Meibodi will walk you through the exhibition.


6pm — doors open
6:30pm — welcome and introduction
7:30pm — walk-through
9pm — doors close


DFAB HOUSE is a collaborative demonstrator of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication on the NEST building of Empa and Eawag in Dübendorf, Switzerland. As part of the full-featured building project, researchers from eight chairs at ETH Zurich professorships have come together with industry experts and planning professionals in a unique way to explore and test how digital fabrication can change the way we design and build. DFAB HOUSE is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation in collaboration with the funding partners at EMPA.


Matthias Kohler

Mathias Kohler ©Norman Foster FoundationMatthias Kohler is an architect with interests ranging from computational design and robotic fabrication to material innovation. He founded the award winning architecture practice Gramazio Kohler Architects together with his partner Fabio Gramazio. Both partners are full professors at ETH Zurich, where they jointly lead Gramazio Kohler Research. Matthias Kohler has been the founding director of the NCCR Digital Fabrication, the first National Centre of Competence in Research in the field of architecture funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, and in this position initiated and headed the DFAB HOUSE project.

Benjamin Dillenburger

Benjamin Dillenburger

Benjamin Dillenburger  is an architect who explores computational design methods and digital fabrication to broaden the design freedom for architecture and to develop performative building solutions. Recent works include the design of two full-scale 3D printed rooms for the FRAC Centre, Orleans and the permanent collection of Centre Pompidou, Paris. Benjamin Dillenburger holds a PhD degree from the ETH Zurich, and is Assistant Professor for Digital Building Technologies (DBT) at the Institute of Technology in Architecture at ETH Zurich after having taught as Assistant Professor at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture at the University of Toronto He is Principal Investigator of the Swiss National Competence Centre of Research in Digital Fabrication (NCCR DFAB)

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.

Mania Aghaei Meibodi

Mania Aghaei Meibodi is an architect specialized in computational design and digital fabrication. She is cofounder of meonia architectural design studio and a senior post-doctoral researcher at Digital Building Technologies at ETH Zurich. In this position she was the project leader of the Smart Slab for the DFAB HOUSE.

Gramazio Kohler Research

Since its inception in 2005 the research group led by Matthias Kohler and Fabio Gramazio at ETH Zurich has been at the forefront of robotics and digital fabrication in architecture. With their robotic laboratories and work that ranges from prototypes to buildings they have inspired architects and researchers alike to explore the capacities of industrial robots as universal tools of the digital age. Projects such as Structural Oscillations for the Architecture Biennale in Venice, Flight Assembled Architecture at the FRAC Centre Orléans, Rock Print for the Chicago Biennale and the Sequential Roof for the Arch_Tec_Lab at ETH Zürich have contributed to the group’s recognition as global leaders in in the field of digital and robotic fabrication in architecture.

Digital Building Technologies

The chair for Digital Building Technologies at ETH Zürich researches in new building technologies based on the seamless integration of computational design methods, digital fabrication and new materials. At the forefront of 3D printing technologies, DBT investigates additive manufacturing strategies in architecture, which have the potential to challenge traditional paradigms of construction and open up radically new design-solutions. The work of Digital Building Technologies has been presented at the Venice Architecture Biennale and the World Economic Forum in Davos. Digital Grotesque at the Centre Pompidou, Paris and the Smart Slab at the DFAB HOUSE highlight the groups pioneering research in digital fabrication.


Swiss Touch is an event series and social media campaign pushing Swiss innovation and creative ideas forward through the participation of prominent Swiss and American stakeholders, a selection of compelling topics, and unusual locations. 

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