Opening Night: How to Build a House

Join us to explore the intersection of digitization, robotics, and architecture with Gramazio Kohler Research and Benjamin Dillenburger 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 12, 2019 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)


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 at Swiss university ETH Zurich.

The exhibition, created by Gramazio Kohler Research and the chair for Digital Building Technologies at ETH Zurich, 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 experts in fields ranging from robotics to material science.

Together, they jointly created the first fully inhabitable building 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 includes prototypes, a VR experience, images and videos of the DFAB House. Come and explore. Matthias Kohler and Benjamin Dillenburger of ETH Zurich will walk us through the exhibition.


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


Benjamin Dillenburger

Benjamin Dillenburger

Benjamin Dillenburger holds a PhD degree from the ETH Zurich, and is currently Assistant Professor at the Institute of Technology in Architecture at the ETH Zurich. He is Principal Investigator of the Swiss National Competence Centre of Research in Digital Fabrication (NCCR DFAB). Previously, Benjamin Dillenburger taught as Assistant Professor at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture at the University of Toronto.


Matthias Kohler

Mathias Kohler ©Norman Foster FoundationMatthias Kohler is an architect with multi-disciplinary interests ranging from computational design and robotic fabrication to material innovation. In 2000, 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. Having initiated the world’s first architectural robotic laboratory in 2005, the group today consists of thirty researchers dedicated to advancing architecture and construction through computational methods and robotic technology with a special emphasis on material systems that are ecologically sound. This ranges from 1:1 prototypical installations to the design and construction of building systems and large-scale elements such as the roof of the Arch_Tec_Lab at ETH Zurich. From 2014 to 2017, Matthias Kohler has also been the 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.

DFAB House

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. As part of the full-featured building project, researchers from eight 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.

Gramazio Kohler Research

The work of Gramazio Kohler Research has been published widely. Numerous exhibitions around the world have contributed to their recognition as global leaders in the field of digital and robotic fabrication in architecture. This includes the Architecture Biennale in Venice (2008), the Storefront Gallery for Art and Architecture New York (2009), the FRAC Centre Orléans (2011), Centre Pompidou Paris (2017), MuDA Zurich (2017) and Istituto Svizzero Sede di Milano (2017) –Their work has been summarized in their comprehensive monograph The Robotic Touch – How Robots Change Architecture (Park Books, 2014).


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.