Kizuki-au 築き合う— Collaborative Constructions image
Kizuki-au 築き合う— Collaborative Constructions image

Kizuki-au 築き合う— Collaborative Constructions

A collaborative programme of Aichi Triennale 2022

Switzerland and Japan explore the future of architecture at Aichi Triennale 2022! Kizuki-au 築き合う— Collaborative Constructions consists of two installations by Gramazio Kohler Research from ETH Zurich and T_ADS Obuchi Lab from the University of Tokyo. The project sheds light on digital processes in architecture, human-robot interactions and cross-pollination between technology and culture.

Kizuki-au 築き合う - Collaborative Constructions performance © Montage

Our globalised societies have entered into a new phase. The pandemic has revealed how our communities are intricately linked beyond national borders, in a world that has become more fragile. At the same time, the widespread popularization of online communication demonstrates how technology allows for reconnection in times of forced isolation; we can talk to anyone, anywhere, almost anytime. In this emerging order, we ask how architecture can reimagine its own tradition and role in society.

Collaborative Constructions investigates a new practice of architecture based on the creative, innovative and personal use of technology. The two projects by ETH Zurich and the University of Tokyo engage in a global collaboration looking at architectural strategies to relate nature and humanity through technology; they are results of human-robots collaborations and exemplify how we can engage with the past while looking ahead.

A collaborative programme of Aichi Triennale 2022

Dates & Venue

July 30 to October 10, 2022

At the Tokoname City Pottery Footpath (Sakae-cho 7-chome, Tokoname-shi, Aichi)

ETH Zurich — Gramazio Kohler Research

A three-storey tall timber frame structure

The project by Gramazio Kohler Research from ETH Zurich in Switzerland is a three-storey tall timber frame structure, which revives the long history of expert timber construction in Japan through Swiss design and technology. Designed to withstand earthquakes and storms, the towering structure activates its surrounding neighbourhood and landscape, while the wooden terrace or Japanese engawa serves as a meeting point for the community. Age-old knowledge has been revived through digital technologies, allowing for a highly material efficient and performative approach to building with timber. A new strategy for building multi-storey timber buildings is thus suggested as a sustainable alternative to conventional concrete and steel constructions.

Beyond nails, screws and other metal parts

The project by Gramazio Kohler Research from ETH Zurich in Switzerland revisits carpentry for the age of robotics, making metal parts, nails, screws or fasteners obsolete. The five constituting timber frame modules consist of more than a thousand bespoke timber elements and were prefabricated in the world-renowned Robotic Fabrication Laboratory at ETH Zurich.

More about Gramazio Kohler Research

Since 2005, the research group at ETH Zurich led by Prof. Matthias Kohler, Prof. Fabio Gramazio has been at the forefront of robotics and digital fabrication in architecture. With their robotic laboratories and work that ranges from fundamental research to prototypes and buildings, they have inspired architects and researchers alike to explore the capacities of robots as a universal tool of the digital age. Their work have been exhibited at Mori Museum, Centre Pompidou, Palais de Tokyo, Royal Academy London, the Venice Biennale, Storefront gallery New York, V&A Dundee, and the Guggenheim Bilbao.

Web site: Gramazio Kohler Research

The University of Tokyo — T_ADS Obuchi Lab

Ceramic noren with a cooling effect

The project by T_ADS Obuchi Lab from the University of Tokyo is a gate-like structure made of wooden posts and beams, serving as an entrance to the courtyard surrounded by an old pottery factory. A series of pottery chains hanging from the gate’s beams form a large screen and resemble a traditional noren. It is a visual sign to welcome the visitors as well as an evaporative cooler, a natural climate control, in which mist dampens the surfaces of the pottery. On a hot day, the evaporative cooling effect of the pottery is expected to cool the gate area by 4 to 5 degrees Celsius.

Reflecting human individuality into design

At the heart of the project is the fabrication of the hanging pottery chains. While the pattern appears to be random at first glance, its generation requires an intricate algorithm, an algorithm that brings human and machine together. The pottery chains are created by a series of feedback processes between a person and a robot. Each person makes a uniquely defined shape of pottery chain by holding it so that it hangs from their arms without touching the ground. The robot then finds a location on the beam for its installation within the given dimension of the beam and structural requirements. The final design of the overall patterns, made of forty-five of the hanging chains, are generated by children and adults with different physiques and strength reflecting their individuality into the whole.

Kizuki-au 築き合う— Collaborative Constructions image

More about T_ADS Obuchi Lab

Obuchi Lab – T_ADS is the Advanced Design Studio at the University of Tokyo led by Prof. Yusuke Obuchi. Focusing on the relationship between human capacities and technologies, it investigates innovative, integrative and collaborative building methods. The series of resulting pavilions, each developed in collaboration with a construction corporation have been recognized globally for their creative approach to technology. Their projects have been published widely and were exhibited at the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York, the architecture biennials in Beijing, Rotterdam and Venice, Zurich Design Museum, Tokyo Designers Week, Barcelona Design Museum and the Centre Pompidou.

Web site:T_ADS Obuchi Lab

Project teams

Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich: Prof. Fabio Gramazio, Prof. Matthias Kohler, Hannes Mayer (project lead), Matthias Helmreich (fabrication and computational design lead), Matteo Pacher.

T_ADS Obuchi Lab, University of Tokyo: Prof. Yusuke Obuchi, Yusuke Komata, Shuta Takagi.

Shimizu Corporation: Tadahiro Nakajima, Kazutomo Ohashi, Tomotaka Hama, Miho Yamashita, Hiromu Tanaka, Kodai Endo, Mitsuhiro Kuroki, Shinya Tsubata, Nobuyuki Nagasawa.

SJB Kempter Fitze: Franz Tschümperlin, Lukas Ehrle.

ERNE AG:Thomas Wehrle, Steffen Hermann.

Kizuki-au 築き合う-Collaborative Constructions: The Interview

Couldn't go to Tokoname to experience the structures on site ? Discover the story behind “Kizuki-au 築き合う— Collaborative Constructions” in our video ! Listen to the two project leaders Hannes Mayer from ETH Zürich, Professor Yusuke Obuchi from The University of Tokyo and enjoy the two installations through beautiful images by our collaborators Shimizu and Montage.

About Vitality.Swiss

Collaborative Constructions is an initiative of the Embassy of Switzerland in Japan, ETH Zurich and the University of Tokyo, in collaboration with Shimizu Corporation. The project is part of Vitality.Swiss, Switzerland’s programme on the road to Expo 2025 Osaka-Kansai.