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.

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.

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.

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.

An extended notion of empathy

Faced with the post-industrial legacy of Tokoname, the collaboration between ETH Zurich and the University of Tokyo reimagines the place through an extended notion of empathy: its people, traditions, history, environment and culture are all intertwined and made tangible through digital processes in fabrication and construction. Architecture becomes a form of living knowledge, an expression of being alive.

Date & 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

Kizuki-au 築き合う— Collaborative Constructions image

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.

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


The performance was oriented towards 'building' an 'awareness', which cannot be known simply by visiting the exhibited installations but which remained in the mind of the builders, in the very venue where the installations are exhibited. Through the performance, we hope to convey to the audience some of the thoughts of those involved in the process of this project.
Kenta Kojiri
Performance of Kizuki-au 築き合う - Collaborative Constructions performance © Montage

Dance &Soundscape: Kenta Kojiri, Dancer/Choreographer

Special thanks to: Junichi Saito, Masahide Saito, Alessandra Gabaglio , Yusuke Komata, Yuko Takahashi

Music: J.S.Bach - French Suite No.5 G major

Adding some elements of the historical landscape of Tokoname city to the “Kizuki-au 築き合う Collaborative Constractions“ project, we express the connection between a new way of architecture and some sensibility of the historic landscape. The 16 speakers and 24 LED lights scattered around the venue as well as the floodlight at the ceramic kilns are linked by DMX control, which allows fpr sensing the wind blowing in the venue and effecting the sounds and lights in real time. The lighting effects expresses sky, wind, fire, water and earth, and are inspired by Tokoname ware (Ko-Tokoname) made in the Heian and Kamakura periods and are applied to help visualising the wind blowing in Tokoname city.   The ambient sound sampled from the various noises generated during the making of Tokoname ware and the environmental sounds of nature in Switzerland echo through the space as a unique reverberating sound from speakers installed inside Tokoname ware clay pipes. Like the ancient Japanese 'wind chimes' and 'fireworks', the entire space is infused with the sensibility of 'enjoying the cool air', which is experienced through the five senses.

Producer: Shungo Ota (Montage Inc.)
Director: Masao Ochiai (Montage Inc.)
Technical Director: Tomohiro Akagawa (A-KAK)
Sound Designer: Nobuto Nakanishi (A-KAK), Kazuki Karagami
Technical and Equipment Support: Panasonic Holdings Corporation

Kenta Kojiri

Kizuki-au 築き合う— Collaborative Constructions image

Born in 1981, in Chiba, Japan, Kojiri started classical ballet at the age of three. After being awarded the Apprentice Scholarship at the Prix de Lausanne in 1999, Kojiri danced at Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo and Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT) . In 2003, he was the first Japanese male dancer to join the prestigious main company, NDT1. He danced in Jiri Kylián’s final creation for NDT, Mémoires d’Oubliettes. Since 2010, Kojiri has been working as a freelance dancer, choreographer and teacher on the international stage. In recent years, he has focused on creations such as Study for Self/portrait, Kenta Kojiri + Yasuhiro Morinaga’s The Threshold, Coroli, and other works. He is currently Artist in Residence at Dance Base Yokohama and Honokuni Totohashi Arts Theatre PLAT. His work revolves around themes of ‘recording’ and ‘memory’, which have been the basis of his creative work to date. He explores expression across genres and generations, with the aim of developing a broader relationship between physical expression and the environment. 

More about Montage

Founded in 1994, creative studio Montage Inc. has been creating video-based scenography for large events and art installations in Japan and abroad. Received the ‘Air Inventions’ best technology award at the Milano Salone 2018 and the Exhibition design gold award at the Dubai world expo for “Silky Fine Mist” in collaboration with Panasonic. The company continues to create new experiences by sublimating the history, background and sensibility of the land and people in its productions.

Website: Montage Inc.

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.