Auf der  Luminale 2018 war die Digital Design Unit (DDU) des Fachbereichs Architektur der TU Darmstadt mit der Installation WILLST DU SEHEN, SO LERNE ZU HANDELN in den Räumlichkeiten des Markt im Hof in Sachsenhausen vertreten. Die Biennale für Lichtkunst und Stadtgestaltung findet seit 2002 alle zwei Jahre in Frankfurt und Offenbach statt und zählt es heute mit über 200.000 Besucher*innen zu den beliebtesten Veranstaltungen im kulturellen Leben der Region Rhein-Main.


Angehende Architekt*innen entwarfen und realisierten eine raumbildende, aus vielen Bausteinen zusammengesetzte Skulptur, die zum Verweilen einlud, aber auch eine versteckte Botschaft in sich trug: Die scheinbar zufällig und chaotisch auf dem Objekt verteilten Farb- und Lichtmuster ergaben erst Sinn, wenn man den „richtigen“ Standpunkt gefunden hat. Dann setzen sie sich zu einer lesbaren Botschaft zusammen und geben ihr Geheimnis preis. Doch nur für einen kurzen Moment, denn ein Roboterarm baut die digitale Aggregation permanent um, indem er Bausteine ergreift und sie an einem anderen Ort wieder absetzt. Abrupte Farbwechsel lassen Buchstaben plötzlich verschwinden und verändern damit die Bedeutung der Botschaften.


Das Projekt wurde realisiert mit der freundlichen Unterstützung durch Caparol und die Firma ACDC eine Tochter der Zumtobel Gruppe. Das geschickte Zusammenspiel der Caparol Icon Farben und der REB LED Strahler machten eine spannende und vielschichtige Installation möglich.


Die Skulptur machte Betrachtende zu aktiv Teilhabenden. Nur wer sich beim Betrachten selber bewegt, konnte das Werk erschließen und die versteckte Botschaft entschlüsseln. Der Effekt wurde mit Hilfe einer Anamorphose erzielt: Von einem Standpunkt aus werden Bilder auf die Skulptur projiziert und auf den einzelnen Elementen verzerrt. Nimmt man jedoch den Standpunkt des Projektors ein, erkennt man das unverzerrte Bild. Betrachtende müssen handeln, sprich: sich bewegen, um die Bilder zu erkennen. Anamorphosen erinnern uns daran, wie variabel und standortabhängig unsere Wahrnehmung ist. Im Zeitalter der digitalen Echokammern sozialer Netzwerke im Internet ist diese Reflektion notwendiger denn je.




At the Luminale 2018, the Digital Design Unit (DDU) of the Architecture Department of the Technical University of Darmstadt was represented with the installation WILLST DU SEHEN, SO LERNE ZU HANDELN in the premises of the Markt im Hof in Sachsenhausen. The Biennale for Light Art and Urban Design has been held every two years in Frankfurt and Offenbach since 2002 and is one of the most popular events in the cultural life of the Rhine-Main region with over 200,000 visitors*.


Prospective architects* designed and realized a space-forming sculpture composed of many building blocks, which invited us to linger, but also carried a hidden message: The seemingly randomly and chaotically distributed colour and light patterns on the object only made sense once the "right" point of view had been found. Then they sit down to a readable message and reveal their secret. But only for a short moment, because a robot arm permanently converts the digital aggregation by picking up components and placing them at another location. Abrupt colour changes suddenly make letters disappear and change the meaning of the messages.


The project was realised with the friendly support of Caparol and ACDC, a subsidiary of the Zumtobel Group. The clever interaction of the Caparol Icon colours and the REB LED spotlights made an exciting and multi-layered installation possible.


The sculpture turned viewers into active participants. Only those who moved themselves when looking at the work could open it up and decipher the hidden message. The effect was achieved with the help of anamorphosis: From one point of view, images are projected onto the sculpture and distorted on the individual elements. However, if you take the position of the projector, you can see the undistorted image. Viewers must act, that is: move in order to recognize the images. Anamorphoses remind us how variable and location-dependent our perception is. In the age of digital echo chambers of social networks on the Internet, this reflection is more necessary than ever.


Supported by:


Zumtobel Group
Böttiger das Fliesenhaus
Schreinerei Nispel


All involved parties:




Oliver Tessmann
Bastian Wibranek
Alexander Stefas




Martin Knoll
Samim Mehdizade




Aleksandra Elzbieta Buchalik
Anastasia Oboturov
Bastian Nispel
Begona Roget
Cindy Drummond
Daniela Hoffmann
Eric Rene Göbel
Eva Ute Streng
Felix Graf
Franz Georg Theobald
Frederica Aguiar de Melo
Gunel Aliyeva
Hendrik Beckers
Janine Schlaak
Julian Weber
Lukas Koser
Maximilian Vincent Gehron
Olivier Stoos
Philipp Riebel-Vosgerau
Richard Oliver Gerspach





Sabri Noor






Markt im Hof

CAPAROL Farben Lacke Bautenschutz GmbH

acdc Zumtobel Group

Schreinerei Friedhelm Nispel

Böttiger das Fliesenhaus





Weitere Informationen:















Communication Landscapes

An installation at Seoul Biennale 2017


Seoul, 06 October, 2017:  “Imminent Commons” – this year’s Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism opens the debate about the dramatic challenges global cities are facing, be they social, ecological or technological. On this occasion HENN and DDU present an interactive installation that explores the idea of Industry 4.0, digital craft and human/machine interfaces.
The installation is an attempt to explore a future collaborative approach to distributed and participatory design. It consists of a microphone, a video screen and a robotic arm. The visitors are invited to speak into a microphone. This simple act triggers a custom algorithm to generate, in real time, an evolving three-dimensional representation of the speaker’s voice. The live feedback on the screen creates an immediate learning loop, where the visitor, almost instinctively, experiences how to shape the virtual object by modulating his or her voice. Once satisfied with the object displayed on the screen, the configuration can be saved by the user. This in turn automatically activates the robot arm to carve the chosen shape out of a block of foam by means of a custom attachment.
The process of extracting the “shape of a voice” out of a foam block simultaneously creates both the desired object and its negative form: the visitor is presented with the result of the exploration to take home as a souvenir of a possible future, while the residual imprints of the voices are aggregated via an algorithm in a sculptural wall. The result is an endless range of individually formed pieces, composed of a patterned surface that represents the physical/digital translation of the visitors’ sound inputs and individual voices, whether as words, cries, songs or simply a breath.

Natural Interfaces

Interaction3Photo: ©HENN

Natural, intuitive man/machine interfaces are crucial to this process, as they potentially provide people with easy and direct access to production. In recent years, with ever more ubiquitous computing, considerable research has been undertaken into the topic of natural interfaces in which the computer itself seemingly disappears and more intuitive, human-like interactions take place. The apparent disappearance of the computer (at least in it’s commonplace mouse-keyboard-terminal configuration) in reality promotes a closer relationship with the machine, as we start touching it, talking to it or maneuvering with it (gamification). This shift also involves a redefinition of the role of the designer: as the end user gains access to more powerful customization tools, the designer no longer determines the final form or configuration of his or her creation, simply its initial state. The limits of what is possible are left to the individual user to explore.


Photo: ©HENN

The installation presents the positive aspects of the automation of production. New lean and clean production methods enable a departure from the centralized industrial model of the 20th century, creating smaller, decentralized production units that can better match today’s urban and social fabric. This represents, so to say, an analogy to the model of craftsmanship prevalent prior to the Industrial Revolution, whereby in this case production no longer resides with the artisan but with a machine. The premise of the model is that it enables the creativity of individual production to be distributed among the wider population rather than being concentrated in a single person. At the same time, Communication Landscapes visualizes the complex but far-reaching impact of such technologies on the construction industry – with all its economic and ecological consequences. Customized constructional parts lead to an optimized use of material and increase the physical efficiency of a building as a whole. Individual detail solutions manufactured on-site enable an efficient design process and increase precision.
The Seoul Biennale goes on until 1 November 2017.

Photo: ©HENN

Martin Henn, Giovanni Betti, Saqib Aziz, Stefano Arrighi (HENN)
Oliver Tessmann, Andrea Rossi (TU Darmstadt, Digital Design Unit)

ABB Germany
Thibault Schwartz (HAL robotics)

Alt Text

Man-Machine Collaboration

The research presents a design and assembly process that focuses on man-machine collaboration. The goal is interweaving the material system with the computational design tool via machine sensing and a robotic assembly process. Therefore utilize manual manipulated building components as inputs.

Parametric modeling software is removed from the front end of the design process. The designers engaged with wooden lamellas as design interface. Exploring design opportunities were conducted by scrutinizing the material properties (such as bending behavior) of these physical elements. The relevant design features of the building components were extracted.

The research suggests a collaborative process between humans and machines. The use of building components that does not have to end with the construction of one possible configuration but can rather be an ongoing process of constant temporality.


Project leader: Bastian Wibranek, MA

Students: Daniela Hoffmann, Mira Bellersheim, Lufeng Zhu, Canci Ayse Duygu, Nazire Karakurt, Eleni Kelefi, Martin Knoll, Samim Mehdizadeh


Man-Machine co-working for rod stacking and lamella placement.
The process diagram.
The process diagram.
Kinect mounted to Universal Robot 10 for 3D-scanning
Kinect mounted to Universal Robot 10 for 3D-scanning
The lamella orientation and distribution can be changed by the user via a computational interface.
The lamella orientation and distribution can be changed by the user via a computational interface.
The planes to place the rods are derived form digital designed lamellas.
The planes to place the rods are derived form digital designed lamellas.
Path simulation of the robotic process.
Path simulation of the robotic process.
Augmented man and machine collaboration.
Augmented man and machine collaboration.
One of the last lamellas being placed.
One of the last lamellas being placed.







Animate Matter

Ein Zoetrop ist ein räumliches Daumenkino: 3D-gedruckte, plastische Objekte auf einer sich drehenden Scheibe werden durch Stroboskoplicht mechanisch und lichttechnisch animiert. Bei Animate Matter treffen neue digitale Herstellungsmethoden auf Techniken aus der Zeit, als die Bilder gerade erst laufen lernten.


Für den Betrachter entsteht dabei der zauberhafte Eindruck eines fest stehenden, sich jedoch fließend verändernden Objektes in dem ihn umgebenden Raum. Da für die Betrachtung keinerlei Brillen notwendig sind, ist der Eindruck sehr realistisch und dreidimensional. Das Objekt war auch bei der „Luminale 2016“ in Frankfurt im März dieses Jahres zu sehen.


download: Animate Matter - Brochure


Animate Matter ist eine Seminararbeit am Fachgebiet Digitales Gestalten am Fachbereich Architektur der TU Darmstadt aus dem WS 2015/16.



Prof. Dr.-Ing Oliver Tessmann, DDU
Dipl.-Ing (FH) Bastian Wibranek MA, Wiss. Mitarbeiter DDU
System Media Designer Alexander Stefas, Wiss. Mitarbeiter DDU


Aleksandra Buchalik, Beatriz Romero Colomer, Carolin Schmeel, Giang Le, Kay-Robert Dormann, Leonard Kaupp, Louisa Wenkemann, Samim Mehdizadeh, Sebastian Seibert, Vidal Madrid Guitart, Tue Peng, Zicheng Song


• DB Station&Service AG
• Stratasys GmbH
• schneider+schumacher Planungsgesellschaft mbH



Oskar Gerspach




Sensitive Assembly


The interactive installation Sensitive Assembly invites people to play a Jenga-like game.

Starting from a solid wall, players are asked to remove and replace the installation's building blocks to create windows to a nurturing light while challenging its stability. A computational system that senses the current state of the wall guides the physical interaction and predicts an approaching collapse or a new light beam breaking through. The installation extends the notion of real-time feedback from the digital into the physical and uses machine-learning techniques to predict future structural behaviour.
Sensitive Assembly was designed and built at the Digital Design Unit (DDU) at TU Darmstadt and exhibited during the digital art festival NODE 2015 in Frankfurt.

Prof. Dr.-Ing Oliver Tessmann

Project Leader:
Anton Savov

Stig Anton Nielsen
Philipp Vehrenberg
Farnaz Oveisi
Tim Wetzel

Anatoli Nat Skatchkov

20.000 Blocks Above the Ground


The project 20.000 Blocks above the Ground is a game platform and an expert system in one.

The project follows research in engaging non-trained individuals in the creation of complex architectural designs using games and crowdsourcing for human-directed problem-solving. Architectural experts can encode their design knowledge into gameplay using our custom-developed tools for the popular game of Minecraft. Non-expert players then are constrained by this gameplay which guides them to create unique architectural results. We employ a real-time link between the game and structural analysis in McNeel's Grasshopper to verify the designs. To prove the viability of these results, we used robotic fabrication, where digital results are brought to reality into scaled models.

We believe that this process can create results which are not limited to mathematically optimal solutions but can also solve real-world problems in new and unexpected ways.



savov_8 savov_12 savov_1 savov_2 savov_15a savov_15b ddu-20kb-play ddu-20kb-model01

20.000 Blocks Above the Ground

Project leader: Anton Savov
Ben Buckton
Jörg Hartmann
Thomas Valentin Klink
Sebastian Kotterer
Max Rudolph
Marios Messios
Lorena Müller
Alban Voss
Ginger The Robot Arm

Project website: www.20000blocks.wordpress.com




The DDU collaborates with the Internationale Bauausstellung (IBA) Heidelberg in designing an urban vision for the Patrick Henry Village (PHV) near the historical city of Heidelberg. The 100-hectare area, used until 2013 by the US army, is to become a model for how future cities can house our knowledge-based society.

IBAs –  the International Building Exhibitions in Germany – are one of the most influential and innovative urban development instruments in Germany, going back to the beginning of the 20th century. We are very excited to be part of the upcoming IBA Heidelberg, focussing on „knowledge based urbanism“.

Our team at the Digital Design Unit (DDU)  develops a custom version of the game platform 20.000 Blocks — the IBA_GAME | 20.000 BLOCKS  — with the aim to involve the youngest citizens in envisioning the new PHV. Together with case studies conducted by the world-renowned offices of MVRDV, Carlo Ratti Associatti, ASTOCRamboll Liveable Cities Lab and Bohn&Viljoen our contribution will inspire the urban vision by KCAP for the area of this new neighbourhood of Heidelberg.

The game IBA_GAME | 20.000 BLOCKS is made possible by the kind support of Eternit.

Project leader:
Anton Savov

Ben Buckton
Jörg Hartmann
Thomas Valentin Klink
Sebastian Kotterer
Marios Messios
Lorena Müller
Max Rudolph
Alban Voss

Project website:

Client: IBA Heidelberg GmbH
Main Sponsor: Eternit

hellwach - Der Wissenschaftstag der TU Darmstadt

June 2016, Darmstadt, hellwach - Der Wissenschaftstag der TU Darmstadt

The project 20.000 BLOCKS was exhibited as part of the TU Darmstadt research day. Visitors were invited to play the 20.000 Blocks game in Minecraft and watch Ginger, our robot, building models. hellwach showed the large spectrum of research conduced at the TU Darmstadt and its repercussions into our everyday life.

hellwach02_smallhellwach_setup_smallThe DDU exhibition setup including Ginger, a 6-axis industry robot, compressor, computer, BLOCK feeders, glue-dispenser and a building plattform.




barBeton is a bar counter made from ultra high performance concrete (UHPC). The object was a research project which explored the potential of the new material in combination with novel moulding techniques. The research was conducted by Mirco Becker and Oliver Tessmann together with students from the University of Kassel and G.tecz as industry partner for innovative concrete.

For the project, G.tecz  developed two different types of the concrete; a low viscosity
concrete called QUANTZ, providing extreme fluidity during manufacture and compressive
strength properties comparable to steel and a surface quality like ceramics, as well as
a stiff but ductile and easy to handle UHPC that could be used with a laminating technique.
the project aimed to reduce the material thickness.


The team created a mould made from two interlocking shells of milled foam covered
with epoxy resin after extensive testing of . Resin proved to be an adequate coating for the foam mould allowing for multiple use of the formwork and providing the desired surface quality.


The barbeton surface is extremely glossy without any further treatment or additional coating. The easy handling of the material in combination with the layering technique allows to produce double curved
lightweight UHPC structures in an effective way.


‘barbeton’ was on display at the recent materialxperience fair in utrecht, netherlands.

Project Team:

Mirco Becker, Oliver Tessmann

Jan Iwanowicz, Ljuba Tascheva, Patrick Taylor, Jan Weissenfeldt, Max Wittich, Babak Zarsazegar


Thomas Teichmann, Gregor Zimmermann