Through the Mechanic Lens - Machine Vision and Design

Tobias is Co-founder of Certain Measures, an office for design science.

The hypothesis-driven design practice brings deeper insight to the design of experiences, systems, and spaces using mathematics, new technologies, refined intuition, and restless curiosity.

Certain Measures brings novel projects to life by building new software and hardware, tapping open-source tools, drawing on deep training and expertise in architecture, mathematics, robotics, and computer science, and embracing flexible collaboration with other owners, designers, and other experts.

Before establishing Certain Measures Tobias has been Director of Gehry Technologies Europe.

DATE: 18.12.2019

TIME: 18:00ct

LOCATION: TU DARMSTADT Max Guther Hörsaal — PROF. DR. OLIVER TESSMANN as Co-Host of Mittwochabend Vortrag

Architecture-Specific Distributed Robotic Systems


Samuel Leder, ICD Stuttgart

Samuel is a doctoral candidate at the Institute for Computational Design and Construction at the University of Stuttgart. He holds a Bachelor of Design in Architecture, summa cum laude, as well as a Bachelors of Applied Science in Systems Science and Engineering, magna cum laude, from Washington University in St. Louis. He received a Masters in Science in Architecture through the Integrative Technologies and Architectural Design Research (ITECH) program at the University of Stuttgart. During which he was a recipient of both German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Award for Outstanding Achievement and the Deutschlandstipendium. His Master’s thesis together with Ramon Weber was awarded a sonderpreis through the Hochschulpreis Holzbau 2019. Before joining the Institute, Sam worked as an architect in Munich, Germany as well as a designer at a graphic design/ branding firm outside of San Francisco, CA.

Sam’s current research is interested in the creation of bespoke distributed robotic systems for on-site construction. His work explores the notion of the minimal machine required to create complex spatial assemblies and specifically on the co-design of the machines and the structure they can produce.



DATE: 10.12.2019

TIME: 17:00


Architecture in the Age of Automation


Gilles Retsin

Gilles Retsin is a London based architect and designer investigating new architectural models that engage with the potential of increased computational power and fabrication to generate buildings and objects with a previously unseen structure, detail and materiality. His work is interested in the impact of computation on the core principles of architecture – the bones rather than the skin. The practice has developed numerous provocative proposals for international competitions, and is currently working on a a range of schemes, among them a 10000 m2 museum in China. His work has been acquired by the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and he has exhibited internationally in museums such as the Museum of Art and Design in New York, the Royal Academy, the Vitra Design Museum in Weil-am-Rhein, Design Exchange Toronto and the Zaha Hadid Gallery in London. He has been invited professor at Texas A&M and RMIT, and has lectured and acted as guest critic in numerous universities internationally. He is Program Director of the B.Pro Architectural Design (AD) at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London.

Gilles Retsin studied in Belgium, Chile and the UK, where he obtained a masters from the Architectural Association’s Design Research Lab in London. Prior to founding his own practice, he worked in Switzerland as a project architect with Christian Kerez, and in London with Kokkugia.

DATE: 04.12.2019

TIME: 18:00ct

LOCATION: TU DARMSTADT Max Guther Hörsaal — PROF. DR. OLIVER TESSMANN as Co-Host of Mittwochabend Vortrag/Tag der Forschung

Open Design for Wood Structures

Open Design for Wood Structures

Masterthesis by Felix Dannecker

”Open Design for Wood Structures” consists of a  series  of strategies to  enable  anyone,  using  low-cost fabrication machines,  tomanufacture modular  interlocking  wooden elements without acquiring advanced  crafting  or technological  expertise.  The proposedapproach relies on two complementary steps: A method  to generate  cutting guides and  templates and  manufactured them  with  low-cost FDM  3d printers.  These  allow accurate  manufacturing of timber  joinery  on conventional wood-working machines. A workflow for the  design and  fabrication of reversibly  assembled  modular  structures  composed of timber  elements  with custom  joinery. Due to the highprecision required  to fabricate  with timber  joinery, such structures are usually produced  by highly skilled craftsmen  or by using advanced CNC manufacturing processes . As an alternative, Felix proposes a method  to analyze a given joint,  and based on a selected wood-working machine,  define the  relative  placement  between  the  tool and  the  timber  element  for cutting the required  shape.   The  positions  are  then  encoded  in a 3d printed cutting template, which allows a user to precisely place a wooden part on a woodworking  machines, allowing precise fabrication without need for advanced  wood-working skills.  A first iteration of the method  relied on creating cuttingguides to be used on a table  saw.  A second iteration, further  reduced  the  need for large tooling,  by replacing  the table  saw with ahand-held  mill.

Thesis supervision: Andrea Rossi, Oliver Tessmann


Roto-Column - Design Optimization

RotoColumn- Design Optimization

Student research project by Janine Junen

COLUMN, in architecture, a vertical element, usually a rounded solid shaft with a capital and a base, which in most cases serves as a support. Concrete columns are key ingredients in the design of constructive systems in the building industry. In conventional manner the structural concrete columns are solid vertical elements. However, the hollow concrete columns can perform structurally similar to solid columns under compression while significantly reducing the weight and material consumption. This research is focusing on geometrical optimization of hollow concrete elements to maximize their structural performance.

In this project column forms are generated through tensioning tubular hyper-elastic membranes. The minimal surfaces are generated through internal compression rings from inside or tension the anchor points from outside of the membrane formwork.

Both geometric articulations are parameterized and subsequently optimized. Different optimization tools, such as, Galapagos, Oktapus, etc. are compared. The analysis of structural strength, deformation, displacement and form finding of the relaxed surface are all done in a real time process.

This research is bridging the gap between fully conventional design methods and fully digital driven procedures (e.g. Topological Optimization) for structural concrete columns and focusing on development of optimization tool for human-designed Roto-columns. In this procedure the design is preserved as a human activity with the aid of digital tools. The first stage of the design is driven by the material behavior of hyper-elastic membranes and fabrication constrains of  the Roto-Form technique.

Supervised by Samim Mehdizadeh and Prof. Oliver Tessmann





AIRigami – 3D Robotic Printing of Foldable Pneus

by Vanessa Leonhard

AIRigami a master thesis by Vanessa Leonhardt fuses Origami and Pneumatics. A robot equipped with a FDM extruder is 3d printing linear pattern on sheets of different materials. A second layer of ironed on top to for a cushion. The cross section of the printed pattern controls the folding direction.

Thesis supervision: Andrea Rossi, Alexander Stefas


RotoForm – Studio

In this studio participants designed and prototyped innovative concrete formwork systems that use resourceefficient strategies to make new shapes of concrete elements possible. The work is based on rotoforming concrete in hyperelastic membranes, a process developed by the Digital Design Unit (DDU) of the Technische Universität Darmstadt.

Rotoforming is a production process in which a minimal amount of liquid material is poured into a mould. The material is coats the wall of the slowly rotating formwork, but does not fill the entire mould. When used for casting concrete, the small amount of liquid material significantly reduces the hydrostatic pressure that acts on the formwork. The process thus unlocks a completely new range of resource efficient, lightweight formwork materials. We conceive of rotoforming as a material system in which form, material, structure and its synthesis (materialization, fabrication and assembly) are regarded as integral and closely linked elements. Computational tools and techniques, as part of this system, allow notating and instrumentalizing the intricate interactions between form, material, structure and environment within the architectural design process.

)( Co-Forming
Luisa Ramirez, Jiawen Yuan, Xiaolin Yue, Maylin Yuka

)( Co Forming examines interactions between bent boundaries for prestressing membranes. The membrane performs under tension while the boundary is a bending element in the system. In such an intricate equilibrium the membrane bends the boundary into a shape while the boundary prestresses the membrane. Together the systems form a complex cavity for casting and rotoforming.


Janine Junen, Leonard Fatio , Anna Mytcul,  Ece Ulu

The Roto_Column team produced a broad range of columns based on latex sleeves prestressed through internal compression elements and external tension elements. An adaptable jig allowed the team to quickly produce differently shapes columns.

Cube Space

Boyang Ji, Zhili Xia, Dawei Xin, Liangyan Xu

Cube Space combines a modular system von voxels with hyperboloid surfaces. Initial design explorations were conducted using arrays of wires to form hyperboloid surfaces. These quasi-surfaces were able to penetrate each other, similar to digital surface models. The aesthetically striking models, however, could not be translated into membrane formwork but were a good starting point to explore concepts of prestressing. When changing from wire to membrane the twelve edges of a cube and twelve diagonals on its six faces act as possible boundaries for prestressing membranes. A membrane hyperboloid is formed between two edges that are not coplanar. Within the rigorous spatial grid a multitude of shapes is possible. The resulting surfaces become the membrane formwork for rotoforming. The edges of the cube that were used as boundaries become part of the element. Similar to concrete-steel composite elements they allow for a precise connection detail between modules. The team explored the combinatorial potential of the cube space with simple translational operations such as copy, move, rotate and mirroring.

Dynamic Form(ing)

Shakeu Addallah, Danial Ahmad, Jianpeng Chen, Yijun Wang

Dynamic formwing is a membrane formwork system for a rotoforming process that is inspired by the concept of tensegrity. Tensegrity is a structural principle in which isolated compression members are connected through a network of tension elements such as cables or membranes. The intricate balance between tension and compression generates flexible and lightweight systems. The term tensegrity was coined by Buckminster Fuller and integrates the two words “tension” and “integrity”. Dynamic formwing exploits the concept by combining hyperelastic membranes with compression members to form cavities for casting liquid material and rotoform elements. Compression members become permanent parts of the cast to form composite building elements.

Form Follows Sequence

Liana Araklejan, Azra Licina, MarcelForberg

The idea of the project is based on the geometry of the invertible cube of the mathematician Paul Schatz. This geometry consists of two outer latch pieces and the middle belt part. The belt geometry consists of six sub-tetrahedrons, each with four surfaces and six edges. By arranging the tetrahedra at the connecting edges, the body can be rotated infinitely in one direction. The invertible cube is a rotoforming machine in its own right. Its infinite movement produces several rotoformed elements at the same time. The individual tetrahedron became the framework for our formwork systems. Three approaches can be pursued: The generation of volumes based on the entire tetrahedron, subtractive bodies, by using the edges of the tetrahedron as a frame to carry anchors of linear tension elements. In the project an initial weakness was turned into a major design feature: When prestressing a membrane in only one direction, drapery forms emerge. The team’s aim was to control and consciously design these shape in order to create the interesting contrast of a cast material having a textile appearance.

Paper: Hollow-Crete Prestressed Membranes as Formwork for Material Efficient Hollow Concrete Building Elements


Shakeu Addallah, Danial Ahmad, Liana Araklejan, Jianpeng Chen, Leonard Fatio MarcelForberg, Boyang Ji, Janine Junen,  Azra Licina, Anna Mytcul, Luisa Ramirez, Ece Ulu, Yijun Wang, Zhili Xia, Dawei Xin, Liangyan Xu, Jiawen Yuan, Maylin Yuka, Xiaolin Yue


Samim Mehdizadeh, Oliver Tessmann, Annie Locke Scherer, Roger Winkler


Ariel Auslender, Sculptural Design Unit, TU Darmstadt
Philipp Eversmann, Experimentelles und Digitales Entwerfen und Konstruieren
Moritz Dörstelmann, FibR GmbH
Manuel Pfänder, Sculptural Design Unit, TU Darmstadt
Andrea Rossi, Experimentelles und Digitales Entwerfen und Konstruieren
Fabio Scotto, Gramazio Kohler ETH Zürich
Vasily Sitnikov, KTH Stockholm

The Micro Factory

The Mirco Factory

The Design Studio “THE MICRO FACTORY” speculated about the design potential of buildings made from rotoformed concrete elements. Rotoforming is a production process in which a minimal amount of liquid material is poured into a mould made from hyperelastix prestressed membranes. The concrete coats the wall of the slowly rotating formwork, but does not fill the entire mould. Participants were invited to investigate the structural, constructional and architectural possibilities of designing and building with rotoformed constructions.

Students designed an E-Scooter Micro Factory. The design proposals deliver proposals for small scale, decentralized urban production. The E-Scooter Micro Factory repurposes a unused bunker in Frankfurt Hoechst from WW II. The bunker’s massive concrete structure form a strong contrast to the novel concrete elements made with rotoforming and membrane formwork. The group explored subtractive design procedures for the massive envelope and the lightweight re-design of the interior with an additive (rotoforming) approach.


Danial Ahmad, Leonard Fatio, Timm Glaetzer, David Jasen in de Wal, Martin Knoll, Gerardo Lorenzen, Andreas Schmid, Maria Steinach, Ece Ulu, Martina Wirth, Yufeng Wang, Maylin Yuka, Borui Zhang,


Samim Mehdizadeh, Oliver Tessmann


Philippe Block, Karsten Tichelmann, Holger Hoffmann

Scalded Skate Factory

Danial Ahmad, Ece Ulu, Maylin Yuka
Undulating indoor landscapes and mushroom-shaped column carry the load of the bunker.

Under Pressure

Timm Glätzer, Andreas Schmid
Two interwoven spatial continua made from prestressed and pressurized membrane formwork.

Forest of RotoColumns

Leonard Fatio, Yufeng Wang
A forest of RotoColumns creates spaces and platform inside and outside the bunker.

Twisted Space

Martin Knoll, Gerardo Lorenzen
A seines of minimal surface-spaped tubes carry platform and organize the vertical circulation.


David Jasen in de Wal, Borui Zhang,
A series of repetitive modules form the spaces of the micro factory.


RotoForm – Nodes

by Samim Mehdizadeh and Prof. Oliver Tessmann

RotoForm is a procedure for the production of individualized form-active, hollow concrete building elements through a rotational casting, computational design and robot-aided fabrication. To rotoform an object, a small quantity of liquid material is cast into a mould that is then slowly rotated so that the material disperses along the mould surface. The material adheres to the formwork; an inner cavity emerges. This research exploits the significantly reduced hydrostatic pressure of the low amount of liquid material to unlock a new range of lightweight hyperelastic membranes as concrete formwork. The research yields a novel material system that consumes significantly less formwork material and less concrete. The research furthermore explores the morphological, visual and tactile performance provided by the minimal surfaces that emerge through prestressing (and not tailoring) the membranes and using them as a concrete formwork. The demonstrator of RotoForm Nodes uses the hollow objects as nodal connections of non standard space frames.


[1] Veenendaal D. and Block P.Computational form finding for fabric formworks: an overview and discussion,Proceedings of the 2nd international conference on flexible formwork,Ohr, J. et al. (editors), Bath, UK, (2012), 368-378

[2] Vailly, T. , Ohaly, I. The creative Factory As of 15. April 2015

[3] Sarafian, J., Culver, R., Lewis, Trevor S. Robotic Formwork in the MARS Pavilion: Towards The Creation of Programmable Matter. In ACADIA 2017: DISCIPLINES & DISRUPTION [Proceedings of the 37th ACADIA, Cambridge, MA 2-4, (2017) pp. 522- 53


SimAUD 2019 Paper :

Robot Ecologies


Maria Yablonina, ICD Stuttgart

Maria Yablonina is a research associate and doctoral candidate at the Institute for Computational Design and Construction at the University of Stuttgart. With the completion of her Master degree at the ITECH programme in 2015 she also received the faculty’s Diploma Prize. In 2017 she has been awarded a Landesgraduierten-Scholarship for her doctoral thesis.

With a strong interest in robotics and digital fabrication techniques, she is currently focusing on exploring potential fabrication techniques enabled through introduction of architecture-specific custom robotic tools for construction and fabrication. Her work includes development of hardware and software tools as well as complementing material systems.


DATE: 9.05.2017

TIME: 17:00