Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Architecture in Zurich

I've been in Zurich now for exactly two weeks, today. I got here later than most of you and I'm in the middle of my second week at the ETH, the Polytechnic University of Switzerland. I'm working with Gramazio and Kohler, two Swiss architects, who are pioneers in digital fabrication research and do a lot of prototype work for their professional firm using their research group based at the ETH. I landed right in the middle of a project that's going quite quickly and under a strict time schedule, so the beginning has been exciting and strange as I've figured out how I can help and learn at the same time. "Research" in the setting of architecture still necessitates the building of something, and in this case that building is an actual project, so while the principles behind the processes at work in the studio are cutting edge and truly experimental, there is also the added pressure that the final product needs to function, work, and ultimately be built.

Mr. Robot

The short version of the project is best described as a brick installation meant to be built on a New York sidewalk in front of an art and architecture gallery in the west village. The firm where I am doing my research is a pioneer in pushing the limits of brickwork, and uses a robotic arm to built undulating and winding walls out of brick with no mortar. Computer models generate the design and complex programming translates the design into coordinates that the robot uses to place the bricks in place. The firm has done a number of projects so far using this method, but the NYC project that I am working on adds the challenge of using a mobile robot, one that is on a flatbed truck that reaches out onto the sidewalk to lay the bricks. There are a lot of technical and design issues associated with the process, so I've been involved in trying to fix some of those problems. While architecture work is inevitably going to involve a certain amount of dirty work when you are at the bottom of the food chain, its been great so far in that I've also been able to engage a lot in some of the more interesting and complex issues.

NYC Wall Prototype

Outside of the firm, life in Zurich has settled in. I found an amazing apartment with a balcony, huge kitchen, and huge windows right in the middle of the city by the little river that eventually flows into the Limmat by the main station. The guy from whom I rented the apt is letting me use his bike while he's gone, so I'm very mobile and constantly exploring. I've been out for a short hike near St. Gallen and also visited my roomate's family's farm, which was a great treat.

This weekend, more hiking to come, with some good weather also allowing for some lakeside swimming and relaxing to boot.

So far so good!

4 comments:

isdaryanto said...

Hi..I'm an architect, I like the information about architecture design. Your blog in very nice and you have a great posts.. Visit me back at isdaryanto.com and comment in my post about architecture lights. Thnks..

Anonymous said...

[url=http://www.facebook.com/pages/weathercom/298713874092l]www.weather.com[/url]

Rick said...

I think that the architects have the power to play with many things as we play when we were kids with laity

Rick said...

I think that be an architect could be very exiting because you can create new things and it is something like to make art with buildings Sildenafil