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AAG2016 Conference: Lord Norman Foster & Francis Aish

Advances in Architectural Geometry Conference in 2016: Lord Norman Foster & Francis Aish – Swiss Architecture News

14 Sep 2016

Advances in Architectural Geometry Conference 2016

Lord Norman Foster & Francis Aish Deliver Keynote at AAG2016 Conference

Zurich, CH – September 14, 2016 – On Monday 12 September 2016, the renowned architect Lord Norman Foster, together with Francis Aish, Head of Applied Research and Development at Foster + Partners, presented a public keynote lecture to the Advances in Architectural Geometry Conference (AAG2016) organised by the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication at ETH Zurich.

In this joint keynote they presented an overview of the design and construction development for the Mexico City International Airport. This lecture was not only a significant event for the AAG conference with over 450 participants in attendance, but it was also the first event to occur in the Arch_Tec_Lab, the new building of ETH Zurich’s Institute of Technology in Architecture (ITA).

From left to right – Lord Norman Foster, Francis Aish, Martha Tsigkari:
Norman Foster Francis Aish Martha Tsigkari at AAG2016 ETH Zurich

As introduction, Sacha Menz, Head of ETH Zurich’s Institute of Technology in Architecture, welcomed the audience to the presentation of Lord Foster and Francis Aish, and to the new Robotic Fabrication Laboratory, the venue for the evenings presentation. Menz’s enthusiasm for both the new building and the visit of Foster and Aish could be clearly felt. With great pleasure he welcomed the speakers by saying: “I can not imagine a better set of first visitors than the two of you here.”

Impressions, Innovations, and Inspirations

After having spent the afternoon viewing a variety of research at the ETH Zurich, Lord Foster opened his remarks by stating: “After today, I really wish I could go back in time and become a student here. Today was truly inspirational”. In their keynote lecture, Foster and Aish jointly provided the audience with an insight into Foster + Partner’s development of the Mexico City International Airport project. At 470,000 square meters, it will be one of the world’s largest airports.

The entire terminal will be enclosed within a continuous lightweight gridshell, blending the vertical supports with the roof in a single flowing form, evocative of flight. The project combines two strands of Foster + Partner’s past projects: on the one hand, it references the airport projects in Stansted, Hong Kong and Beijing, on the other hand its roof is an evolution of topological developments made in the roofs of the British Museum and Smithsonian Institution.

What this new airport project impressively demonstrates is the increasing ability to develop very large-span structures through the computational application of statics, geometry and curvature.

Lord Norman Foster and Francis Aish presenting in the new Robotic Fabrication, Laboratory of the Institute in Technology in Architecture of ETH Zurich:
Lord Norman Foster and Francis Aish talk at ETH Zurich

The Advantages and Limits of Computational Tools for Architecture

Following the presentation, the ensuing questions and discussion readdressed the main topic of the AAG conference, specifically the role of computational tools for complex geometries in architecture. Martha Tsigkari, Partner of Foster + Partners, joined Foster and Aish on stage and made a clear statement: “Good Designers will be good computational designers”.

According to Lord Foster, the computer is an extraordinary tool, but it remains a tool; it is a means to an end and not an end in itself. Francis Aish concluded the consensus by noting: “What is interesting, are the current developments towards the integration of computation and materialization through digital fabrication, as is clearly visible in the research and innovations emerging here at ETH Zurich”.

About the AAG Symposium Series

The Advances in Architectural Geometry (AAG) is a biennial event where both theoretical and practical work linked to new geometrical development is presented. The symposium aims to gather the diverse components of the contemporary architectural tendencies which push the building envelope towards free form and respond to the multiple current design challenges.

It involves architects, engineers, mathematicians, software designers and contractors. AAG has become a reference in the professional field and is supported by the direct participation of renowned architectural design and engineering offices along with academic laboratories.
More Information:

About the NCCR Digital Fabrication

Initiated in 2014, the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication aims to revolutionize architecture through the seamless combination of digital technologies and physical building processes. Over 40 researchers from six different disciplines collaborate to develop ground-breaking technologies for tomorrow’s construction.

Their research allows Switzerland to take a leading position within the global field of digital fabrication. The NCCR Digital Fabrication is the first NCCR focused on architecture and construction funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). Initiated at ETH Zurich, it is partnered with EPF Lausanne, Empa and the Bern University of Applied Sciences.
More Information:

ETH Zurich / NCCR Digital Fabrication, HIB E 25, Stefano-Franscini-Platz 1, CH-8093 Zurich
Phone +41 44 633 41 01 / [email protected] /

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