Digital Fabrication for Construction | Tom Van Mele

Digital Fabrication for Construction

Structural strength through geometry? Tom Van Mele and ETH Zurich are taking a different approach to building.


Traditionally, to make a structure stronger, more material has been required—or a stronger, more expensive material. Tom Van Mele, a senior researcher at ETH Zurich, is taking a different approach, providing structural strength through geometry. His team at the Block Research Group in Switzerland is developing the HiLo (High Performance, Low Energy) unit in their experimental NEST (Next Evolution Sustainable Building Technologies) building. In this Theater presentation from 2018, he showcases the HiLo’s roofing system, a doubly curved concrete shell that spans 120 square meters, supported by 5 points at the perimeter. Only 3-5 mm thick, it is reinforced with a thin layer of carbon fiber.

About the speaker

Dr. Tom Van Mele is senior scientist and co-director at the Block Research Group (BRG) of the Institute of Technology in Architecture at ETH Zurich, where he leads the computational and technical developments, supervises the postdoc team, and advises and supports the doctoral candidates on a day-to-day basis. He is also the lead developer of COMPAS, the open-source computational framework for collaboration and research in architecture, structures, and digital fabrication. He holds a PhD in Architecture Engineering Sciences from Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

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