Keynote Speakers


Dean and Professor
Hillier College of Architecture and Design
New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT)

Branko Kolarevic is Dean of the Hillier College of Architecture and Design at NJIT in Newark. He has taught architecture at several universities in North America and Asia and has lectured worldwide on the use of digital technologies in design and production. He has authored, edited or co-edited several books, including “Mass Customization and Design Democratization” (with Jose Duarte), “Building Dynamics: Exploring Architecture of Change” (with Vera Parlac), “Manufacturing Material Effects” (with Kevin Klinger), “Performative Architecture” (with Ali Malkawi) and “Architecture in the Digital Age.” He was
elected and served as president of several organizations: Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB), and Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA). He is a recipient of the ACADIA Award for Innovative Research in 2007 and ACADIA Society Award of Excellence in 2015. He holds doctoral and master’s degrees in design from Harvard University and a diploma engineer in architecture degree from the University of Belgrade.


Thanks to parametric design and digital fabrication it is now possible to mass-produce non-standard, lightly differentiated products, from shoes and tableware to furniture and even houses. Variety no long
er compromises the efficiency and economy of production. Furthermore, parametric definitions of products’ geometry are made accessible via interactive websites to masses, who could then design their own, unique versions of the product. Such “democratization” of design – through mass-customization – raises many interesting questions such as the authorship of design and the functional and esthetic
quality of products (shoes, tableware, furniture, houses…) designed by non-designers. illustrated with numerous examples, this lecture explores social, cultural and design implications of this emerging “design democracy”, starting with its technological origins.


Gramazio Kohler Research
Professorship for Architecture und Digital Fabrication
ETH Zurich

Ammar Mirjan is an architect and a researcher with a background in automation engineering. He received a B.A. degree in Architecture from the Bern University of Applied Sciences and a M.Arch. degree from the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London. He has worked for architectural offices in New York, Tokyo and London. His particular interest in the relationship between designing and making with robotic systems motivated him to join the professorship of Architecture and Digital Fabrication (Prof. Fabio Gramazio, Prof. Matthias Kohler) at ETH Zurich in 2011. Between 2013 and 2016 he led the research project Aerial Construction and completed his PhD on architectural fabrication processes with flying robots in 2016. His articles have been published in AD, GAM, Springer, gta Verlag and MIT Press, and he has been engaged in various exhibition and installation projects. More recently, Ammar Mirjan focuses on the industrial implementation of Mesh Mould, an innovative technology that combines formwork and reinforcement into a robotically fabricated construction system.


Recent developments in sensing, computation, and control have led to the creation of new robotic construction systems that have profoundly different capabilities than their human operated predecessors. Such machines depend on the real time gathering of information about their environment, making them not only aware of their own position in space, but also of the forces acting on its joints and its construction tools while physically interacting with material. Therefore, one can understand such a machine as not being detached from its surroundings, like their robotic predecessors, but embedded in it and potentially become part of it.

What does the advent of such sensory construction machines mean for the making of architecture, and will it lead to a change the design practice?


ICD University of Stuttgart

Hans Jakob Wagner is a design research technologist working at the intersection of computational design methods, robotic construction processes and advanced wood building systems. As a research associate and PhD candidate at the ICD – University of Stuttgart, he played a key role in award winning projects such as the BUGA Wood Pavilion and the ITECH Research Pavilion 2016-17. He graduated with distinction from the ITECH Master Program in 2017 after receiving a BSc in Architecture at Vienna University of Technology and working at leading architectural firms in Vienna and Paris. He published, taught and presented internationally and is a peer-reviewer for both Automation in Construction and Construction Robotics Journals.


Computational design and robotic fabrication allow a fundamental reinterpretation of structural tectonics in timber construction. As recent demonstrators such as the BUGA Wood Pavilion 2019 show, intricately differentiated, innovative wood structures can be designed and built cost effectively through the integrative use of digital design and manufacturing processes. This allows for highly material-efficient load-bearing structures and an expressive reinterpretation of performance-oriented sustainable building design. Given these promising results, the question of how these technologies can be embedded within a dynamic building culture and agile construction industry become increasingly important to address. With project-based robotic timber construction an organizational framework is introduced that envisions the dynamic production management of unique architectural artefacts and the continuous integrative co-evolution of building- and automation systems through constant reconfiguration of robotic manufacturing platforms. The framework intends to offer a general roadmap towards the sustainable integration of computation and automation into a socially inclusive and constantly reconfigurable building culture through a radical expansion of the interdisciplinary architectural design research agenda.


Associate partner, project director and executive at
Werner Sobek AG, Stuttgart, Germany

Ivan Tomovic acquired his diploma in structural engineering at the University of Belgrade, Serbia. After attending the post-diploma studies and working on several projects and competitions in Serbia, Montenegro and Russia, he joined Werner Sobek in 2007, where he worked his path from a project engineer to a partner and a project director. He is also the general manager of Werner Sobek Moscow branch, leading there some of the largest projects in company’s portfolio and managing multidisciplinary design teams of up to 100 architects, engineers and consultants. Besides project work, he is engaged in teaching and research activities at the Moscow Architectural School and at the Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design (ILEK) at the University of Stuttgart.


20th century has brought an extensive use of the artificial construction materials on affordable costs. Global mass construction mostly solved the housing and transportation problem for the rapidly increasing world population, but it quickly began to show its dark sides. Towards the turn of the century, it became clear that the life cycle of many of those buildings is coming to an end, producing a large quantity of non-recyclable waste. More and more researchers started to turn attention on the fact that the construction industry became the largest producer of the CO2 and one of the most insatiable energy consumers, thus making a tremendous contribution to the climate and environmental deterioration. Beginning of 21st century explicitly shows that we must change the way we build – by developing new materials and improving the traditional ones, while using the available digital tools to create sustainable, effective and clean construction technologies. This is the main field of research at ILEK and the permanent leitmotif of Werner Sobek projects and design philosophy.