Stuttgart Fabric Formworks by Runda Aduldejcharas and Sabrina Shuk Kwan Fung (AA Stuttgart VS 2016)

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Mixed Matters-Graded Membranes

Monday 24 July – Wednesday 2 August 2017

The aim of the AA Stuttgart Visiting School is to explore contemporary practices of materially-graded, complex geometry design, moving away from mainstream explorations of single/isotropic materials and linear/planar tectonics. Within this new field of investigation, the Stuttgart VS will be researching into novel techniques of material mixtures and grading, associative design and double curvature surface generation.

For the second cycle of this exploration we will be based at the Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design (ILEK) at the University of Stuttgart. Drawing from the Institute’s long history of experimentation and research on tensile structures instigated by Frei Otto in the 1960s and conducted at present by Werner Sobek, this year we will be focusing on the design and fabrication of materially graded membranes, as well as the application of UHPC and FGC on fabric formworks. The workflow followed will be divided into two stages:

1. Computing Membranes: Computational form finding methods will be taught by professional engineers and architects from ILEK and str.ucture GmbH. The aim will be to utilise the latest software technologies to form find membranes for textile structures, or fabric formworks for complex concrete structures. The results will be evaluated against criteria such as internal air pressure, as well as asymmetric and wind loading. The outcome of this research will inform the material grading procedures (i.e. changing the stiffness, thickness or porosity of the membranes themselves, or the consistency of the concrete poured into the formworks) that will follow in stage two.

2. Fabricated Grading: The digitally computed membranes or formworks will eventually be fabricated physically, utilising the workshop and robotic fabrication facilities at ILEK. The objective will be to rethink conventional research on tensile and concrete structures as isotropic constructs, by customising attributes such as materiality, reinforcement, rigidity, translucency, patterning, and porosity among others. The final, graded prototypes will be made up of mixtures of materials, all accurately engineered to respond to variable environmental, structural and aesthetic criteria, in essence forming multi-material structures that have finally caught up with the latest material developments.

Prominent Features of the workshop/ skills developed

• Teaching team consisting of AA diploma tutors and ILEK and str.ucture GmbH engineers.

• Access to the Institute of Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design (ILEK), the Materials Testing Institute and Concrete Spraying Robotic facilities at the University of Stuttgart, as well as to the office of str.ucture GmbH Structural Design Engineering.

• Computational skills tuition on Grasshopper, Rhino Membrane, and Karamba.

• Lectures series by leading academics and practitioners in architecture and engineering.

• Fabrication of functionally graded membrane and/or concrete structures.


1) You can make an application by completing the online application found under ‘Links and Downloads’ on the AA Visiting School page. If you are not able to make an online application, email for instructions to pay by bank transfer.
2) Once you complete the online application and make a full payment, you are registered to the programme. A CV or a portfolio is not required.

The deadline for applications is 24 July 2017.

All participants travelling from abroad are responsible for securing any visa required, and are advised to contact their home embassy early. After payment of fees, the AA School can provide a letter confirming participation in the workshop.


The AA Visiting School requires a student fee of £595 and a young professional fee of £895 per participant, which includes a £60 Visiting membership fee.

If you are a student, please e-mail the programme director Kostas Grigoriadis at with proof of your student id and they will give you the necessary discount code. Please do not pay the membership fee separately if you are a student.

Fees do not include flights or accommodation, but accommodation options can be advised. Students need to bring their own laptops, digital equipment and model making tools. Please ensure this equipment is covered by your own insurance as the AA takes no responsibility for items lost or stolen at the workshop.

The workshop is open to current architecture and design students, PhD candidates and young professionals. We also accept students of different backgrounds with an interest in architecture and deisgn making. Software Requirements: Rhino (SR7 or later) and Grasshopper. 

• Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design, Pfaffenwaldring 7, 70569 Stuttgart

Programme Head

Kostas Grigoriadis holds a Master in Architecture and Urbanism degree from the Architectural Association’s Design Research Laboratory. He has been a Diploma Unit Master at the AA since 2011 and an External Examiner in Architecture at the University of East London since August 2015. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Architecture by Project at the Royal College of Art in London that focuses on multi-material design methodologies. He has previously worked at Foster and Partners in London and held a Visiting Lecturer position at the RCA from 2012 to 2015.

Local Heads
Dr. Michael Herrmann studied civil engineering at the University of Stuttgart and the University of Calgary. Between 2007 and 2009, he was structural engineer at Werner Sobek Stuttgart and from 2009 until 2015 he has been engaged as a research associate at ILEK in the University of Stuttgart. His work focuses on functionally graded concrete and energy efficient construction. In 2012 he co-founded str.ucture GmbH, an engineering company committed to the development of innovative lightweight solutions.

Prof. Dr. Werner Sobek is an architect and consulting engineer and heads the Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design. From 2008 to 2014 he was Mies van der Rohe Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and guest lecturer at numerous universities in Germany, Singapore and the US (Harvard) among others. In 1992, he founded the Werner Sobek Group, with offices in Stuttgart, Dubai, Frankfurt, Istanbul, London, Moscow, New York, and Sao Paulo, offering premium consultancy services for architecture, structures, facades and sustainability.

Daniel Schmeer studied civil engineering at the University of Stuttgart. Between 2011 and 2012 he was project engineer at AJG-Ingenieure in Munich. He graduated from the University of Stuttgart with a Master degree in 2015 and became a research assistant at ILEK. His work focuses on concrete lightweight structures and the automated production of concrete components.

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Programme Heads
Kostas Grigoriadis
Michael Herrman
Daniel Schmeer

Visiting School Director

Christopher Pierce

T +44 20 7887 4014
F +44 20 7414 0782

Links & Downloads

Programme site

Social Media


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