Digital Fabrication @ Aedes Metropolitan Laboratory

Craftsmanship in the Digital Age invites established manufacturers, proponents of newer digital production tools, architects, and building industry representatives, to co-articulate a craftsmanship approach to incorporating digital fabrication into architecture.

Lecture Prof. Dr. Richard Sennett, Centennial Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics @ ANCB The Aedes Metropolitan Laboratory, Berlin, 18 December 2017
Roundtable Discussion @ ANCB, The Aedes Metropolitan Laboratory, Berlin , 18 December 2017

in the
Digital Age

Rather than seeing digital tools as incongruous with craftsmanship, Craftsmanship in the Digital Age proposes that they could in fact strengthen certain skills and principles characteristic of craftsmanship with benefits for architecture and manufacturing, including; more effective building materials and spatial typologies, a closer working relationship between architects and manufacturers, and an assertion of critical values for the building industry at this point in history, especially regarding energy and resource sustainability.”
Aedes Metropolitan Laboratory

The Craftsman
Richard Sennett

“We are at a point in history when mankind’s drain on the earth’s resources is finally acknowledged, but barely controllable. As Richard Sennett summarised (2008:12. Sennett R. The Craftsman. Yale University Press): “In both natural resources and climate change, we are facing a physical crisis largely of our own human making…To deal with this physical crises we are obliged to change both the things we make and how we use them. We will need to learn different ways of making buildings and transport and to contrive rituals that accustom us to saving. We will need to become good craftsmen of the environment.” Concurrently, a new age of digital production has dawned, promising expanded product functionality and alternative design-to-making processes with new, environmentally friendly materials. Yet, it has made little impact on the seemingly unstoppable march of mass production and mass importation of products.

Delivered a series of five discussions and workshops, Craftsmanship in the Digital Age showcases from the present-day studio, factory, laboratory, and building site, while simultaneously exploring a future blurring of these workspaces and their products.

Concluding Workshop and Public Debate: Monday, 18 December
With reflections from Richard Sennett, author  of ‘The Craftsman’ and its provocation that “we are obliged to change both the things we make and how we use them…to become good craftsmen of the environment“; and with focused discussion on three core themes of the emerging ‘digital building culture’, the alternative building process and practice it demands, and the prospects offered for socio-politically and environmentally responsible architecture.”
Aedes Metropolitan Laboratory


“The irony is that the building with the greatest digital fabrication components that is built in this city today is the reconstructed Berlin palace, the Humboldt Forum, it’s baroque stone façade is being chiseled by robots in Italy as we write.

The reason for using digital fabrication is efficiency, bypassing the costs and the time craftsmen stonemasons would need to construct such a façade. Digital fabrication is integrated as an optimization and efficiency tool and does in no way reflect on the cultural expression of the building – with its reconstructed historic façade.

Optimization and efficiency is what drives the integration of digital tools in architecture in general. And what misses today is the cultural expression, the cultural paradigm that would enable architecture to be more than just optimized and efficient building practice. With the whole ‘efficiency push’ driving Smart City, it is very difficult for contemporary architecture to find a contemporary cultural expression.

But perhaps it is very difficult for contemporary architecture to find a cultural expression that corresponds to our accelerating times of AR/VR, Social Media and AI. Architecture is losing its primacy in creating social and cultural spaces, as these are today mostly hybrid, combining physical space and media/information space. We therefore have to focus – also as architects – not just on buildings but consider the hybrid spaces emerging from the combination and fusion of environments, objects, and services within their networked systems of production, distribution, use, and recycling.

Therefore the role of the craftsman and the architect is changing from crafting objects to designing systems, considering their complex dimensions of spaces such as light, sound, energy, use…, their networked dimension such as the sharing of spaces, their ecological footprint, life cycle, etc..”
Aedes Metropolitan Laboratory


Jan Krause, Head of Master Architecture Media Management, Bochum University of Applied Sciences / Head of Strategic Marketing, Sto SE & Co. KGaA, Stühlingen
Helga Kühnhenrich, Head of Division for Research in Building and Construction, German Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR), Bonn
Norbert Palz, Professor Digital and Experimental Design / Vice Dean Design Faculty, Universität der Künste, Berlin
Jürgen Paul, Managing Director, BauNetz Media, Berlin
Martin Pauli, Senior Architect, Arup-Foresight, Research & Innovation, Berlin
Sven Pfeiffer, Researcher, Digital Architecture Production, Technische Universität Berlin
Arnd Rose
, Researcher of Division for Research in Building and Construction, German Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR), Bonn
Léon Spikker, Founding Partner, Studio RAP, Robotics Architecture Production, Rotterdam
Sebastian von Oppen, Berlin Chamber of Architects
Frans Vogelaar, Professor for Hybrid Space, Academy of Media Arts, Cologne / Hybrid Space Lab, Berlin
Tobias Wallisser, Co-founder, LAVA (Laboratory for Visionary Architecture), Berlin / Professor of Innovative Construction and Spatial Concepts and Vice-President at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart.

Moderaton: Jörg Petri and Daniel Büning, Cofounders NOWlab@BigRep, and Áine Ryan, ANCB.

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