Living Prototypes
Digital Fabrication With Biomaterials

Monday, 27 September 2021

The opening workshop of a European research project on digitally fabricated building components made with bio-based materials, involving three university institutes and three industry partners from Denmark, Germany, Italy and Spain. Living Prototypes was instigated by ANCB and supported by the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR) on behalf of the German Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building with funds from the research innovation programme Zukunft Bau.

Video: Reframe – Videos for the Web

Over the course of 18 months, three university institutes will collaborate with three industry partners on digitally fabricating prototypes for building components for living spaces made with the bio-based materials earth, flax fibre and bioplastics.

In this kick-off public workshop session, the research teams will present their approaches as well as their initial prototype ideas, while invited experts will contextualise the socio-political challenges of applying these innovative ideas in the building industry.


Welcome and Introduction
Hans-Jürgen Commerell Director, ANCB The Aedes Metropolitan Laboratory, Berlin 00:00–07:26
Helga Kühnhenrich Head of Division, Research in Building and Construction, Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR), Bonn 07:26–11:24

Inputs by Research Teams
CITA–COBOD: Mette Ramsgaard Thomsen Head of the Centre for IT and Architecture (CITA), Royal Danish Academy, Copenhagen 18:42–30:47
ITKE–FibR: Marta Gil Pérez Principle Researcher Living Prototypes project, Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE), University of Stuttgart 30:47–42:04
IAAC–WASP: Alexandre Dubor Principle Researcher Living Prototypes project, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), Barcelona 42:04–53:36

Inputs by Research Advisors
Jana Revedin Professor of Architecture and Urban Planning, Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture, Paris 01:07:03–01:29:44
Stine Kolbert Researcher and Lecturer, Department of Planning and Construction Economy, TU Berlin 01:29:44–01:38:17
Philipp Misselwitz Managing Director, Bauhaus der Erde, Berlin 01:38:17–01:56:16
Davide Zampini Head of Global R&D, CEMEX, Brügg 01:56:16–02:13:29
Harald Kloft Professor and Head of Digital Building Fabrication Laboratory (DBFL), TU Braunschweig 02:13:29–02:37:45

followed by a Discussion where the Research Teams and Advisors are joined by the following Front-Row-Peers 02:37:45–03:25:32
Reto Grolimund BKW Innovation Center, Bern
Arnd Rose
Research Fellow at Division for Research in Building and Construction, German Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR), Bonn
Eike Roswag-Klinge
Professor for Constructive Design & Climate Adaptive Architecture, Natural Building Lab, TU Berlin
Bernd Wegener Emeritus Professor, Social Sciences, Humboldt University of Berlin


University partner: IAAC – Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, Barcelona
Industry partner: WASP, Massa Lombarda
Earth is a traditional and inexpensive building material, for which extensive knowledge exists. IAAC and WASP employ 3D printing and computational design to improve the structural and climate-regulation performance of earth constructions. This also enables a new flexibility in the architecture achievable with this biomaterial, advances its aesthetic capacity, and makes the construction process more efficient and feasible for infill and other forms of built environment densification.

University partner: ITKE – Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design, University of Stuttgart
Industry partner: FibR GmbH, Kernen
Robotic coreless fibre winding aims to optimise material efficiency in architectural components by avoiding formwork and material cutoffs. Material use corresponds to structural demands. ITKE and FibR investigated robotic coreless fibre winding using natural flax fibres. Through the inter-material dialogue with other living prototypes at the Aedes exhibition, the project communicates the relevance of such material systems in future living spaces.

University partner: CITA – Centre for Information Technology and Architecture, Royal Danish Academy, Copenhagen
Industry partner: COBOD International A/S, Copenhagen
Bioplastics are renewable, inexpensive, biodegradable and chemically diverse. Digital data analysis technologies, such as machine learning, make it possible to predict and control the behaviour of these complex materials during and after the printing process. CITA and COBOD prototype components for interior spaces using two complementary bio-based materials (cellulose and bone glue). These suggest future circular material life cycles in buildings that are made possible by this adaptive manufacturing process.


What might our homes look and feel like if they were built without using fossil fuels, without depleting resources or damaging the environment? What if advanced research into bio-based building materials could change architectural design and building construction? How can architectural prototypes communicate knowledge about resource-conscious design and construction processes? These questions are at the core of Living Prototypes .

Central to the project is the task of translating abstract laboratory explorations into something physically tangible and recognisable, that enables us – the public – as well as the building industry and policy-makers to imagine the kinds of spaces and architecture that new bio-based materials with digital construction techniques make possible. ANCB provides the project with a physical and intellectual space of possibility, that supports collaboration and experimentation on research approaches and new materials towards sustainable building. In essence, Living Prototypes is about triggering the political pressure to innovate the way we build (in) the future.

Today, the urgent need to reduce our anthropogenic footprints of carbon dioxide emissions, resource consumption and waste production is undisputable. Considering that today around 40 % of the total CO2 emissions in Germany stem from the construction, use or dismantling of buildings, it is clear that there is still a long way to go before the objective already established by law is met: a climate-neutral building stock by 2045.

In 2017, ANCB launched the discussion series Craftsmanship in the Digital Age also in collaboration with the Zukunft Bau programme. This explored the potential of digital technologies to trigger innovative responses to the design and making of architecture; especially regarding energy and resource sustainability. With the Living Prototypes project, a follow-up step is taken from a theoretical discourse to an experiment that the audience can see, touch and discuss.

Research provides many promising proposals, but there is always a risk that the results remain in the ivory tower or disappear into the drawer. To avoid this, it is essential to build a bridge between scientific results, their translation into practical applications and their communication to a broad audience. Therefore, one aim of the Living Prototypes project is to provide such a bridging space: here ideas merge to solve a common task: the design and making of a full-scale prototype that demonstrates the potential of natural and bio-based recycled materials in combination with the latest techniques in digital fabrication.

This project is supported by the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development on behalf of the German Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building with funds from the research innovation programme Zukunft Bau.

Photos © Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk



Enquiry Programme

Collaborative Project


ANCB Partners

© ANCB, Berlin