Gramazio & Kohler

Gantenbein Vineyard Façade, Fläsh, 2006

In 2006, Bearth & Deplazes Architects, the firm selected for the construction of a winery expansion project in Fläsch (Switzerland), invited Gramazio & Kohler to design and build the winery’s façade within their completed concrete framework. This was an opportunity to implement in architecture the research they had been conducting on robotic automation since 2005 at the ETH Zurich. Gramazio & Kohler designed a gigantic brick wall with a total surface of 400 m2 comprised of 72 modules. The modules were pre-assembled by robot in their workshop, trucked to the site and then integrated into the awaiting framework by means of a crane. Each module of the façade is unique and non-standard, because its fabrication was submitted to the rules of an algorithm. The specific orientation of each one of the 20,000 bricks was calculated according to the specified parameters of permeability in terms of luminosity and ventilation. A genuine filter, the façade contains a multitude of variations, on the inside and the outside of the building, presenting a sinuous relief pattern across the whole. The asperities in the pattern act to reflect sunlight and ensure the building’s perfect integration with the surrounding landscape. The manifesto project of Gramazio & Kohler’s pragmatic approach (“Digital Materiality”), the Gantenbein Vineyard Façade is an important milestone in the history of computational architecture, offering the first large-scale demonstration of the possible uses of prefabricated non-standard brick walls. The architects continue their research into the architectonic potentialities of parametric brick walls and have produced numerous projects in this domain (competition for the Pavillon Seroussi, 2007; Architonic Concept Space, 2008, etc.).

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