High-Tech Envelopes: On the Fabrication of Custom Spare Parts

Doctoral Candidate: Matthias Brenner
Project partner: KALAG AG

In the realm of architectural conservation and sustainable construction practices, the integration of digital fabrication technology presents a promising avenue for revolutionizing the way we approach maintenance and repair. This research project delves into the potential of digital fabrication for crafting tailor-made spare parts for complex facade elements.

The aim of this endeavor lies in minimizing interventions in the original structure while circumventing the need for large-scale replacements of facade systems. Not only does this strategy reduce resource consumption and waste generation, but it also holds significant implications for the preservation of our construction heritage and the sustainable stewardship of our built environment.

The aluminum facade construction of the “Postal Operations Center Zurich-Muelligen” serves as the first case study. The structure is analyzed with terrestrial laser scans and drone-based photogrammetry to develop a comprehensive digital fabrication model. This model serves as the blueprint for the production of precisely fitting replacement parts in the event of maintenance or repair requirements.

This project is supported by the National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication. Through collaborative efforts and interdisciplinary approaches, the aim is to not only refine digital fabrication methodologies but also pave the way for scalable applications across diverse architectural contexts.

By showcasing the viability of digital fabrication in facade maintenance, the project lays the groundwork for a paradigm shift in how we approach sustainable construction practices and heritage preservation.