Fabricate 2017 Conference in Stuttgart, Germany


FABRICATE is one of the most prominent conferences worldwide in Architecture, Engineering, & Construction research for digital fabrication. It was founded in 2011 by Bob Sheil (UCL/Bartlett) and is a triennial international peer-reviewed conference. This year it was hosted by the Institute for Computational Design at the University of Stuttgart. The conference presented the very best constructed projects and cutting-edge research in the context of computational design and digital fabrication.

At this year's conference, our outgoing CEO, Carl Bass, gave the keynote. Here's basically what Carl covered:

  • One thing that is really changing the way we design is having access to on-demand, abundant compute power.
  • Today we can create things through subtractive and additive manufacturing, robotics and automation, and even through synthetic biology.
  • To take advantage of the shape complexity that comes for free with additive manufacturing, we need a whole new approach to design, an approach which was just too compute-intensive for old one-PC-only desktop tools.
  • Generative design is that approach where we specify outcomes rather than getting tied up in the details.
  • If we specify outcomes up front, how do we determine that they were the right ones? Sensor data is the answer.
  • A cheap network of sensors can collect huge volumes of data that can be fed that back into design tools.
  • The way we design things is changing, and so is the way we make things. The two activities have always gone hand-in-hand. Now the way we use things factors in too.

The conference has published a great book:

View the PDF

The main sections of the publication are:

  1. Rethinking Production Futures
  2. Rethinking Materialization
  3. Rethinking Adoptive Strategies
  4. Rethinking Constructional Logistics

The whole 155-page document is fascinating reading, beautifully constructed, and definitely food for thought but Autodesk customers may particularly take note:

  • Page 10 includes "The Triump of the Turnip" by Autodeskers Anthony Hauck, Michael Bergin, and Phil Bernstein.
  • Page 85 features a question/answer session with Autodesk CEO Emeritus Carl Bass, Bob Sheil, and Achim Menges.

Construction is alive in the lab.