In today’s world, architects and construction professionals are on the brink of an exciting era. This is guided by pioneers like Tom Svilans and Mariana Popescu who redefine what is possible. They are fusing material science, computational design, and digital fabrication. A collaborative, innovative, and sustainable built environment is illustrated by this manifesto, based on groundbreaking research.

The Essence of Interdisciplinary Collaboration

A holistic, interdisciplinary approach to today’s construction challenges heavily influences our vision for future architecture. As part of our vision, architects, engineers, material scientists, and technologists need to collaborate to create more informed solutions. Addressing architectural innovation’s multifaceted nature requires combining several disciplines’ expertise. New materials can be explored, digital simulations can be integrated, and the design process can become more than a tool.

The Pioneering Spirit of Svilans and Popescu

Tom Svilans’ dissertation “Integrated Material Practice in Free-Form Timber Structures’ ‘ emphasizes the importance of accurate material properties in digital design processes involving free-form timber structures. As a result of the application of simulation techniques and the development of a multi-scale modeling framework, Svilans not only advances our understanding of timber’s potential, but also illustrates why bridging the gap between design conception and material realization is so essential. In a conversation with Tom, we asked about the relevance and integrity of the actual simulation and its authority/reliability. He concretely answered that from the digital to the physical it is an impossible task to keep track  and be able to control the material to its fullest. Timber will act the way the timber wants to act, interior defects and micro fractures will still be undetected and failures will still occur. 

Svilans, Tom. “Integrated Material Practice in Free-Form Timber Structures.” PhD diss., The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation, 2020.

Similar to Mariana Popescu, KnitCrete is a significant departure from conventional concrete formwork. In this study, Popescu uses 3D weft-knitted textiles as innovative formworks to highlight the synergy between material science and digital fabrication. Through the development of computational tools for the automated generation of knitting patterns, her work demonstrates that integrating material properties and fabrication processes can achieve precision and efficiency in construction.

Popescu, Mariana. “KnitCrete: Stay-in-place knitted fabric formwork for complex concrete structures.” PhD diss., ETH Zurich, 2019.

Embracing Diversity and Innovation

Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach to designing, we encourage designers to use today’s technologies to design the future through digital fabrication and computational design. Aesthetic aspirations can be subjective but we can balance this with more informed decision-making to create sustainable and functional spaces. It is fun to play and experiment, learn from the material and try again. Redesign as you learn from the material and understand how the material wants to behave, materials will be very stubborn, but can give ample room for experimentation.

Our Collective Journey

Material Matters: A Unified Vision for the Architecture of Tomorrow embodies the collective aspirations we have for the future of architecture. As a legacy of Tom Svilans and Mariana Popescu, we are committed to forging a path where innovation is driven by a deep respect for material properties, environmental stewardship, and technological innovation.

Upon embarking on this journey, we invite all those who share our vision to assist us in creating an architectural landscape that embodies human creativity, technological advancement, and ecological awareness – a landscape where every structure speaks to the power of interdisciplinary collaboration and the endless possibilities.