Doctoral Theses

A Stereotomic Approach to Regional Digital Architecture


Irina Miodragovic Vella | University of Malta

Stereotomy, the initial point of the research, is recognized as a historical reference that offers a way to expand limitations of the current dominant design thinking towards more contextually responsive architecture. Stereotomy is approached beyond its immediate definition as the stonecutting discipline for executing geometrically complex masonry assemblies that ties it to specific material and construction choices. Instead, it is recognized as a material system formulated through a systemic approach to the context that establishes bottom-up, computational processes that discretize and externalize its multiple constraints as a material system of interdependent geometric. In short, the research exposes the stereotomic design process as contextual structuring and stereotomy as a digital architecture.

Smooth Poly-Hypar Surface Structures. A new approach to design freeform surfaces by combining hyperbolic paraboloids

2012 – 2019 

Ting Cao | ETH Zürich

The most well-known examples of ruled surfaces, hyperbolic paraboloids (hypar), can be seen as prototypical examples for the integration of architectural and structural design by means of geometry, due to the interplay of their structural and architectural properties. But up to now the full potential of hypars as mediating geometry between architectural and structural design has not been explored yet. This research will investigate the opportunities of using such prototypical examples to introduce structural considerations into the design of a wide range of architectural forms, owning to the geometrical fact that combinations of hypars can approximate all negatively curved shapes. Based on this proposal, an operative method will be developed to allow multiple interactions between structural efficiency and architectural forms starting from the decisive early phase of the design process.

The Physical Model as Means of Projective Inquiry in Structural Studies. The Paradigm of Architectural Education.

2009 – 2018

Maria Vrontissi | ETH Zürich

The present work inscribes to a broader discourse on the mode of reasoning in structural studies. Do the inquiries on the theme of structure, building structure in particular, employ a reflective or projective mode of reasoning? Therefore, the study discusses the potential of the physical model as a means for creative structural inquiries, arguing conversely for the design component of structural studies.

Heavy Lightness: The Poetics of Conflict in the Structural Design of João Vilanova Artigas & Carlos Cascaldi


Lara Borgonovi e Silva | ETH Zürich

Artigas and Cascaldi questioned the natural behavior of a reinforced concrete structure in the same way they questioned the structure upon which a society is built. By doing this, they called into question the notions of load, support, and force flow. Having put this hypothesis, this research sought to answer the main following question: what social designs did Artigas and Cascaldi might have represented in the design of reinforced concrete structures? The answer was given in six chapters that discuss the ideology, the methodology, and the philosophy adopted by these two architects in their structural designs – which were interpreted from both cultural and technical standpoint.

Carbon Footprinting in Humanitarian Construction


Matti Kuittinen | Aalto University

In this dissertation, the knowledge gaps related to carbon footprint estimation and simplified methods are presented. First the background is presented: climate-related disasters, environmental assessment in humanitarian construction and the existing, standardised methods for estimating the environmental impacts of buildings. Secondly, a series of case studies from different countries reveal the carbon footprint and primary energy demand of transitional shelters and reconstruction projects. Thirdly, novel methods are proposed for setting the benchmark levels of an acceptable carbon footprint in humanitarian construction and for cross-comparing carbon footprint, energy efficiency and construction costs.