Fiches de cours 2016-2017


Making structural logic


Enseignant(s) :

Baur Raffael
Devabhaktuni Sony
Fernández Ruiz Miguel
Guaita Patricia




It is not allowed to withdraw from this subject after the registration deadline.


The workshop provides second year students with the opportunity to apply theoretical structural principles in an applied context through the collaborative design of a concrete formwork that tests structural and material limits.


The workshop will:

1. explore a structural theory through applied investigation;

2. use reiterative testing and design to develop an idea;

3. explore the limits of materiality and dimensioning such that design failure can be learned from;

4. and challenge students to collaborate in diverse intellectual, creative and hands-on situations across disciplinary backgrounds.

Building on the "Cantilever: making structural logic" workshops that took place over the past two years, this year the research will move from working with wood, to studying concrete, allowing the workshop to build links to the Unité d'Enseignement Argamassa Armada, that looks at the reinforced concrete research of the Brazilian architect João Filgueiras Lima (known as Lélé). Through this overlapping with the UE, the Semaine ENAC will provide students with a context to the applied research that they are themselves undertaking.

The objective of the week will be for students to design a concrete element that has a minimal dimension, where the element's fragile formwork tests the limits of a reinforced concrete system.

The second year ENAC program marks a moment when theoretical learning is confronted by constraints inherent in applied research. The Semaine ENAC has an important potential to address this shift and the larger objective of the current proposal is to provide students with the tools to take part in such a dynamic.

Teaching methods

Working at 1:1 scale will require students to use drawing, model, calculation and collaborative investigations to design prototypes, details and a successful scheme. Testing sessions throughout the week and the students' documentation of this testing, will push designs to failure and lead to a reconsideration and redesign of the proposal.

Expected student activities

1. Drawing across disciplines (1-hour lecture). This lecture will look at the ways drawing has been used as a tool for research and design by architects and engineers throughout history and at different scales of investigation. The distinctions between sketch, hard-line and diagrammatic drawings will be developed through historical and contemporary examples. The role that drawing plays as a tool for interdisciplinary communication will also be examined and students will be encouraged to develop their projects using different forms of drawing as a primary means of research.

2. Knowledge production (1-hour lecture). This lecture will look at different theoretical approaches to thinking about knowledge, both in terms of how it is generated and how it can be categorized or distinguished. The discussion is relevant for the interdisciplinary context of the workshop in the way it asks questions about distinctions between applied and theoretical research. For example, the relations between episteme/techne, between mimesis/poieisis, between inductive/deductive reasoning, provide a theoretical framework for the students to understand research through making.

3. Material investigations : wood, concrete, steel (1 hour lecture/visit). This module looks at the behavioral properties of different materials and is structured around visits to material-testing laboratories on the EPFL campus.

4. Lélé (Argamassa Armada): (1 hour lecture). This exchange will introduce Semaine ENAC students to the research being conducted in the Argamassa Armada Unité d'Enseignement and will comprise:

a. A short introduction to the work of Lélé and the system of reinforced concrete that he developed in Brazil.

b. Presentations by 3rd year UE students. This direct, vertical exchange between disciplines and between years of study, led by the students themselves, we hope can nurture an engagement and responsibility towards the collective research that is being undertaken between the two interdisciplinary modules.

5. Fabrication (6, 4-hour collaborative blocks). In this final module, students will work in interdisciplinary teams to develop a concrete form-work that pushes material limits. The module will be introduced at the beginning of the week with students working each day to design and fabricate a proposal. The theoretical inputs received from points 1, 2, 3 and 4 will inform the decisions and design.

Modules 1-4 provide an interdisciplinary framework for the workshop that opens paths for future questioning. They are essential to the success of the week and provide a context and spirit for the investigation.

Nevertheless, the 1:1 fabrication will occupy the largest part of the students' time and energy: in bringing together students from the different ENAC schools, this opportunity to design, calculate and build a 1:1 structure offers a unique chance to directly experience ways of thinking, working together, and making. The human exchanges engendered by the project could test the disciplinary boundaries that sometimes prevent students from exploring -- on both a personal and intellectual level ' the other sections within the school. The 1:1 fabrication also confronts students with the power of scientific discovery through the observation of nature; forces, materials, behavior and failure become a direct vehicle for learning.

Assessment methods

Students will be assessed on the collaborative development of a final project over the course of the Semaine ENAC.This project will be evaluated on specific parameters that will be identified at the beginning of the week. Students will also be assessed on their ability to work in a group and discuss and develop ideas together.

Dans les plans d'études

  • Projeter ensemble ENAC, 2016-2017, Bachelor semestre 4
    • Semestre
    • Forme de l'examen
      Pendant le semestre
    • Crédits
    • Matière examinée
      Making structural logic
    • Cours
      4 Heure(s)
    • Exercices
      22 Heure(s)
    • Projet
      22 Heure(s)

Semaine de référence

Exercice, TP
Projet, autre


  • Semestre d'automne
  • Session d'hiver
  • Semestre de printemps
  • Session d'été
  • Cours en français
  • Cours en anglais
  • Cours en allemand