Draw on the (Parabolic) Wall

Precedent: Winery Gantenbein (2006)

Architects: Gramazio & Kohler, Bearth & Deplazes Architekten

Location: Fläsch, Switzerland


Process: This project uses a robotic arm to precisely place 20,000 bricks according to programmed parameters: angle and interval. With every brick at a unique angle, the connection between that brick and the brick below and the brick above were also unique. In that varied overlap Gramazio & Kohler worked with the brick manufacturer’s engineer to establish a method of applying the two-component bonding agent only to the overlapping surfaces. They applied four parallel bonding agent paths tor each individual brick at pre-defined intervals to the central axis of the wall element. ETH Zurich facility manufactures these facades as pre-fabricated panels. The panels are transported by a lorry and lifted into place with a crane. There were 72 façade elements. The production method allowed them to design to the last-minute. The digital designs went straight to the robot, no construction documents, no specs and no schedule. Just straight to production.



Material: Masonry was chosen to perform as temperature buffer, filter sunlight for fermentation room (only indirect sunlight can be used).  To enclose the façade, polycarbonate panels are mounted inside. The three-dimensional screen is preferable in this case to a two-dimensional screen because it adds a ‘dramatic play’ as the viewer’s position and the angle of the sun change. 400 sqm façade. The bonding agent for the bricks is a two-component bonding agent that performed especially well in load tests so the normal reinforcements required for conventional prefabricated walls were void.


Design: The façade design for this winery was inspired by the idea of a basket full of grapes. Gramazio & Kohler used the concrete frame construction of Bearth & Deplazes design and began to design the modular bricks within it. The frame became the main structure of the ‘basket’ and they digitally filled that basket with grapes of varying diameters. They digitally simulated gravity so the grapes would fall into place in this virtual basket. Then they transferred the digital image information to the rotation of the individual bricks.  The aesthetic of the design was proposed to look like a basket used to hold grapes.  The texture seems softly textile at a distance, a contrast to the actual rigid modular bricks used to form the façade. The brick joints were left open to allow a minimal amount of daylight to trickle into the building.

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