This structure — known as the ‘future tree’ — combines state-of-the-art design techniques, material science, and robotic fabrication to create an eye-catching architectural object.

demonstrating the latest research of gramazio kohler research at ETH zurich, the ‘future tree’ consists of a funnel-shaped, lightweight timber frame structure built by a robot, and a bespoke concrete column created using an ultra-thin 3D printed formwork. the entire design and fabrication were developed as inseparable and fully digital processes.

completed by gramazio kohler research, ETH zurich, the structure is located in esslingen, switzerland and stretches over the courtyard of basler & hofmann — a swiss AEC consultancy company that is also the project’s client and partner. ‘the future tree’s stem is a reinforced concrete column, made using an ultra-thin formwork, 3D-printed by a robot, and filled with a custom developed fast-hardening concrete,’ explains the design team.

‘this novel fabrication process, known as ‘eggshell’, allows for the fabrication of non-standard, structurally optimized concrete structures, whilst being able to integrate standard reinforcement and minimize formwork waste. the eggshell process makes use of fused deposition modelling (FDM) 3D printing in order to achieve a wide design and fabrication space.