CoDe Facades - digitally designed and robotically crafted individual wood facades inspired by Swiss tradition

CoDeFa as Architects

Researchers from the FHNW Academy of Art and Design and woodwork specialists from ERNE AG Holzbau have created a new process to design and manufacture high-quality custom wooden facades. Through a combination of traditional craft knowledge with novel manufacturing technology and interdisciplinary collaborations, architects gain the freedom to develop unique façade solutions and clients to acquire outstanding architecture for an affordable price. 

photo_credit Zosia Prominska
Zosia Prominska

 

CoDe Façades is an innovative process to design and fabricate unique, cost-efficient, and well-crafted wooden facades offered to architects and clients by a Swiss wood construction company. It was developed as a research project between the FHNW Academy of Art and Design and ERNE AG Holzbau in response to the growing need for flexibility and adaptability in the construction industry while keeping the high quality of the final product. 

photo_credit Zosia Prominska
Zosia Prominska

This system comprises three innovations applied in the industrial setup, resulting in an efficient and flexible design-to-production workflow. (1) The collaborative design approach is a method in which the architect, engineer, and manufacturer exchange on the early stage of the project during the design workshops. (2) Digital design and fabrication tools enable architects to generate a large scope of façade variations within the production feasibility of the manufacturer and engineers to prepare files for robotic production. (3) Novel multi-robot fabrication processes allow for complex façade assembly. 

photo_credit Zosia Prominska
Zosia Prominska

Digital craftsmanship

CODE Facades introduced the concept of craftsmanship enhanced through digital means as a new value in the industrial realm. It can be observed on multiple levels. Firstly, the design space offered to architects was derived from rich Swiss woodcrafts tradition. The three most typical façade families: beam-based, shingles and board-on-board, have been digitally reinterpreted and aesthetically expanded while keeping their original logic and performance.  

photo_credit Zosia Prominska
Zosia Prominska

Secondly, the system uses mixed fabrication, which intelligently combines automated and manual production. While the robotic processes improve precision, efficiency and speed of construction, the material quality and surface finishes are ensured by the manual skills of the ERNE's carpenters. This increases the quality of the facades and lowers and cost of production. Such an industrial setup, often associated with affordable and standardized solutions, is enriched with new values of crafts and individuality. 

photo_credit Zosia Prominska
Zosia Prominska

 

Lastly, the proposed process brings architects closer to making. By using integrative digital tools and through close collaboration with an industrial partner, architects can take a more active role in the construction sector and design with more awareness of manufacturing.

photo_credit Zosia Prominska
Zosia Prominska

 

photo_credit Zosia Prominska
Zosia Prominska

Facades of office Saig

The architectural potential of the system has been validated through the full-scale application on four facades of a 1-storey-high temporary office building in Stein, Switzerland, with a total area of 220m2, constructed in November 2020. Inspired by local traditional solutions, its intricate facades stand out in a local industrial context. 

photo_credit Zosia Prominska
Zosia Prominska
photo_credit Zosia Prominska
Zosia Prominska

 

Summary

The system's innovation lies in the introduction of design-driven flexible automation strategies into the industrial setup. These include an early exchange between architect and manufacturer, flexible digital design tool and reconfigurable fabrication setup. 

photo_credit Zosia Prominska
Zosia Prominska

Where manual techniques would be impossible to implement or require custom-made formworks and complicated individual treatment of each element, the computational and fabrication methods offer flexibility, efficiency and high quality. This quality distinguishes the developed system from individualized expensive façade solutions currently available on the market.

photo_credit Zosia Prominska
Zosia Prominska

Acknowledgments

CoDe Facades was developed within an applied research ‘CoDeFa’ (Collaborative Design of Prefabricated Façade Systems), between FHNW Academy of Arts and Design and ERNE AG Holzbau, co-financed by Innosuisse. 

photo_credit Zosia Prominska
Zosia Prominska

 

Credits:

Institute Integrative Design | Masterstudio (currently Institute Contemporary Design Practices), HGK, FHNW:

Edyta Augustynowicz (Project Lead), Maria Smigielska, Daniel Nikles

(Architectural design/ Parametric process development/Robotic process development)

Ralf Michel, Heinz Wagner (Academic advisory)

ERNE AG Holzbau:

Thomas Wehrle (Project Manager)

Oliver Ackermann, Heiri Treier, Thomas Reiner (Wood Engineering/ Wood Manufacturing and Construction/ Facade assembly)

Project support:

Innosuisse - Swiss Innovation Agency.

https://codefacades.ch/

photo_credit Zosia Prominska
Zosia Prominska

 

photo_credit Zosia Prominska
Zosia Prominska
Project Credits
Architects
Product Spec Sheet

Project Spotlight
Product Spotlight
News
Mole Architects and Invisible Studio complete sustainable, utilitarian building for Forest School Camps
24 Apr 2024 News
Mole Architects and Invisible Studio complete sustainable, utilitarian building for Forest School Camps

Mole Architects and Invisible Studio have completed “The Big Roof”, a new low-carbon and... More

Key projects by NOA
24 Apr 2024 News
Key projects by NOA

NOA is a collective of architects and interior designers founded in 2011 by Stefan Rier and Lukas Ru... More

Introducing the Archello Podcast: the most visual architecture podcast in the world
24 Apr 2024 News
Introducing the Archello Podcast: the most visual architecture podcast in the world

Archello is thrilled to announce the launch of the Archello Podcast, a series of conversations featu... More

Taktik Design revamps sunken garden oasis in Montreal college
23 Apr 2024 News
Taktik Design revamps sunken garden oasis in Montreal college

At the heart of Montreal’s Collège de Maisonneuve, Montreal-based Taktik Design has com... More

Carr’s “Coastal Compound” combines family beach house with the luxury of a boutique hotel
23 Apr 2024 News
Carr’s “Coastal Compound” combines family beach house with the luxury of a boutique hotel

Melbourne-based architecture and interior design studio Carr has completed a coastal residence embed... More

Barrisol Light brings the outdoors inside at Mr Green’s Office
22 Apr 2024 News
Barrisol Light brings the outdoors inside at Mr Green’s Office

French ceiling manufacturer Barrisol - Normalu SAS was included in Archello’s list of 25 best... More

Peter Pichler, Rosalba Rojas Chávez, Lourenço Gimenes and Raissa Furlan join Archello Awards 2024 jury
22 Apr 2024 Archello Awards
Peter Pichler, Rosalba Rojas Chávez, Lourenço Gimenes and Raissa Furlan join Archello Awards 2024 jury

Peter Pichler, Rosalba Rojas Chávez, Lourenço Gimenes and Raissa Furlan have been anno... More

25 best decorative glass manufacturers
22 Apr 2024 Specification
25 best decorative glass manufacturers

By incorporating decorative glass in projects, such as stained or textured glass windows, frosted gl... More