Rethinking Concrete Construction

November 5, 2021
12:00 p.m.
Zoom webinar
Rice Architecture
2021-2022 Lecture Series
Building Identities | Fall Edition

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Philippe Block, Professor, Institute of Technology in Architecture (ITA), ETH Zurich, presents the lecture "Rethinking Concrete Construction" at 12:00 p.m. cst via Zoom as part of the 2021-2022 Rice Architecture Lecture Series, Building Identities, Fall Edition.
The Block Research Group at ETH Zurich develops novel design and engineering approaches for efficient structural form and proposes new and economical construction approaches. To address the grand challenges posed by climate change, the group’s research and built prototypes strive the motto “strength through geometry” to reduce embodied greenhouse gas emissions and utilise fewer first-use resources. To minimise construction waste and increase labour productivity, the group develops innovative bespoke prefabrication strategies and novel construction paradigms. Drawing from a revival of forgotten principles combined with the latest advances in the design, engineering, fabrication and construction of doubly-curved shell structures, this lecture reveals the foundations upon which projects such as the unreinforced stone Armadillo Vault, the thin, flexibly formed concrete shells of the NEST HiLo and KnitCandela projects and the 3D-concrete-printed masonry bridge Striatus were based.
Philippe Block is a full professor at the Institute of Technology in Architecture (ITA) at ETH Zurich, where he leads the Block Research Group (BRG) with Dr. Tom Van Mele and is Head of the Institute. Philippe is also Director of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) in Digital Fabrication. He studied architecture and structural engineering at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) in Belgium and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, where he earned his PhD in 2009. With Foreign Engineering, Philippe translates his research into practice, offering consultancy on structural geometry and computation and the design, engineering and construction of novel shell structures.


Building Identities

Construction of physical structures is inseparable from the construction of human identities. Rice Architecture aims to broaden our understanding of building construction and identity formation as two interrelated processes, seeking to close the gap between the social and the formal in the field of architecture and our world more broadly. Reflecting the pluralism of Houston as the most diverse city in the United States, Building Identities advances the agency of architecture in a new multicultural world. We believe this is an urgent theme for our school, our community, and our field at large.

All lectures take place CST via Zoom. All lectures are free and open to the public. Each lecture is eligible for one AIA/CES Learning Unit.

Please be sure to register online for each lecture to receive the link to join. 

This lecture series is made possible through the generous support of the Betty R. and the George F. Pierce Jr., FAIA, Fund, the William B. Coleman Jr. Colloquium Fund for Architecture, the Wm. W. Caudill Lecture Series Fund, and Rice Design Alliance (RDA), the public programs and outreach arm of Rice Architecture.