IAAC - Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia
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Educational Program - Open Thesis Fabrication

Open Thesis Fabrication

OTF 6.0


6th Edition

In design, architecture and many other disciplines, Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) fabrication equipment has given designers unprecedented means for executing formally challenging projects directly from the computer. By overcoming the limitations imposed by manufacturing systems based on standardization, the impact of these technologies has fundamentally challenged the paradigm of production, thus opening a wide field of research and experimentation practices and unimaginable design opportunities.

In this new context, IAAC has been a leading academic institution through the incorporation of these technologies as part of its research agenda and work environment with a Fab-Lab that is equipped with several large scale CNC machines (laser cutters, CNC Milling Machines, 3D printers, etc) and spaces for prototyping in a large industrial warehouse setting. Since its creation, IAAC’s potential for fabrication experiments has been largely explored, yet it was fully demonstrated with the development of the world-acknowledged 1:1 prototype of the Solar House (Solar Decathlon, 2010), which was entirely produced within its own facilities.

With the intention of continuing this agenda, in 2010 IAAC launched a 16-week intensive research program for individual participants called OPEN THESIS FABRICATION (OTF).  Given the successful results of the first edition, reviewed by renowned architects and expressed by both participants and industrial partners, IAAC presents OTF 6.0 from Sept to Dec, 2015.

The OTF program provides participants with fundamental opportunities:

-The opportunity to develop of an INDIVIDUAL RESEARCH agenda
-Full-Access to CNC technologies and warehouse space for 1:1 SCALE PRODUCTION of material tests and prototypes
-Direct engagement with INDUSTRIAL PARTNERS
-Work sessions with LEADING EXPERTS in the field of digital production
-Springboard into FUTURE R&D professional environments

The OTF program is open to students and professionals who are interested in developing a specific research agenda in the field of digital design and fabrication, in an experimental environment that provides the spatial and technological means to execute it.

The OTF program seeks to develop and complete full-scale prototypes using advanced CNC machinery, innovative material solutions, and smart energy applications. Enrolled participants will be followed by experienced advisors, have special work meetings with leading professionals of the field of digital production, and regular contact with industrial experts.

The OTF Program is a unique research program as it is developed as a non-profit partnership between IAAC and a series of well-established industrial partners and companies. The objective of this collaboration is to offer participants the possibility to engage in a semi-professional environment, and develop a project with the support and expertise of individuals and institutions that are commercially involved in their field of research. In this manner, it provides a potential jumping platform into future professional opportunities, while offering companies a fresh R&D environment where to propose new design challenges and applications. Throughout the OTF program, participants will be in direct and close contact with representatives of the companies, thus building up a potential collaboration that may be continued after the program has been completed.

For the sixth edition of OTF Program in 2015, IAAC is setting up a wide variety of partnerships, including material, technology and design-oriented companies.  

Participants of the OTF Program will be asked to choose an individual research topic, connected to their own interests/prior experience or in response to a specific challenge proposed by the different partner companies. The research topic will be framed and evaluated together with the OTF Program directors, who will help participants to establish the specific research goals, potential methodologies, and a concrete work calendar for the development of the project.

While hosted at IAAC, participants in the OTF Program will have full-access to its Fab-Lab BCN facilities, which are located within the industrial-like setting of IAAC’s large warehouse space. The Fab-Lab BCN is equipped with several large scale CNC machines (laser cutters, CNC Milling Machines, 3D printers, etc) and run by staff with wide expertise. These outstanding facilities will provide participants with an exceptional infrastructure for the development of material tests and full-scale physical prototypes.

The academic staff of OTF is composed by a group of permanent advisors and a series of invited guests, who act as external reviewers and give lectures on relevant topics for the development of the projects. Permanent advisors follow the individual projects every 2 weeks, alternating faculty according to the project needs. Invited guests are scheduled to run special intensive workshops every 3 or 4 weeks, and are invited to review the projects in the Final Presentation.

OTF previous editions hosted international faculty such as:

Enrico Dini, D-Shape
Fabian Scheurer, Design to Production
Mette Ramsgard Thomsen, CITA/Royal Academy of Fine Arts
Javier Peña, XPIRAL Architects
Kas Oosterhuis, ONL Architects
Theodore Spyropoulos, Minimaforms/AA
Enric Ruiz Geli, Gloud 9
Jelle Feringa, TU Delft
Michael Knauss, ETH ZURICH/ Gramazio Kohler
Russel Loveridge, EPFL
Tomasz Jaskiewicz, TuDelft - Hyperbody

The OTF program will be structured for a total duration of 16 weeks, from September to December, 2015. During this period, participants will have the opportunity to meet the program Permanent Advisors every 2 weeks, and participate in 4 intensive 1-day workshops with Invited Guests.

Participants without prior experience in digital fabrication will be given the opportunity to take an intensive 1-week introductory workshop in the Fab-Lab BCN, which will support the development of material constructions within the duration of the program.

Within the duration of the OTF program, several parallel activities will be proposed and organized, with the objective to provide participants a wider vision on the specific applications and the scope of professional realities concerning digital production techniques. These may include:

_Factory / Institutional visits
_Building / Construction Site visits
_Exhibitions visits
_Events / Special Lectures
All activities are obligatory.

The 16-week program will be structured as follows:
WEEK 1_IntroductionChallenge presentation from companies
Fab Lab Introduction for non-experienced participants
WEEK 2_Definition of Goals
Participants presentation of intent + written statement
WEEK 3_Definition of project development (1)
Desk Crits with Permanent Advisors
WEEK 4_ Definition of project development (2)
Desk Crits with Permanent Advisors
WEEK 5_ Project development (1)
Workshop #1 with Invited Guests
WEEK 6_ Project development (2)
Desk Crits with Permanent Advisors
WEEK 7_ Project development (3)
Desk Crits with Permanent Advisors
WEEK 8_ Project development (4)
Workshop #2 with Invited Guests
WEEK 9_ Project development (5)
Desk Crits with Permanent Advisors
WEEK 10_ Mid-Program Presentation
Participants presentation + Preliminary Booklet
WEEK 11_ Project development (6)
Workshop #3 with Invited Guests
WEEK 12_ Project development (7)
Desk Crits with Permanent Advisors
WEEK 13_ Project development (8)
Desk Crits with Permanent Advisors
WEEK 14_ Project development (9)
Workshop #4 with Invited Guests
WEEK 15_ Pre-Final Presentation
Participants presentation with Permanent Advisors
WEEK 16_ Final Presentation
Participants presentation + Final Booklet

The tuition fee for the OTF program is 5,800€.
Payment must be made in full before the beginning of the program.

Materials for prototypes and experiments will NOT be provided by IAAC. Nonetheless, IAAC will support participants (with reference letters or other) in seeking material donations from industrial companies.

All payments must be paid  by bank transfer only to:

Bank: Santander

Agency: 6784

Address: Via Augusta, 182. CP 08021. Barcelona. Spain

CCC: 0049 6784 34 2416153702

IBAN en formato electrónico: ES58 0049 6784 3424 1615 3702


Holder: Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia

Note: Make sure that bank transferring SUBJECT is the applicant’s name, and not the person who orders the transfer. Also make sure to select the SWITF instructions code “OUR” when ordering the bank transfer. This means that you have to pay the transfer charges.

For more information email us at: applications@iaac.net