At Foros 2022, Andrea Deplazes and Jordi Fauli i Oller remind architects not to forget critical thinking when applying new digital technologies

Both speakers agreed on the great range of opportunities that new design and manufacturing techniques can offer, but call on the profession to retain its essence

On 9 March, a new session of the lecture series Foros 2022, organised by the UIC Barcelona School of Architecture, took place at the UIC Barcelona Aula Magna lecture theatre. Under the title “Evolving technologies”, the event was hosted by architects Andrea Deplazes, lecturer of architecture and construction at the prestigious ETH Zurich Polytechnic Institute (Switzerland), and Jordi Fauli i Oller, director and coordinator of construction work at the Sagrada Familia. Lecturer Juan Trias de Bes, director of the series, moderated the session.

In their speech, both speakers agreed on the wide range of opportunities that new digital technologies have opened up in the field of architecture and construction, but at the same time, they stressed the need for architects not to abandon critical thinking in their profession.

Jordi Fauli i Oller presented concrete examples of how new digital technology is being applied at the Sagrada Familia site to the audience. These included digital scanning techniques, experimentation with new materials, robotic construction techniques and pre-assembly of prototypes and construction elements. “The construction of the Sagrada Familia has always been a challenge. In our case, the use of new technology has always been focused on preserving Gaudí’s original plan and understanding the geometrical complexity of the temple”, he said.

Andrea Deplazes described some of the projects based on experimentation with new design and digital manufacturing tools that are being developed by his firm Bearth + Deplazes in collaboration with ETH Zurich students. One that stood out was the “New Monte Rosa Hut” project, a mountaineering hut built at an altitude of over 2,000 metres by way of a parametric design of prefabricated wooden sections. “The most interesting part of the project was working with the help of students, who learned that parametric design is about critical thinking, not simply combining elements arbitrarily. The role of the architect does not change”, he explained. At the end of his speech, Deplazes announced the upcoming creation of the Spanish Institute for Technologies and Roboting in Architecture, which will be based in Pamplona.

Foros 2022 is organised under the theme “The leap into the void”. This new series promotes self-awareness in the current world of architecture, in all its different aspects and fields of application. As a new feature, the lecture series is introducing a new format based on a two-way dialogue between professionals from the sector and the challenges facing the industry, in sessions structured by topics relevant to architectural practice today.

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