Redefining Structural Art: Strategies, necessities and opportunities

Block P., Van Mele T., Rippmann M., Ranaudo F., Calvo Barentin C. and Paulson N.
The Structural Engineer
Institution of Structural Engineers

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs estimates that by 2050 the world’s population will have increased by over 2.1 billion people. Providing housing and infrastructure for them would essentially require building an amount equivalent to what currently exists. It is simply not possible to build in the future the way we do today if we want to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, slow the depletion of natural resources and minimise waste production. These challenges can only be addressed if engineers and architects actively include them at the source of their designs. Through full-scale, built research demonstrators by the Block Research Group at ETH Zurich, this essay presents strategies, based on advances in computational structural design and digital fabrication, to take on these challenges, offering opportunities for a necessary disruptive change. It furthermore calls for a rethinking of how we collaborate, teach engineering, and develop building codes to allow for greater flexibility and innovation.


    author  = "Block, P. and Van Mele, T. and Rippmann, M. and Ranaudo, F. and Calvo Barentin, C. and Paulson, N.",
    title   = "Redefining Structural Art: Strategies, necessities and opportunities",
    journal = "The Structural Engineer",
    year    = "2020",
    volume  = "98",
    number  = "1",
    pages   = "66-72",
    month   = "January",
    doi     = "",
    note    = "",

Related publications

Block P., Van Mele T., Rippmann M. and Paulson N.Beyond Bending - Reimagining Compression Shells,Edition DETAIL,Munich,2017 (October).
Block P. and Paulson N.E4: Efficiency, Economy, Elegance, and Ecology,Design - Tales of Science and Innovation,G. Folkers and M. Schmid (editors),Chronos Verlag, Collegium Helveticum and ETH Zurich,Zürich,2019.
Block P., Calvo Barentin C., Ranaudo F. and Paulson N.Imposing Challenges, Disruptive Changes: Rethinking the Floor Slab,The Materials Book: Inspired by the 6th LafargeHolcim Foundation Forum ,Ruby, I. and Ruby A. (editors),Ruby Press,Berlin,2020.


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