Manuel Kretzer

Manuel Kretzer is Scientific Assistant and PhD candidate at the Chair for Computer Aided Architectural Design (CAAD), ETH Zürich where he is responsible for coordinating and leading the postgraduate Master of Advanced Studies class’s digital design, material and fabrication modules. His research aims at the notion of a soft and dynamic architecture with a specific focus on new (smart) material performance.
In 2012 he initiated the materiability research network, an educational community platform on the potential of smart/ programmable materials in the field of architecture and design.
He is also partner at responsive design studio, based in Zurich and Cologne. The strength of the team is rooted in design research and a commitment to exploring opportunities in creating responsive, adaptive and adapted physical space. A special interest lies on alternative solutions for vivid architectural geometries that interact with their user in the process of creation but also in the built shape, materialization, surface and visual behavior.
He has previously worked with Philip Beesley (PBAi) in Toronto, Canada on the development and realization of interactive environments and taught seminars in temporary experimental architecture at the Institute for Industrial Design (ifib), University of Karlsruhe (TH).
He studied architectural design at the Universities of Dresden, South Australia and Karlsruhe where he received his Diploma in Architecture with distinction. His thesis project ‘The Cone’, a kinetic pavilion, was presented at the 2007 Burning Man event in Nevada. Since then he has realized a number of sculptures and installations and has been granted several scholarships and awards.

Talk: Beyond Performance

Smart Materials, materials that have the ability to dynamically adjust their properties in response to changing environmental conditions, are gradually establishing themselves in the architectural world. The possibilities they encompass for the creation of adaptive spaces are manifold, highly intriguing and encouraging. However architects and designers, who are familiar with static materials or at most mechanical kinetics, are confused by their inherent dynamics that happen at an imperceptible scale. In most cases they focus primarily on the material’s visual properties or use them to enhance the performance of established systems within rigid structures.
But once we let durability and efficiency become minor aspects of the investigation new, highly intriguing and inspirational perspectives can surface. Through an anarchic, unprejudiced and non-purposeful examination of certain materials, properties that were formerly ignored can be (re)discovered and emphasised. This talk will present a number of speculative installations that emerged from the materiability research at the Chair for CAAD. The installations are composed of (self-made) smart material assemblies each highlighting different aspects and themes. Surprisingly similar to the definition of an organism, which is capable of responding to stimuli, reproduction, growth and development, and maintenance of homeostasis as a stable whole, recurring motives were “motion”, “immateriality”, “autonomy” and “ecology”.

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