The workshop Digital Design and Production in Architecture, organized by INDEXLAB – Politecnico di Milano, has the objective to offer a new vision on architecture and its manufacturing methodologies.
As 20th Century’s architecture focused on mass production and serial repetition of its components, today’s one will be strongly characterized by varied and unique elements, industrially produced through advanced CNC fabrication machines. At the same time, the rise of novel programming platforms for design make it possible to generate processes and algorithms that allow the control of form and technological aspects from the first conceptual stages of the design till the construction phase. This makes possible to integrate aesthetics and functionality, structural resistance and energy performance within one coherent design process.
In the process of definition such “design to production” workflow, both fabrication and material limits and potentials play a key role in generating competitive logical construction systems. Robots and CNC machinery contribute to the redefinition of design methodologies and construction processes, transferring most of manufacturing from the building site to industrial production, where advanced components, integrating structure and envelope, can be designed and fabricated into complex solutions with high aesthetic and functional value.
The workshop aims at bringing together visionary companies, advanced designers and innovation-oriented students to envision new synergies between academic research, architectural practice and industrial production.

Module 1

Monday July 3rd, 2017

Algorithmic Design for Architecture

Participants will be introduced to the tools and methods of computational design through the Grasshopper software platform. The aim is to allow the exploration of algorithmic modeling of non-standard forms, as well as to understand the implications of fabrication methodologies in the realization of such geometries.


  • Understand the new role of digital tools in the definition and management of complex architectural projects
  • Understand basic algorithmic processes for form generation, from massing schemes to architectural skins
  • Learn techniques for geometry optimization and discretization for different fabrication technologies


  • Grasshopper (beginner) 

Module 2

From Monday July 10th To Saturday July 15th , 2017

Digital Construction Design and Robotic Fabrication

The course will focus on digital and robotic fabrication methodologies, with the final aim of designing and fabricating full-scale mock-ups and installations, integrating innovative materials and efficient “design to production” parametric routines. The course aims at providing the participants with relevant skills to design complex geometries – through algorithmic modeling – and define innovative digital production methods for architecture and the construction industry.


  • Understand the potential of digital fabrication technologies and robotics for architectural construction
  • Learn advanced geometric optimization concepts and their interrelation with specific manufacturing techniques and robotic end-effectors
  • Acquire hands-on experience with the operation of robotic arms for fabrication of custom architectural components
  • Understand a complete Design to Production workflow for the realization of a full-scale pavilion manufactured with digital and robotic fabrication technologies


  • Grasshopper (intermediate – advanced)
  • HAL robotics
  • Kangaroo
  • Galapagos

    • Industrial Robots
    • Hot-wire cutting
    • Milling, contouring
    • Deburring
    • Pick and place
    • Thermoforming
    • Welding
    • Sensing and actuation
    • Motion sensing


    Politecnico di Milano houses cutting-edge technology for the fabrication of physical prototypes, including CNC milling, water-jet, laser cutting, 3D printing facilities and industrial robots. At Indexlab we offer tools to perform complex manipulations and innovative manufacturing processes on natural materials, metals, polymers, cement-based materials, composites.

    Hot-wire cutting

    Laser, welding

    Milling, contouring


    Pick and place


    Sensing and actuation

    Motion sensing


    Scientific committee: Emilio Pizzi, Manuela Grecchi, Giulio Barazzetta, Tiziana Poli, Gabriele Masera, Giuliana Iannaccone, Ingrid Paoletti, Francesco Braghin (Director)

    Digital Tutors: Manuele Gaioni, Carlo Beltracchi, Pierpaolo Ruttico (Director)

    Indexlab workshop tutors are world-renowned leading experts in the field of digital construction, computational design and robotic fabrication. 

    Pierpaolo Ruttico is a research fellow at the Politecnico di Milano, founder and director of INDEXLAB. He holds a PhD in Building Engineering, he has been a Guest Critic at SCIarc Los Angeles and his work has been published internationally, including Advances in Architectural Geometry 2012, EnCoding Architecture 2013, Engineering Systems Design and Analysis 2014, IAHS 2015. He previously worked as a designer for PelliClarkePelli Architects in NYC and as a computational designer and robotic fabrication consultant for COOPHIMMELB(L)AU in Vienna.

    Carlo Beltracchi is an architectural engineer.
    His work focuses on bringing mass customization processes into AEC industry, developing both computational and material systems for architectural firms and constructors.
    Since 2013 he’s part of the Indexlab research network, with teaching experience as assistant in digital design at “Politecnico di Milano”, and a portfolio of realized structures like Copagri Domes Pavilion at Expo2015, Wavin Metal at Technology Hub 2016.

    Manuele Gaioni is an architect and urbanist.
    Educated as an engineer and architect at University of Brescia (Brescia, Italy) and Architectural Association School of Architecture (London, UK). Prior to founding his own practice, since 2009 he worked in London as architect with ecoLogic Studio and Zaha Hadid Architects. Alongside his practice, since 2014 Manuele has been a lecturer at UCL the Bartlett school of Architecture in M.Arch Urban Design (UD) course, and co-founder of the ERA.eu Design Computation Lab. He currently works on architectural projects and research/development.


    Politecnico di Milano is one of the most technologically advanced universities in the world.

    Research is conducted within all faculties, and cross-disciplinary study is key to its methodology.

    The town of Lecco is surrounded by mountains of extraordinary beauty

    The Polimi Lecco Campus is easily accessible.

    It enjoys the strategic location of Milan in the European network of air, road and railway connections.


    INDEXLAB – Politecnico di Milano, Polo territoriale di Lecco. Via Gaetano Previati 1/c, 23900 Lecco


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