For this second semester, HS19, we will focus on SITE, as part of our six-year MATERIAL GESTURE research and design. In accordance with the approach of the studio we believe that when we take all the material aspects of a SITE in consideration: the geology, mining, different physical properties, craftsmanship, the specialized techniques and cultural understanding, we can deploy the full potential of the inherent material qualities of a SITE and our way of working it, in what we call MATERIAL GESTURE.

The SITE we will study and travel to is Japan’s Southern volcanic island of Kyushu. You will explore the area from a geological, material and cultural perspective. The project that will be developed in this studio will be based on this research and exploration. You will be required to work with the materials and the volcanic processes that are present on the island, and use or transform them to design a space located there: a space that is born from the site in its material consistence and that is constructed on that site, built, in harmony or contrast, to the previous gestures that have formed the geology of the place.


When we take all aspects of the material into consideration – the geology, the mining, the different properties, the craftsmanship, the specialised techniques, and the cultural significance – we can deploy the full potential of the inherent qualities of the material itself and our way of working it in what we call MATERIAL GESTURE.

In this design studio, you will define your gestures of making and working with material(s) through research and experiment, and in response to the topic of the studio. You are required to produce an architecture that results from your specific engagement with the material. The architecture that results from this approach does not reference or represent something, but simply attempts to exist as a physical spatial reality in its own right.

Your research should be supported by the knowledge available at the ETH and we strongly recommend that you forge relationships with other departments and specialists, and use the available resources and facilities. Throughout the whole semester, and for your final presentation, we require that you work with physical (fragment) models of your building in the actual material(s). It is important in this design studio, not to make a complete building, but to show and support the found values of the material engagement in a spatial way, based on the full potential of the inherent qualities of the material itself and your way of working it.


In this studio, we will work in a workshop and laboratory-like setting where you will research, design and test the proposed material. The material and the ways of making are not a presentation outcome of the design studio but rather, an integral part of a process of working, researching and designing. You are required to work individually in the design studio.

There is no given program for the space. This can be chosen at any time in the development of your project. However, it should not complicate it, but rather support the spatial and material conditions that you have set out.

For the final presentation, you are required to make a physical model of your work, or a fragment of it, in a scale of 1:15. The model should show the material and the gestures (the ways of making). This is the key element of your presentation, along with samples of the material research. You are required to display the material gesture research, drawings of the project, and photos of the model alongside your model on portrait A2 sheets.

The A2 material will be collected in print and digitally in PDF format for the material gesture archive. A semester result book will be made after the presentation. Of a selection of a maximum of three projects, the models and material research will be crated and archived for future exhibitions.