international association for shell and spatial structures

Working Group 21: Advanced Manufacturing and Materials

Competition and exhibition of innovative lightweight structures - IASS 2024 (Zurich)

Working Group 21 organised a competition for innovative pavilions at the 2024 IASS Symposium held in Zurich Zwitserland 26th - 30th august 2024. Jury members for the expo in Zurich Zwitserland were Ruy Pauletti, Sigrid Adriaenssens, Arno Pronk, John Orr. 

IASS Barcelona Competition

With the attached link you will find a video of the iass Barcelona competition


The construction of lightweight structures by cutting-edge techniques and smart materials for the built environment. The tension between idea and technique has taken an interesting turn. The possibilities offered by new modelling software and smart materials have led to very complex architecture in all its wealth and beauty. The building designs developed tremendously from mass production to very sophisticated, just-in-time-shape-and-place production. Construction of advanced building structures has become industrial design. In spite of what has been achieved, the gap between idea and technique has become larger. Working Group 21 aims to narrow this gap by providing a platform to exchange research and application of advanced manufacturing and materials.

The working group focuses on several topics of the manufacturing process. Researchers are invited to exchange knowledge, to organise sessions and to participate in workshops and exhibitions. Beside creating a knowledge platform within the IASS, the group wants to introduce interdisciplinary cutting-edge techniques and developments into the built environment. In general, the working group aims to bridge the gap between mechanical engineering and the built environment.

Current Objectives

The Working Group proposes to advance the following research topics in advanced manufacturing as related to spatial structures:

Additive manufacturing (spraying, extrusion, curing, melting, lamination, etc.)

The expo will be outdoor with a maximum size of 4 by 4 by 4 meters and need to be anchored to the soil

  • Casting & moulding (flexible formwork, fabric formwork, adjustable formwork, inflatable formwork, vacuum moulding, blow moulding, etc.)
  • Connections (bolting, welding, lamination, clamping, stitching, rivets, flexible joints, kinetic joints, zip fasteners, hook and loop fasteners, interlocking connections, etc.)
  • Subtractive Manufacturing (milling, electro-chemical erosion, laser cutting, water jet cutting, etc.)
  • Robotics (mechatronics, manufacturing automation, drones, etc.)
  • Smart materials (micro and nano-fabrication, (bio)composites, metals (alloys), ceramics, natural/synthetic polymers, shape memory alloys etc.)
  • Textile technology (spinning, (3D) weaving, (3D) knitting, non-woven, etc.)
  • Surface treatment (polishing, coating, electrotyping, abrasive blasting, etc.)
In addition, the working group aims to organize exhibitions of innovative pavilions to stimulate research and to show the results of this research. For the realization of those pavilions, the aim is for a synergy of academics, artist and companies.

Recent History

  • A competition and exhibition of innovative pavilions was organized at the 2015 IASS symposium in Amsterdam.
  • ISOFF organized a flexible formwork workshop and symposium at the 2015 IASS symposium in Amsterdam.
  • Sessions by several people were organized concerning fabrication and manufacturing at the 2017 symposium in Hamburg.
  • A session on flexible formwork at the 2018 symposium in Boston.
  • Exhibition/competition of innovative pavilions at the 2019 symposium in Barcelona.
  • 2019 Ice Pavilion Competition in cooperation with HIT, Harbin, China
  • In 2021 a competition was organized by WG21 in Surrey. This competition was a great success with 15 participants from all over the world.
  • In 2023 there was also a competition in Melbourne Australia.

Anticipated Future Activities

location of the WG21 expo


Fabric formwork - Facebook Group -

Structural ice website

    Current Membership

    The Working Group welcomes additional members who have an interest in Advanced Manufacturing and Materials; those interested should please contact the Chair or Co-Chair of the Working Group.

    Further Information for IASS Members

    Last updated oct 2023

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