international association for shell and spatial structures

Working Group 21: Advanced Manufacturing and Materials

Competition and exhibition of innovative lightweight structures - IASS 2023 (Melbourne)

Working Group 21 is organising a competition for innovative pavilions at the 2023 IASS Symposium to be held in Melbourne 10th - 14th July 2023 (see also


Please direct any questions about the competition to Arno Pronk, by email to


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.)
  • 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 organise exhibitions of innovative pavilions to stimulate research and to show the results of this research. For the realisation of those pavilions, the aim is for a synergy of academics, artist and companies.

Recent History

  • A competition and exhibition of innovative pavilions was organised 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 organised 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 in Harbin China
  • Exhibition/competition of innovative pavilions at the 2021 symposium in Surrey.

Anticipated Future Activities

  • Ice sculpture in China in the winter of 2021/2022.
  • Organize an exhibition/competition of innovative pavilions at the 2022 symposium in Beijing, China.
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.

  • Dr. Arno PRONK (Chair) - The Netherlands
  • Dr. John ORR (Co-Chair) - United Kingdom

Further Information for IASS Members

Last updated okt 2021

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