Past Event

Forcing Tectonics

Presented by Dr. Nic Bao, Dr. Dan Luo & Dr. Xin Yan


Sat 20 May 10:00am - 3:00pm
Sun 21 May 10:00am - 3:00pm
Mon 22 May 10:00am - 3:00pm
Tue 23 May 10:00am - 3:00pm
Wed 24 May 10:00am - 3:00pm
Thu 25 May 10:00am - 3:00pm
Fri 26 May 10:00am - 3:00pm
Sat 27 May 10:00am - 3:00pm
Sun 28 May 10:00am - 3:00pm


Free, no booking required


Testing Grounds Emporium
438 Queen Street, Melbourne VIC, Australia


Wheelchair accessible

Forcing Tectonics is an exhibition exploring the integration of generative design and digital fabrication in the creation of circular shell plates. These circular shell plates showcased in the exhibition are generated using a structural performance-based algorithm and fabricated using advanced manufacturing techniques that integrate robotic weaving and 3D printing to produce customized components and their future implications for architectural design. The exhibition speculates on the potential applications of digital and automated technologies in the design and fabrication process to significantly improve the productivity of customized non-standard design components and performative material composites, showcasing significant potential in the fabrication of building-scale components.

The new design technology and techniques showcased in the exhibition have demonstrated exceptional performance for large-scale customized architecture and structures. The highly flexible and structurally efficient composite material used in the fabrication process also has extraordinary sustainability benefits, significantly reducing waste in the formwork construction and de-moulding process.

Presented by the collaboration between RMIT University, the University of Queensland, and Tsinghua University, the exhibition features robotically fabricated prototypes that explore the potential of architectural form, structure, ornament, and tectonics through design. The project demonstrates the outcome of a new design and fabrication system for spatial structures based on a combined workflow of robotic weaving and 3D printing techniques. This technology provides a novel method for building adaptive, lightweight, sustainable, low-cost, and reliable structures. The proposed fabrication system showcased in this exhibition could be upscaled for application in the transportable building market, paving the way for highly customized building construction that is affordable, accessible, and environmentally friendly. It opens up new aesthetic possibilities in design and gains attraction from communities and cities for its low-cost and sustainable construction methods.

Project Directors: Dr. Nic Bao, Dr. Dan Luo & Dr. Xin Yan

Design Lead: Dr. Nic Bao & Dr. Xin Yan

Fabrication Lead: Dr. Nic Bao & Zhengxi Xian (3D printing); Dr. Dan Luo & Linzi Fan & Zhuoyang Xin (Robotic Weaving)

Student Assistants: Liming Liu, Zhuoran Chen, Zixin Wang, Ziyan Li, Xi Chen, Ziyang He

Universities: RMIT University, School of Architecture and Urban Design; University of Queensland, School of Architecture and School of Civil Engineering; Tsinghua University, Future Laboratory


Dr. Ding Wen 'Nic' Bao

Dr. Dingwen ‘Nic’ Bao is a Lecturer at School of Architecture and Urban Design, and researcher at Centre For Innovative Structures and Materials, RMIT University. He is a registered architect with over 10 year experience in Australia, and founded BDW Architects and FormX Tech. He gained a Master of Architecture from The University of Melbourne (2014), Bachelor of Architecture from RMIT University (2012) and completed Ph.D at School of Engineering and School of Architecture and Urban Design, RMIT University. His research is truly interdisciplinary, exploring how buildings can be shaped and optimised through robotic fabrication in line with both architectural and structural design requirements. His work has been exhibited widely, including Melbourne Design Week, IASS Expo Barcelona, Venice Biennale, DigitalFUTURES, Time + Architecture magazine. Recently Nic received the 2021 Young CAADRIA Award, 2021 RMIT HDR Research Impact Prize, 2021 MUSE Design Award and 2022 Grand Prix Design Paris (GPDP) – Gold Award.

Dr. Dan Luo

Dr. Dan Luo is an architect with strong computer science background. She is a lecturer at School of Architecture and School of Civil Engineering, The University of Queensland, She has a Ph.D in Digital Design and Fabrication from Tsinghua University (2019), a Master of Architecture from Columbia University (2014) and is currently upon completion of Master of Computer and Information Technology from University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Luo’s expertise is in digital design and applied robotic construction. She has worked for pioneer design firm UNStudio. Her research combined advance fabrication technologies and design-build practice to explore the future of automated construction. Not only yield in publications on top journals and conferences, Dr. Luo has also developed robotic system applied during the on-site construction of built projects.

Dr. Xin Yan

Dr. Xin Yan is an architect with comprehensive background of mechanics and computer sciences. He received his Ph.D and master of architectural and engineering design from University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, and bachelor of theoretical and applied mechanics from University of Science and Technology of China. Dr. Yan is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at Tsinghua University and sessional studio leader at School of Architecture and Urban Design, RMIT University. His research combines digital design, structural optimization and intelligent fabrication. Besides academic publications, Dr. Yan has participated in several exhibitions, such as IASS Barcelona, Shenzhen Urban Biennale, Beijing Design Week, and Digital FUTURES in Shanghai. He has also received the Grand Prix Design Paris (GPDP) – Gold Award and MUSE Design Award in 2021.

You Might Like

Design Your Own Universe

23-28 May (9 sessions)

Student Crash Course: University to Employment

Design Institute of Australia
24 May

Open Table

25-27 May (3 sessions)