earth to earth Video


Academy of Architecture

3 April 2023

earth to earth
The ZHAW / USI winter research project on sustainable construction through digital fabrication

The building processes of today`s architecture are amongst the most contaminating activities done by humans. How can architects and engineers help to change this? In this Winterschool, we introduce the topic of earthen construction enhanced with digital fabrication. Focusing on a real-world construction project, we aim to investigate the importance of the role of architects and engineers for helping to initiate the change towards a more sustainable future.

Set-up as an interdisciplinary collaboration, we focus on designing, planning and constructing a fully functional exterior staircase made of earthen materials. This entails the design of an ultra-thin formwork such as a 3D-printed earthen structure and casting of the stair using a special earth-based concrete (e.g., Cleancrete© by the ETH spin-off Oxara). This stair is an investigation into and a prototype for a novel typology of structure serving as a statement for the systemic change that is urgently needed in our built environment.



  • ZHAW Centre for Building Technologies and Processes in collaboration with USI Accademia di architettura di Mendrisio and Oxara

Workshop Lead

  • David Jenny (ZHAW) and Prof. Dr. Ena Lloret-Fritschi (USI)

Collaborators USI

  • Yen-Fen Chan, Sacha Cutajar, Fabio Amicarelli, Selen Ercan Jenny

Collaborators ZHAW

  • Samuel Rebelo Garcia, Patric Fischli-Boson

Industry Partner

  • Oxara: Dr. Thibault Demoulin and Dr. Gnanli Landrou


  • David Baumgartner, Sofia Distefano, Emmanuel Gnagne, Kai Guhl, Fumiya Hitomi, Ken Huber, Edoardo Lagrasta, Erlisia Ramazza, Emira Reddjepi, Lotte Schlör, Meltem Simsek, Tamara Skoric, Kiani Suo, Anastasia Trajkovic, Francesco Tucci, Michelle Wüthrich
earth-to-earth workshop