Digital Ceramic Skin

Harvard Graduate School of Design



John Nastasi



Gazhal Abbazy

Matías Imbern

Michael Mahal

Felix Raspall


YEAR 2011



The introduction of digital tools in the production of architecture constitutes one the main force behind contemporary architectural innovation. Parametric geometry combined with new fabrication technologies offers new domains of possibilities currently addressed from multiple angles of study and experimentation. Furthermore, the interaction of these digital technologies with analog craft production, a rather unexplored field, suggests a wider range of undiscovered opportunities that can stretch the boundaries of digital design.


The research was conceived as an experimental system that explores the potentials of cooperation between digital and physical tools, and the synergy created between them in the production of architectural design. The conception of complex geometry by using associative geometry software -Digital Project- is enhanced and complemented by the craft-embedded quality of unique objects. The principal aim of the project is the development of a design workflow capable of integrating the deterministic logic of computation with the tacit knowledge of craft production, generating a one-off design product.


Ceramics as an architectural material dates from ancient times, which knowledge is preserved in the craft techniques of pottery. This ancestral quality makes ceramic a unique material for experimenting with the use of digital tools. The proposed system addresses different layers of architectural complexity, such as skin, openings, structure and insulation, studying their intrinsic cooperation when constructing a digital design product.