Fields of expertise
drawing as an action
design methodologies in 1:1 fabrication
experiential learning processes
knowledge transfer with Latin America
diversity, variability, sensitivity and care
BiographyPatricia Guaita is an architect, educator, and researcher whose interests lie at the intersection of craft, fabrication, spatial design, and the human body. Since 2009, she has been a lecturer and researcher at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), where she currently holds the position of Head of Techne in the ALICE laboratory. Her extensive research and teaching experience has led her to collaborate with various institutions, and she is a regular invitee to international forums, workshops, and conferences.
Guaita's research initiatives explore the linkages between materiality, embodiment, and architectural education, with an emphasis on craft-based fabrication processes. She was an Invited Professor at the Joint Master of Architecture program (JMA) at the HEIA Fribourg, Switzerland (2020-22), and her doctoral dissertation, "Action and experience in Architecture. Materiality and embodiment in the education of the technological era," was successfully defended in March 2023 at the Department of Architectural Projects, San Pablo CEU University, Madrid.
Guaita has also initiated several research and teaching projects that seek investigate on spatial design, tectonics, and the human body. For instance, she founded the Open City Research Platform (2014) at the EPFL Lausane, which is a research project that focuses on 1:1 fabrication processes in collaboration with Dr. David Jolly Monge at the Ead PUCV Valparaíso, Chile. She also leads an interdisciplinary research initiative on the textile reinforced concrete (TRC) at the intersection with the construction methods developed by João Filgueiras Lima, which is aimed at building an incremental Prototype Pavilion in Textile Reinforced Concrete in the EPFL Fribourg, in collaboration with the Faculdade de Arquitectura da Universidade Federal da Bahia (FAUFBA) in Brazil.
In addition to her academic pursuits, Guaita is an independent architect who has worked on several small-scale projects in Switzerland and has collaborated with ateliers in Madrid and Geneva. Her prior experience includes working on infrastructural reconstruction projects in Bosnia-Herzegovina between 1995 and 1999 as a collaborator with Architects Without Borders and later as a project manager and coordinator with Doctors of the World.
Guaita holds an architecture degree with a specialization in urbanism from the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid (ETSAM) and has studied at the ETSAM Madrid, Spain and the Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia (IUAV) Italy.
Docta Manus Drawing Structures 20232024.
Notes on Drawing: interior material linesDrawing in Architecture Education and Research; Lucerne: Park Books, 2023.
Acción y experiencia en la arquitectura. Materia y corporalidad en la enseñanza de la era tecnológica.USP- Universidad San Pablo CEU, Madrid, Spain., 2023.
“El Pórtico de los Huéspedes”: Exploring other ways of building at the Open City in Valparaiso, ChileThe Routledge Companion to Architectural Pedagogies of the Global South; London: Routledge, 2022-12-30. p. 508.
Prototype pavilion in Fribourg: towards an upgrade of argamassa armada through Textile Reinforced ConcreteARQUISUR Revista. 2022-12-19. DOI : 10.14409/ar.v12i22.119691.
Une architecture à la manière d’un jardin: construction incrémentale à la Ciudad AbiertaTracés. 2021-09-14.
Notes on learning through building in the Open City: Body, Craft and MaterialityBuilding for Architecture Education Architekturpädagogiken. Lucerne Talks; Zurich: Park Books, 2021. p. 210.
An experiential learning approach to educational development: Responses to teaching architecture through the lenses of reflective practice2020-12-09. International Consortium for Educational Development ICED 2020, Zurich, Switzerland, 15-18 June, 2020. p. 422-427.
Textile reinforced concrete for sustainable structures: Future perspectives and application to a prototype pavilionStructural Concrete. 2020-01-29. DOI : 10.1002/suco.201900511.
The potential of textile reinforced concrete for design of innovative structures2019. Madrid, Spain.
Building Duration / El Portico de los Huespedes2019. 107th Annua2019 Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) 107th Annual Meeting: Black Box: Articulating Architecture's Core in the Post-Digital Era, Pittsburgh, PA, March 28-30, 2019. p. 127-128.
Pedagogy through artisanal construction of thin-walled concrete elements: a dialogue between engineering and architecture2018. IV Int. Conference on structural engineering education without borders, Madrid, Spain, 2018.
El camino no es el camino. Some reflexions on the Valparaiso School and its architectural teachingBuilding Cultures Valparaiso: pedagogy practice and poetry at the Valparaiso School of Architecture and Design; Lausanne, Switzerland: EPFL Press, 2015. p. 189.
Building Cultures Valparaiso: pedagogy practice and poetry at the Valparaiso School of Architecture and DesignLausanne: EPFL Press.
|Guaita, P., Baur, R.
JMA, HEIA Fribourg, 2020,2021
|Construction Cycles: Analysis, Reiteration, Innovation
|Guaita, P., Baur, R.
Emerging voices on new architectural ecologies
|Construction cycles: Towards a new ecology of construction
Action and experience in architecture.Doctoral tesis
"Action and experience in architecture. Materiality and embodiment in the education of the technological era"
Directors: Dr. Aurora Herrera Gómez, architect / Dr. Auxiliadora Gálvez Pérez, architect
Escuela Politécnica Superior Universidad San Pablo CEU, Madrid, Spain, 2022
This doctoral thesis focuses on a particular aspect of architectural learning as embodied cognition by studying, from a multidisciplinary approach, the creative processes and design actions that accompany the conception and construction of space.
Due to the profound transformations carried out by the culture of digitalization, from many fields there is a growing interest in vindicating the manual and physical in the process and transmission of thought, in particular, in the design process. In this context, this research aims to review and update the creative spaces of action and experience of the architect. From an openness to a plurality of registers, both theoretical and practical, it seeks new ways of learning from the marginal, the multiple, the heterogeneous.This situated knowledge, open to the relational, seeks to activate the latent potential of embodied creative design processes, a culture that is currently dormant.
The research is based on the idea that there is a double process or a double construction, where both the individual and the material interact and transform each other. This premise is explored from different points of view: what is the value of embodied knowledge and tacit learning, and how this can contribute to explore new strategies in learning; how the use of our hands and our body influences the configuration of our thinking, and, with it, the impact that these have on the perception and construction of our environment. All these findings are confronted with the emerging appearance of new technologies and the modification they produce in the physical processes of architectural conception.
These immersions through making help developing methodologies of action to create new alternative learning spaces. In a world immersed in a crisis of physical production and climatic deterioration, making can open up to diversity, variability, sensitivity and care.
The possibility of a new building paradigm“The possibility of a new building paradigm thanks to Textile Reinforced Concrete"
Seed Money Grant 2020, Leading House Latin America, St Gallen
This research project investigates innovative and sustainable concrete construction systems for the formal and informal city. It emerges from the global need for safe and adequate shelter to be built from a sustainable and efficient perspective, requiring a new building paradigm. Within this frame, a step forward is proposed by exploring the application of an innovative material and its implications on architecture and building technology. This project is based on the use of innovative Textile Reinforced Concrete (TRC), a material with high mechanical properties where a carbon fabric is embedded in a cementitious matrix cast with low-clinker content cements. The use of such cement together with the high efficiency of the material allows to dramatically reduce the ecological footprint of construction (use of less material, associated to a lower energy-consumption for production). The use of TRC allows thus building very thin and highly durable structures. In this research, the use of is implemented in the construction of a prototype pavilion in Fribourg (Switzerland). This work considers sustainability from a wide perspective, not only environmental, but also social and economic. Such a holistic approach requires research at the material level, structural efficiency, building potential (modularity), possibility of building in small and large communities and with different approaches (craftsmanship, industrialization/prefabrication).
Miguel Fernández Ruiz, Senior Scientist, ENAC IIC IBETON
Patricia Guaita, scientist and lecturer, ENAC IA ALICE
Pr. Sergio Kopinski Ekerman, FAUFBA Salvador de Bahia
A Prototype Pavilion in TRC
"A Prototype Pavilion in Textile Reinforced Concrete"
ENAC Exploratory grant 2018, EPFL Fribourg
The ENAC format offers to start at the intersection of research and practice, of teaching and learning, of engineering and architecture. What is possible as symbiosis of structural, architectonic and environmental research with a high-performance material such as textile reinforced concrete? How can this point of convergence of different fields be used to explore a material / construction technique that has as its promise a radical reduction of material quantity whichcomes hand in hand with the augmentation of its spatial quality?
Raffael Baur, scientist and lecturer, ENAC IA ALICE
Patricia Guaita, scientist and lecturer, ENAC IA ALICE
Miguel Fernández Ruiz, Senior Scientist, ENAC IIC IBETON
Patrick Valeri, doctoral assistant, ENAC IA IIC IBETON
Dr. David Fernández-Ordóñez, Invited Professor, ENAC IA IIC IBETON Secretary General, International Federation for Structural Concrete.
"Social Concrete, Argamassa Armada: Recovering a Building Technology for Social Housing in Salvador de Bahía",
Seed Money Grant 2017, Cooperation & Development Center, CODEV in collaboration with I-BETON, LASUR and the FAUFBA, Brazil.
Argamassa Armada is a building technology developed by the Brazilian architect João Filgueiras Lima (known as Lelé), that facilitates slender building elements fabricated on site and assembled without the use of cranes. The project proposes to further develop, test and use argamassa armada in a technologically advanced manner for the design and building of elements for social housing units in poor urban contexts, beginning witha test-case in the city where the technology was first developed, Salvador de Bahia, Brazil.
Patricia Guaita, scientist and lecturer, ENAC IA ALICE
Prof. Dr. Ana Maria Fernandes, Architect and Urban Planner, Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo da Universidade Federal da Bahia
Teaching & PhD
Projeter ensemble ENAC
Drawing Research Platform SomersetThe summer workshop Drawing Research Platform Somerset will link to the Unité d'Enseignement GC Docta Manus_Drawing Structures, a research into the discipline of drawing for students in civil engineering and architecture. Drawing is introduced to the students not as a technique of representation but as a mediator between the construction and the individual. We understand drawing by hand as a cognitive tool, as a physical act, an experience, a construction in its own right.
Through the act of drawing in the landscape (with ropes, with wood members), drawings can become mapping devices on a 1:1 scale. The students will understand the place and the scale, a corporeal form of measuring that becomes a tool of design (disegno: drawing or invention). We will use drawing and observation as tools for the analysis of our environment, in direct contact with materials and with “low-tech”, hands-on construction methods. The slowness and tactile nature of the act of drawing and construction by hand builds up tacit knowledge and an awareness of an adequacy and economy of means.Through testing and observation, the tactile qualities of a construction and its relation to gravity, wind, water, sun, etc. can be understood and expressed.
Work will take place in an atelier format at Shatwell Farm, Somerset, through drawing, 1:1 construction and collaborative discussions. It will be supported by lectures and interactions with the Drawing Matter Collection. The unique accessibility of drawings and sketches will allow for deep research into the discipline of drawing through a comparative analysis of drawings from different authors, project stages and time periods.
The making, that is, the artisanal construction of a drawing or measuring device in the landscape, will function as a common ground where architects and engineers meet. They will explore common solutions enriched by different disciplinary viewpoints. Over the course of a week, the students will do research on drawing through studies in the archive, encouraged by lectures and discussions, as well as trough 1:1 site work.
The students will develop and build constructive fragments that create a built triangulation of the landscape at Shatwell Farm, Somerset. This corporeal form of measuring the landscape will be linked to the construction of survey drawings of the site. We will work in continuous relation with the natural setting, looking to foster creative autonomy, contextual thinking, and a deep sense of reality. Without the pressure of surrounding technologies, the use of tactile, low-tech tools will question the relationship between what we are, what we make, and the time required; it will stimulate an attitude of care and responsibility for our environment.
Patricia Guaita, architect, lecturer, ENAC IA EPFL, ALICE
Raffael Baur, architect and external Lecturer EPFL Lausanne
David Fernandez-Ordoñez, Host Professor, IIC IBETON EPFL
Niall Hobhouse, collector and writer, Drawing Matter Director
Manuel Montenegro, architect and Phd candidate, ETH Zurich
A Prototype Pavilion in Textile Reinforced ConcretBuilding on the ENAC course (UE) “Argamassa Armada”, the proposed summer workshop aims at taking the UE-research a step further into the construction of a full-scale prototype pavilion at EPFL Fribourg. The summer workshop format allows to verify the spatial and structural promises outlined by the UE-research and to build a proposition in the form of a concrete 1:1 realization (pavilion).
At the basis of the research questions lies the crossing of contemporary structural research into textile reinforced concrete (TRC) and architectural work in ferrocement (Argamassa Armada) done in Brazil by the architect Lelé from ca. 1970-2000. Textile reinforced concrete allows to reiterate a building technique – ferrocement – that was highly developed in Brazil but in the last years nearly abandoned (empty factories) due to problems of corrosion. TRC (i.e. non-corrosive reinforcement) on the other hand is used nowadays for a very limited field of applications (e.g. facade elements). Its structural potential is still not fully explored and its application potential unknown to most engineers, architects and scientists in practice. The crossing of knowledge aims at exploring the full structural, architectonic and environmental dimensions of TRC. Here we see an enormous potential, as the industry by itself does not have the means to develop a structural and architectonic language, while architects and engineers do not have yet the necessary scientific knowledge to use TRC in an innovative way. It is only at the source, through exploration and testing of the technique itself, that innovation is possible. This also applies to the formwork where – after successful tests in the Semaine ENAC 2018 and 2019 – we have been working with folded metal, a material used in Brazil but not in use in the Swiss prefabrication industry.
Technical questions are in direct relation with social considerations: How can the formwork be optimised to be used serially? How can seriality incorporate variation and flexibility? Can large elements be produced with small sheet formats (i.e. a small folding machine)? What are the size-limits imposed by self-construction?
Implicit within this objective are inter-related research questions: How can advances in concrete technology be adapted for diverse climatic requirements or incorporate techniques of recycling or reuse? How can construction protocols and on-site, mini-factories be developed to minimize cost and logistical complexity so that local people take ownership of technology by means of knowledge transfer? What would be the means of diffusing this knowledge? How can this technology be adapted to various uses such as the renovation of abandoned buildings or construction on unstable terrains?
Argamassa Armada as developed by Lelé in Brazil is directly based on social innovations: manual prefabrication and building without cranes due to radical lightness of the elements as well as independency from the construction-industry were constituting factors. These aspects become even more pertinent today as the informal city is still growing; a partial auto-construction would allow inhabitants of the informal city the possibility of co-producing their own habitat. The proposed prototype pavilion in TRC aims at enlightening these aspects and sharing them with our UE-project partners in Salvador de Bahia.
Patricia Guaita, Architect, EPFLRaffael Baur, Architect and external Lecturer, EPFL
Enrique Corres, Civil Engineer, PhD student, EPFL
David Fernandez-Ordonez, Civil Engineer, Host Professor, EPFL
Miguel Fernandez Ruiz, Civil Engineer, Professor UPM, Spain
Sergio Kopinski Ekerman, Architect, Professor FAUFBA, Brazil
Open City Research Platform, Lausanne_Valparaiso
The “Open City Research Platform” (2013-2019), was founded as a collaboration between the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology - Lausanne (EPFL) and the Open City / School of Architecture and Design of the Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaiso (ead-PUCV) in Chile. Since 2014, this collaboration has brought together students from Europe and Chile to work on the incremental building of El Pórtico de los Huéspedes (The Threshold of the Guests)for the Open City.
Every August, around 20 students from Switzerland travel to Ritoque to join Chilean colleagues for the design and building of new elements of El Pórtico. Students are tasked with moving the project forward both through the design and construction; they work directly on the site of El Pórtico with limited tools, local material sand an attitude toward work characterized by collaboration and exchange. The goal of the summer school is to provide an innovative pedagogical context for students to develop a heightened awareness of how the fabrication of architecture can be in a cultural, social, ecological and poetic relation with place and community.
The summer workshop sensitized Swiss students to multiple issues specific to the local context: structural requirements in a seismically active region; ways of building more efficiently with slender timber members; techniques for ephemeral foundations; siting decisions based on seasonal wind directions, etc. In their collaborative work, Swiss and Chilean participants exchange techniques for fabrication and design based on observation and testing. This creates conditions for knowledge exchange and broadens an understanding of how the built environment, sustainability and development are linked to a local context. Students work directly with wood, brickand concrete, testing material behavior and limits. Designing and building enter into a reciprocal relationship, such that construction becomes a projective activity revealing as key factors resilient construction, economies of material and a rooted relationship to place.
The workshop takes place during one week in Lausanne and three weeks in Chile, with 20 students from Swiss schools of architecture and engineering (bachelor and master) taking part along with 10 Chilean students from the ead-PUCV.
Patricia Guaita, Lecturer and Scientist, ENAC IA ALICE EPFL
David Jolly, Professor, Ead PUC Valparaíso, Chile
Raffael Baur, Architect, Zürich
Victoria Jolly, architect, Prof. Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, School of Architecture, CorporaciónCultural Amereida, Chile
Romain Dubuis, Architect EPFL
Patrick Valeri, Doctoral Assistant, ENAC IIC IBETON, EPFL
Board of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology, ETH Board
School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering ENAC EPFL
School of Architecture, SAR, ENAC, EPFL and Institute of Architecture, IA, ENAC, EPFL
Comision Nacional de Investigacion Cientifica y Tecnologica (CONICYT), Chile
AVINA Stiftung (2014-16)
IKEA Foundation (2019)