Patricia Guaita

BP 4123 (Bâtiment BP)
Station 16
1015 Lausanne

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Administrative data

Fields of expertise

pedagogy of making
drawing as an action
multidisciplinary projects 
design methodologies in 1:1 fabrication
experiential learning processes
knowledge transfer with Latin America
diversity, variability, sensitivity and care


Infoscience publications

Selected publications


Teaching & PhD



Design Together ENAC

Drawing Research Platform Somerset

The 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.

Project team
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

Web links

A Prototype Pavilion in Textile Reinforced Concret

Building 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.

Project Team

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

Invited experts

Miguel Fernandez Ruiz, Civil Engineer, Professor UPM, Spain
Sergio Kopinski Ekerman, Architect, Professor FAUFBA, Brazil

Web link

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.

Project Team
Patricia Guaita, Lecturer and Scientist, ENAC IA ALICE EPFL
David Jolly, Professor, Ead PUC Valparaíso, Chile

Invited Experts
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

Project partners
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)

Web links


Civil Engineering teaching unit: Docta Manus

The UE Docta Manus will introduce drawing as the key tool of communication between engineers and architects and as a mediator between construction and the student. Through hand-drawing, we will analyse selected structural projects that embody an exemplary interplay of space and structure.

Making structural logic

The ENAC week provides students the possibility to engage into an iterative process of testing and exploring structural and material limits and possibilities through the collaborative design and construction of structural elements in folded steel. The ENAC week will take place at EPFL Fribourg.

Argamassa armada

The UE Argamassa Armada will develop prototypes of structural elements in textile reinforced concrete (TRC) for the context of social housing in Nicaragua, based on the knowledge of the TRC Prototype Pavilion at EPFL Fribourg, where the UE will take place.