Caschlatsch Demonstrator: a Symbiosis of Tradition and Innovation, Craftsmanship and Technology

The Caschlatsch demonstrator is a timber frame construction that is currently being built in the canton of Graubünden. It was commissioned by the municipality of Disentis/Mustér. It is being realised by Gramazio Kohler Research (GKR) in collaboration with a team from Disentis/Mustér, with a particular focus on cooperation between human and machine. The structure will not only serve as a sculptural landmark, but will also be accessible to hikers.

Timber construction is experiencing a renaissance, especially in conjunction with parametric design and modern construction methods, says Professor Fabio Gramazio. Wood is a natural building material that is becoming increasingly important in the current climate crisis and has the potential to efficiently replace a significant proportion of conventional, CO2-intensive building materials.

Parametric Design

The design for the Caschlatsch demonstrator is being developed with parametric tools by students of the Master of Advanced Studies Digital Fabrication (MAS ETH DFAB) at ETH Zurich and tested in collaboration with local partners using VR glasses. Both these design tools and the processes for collaborative human-machine assembly are experimental in nature and originate from GKR research. The human-machine collaboration process combines the best of both worlds: the dexterity of the craftsman with the precision of the robotic arm. Using an augmented reality interface, the craftsman's team retains control of the process and can compare what has been built with the digital model at any time, to change or adapt the distribution of tasks between humans and robots.

Technology and Traditional Craftsmanship

The Caschlatsch demonstrator shows how technology and traditional craftsmanship come together to create efficient solutions for woodworking. The machines serve as tools that are controlled by humans in order to accomplish complex tasks: "Humans must remain in the process, only then is it socially sustainable" says Fabio Gramazio and continues laughing: “The Caschlatsch project is an adventure”. Research at Gramazio Kohler Research does not follow the traditional industrial model, but pursues a sustainable and integrative approach. Instead of complete automation, the complex and diverse nature of construction is recognised.

The timber-framed structure Caschlatsch takes its name from the Caschlatsch Castle which once stood on a nearby rocky outcrop. Find out more about Caschlatsch in the live project documentation.

Project Credits

Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich
Prof. Matthias Kohler, Prof. Fabio Gramazio, Petrus Aejmelaeus-Lindström (Project Lead), Oliver Bucklin (Research Lead), Ananya Kango, Simon Griffioen, Francesco Milano, Aurèle Gheyselinck, Alexandra Moisi, Joseph Kenny, Chen Kasirer, Gonzalo Casas

MAS ETH DFAB Students: Amir Ali Amini-Aghdam, Benhur Baiju, Chia-Hsuan Chao, Joana Francisco Tomaz, Piero Hamid, Junjie Huang, Paul Jaeggi, Jiaxiang Luo, Giacomo Montiani, Wataru Nomura, Panayiotis Papacharalambous, Sukhdevsinh Parmar, Kevin Saev, Gonzalo Seminario Garcia, Megi Sinani, Namdev Talluru, Kai Hsun Yeh

In collaboration with: #dfdu AG (Stefan M. Seydel), Studio UH Architecs ETH SIA, Nicolas Fehlmann Ingénieurs Conseils SA

Client: Gemeinde Disentis/Mustér

Selected Experts: Bearth Lenn AG, Strabag AG Disentis/Mustér, Prof. Daniela Mitterberger (COMPAS_XR), Ziqi Wang (Task Sequencing and Allocation)

Sponsor: Schilliger Holz AG, Bearth Lenn AG, Strabag AG Disentis/Mustér