Learning From Candela represents our first attempt to bridge the gap between contemporary design techniques, creative expression, and software technology.

The project successfully built a shell prototype in Mexico City, using local building traditions (including local means, labour and craft).  The prototype was brought about by using established form-finding methods—both analog and digital counterparts.

The resultant geometries afford a qualitative understanding of form and its structural behaviour to the designer and downstream production pipes. Furthermore, it is increasingly difficult to establish the same with the complex freeform geometries produced by contemporary software and methods. However, these methods offer other significant advantages to the designer, including ease of use, affinity to contemporary discourse, etc. In this project a waffle-customized formwork was introduced as an effective link between computational design methods and their physical manifestation, and as a response to the constraints of the materials used—steel and rendered concrete—and the constraints of the labor-intensive economy where the shell prototype was built.


Alicia Nahmad (R-Ex)
Shajay Bhooshan (ZHCODE)
Mustafa el Sayed (ZHCODE)
Joshua Zabel (Kreysler & Associates)
Knut Brunier (Brunier Ernst AG)

Full credits


ZHCODE: Filippo Nassetti, David Reeves, Marko Margeta, Shajay Bhooshan, Patrik Schumacher
BRG: Mariana Popescu, Matthias Rippmann, Tom Van Mele, Philippe Block

KnitCrete technology

BRG: Mariana Popescu, Tom Van Mele, Philippe Block
Chair of Physical Chemistry of Building Materials, ETH Zurich: Lex Reiter, Robert Flatt

Fabrication and construction

BRG: Mariana Popescu, Matthias Rippmann, Alessandro Dell’Endice, Cristian Calvo Barentin, Nora Ravanidou
R-Ex: Alicia Nahmad Vazquez, Horacio Bibiano Vargas, Jose Manuel Diaz Sanchez, Asunción Zúñiga, Agustín Lozano Álvarez, Migue Juárez Antonio, Filiberto Juárez Antonio, Daniel Piña, Daniel Celin, Carlos Axel Pérez Cano, José Luis Naranjo Olivares, Everardo Hernández, Ramiro Tena.

Structural engineering

BRG: Andrew Liew, Tom Van Mele

Concrete development

Holcim Mexico: Jose Alfredo Rodriguez, Carlos Eduardo Juarez, Delia Peregrina Rizo

Site construction coordination

R-Ex: Alicia Nahmad Vazquez


ETH Zurich
NCCR Digital Fabrication
Zaha Hadid Architects
Steiger Participations SA
Holcim Mexico
Imerys Aluminates
Boston Consulting Group

Special thanks

Grupo Altiva
UNAM Arquitectura