Keynote Speakers

The White Rabbit

Foster + Partners is a global studio for architecture, urbanism, and design, rooted in sustainability. The studio integrates the skills of architecture with engineering, both structural and environmental, urbanism, interior, and industrial design, model and filmmaking, aeronautics, and many more – our collegiate working environment is similar to a compact university. These diverse skills make us capable of tackling a wide range of projects, particularly those of considerable complexity and scale. Design is at the core of everything that we do. We design buildings, spaces, and cities; we listen, we question, and we innovate.

At Foster+ Partners, we constantly strive to change the paradigm of design. To that end, technology is an intrinsic part of how we operate. We embrace change and see new technologies as a possibility, rather than a challenge. That is why we have specialist groups such as Applied Research + Development, an integrated multi-disciplinary team of architects and engineers, who are also seasoned programmers. The Applied R+D group conducts state-of-the-art research and development to solve complex design challenges, taking the latest advances out of the lab and into the hands of architects and engineers.

Martha Tsigkari has the expertise that spans computational design, performance analysis, optimization, fabrication, and interaction design. She works with new technologies such as augmented reality, machine learning, and real-time simulation. Using real project examples, Martha will demonstrate how technology has helped us develop ideas into buildings. This is a presentation about how innovation, disruption, and uncertainty can create new possibilities for the AEC industry.

Martha Tsigkari
Senior Partner, Head of Applied Research, Foster + Partner and Professor, UCL, London

Martha Tsigkari is a Senior Partner and Head of the Applied R+D (ARD) group at Foster + Partners. Her background spans architecture, engineering, and computer science. She has two decades of experience working in projects of all scales and uses. She is a specialist in a wide range of areas including computational design, performance-driven design, optimisation, machine learning, interfaces & interaction, design-to-production and fast feedback & integration. Her work incorporates the development of ML, optimisation and simulation tools, the introduction of integrated processes and the creation of physical interfaces. She has a particular interest in machine learning and has lead R&D related to the use of deep neural networks in the design process, to solve problems spanning from micromaterials to performance driven architectural layouts. She has also been investigating the use of Genetic Algorithms in the design pipeline, using them to develop solutions spaces that fit multi-objective criteria.

Martha joined F+P in 2006, and she has since provided solutions for hundreds of diverse projects such as the new airport for Mexico City, Queen Alia Airport, Sheikh Zayed Museum, UAE’s 2015 Expo Pavilion, Lusail Iconic Stadium for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and YachtPlus. She is a member of RIBA, ARB and the Technical Chamber of Greece. In parallel she is an Associate Professor at the Bartlett, UCL, where she has been teaching at the MSc Architectural Computation since 2009. She has been a juror and presenter at various schools worldwide, including MIT, the Architectural Association, UPenn, ETHZ and Chalmers. She has taught, lectured and published on the subject of computational design internationally.

Sigrid Brell-Cokcan

Univ.-Prof. Dr.-techn. Sigrid Brell-Cokcan is the founder and head of the new Chair of Individualized Production (IP) at RWTH Aachen University and current President of the Association for Robots in Architecture (RiA) and was on the board of euRobotics until 2021.

In recent years, she has pioneered the simple application of industrial robots for creative industries and participated in numerous international research and industrial projects. The Association for Robots in Architecture is a development partner of KUKA and Autodesk and a validated EU research institution within the FP7 program.

In 2016, Sigrid Brell-Cokcan founded the new Topic Group for Construction Robotics within euRobotics to contribute to the Multi-Annual Roadmap (MAR) for Horizon Europe. In addition, as editor-in-chief, she launched the new scientific Springer Journal Construction Robotics since 2017. Since 2022, she has been part of the writing team of the living Springer Encyclopedia of Robotics | SpringerLink on the topic of Robotics in Construction | SpringerLink.

At RWTH Aachen, her new professorship for Individualized Construction Production deals with the use of innovative machines in material and construction production. In order to enable efficient, individualized production from batch size one for the construction industry, new and user-friendly methods of human-machine interaction are being developed.

The IP chair employs researchers from various areas of robotics and building production to streamline the necessary digital workflow from initial planning to the production process and to redesign the construction site of the future via intuitive, easy-to-use interfaces.

Results on innovative developments in "haptic programming" and "cloud remote control" were presented to the public as finalists in the KUKA Innovation Award 2016 and KUKA Innovation Award on Artificial Intelligence 2021 at the Hannover Messe. This year, she has been nominated for the BAUMA Innovation Award 2022 of Research with the ROBETON project for the robot-supported controlled dismantling of concrete components. The cross-faculty Center for Construction Robotics (CCR) on RWTH Aachen Campus was co-founded by Sigrid Brell-Cokcan in 2018 to focus on automation in construction with key industry leaders along the construction industry value chain. In 2020, Sigrid Brell-Cokcan initiated the new international consecutive Master's program "Construction & Robotics" for the Bachelor of Architecture, Computer Science, Civil Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering in order to train future engineers in the digital environment across academia for the construction industry.

Neil Leach

Neil Leach is a professor at FIU, Tongji, and EGS. He has previously taught at other leading institutions, including the AA, Harvard GSD, Columbia GSAPP, Cornell, SCI-Arc, IaaC, and DIA. He is a co-founder of DigitalFUTURES, an academician in the Academy of Europe, and the recipient of two NASA research fellowships exploring 3D print technologies for the Moon and Mars. He has published over 40 books on architectural theory and digital design including L B Alberti, On the Art of Building in Ten Books (MIT, 1988), Rethinking Architecture (Routledge, 1997), The Anaesthetics of Architecture (MIT, 1999), Architecture and Revolution (Routledge, 1999). Designing for a Digital World (Wiley, 2002), Digital Tectonics (Wiley, 2004), Camouflage (MIT, 2006), Digital Cities (Wiley, 2009), Space Architecture (Wiley, 2014), Swarm Intelligence (TongjiUP, 2017), Computational Design (TongjiUP, 2017), Digital Fabrication (TongjiUP, 2017), Swarm Intelligence (TongjiUP, 2017), 3D Printed Body Architecture (Wiley, 2017), Architectural Intelligence (Springer, 2020) and Architecture in the Age of Artificial Intelligence: An Introduction to AI for Architects (Bloomsbury, 2022). Machine Hallucinations: Architecture and Artificial Intelligence (Wiley) will be published in May 2022. He is currently working on Interactive Futures (Birkhauser, 2023), The AI Design Revolution: How AI will Transform Architecture (Routledge, 2023), and The Death of the Architect: The Demise of the Architectural Profession in the Age of AI, (Bloomsbury, 2024)