Computational Design X CIrcular Economy

Driven to become the first startup studio for the construction industry

Driven to become the first startup studio for the construction industry 1440 753 Francesco Cingolani

IMAGE ABOVE : Prototype of a facade component
reducing CO2 presence in the air thanks to PURE.TECH material. Credits : Noumena

You have not heard from us for a while.


Because we decided to pause and evaluate the work done in the last 2 years with our incubation program. In parallel, we’ve been closing new partnerships to go forward with the vision behind Driven.

The result? 

We are transitioning to a Startup Studio (also called venture studio) model.

A startup studio is a factory that builds startups.

It is a company whose mission is to generate startup ideas and build them into successful independent companies. When the startups spin-off from the studio, Driven Studio holds a share of the generated startups, making it possible to keep feeding the innovation loop and respond to the urgent needs of the construction industry.

While startup studios are a growing business in tech, Driven Studio aims to be the first of its kind operating in and for the construction industry.

Why the construction sector? 

The construction sector is the least automated industry sector and is responsible for 37% of global CO2 emissions, according to the United Nations.

On the other hand, the exponential growth in the fields of advanced technology such as automation, large-scale 3d printing, computation, biomaterials and spatial analytics offer new, massive, unexplored playgrounds in which radical applications can be ideated.

Despite the high potential and rapid development of the above-stated technologies, their implementation in the industry remains extremely shy and slow.

Of course, significant progress has been made in various research institutions worldwide that have the potential to change how we think and produce building components altogether. Likewise, the recent emergence of startups in robotics and AI services has shed the light on the gap between emerging technologies and a slowly adapting construction industry. 

Therefore, Driven Studio aims to reconcile the high potential and rapid developments in the fields with their adoption in the construction sector by offering a bridge of fast market entry for new ideas and applications. 

It is as much a challenge as an urgent responsibility to make impactful, circular, and responsive business implementations.

IMAGE ABOVE: In the current technological context, super early-stage ideation phases of startups are where value creation is maximised through radical solutions.

In order to achieve that, Volumes is partnering up with Aldo Sollazzo as co-founder of the new Driven venture. Aldo successfully founded the tech company Noumena and the startup PURE.TECH, a new material that neutralises greenhouse gases by capturing and converting CO2 into inert materials.

His combined experience in advanced construction and in startup creation comes as a massive piece of expertise that completes the puzzle of skills of the team members at Driven, hence why this news deserves a certain celebration 😉

Not everything is defined yet, and we are still learning how to make it fully operational. We are aware that it will be quite a big challenge, and some pieces of the startup studio framework are still in the design phase. 

Interested in taking on this challenge with us? Simply curious about the process? Get in touch at and take a look at some of Driven’s previously incubated projects here and here.

Driven startup studio spins off from Volumes involvement within the Reflow European project. Are you curious to learn more about Volumes’ abilities to achieve such a challenge and our collective overachieving mindset that simply makes things happen? As an example, you may have heard that we just had the Italian Ministry convert an abandoned baroque villa into a public place for the communities


Driven incubation platform introduces: MatterSite

Driven incubation platform introduces: MatterSite 1600 1040 vada


At Driven we are currently incubating 3 different projects implementing circular economy principles in challenging alternative propositions using advanced technology. We asked the MatterSite team some questions about their incubated project to digitalize the building environment.


Mattersite is an international group of architects and designers who began collaborating in the Masters in Robotics and Advanced Construction (MRAC) at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IaaC). Currently, we have members developing the technology within their MRAC thesis project, as well as working in digitalization, industrial design, construction technology, and architecture. We started collaborating with a common goal, transforming the construction sector into a more respectful and sustainable practice. We believe that through the application of new technological advancements such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and computational design we can change present design, fabrication, and material workflows into circular ones. Therefore, several research projects were carried out to demonstrate, in different phases of the value chain, how this paradigm shift could take place: Material (data) IntelligencePost Collation Design Exploration, Fluxsight, and Digitizing Material Collation.

As we began adapting our projects and goals from our Master’s work into a real-world venture, we needed a partner in the existing circular economy landscape; incubating with Driven was a clear way to connect and work with actors in the Circular Economy within the European market.

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Driven incubation platform introduces: ELEMENTS Reuse

Driven incubation platform introduces: ELEMENTS Reuse 1267 713 vada

IMAGE CREDITS : Elements Reuse©

At Driven we are currently incubating 3 different projects implementing circular economy principles in challenging alternative propositions using advanced technology. We asked Guillaume Jami and Thibault Lénart some questions about their incubated project Elements Reuse:


Elements Reuse cofounders are graduated architects, fostering an innovative and entrepreneurial vision of the construction industry. As such, Elements Reuse is enriched by Guillaume Jami’s research at ETH Zurich, whiles Thibault Lenart is establishing the company in Paris as well as teaching computational design in Paris-Malaquais school of architecture. Throughout their academic and professional experience, digital technologies have become important assets in rethinking social, environmental and economic complexities. Both cofounders had the opportunity through a computational design oriented curriculum to learn new tools and strategies to rethink the very fundamental approaches to architecture and construction. This interest in technologies led them to study and work in leading institutions across the globe in Argentina, Chile, Switzerland, Spain among others. Those influences are now funneled to create Elements, a company aiming to reveal opportunities for the reduction of materials extraction and waste production in the building industry. 

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From the curator of DRIVEN: an editorial by Andrea Graziano

From the curator of DRIVEN: an editorial by Andrea Graziano 1267 713 Andrea Graziano

My name is Andrea Graziano. I’m an architect (graduated in 2000) and for more than ten years I had my own architecture studio, mainly focused on big building site drawings and building systems coordination & management. 

Since 2004 I started to be interested in computation as a medium to empower my work and digital expressive capabilities. In 2007, as a “professional curious”, I also started a blog named Digitag& that became relatively well known in the architectural research environment.

In 2009 I organized with Davide Del Giudice and CasArtArc one of the first big events in Italy  about computational design in architecture. AAST [Advanced Architecture Settimo Tokio] was a one-of-a-kind event: 30 international projects exhibited (projects made by computational designers that were young at the time and then became renowned such as Nervous System, Span, Alisa Andrasek, Kokkugia, …), 1 conference, 1 symposium, 5 workshops tutored by international experts working in world-leading architectural firms.

During the same year, I was contacted by DuPont to work as a consultant to understand the potential of computational design strategies in their company. A few months later I was asked to design a series of Corian panels as a proof of concept of it. With Alessio Erioli, Corrado Tibaldi, we designed the “3D Math Serie” panels and DuPont won the gold prize at Batimat 2009.

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Can we go beyond recycling ?

Can we go beyond recycling ? 1920 1280 Francesco Cingolani

Traditionally presented as an answer to human needs and  a metric to define boundaries between what is possible and what is not, technology is nowadays behaving as an independent agent for change, opening new fields to be explored instead of answering questions or solve technical issues.

I was trained as an architect and construction engineer; I graduated in 2004.
Back then, I realize now I’ve been thinking about technology as something that defines the rules and the playground of creativity. In such a mindset, we live in the illusion to know what technology allows to do and what it doesn’t. We take such boundaries for granted, and we work inside them.

Design and Fabrication workshop at Volumes.

In 2014, when we founded Volumes creative and productive hub, our vision was to create an environment where technology and people could connect with and through digital technologies to create high social impact.

After 5+ years of experimental activity in the hub, and some experience in teaching and research in computational design, I now look at technology as something that opens new and large perspectives instead of creating boundaries. A tool for exploration; an extremely powerful and evolutionary agent that can – and should – be driven with a design mindset to achieve unexpected, impactful solutions.

In that mindset the question “what is possible to do” shift to “what is important do do?”, “what do we want to achieve?”, “in which areas we want to make an impact?”. To me, Having this questions in mind means to drive technology with a design mindset.

Fab City Summit in Paris, 2018.
Photo : Stefano Borghi

In 2018, some members of the Fab City Global Initiative invited Volumes to codesign an applied research project on circular economy. The aim was to understand and transform urban material flows and to co-create and test circular and regenerative solutions at business, governance and citizen levels.

This was the perfect response to the question “in which areas we want to make an impact”. We accepted the challenge and what came out is the REFLOW project, funded by the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Union with a consortium of 27 members coordinated by the Copenhagen Business School.

The project kicked-off in June 2019 and Volumes specific contribution is an incubation program called – here we are – DRIVEN. We just kicked-off a few days ago.

DRIVEN is an incubation program that embeds advanced Computational Design strategies in Early Stage Entrepreneurship for a Circular Economy.

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Contemporary cities can be read as complex organisms with a “metabolic behavior” made also of different material flows (wood, food, plastic, textiles, steel, concrete, etc…). These flows are nowadays not organized (and consequently not optimized) because they are individually independent and not systematically coordinated/designed in terms of space and time flow.

In addition to that design, architecture and construction workflow traditionally follows a linear process based on the principle that design needs to respond to a specific need or function. Once the ideation phase of design is done, we then start thinking in terms of construction materials and we cut, bend, 3dprint, extrude, etc … raw materials.

In this context, can we:

  • go beyond recycling and reverse the way we design, fabricate and build?
  • think about digital technologies & computational design as a set of tools capable of augmenting our design space and include material scarcity and it possible reuse as a performance parameter in the process?
  • learn from the data and create intelligent systems that self-organize for a better flow management of resources?


The alchemy of DRIVEN is created by triggering unexpected and innovative connections between those questions and 4 areas of expertise : Computational Design, Computational Fabrication, Machine Learning and Data Visualization. DRIVEN onboards early stage projects and fuel them with those knowledge to drive their evolution and maximize their impact.

We will share more info soon on this blog!
In the meantime, feel free to comment below for any question, we are waiting for feedback and will respond promptly and with passion ! ❤️

For those who want more, there is more:

  • Beginners Online Workshops
    We are currently incubating 3 (+1 to be confirmed) projects in the DRIVEN incubation beta version. A call for projects to be onboarded next fall will be published before the summer.
    In order to apply for the incubation program – but also to register for the advanced workshops below – we require basic skills in Computational Design and Digital Fabrication.
    For this reasons, we are providing 2 online workshops for beginners :
    – Computational Design: Introduction to Rhino and Grasshopper tutored by Eugenio Bettucchi (Noumena) from May 25th to 29th – registrations are open***early birds tickets available until May 10th***
    – Introduction to Digital Fabrication tutored by Samantha Melnik from June 1st to 5th – registrations are open.

  • Advanced Online Workshops
    This workshop series aims to attract entrepreneurs, designers and makers to join the incubation program and develop circular solutions. These educational events also serve to incubated projects to challenge their ideas and explore new ones.
    Basic skills in Computational Design are required for the 2 workshops below :
    – Discrete Automation tutored by Gilles Retsin (AUAR) & Kevin Saey (AUAR) from June 15th to 19th – registrations open soon.
    – Machine Learning for Adaptive Temporary Architecture tutored by Mateusz Zwierzycki (Object) from June 22nd to 26th – registrations open soon.
    More info about the workshop series at

  • Challenges
    In our beta version of DRIVEN, we are currently tackling 2 different challenges within the circular economy :
    – Wood Material Use Efficiency for Temporary Constructions
    – Urban Metabolism and Logistics
    If your company want to join DRIVEN with a different challenge, feel free to contact us at
    More info about the current challenges we are exploring at

  • Reflow approach to Circular Economy
    From the Reflow whitepaper : The EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan explains CE as an economy “where the value of products, materials and resources is maintained in the economy for as long as possible,and the generation of waste minimised”. It can therefore be understood that CE not only aims to increase the efficiency of resource use, but also to achieve a better balance and harmony between economy, environment and society.
    For more info about Reflow specific approach of circular economy, you can check Reflow website and read about the Reflow handbook for cities.